This is a fun project for those artists who love doing different kinds of art, and it’s a recycle project that tops many! The article, written by Alicia Burke, I’m pretty sure first appeared in an issue of Cloth Paper Scissors Magazine several years ago, and caught my interest immediately for many reasons. Most of us are environmentally aware, and at least make an effort to do our share. It had to be read many times making sure the steps were understood. Finally, with the ironing board set out, all four of the plastic grocery bags laid flat on top of each other, (sides cut open, and handles cut off), and brown paper ready to go, I was on my way to keeping more plastic grocery bags out of the landfill! Now, I have to tell you this is the tricky part. They can’t get to hot while they’re being ironed, nor to cold, they need to be just right! This is something that I had to figure out by trial, and error. When ironed with a medium to hot iron, in-between the brown paper, the plastic will melt, the iron will finally release, and glide across the paper. When this happens, you can feel the iron slide, now is the time to move to a different place on the paper. You need to keep moving, working on one section at a time, enabling the bags to melt, but not fry! The paper prevents the bags from melting on the ironing board, or the iron. What ever you do, don’t try ironing the bags without the paper! The other thing I did was put a cookie sheet on top of the brown paper, and let everything cool off before lifting the paper to see what the plastic looked like. Lifting the paper to see how well it pressed is death to this project because, once the cool air hits the hot plastic, it immediately scrunched up – this is not good! The results were different from anything my art friends had ever done. Most likely this is why I liked it so much!
My first project of this kind was a small green and purple clutch. I painted the plastic with acrylic paint after it was fused together, then stitched shapes on the surface. When I sewed the sides together with my machine, and opened the flap up, the word “art” magically appeared on the inside flap. I think I had used WalMart bags, and this all happened by accident! The scrunching, and curling is clearly visible, this is how I discovered using the cookie sheet!
The second of the recycle projects came about in a mixed media class I was taking from Helen Shafer Garcia. Helen had challenged the class to come up with something different, and I decided to create a tote from plastic grocery bags. Once again, I set out to melt, and fuse plastic bags together, making large sheets of plastic so I could cut a pattern out. This was the mother of all projects, because the sheets overlapped in order to get a large enough piece for the pattern! Once they were the size I needed, I set about painting deli sheets with black, or white gesso. When they were dry, images were stamped with the opposite color. When that dried, the deli sheets were torn into pieces, glued to the fused plastic sheets, and painted with whatever color I had decided on, thus unifying everything together. After everything dried well, the pattern was cut, sewed, and the entire tote was sewn together. It seemed to need something else, so I sewed orange zigzag on the edges. This interesting, and one of a kind tote is now used all the time for traveling art supplies.
The last of the recycling projects, was a small red purse that was made for my granddaughter Sarah! This was fun because, by this time I knew what I doing. Once it was finished, a magnetic clasp was attached to the flap, and a shoulder strap, and Sarah received an unusual and fun purse that she loved!
There you have it, one project used in three different ways! A great way to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle!
If you try this, feel free to email me with questions, and please be sure to post your pictures on Facebook, or email them to me directly. I’ll put them on my blog with your name on it! Have fun experimenting…