Fused Plastic Tutorial

Recently I brought you a Pinterest love-fest of Fused Plastic Projects.  Here a few highlights:

(Click on images to link back to the original source website)

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Source: Betz White

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Source: About.com

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Source: Emily Grace

Yeah, there are some crazy creative people out there.  With sewing skills.  (Which I lack.)

Anyways... inspired by the inventiveness of fused plastic and my own desire to do it myself, I did a little research.  Turns out, it’s super easy to make!  Best of all, it’s super cheap (darn close to free), it’s a quick process, and it’s upcycling a resource that’s often fated to a landfill: plastic bags.

I’m sure a lot of you go the reuseable-bag route  (I try to remember them, but I actually use the grocery bags as trash can liners, so I sometimes end up with a few extra ones, i.e., craft supplies!).  However, even if you opt out of the grocery bags, you probably still encounter other kinds of plastic bags from time to time (think of packaging for a loaf of bread, especially those retro-fabulous Wonder Bread bags).

For this particular project, I used black bodega bags.  These are especially fun because they have gold and silver metallic striping on one side, which I used to cut out a C and J (for Courtney and Josh… not K-Ci and Jo Jo… but good guess).

fused plastic

Then I took about 4 bags and cut off the handles and the bottom:

With the handles and bottom cut off, the bag can have a larger surface area to work with.  Open up bag, unfolding the sides, and lay flat.

See the difference in workable surface area?

fused plastic

After four bags are cut, opened, and layered, you should have a stack that is 8-ply (4 X 2 = 8).  I wouldn’t recommend anything thinner, otherwise you’ll end up with holes and the final material will not have as much structural integrity (yeah, that’s right: structural integrity).

And I tried a mere 6-ply, by the way:  lots of holes…

Yeah, that’s no fun.

Then I placed the layered bags (with the cut out C and J on top) in between two layers of parchment paper, then placed this parchment-plastic “sandwich” on an ironing board.

Sold in most grocery stores...

In a well-ventilated area, e.g., the fire escape, I ironed on high until plastic was fused.  Don’t let the brevity of that statement mislead you into thinking that this is a fast, fool-proof process.  It does take a little time, a little patience, and a lot of ironing.  You iron directly onto the parchment, making sure to never let the hot iron touch the actual plastic (or you’ll have gelatinous plastic goo… which is nearly impossible to clean up).

Iron all over the paper, never keeping the iron in one place for too long (this is how you get holes).  Occasionally peel back paper to see the plastic’s progress.  Remember, bubbly is bad:

Fused plastic with a lot of air bubbles will not be as durable, so if this is how your plastic is looking, replace the parchment and continue ironing.  The ideal texture should be something like raw silk or crepe.

After you’ve achieved the necessary texture, remove from parchment and allow to cool.  Then, you can cut it, sew it, glue it, love it, whatever your crafty heart desires!  As showcased in my Pinterest finds, this material can absolutely go through a sewing machine, and can be treated just like any kind of vinyl or thick crepe.

All “that’s what she said” jokes aside, see how thick and hard it is?  (I know, I know…)

And here are both of the finished products:

See?  This method doesn’t alter text or melt the ink, so bags with fun logos or messages can definitely be used for this project.

As you can see, I haven’t quite figured out what to do with this material yet (nor have I come up with a plan for the other 5 zillion plastic bags I’ve saved over the past few months, including ones with Target bullseyes, Wonder Bread logos, smiley faces, trees, kitschy phrases and… the list goes on).

Maybe I should take a sewing class…

…or two.

So, in summary:

How about you fine folks?  Have you recently tried your hand at an upcycling project?  Or a sewing project?  Or both?!  Share below in comment form, or e-mail me:  thegingerpennypincher@gmail.com.

Other upcycling ideas…

Wooden Pallets

Wine Corks

Tin Cans

Beer Cans

Vinyl Records

Yardsticks and Rulers

Paint Chips

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Beer Can Appreciation Day

Today is Beer Can Appreciation Day!

No, really.  That’s a real thing.

Though beer has been brewed for literally thousands of years (some archaeologists speculate as early as 4,500 B.C), the whole beer-in-a-can thing is a relatively new concept.

This years marks the 76th anniversary of canning beer, so I thought I would pause and do a little Google image/Pinterest search and showcase some fun things to do with used beer cans — because canned beer is always a cheaper and slightly greener option, but it still produces a lot of waste (that hopefully you choose to recycle or upcycle).

And while I was at it, I extended my search to soda cans and pull tabs as well…

As always, click on the image for a link back to the original source website.

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Box made from cans!

Source:  Atomic Shrimp

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Can Lantern Lights

Source:  RubyvVermillion

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Soda can lights

Source:  Diary of a Crafty Chica

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Luminaries

Source:  The Star Online

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Bracelets made from cans

Source:  Bubbley Boutique  (Etsy shop)

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Can car

Source:  Sandy’s CanCars

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Soda can ash tray or tealight holder

Source:  TrickLife.com

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Pull tab chandelier

Source:  Purple Homes  (designed by Mauricio Affonso

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Vase made from beer cans

Source:  Wonder How To

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Beer can butterflies

Source:  Gearfuse

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Beer can plane

Source:  Robot Nine

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Pull tab clutch

Source:  Design Boom

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Beer Can Chicken

Source:  E-Rcps

Ta da!  Hope you enjoyed these ideas.  And of course, if you have any of your own, feel free to share in comment form below.

