Rewind: Using old VHS cases to organize my colored pencils

upcycled holder for colored pencils
The only thing I love more than finding a new use for something old is when the upcycled thing helps me stay organized. Like turning empty aluminum cans into storage for yarn or transforming a shuttered folding door into a kitchen organizer.

That's why I was so happy when I made this holder for my colored pencils last year. I'd gotten a beverage carrier from the University of Washington surplus store. (I imagined a muscle-bound arm grabbing a water bottle on the sidelines of some collegiate sporting event.)

upcycled holder for colored pencils
I wanted to separate my pencils by color, so each slot held a different shade -- greens, blues, yellows/browns, reds/pinks, etc. And the handle made the whole thing very portable.
upcycled holder for colored pencils
But there were two problems. The carrier itself was pretty large (for those big football-player mitts). It took up a lot of shelf space -- if it could fit on a shelf. The tall handle made this almost impossible. The second problem was that, once a pencil was shorter than the cup that held it, it was very hard to find. I'd have to pull out all the pencils just to find the short ones, exactly what I wanted to avoid.

So I went looking for a better way to organize my pencils, one with a smaller footprint. I searched online, but most organizers were either too big or too hard to make. Then I saw a holder made from an old plastic DVD case. Perfect, I thought. But when I tried it out, the case was too slim.

Then I remembered what came before DVD cases -- VHS cases! They were just as clear, but thicker. Surely they would hold my many shades of blue or brown. Luckily, my husband had a few old cases that he was willing to part with. And they worked perfectly.

upcycled holder for colored pencils

upcycled holder for colored pencils
The cases worked pretty much as is. I only added one thing -- 2 strips of matt board, to create separate spaces for the different colors. The cylinder in the middle was a pain, but I was too lazy to drill it out (as my husband suggested).

upcycled holder for colored pencils
So far, I'm happy with my new UPOS ("upcycled pencil organization system"). If you can get your mitts on some old VHS cases, try making a few yourself.


  1. Good storage ideas.

    Love that Gatorade tote - since it doesn't work for short stuff what about things like paint brushes, rulers, tools, etc?


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