I wanted to make some art from my recycling bin for today. I have been saving pretty plastic bags for a while now in a rainbow of colors. I decided to go with a Valentine's Day theme since that is coming up next week. I have seen some beautiful art using fused plastic bags. I figured that if I'm ever going to make some beautiful fused art myself, I had better start practicing.
I started with a base of regular plastic bags, I used bags from Target. I cut off the handles and cut down the seam until the bags were flat. I stacked six bags on top of each other. I made sure that the logos were all to the inside. I cut the bags in half, so that one side had the Target logo and the other was white. I set the half with the logo aside.
I took the top layer off of the white stack of bags. I cut hearts out of purple and pink plastic bags and laid them down on top of the bags. I also cut rectangles out of purple plastic mesh. Then I laid down the top layer again.
Next I ironed the bags. I put them onto a piece of fabric that I use for art and I put a piece of parchment paper on top. I ironed the bags on low heat moving the iron slowly until they were fused together. This is the part that takes some practice. You want the bags to become one layer without over fusing them and completely melting them or getting a lot of shrinkage. As long as you use low heat it should work out okay. Keep in mind safety measures and fuse the plastic in a well ventilated area. You don't want to breath in plastic fumes. I fused both stacks of bags.
I decide that I wanted to make two clutch purses out of my fused plastic. I made a pattern and cut them out of the plastic. You can find free patterns all over the internet. I also cut out a lining fabric and a piece of stabilizer for each one. I wanted the extra layers to give the clutch purses some body and stability.
Before I sewed them up I wanted to add some decoration with free motion stitching. This also adds strength and stability to the fused layers. For the clutch with the red logo I picked out the Square Rose stencil and traced it onto the plastic with my fine Pitt pen. I then stitched the lines of the stencil with a few extra lines to connect the stitching. I stitched onto the plastic and the stabilizer layer together.
For the other clutch I first cut out some hearts from Angelina Film in two pinks and a purple. I laid these out and free motion stitched over the surface in pink thread. I used hearts and loops for my pattern. Then I got out Tam's Hearts and Stars stencil and traced out the pattern with my fine Pitt pen over the three segments of the clutch. I stitched the hearts and stars in black thread.
Once I had the designs all stitched up I added the lining layer and stitched up the purses. I used two different methods to put these together, just to try out what I liked best. I added buttons to close them too.
I'm not completely happy with how these turned out, but it was a great learning experience. I learned how the plastic behaves while fusing and what happens when you over fuse and shrink it. I also learned what construction method that I like best and what tweaks I want to make to my pattern. The pattern needs a lot of work, but I'll leave that for another day. Now I am ready to make more art out of fused plastic. I do love how the black rose pattern looks against the red logo and how the hearts and stars look against a background of hearts. All is all this was a great experiment. I hope that you are willing to go and experiment with materials and techniques because that is how you grow as an artist.
You can view more of my art at my website: www.handsandharts.com