Sunday, November 18, 2012

Upcycling Plastic Bags

I've been a little slow getting my groove back, partly because I'm just not feeling particularly motivated (see previous post) and partly because of the construction project going on in my studio area, which has left my worktable completely covered with stuff that used to be on shelves and has made the atmosphere down there not very conducive to creativity.  But a few weeks ago I had started playing around with a way to recycle plastic bags which I read about in a recent issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine.  You basically start with white plastic bags (but not the thin grocery-store kind), putting several layers of plastic between two sheets of baking parchment and fusing them together with an iron set on a medium-hot temperature.  The plastic shrinks and wrinkles a bit from the heat of the iron, but if you keep the iron moving in a circular motion, it smooths out and fuses nicely into a base material.  Below is my first attempt, where I used a thinner, cheaper white plastic and then fused shapes cut from other colorful bags.  I layered it over some heavy interfacing and stitched an abstract design with black thread all around the shapes. Then I pressed it one more time because some of the shapes weren't quite fused all the way.  Unfortunately, the cheap white plastic shrunk just a little more, causing the interfacing to curl.  It was a good first try, but my second attempt today was more successful.
 This time I used a thicker white plastic bag and a cooler heat setting.  I only needed two layers of the white plastic, and then I fused on the red and green shapes.  When it looked the way I wanted, I stitched it onto the interfacing with decorative threads and free-motion-stitched some words and fun shapes.  They'll make nice holiday coasters, don't you think?  They look pretty good considering most of the materials were free!
Are you making any holiday gifts using recycled (or other) materials?

1 comment:

Vivien Zepf said...

Coasters -- what a great idea!