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Things that (P)inspire me: Fused Plastic Projects

This week’s Pinterest round-up features fused plastic!  This stuff, made from plastic grocery bags is a great way to both recycle and create a free material, similar to a thin vinyl.  And the best part is, it can go through a sewing machine!  (Though I don’t sew, so this won’t be an avenue I’ll be exploring any time soon.)

Here are my findings!  As always, click on the image for a link back to the original source (gotta keep up the good blogging karma, y’all).

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Fused plastic tote.  Source:  Betz White

(Do you spy the Target bullseyes?  Yes!)

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Fused plastic lunch tote.  Source:  Upcycled Design Lab

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Fused plastic purse.  Source:  About.com

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Fused plastic wallet.  Source:  About.com

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Fused plastic wallet.  Source:  Figaflors i Braves

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Fused plastic tote.  Source:  Flickriver

(I think there’s a Home Depot bag in there somewhere…)

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Fused plastic flower necklace.  Source:  Emily Grace

Fused plastic bibs.  Source:  The Pretty Bean (Etsy shop)

(I looove the use of the bread bag!)

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Fused plastic tote bag.  Source:  Lark Crafts

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Fused plastic eyeglass case.  Source:  Eclecti

Then… I was so inspired, I tried my hand at the stuff!  Turns out, it’s super easy.  Check back next week for a full tutorial!

 Grab a button if you were featured on this week’s round-up!

Image URL:  https://thegingerpennypincher.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/feature-on-the-gpp-button.jpg

Link URL:  https://thegingerpennypincher.wordpress.com

Other things that might inspire you…

Wine Cork Crafts

Recycling Tin Cans

Things That (P)inspire Me

Things that (P)inspire Me: Wine Cork Crafts

***Is (P)inspire a made up word?  Of course.  But it comes from Pinterest, a fabulous organizational and free website that you should check out (now) if you’ve never heard of it before!  Also, check out similar posts here.

My mother — you may remember her — recently gave me the challenge of researching crafty uses for wine corks.  She’s helping throw an Italian-themed dinner party for 67 ladies (I forget the details).  They have about 70 wine corks and wanted to make party favors, so that’s about one cork per guest.  Challenge:  Accepted!

I turned to the ol’ Google image search and Pinterest for inspiration (I had a few ideas up my sleeve, but I like to get inspiration from those who have gone before me).

Here are my finds; some of them only require one cork, others… a lot of corks.  I sort of went off on a multi-corked tangent.  Ah well.  Hopefully, if you have a burgeoning cork collection, like I do, you may find uses for them among these ideas.

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Cork place card holders

Source:  New England Fine Living

Corks in a Vase

Source:  Reuse- Create

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Cork Hurricane

Source:  Two Twenty One

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Cork Parson's Chair

Source:  Urban Objects

cork USB

Source:  Zedomax

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cork club chair

Source:  Recyclart

cork heart

Source:  ewehoo!

cork wreath

Source:  Sterling Wine Online

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cork sphere

Source:  Glam Granola

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Cork "cork board"

Source: Better Homes and Gardens

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champagne cork drawer pulls

Source:  Dollar Store Crafts

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Cork ink stamps

Source: DIY Life

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cork keychains

Source:  Cleverly Inspired

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cork in a vase with a candle

Source:  Love of the Sea

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cork monograms

Source:  Green is Universal

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Another variation of the cork board

Source:  Adventures in Creating

little cork planters, cute!!

cork planters

Source:  Piccsy

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Another variation of a cork place card holder

Source:  Party Frosting

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cork coffee table

Source:  Houzz

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Cork backsplash

Source:  Houzz

Grab a button if you were featured on this week’s round-up!

Image URL:  https://thegingerpennypincher.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/feature-on-the-gpp-button.jpg

Link URL:  https://thegingerpennypincher.wordpress.com

Other things you might enjoy…

Vintage Yardstick and Ruler Crafts

Upcycled Can Projects

Champagne Taste Test

Handmade Gifts, Part 2 (still patting myself on the back)

Ok, so I’m  s l o w l y  returning to the blogging thing, post-holiday, and due to the fact that I kind of checked out last week, that means I have a load of holiday-related things to share with you (still)!

I know, Christmas is over.  Move on.

But I can’t let go — yet.  I even thought I could justify it and say that I was still within the realm of the “Twelve Days of Christmas,” even though I don’t really acknowledge or celebrate that. (What am I talking about?  Ask Wikipedia.)

However, Twelfth Night was January 5th, so now it’s just getting tacky.  Whatever.   I decided to embrace the tacky, and go ahead and do a little show-and-tell of the other handmade gifts in my life, this time the ones that Josh and I received (you may remember the previous post where we talked about the gifts we gave).

First, let’s start with the handmade gifts Josh and I gave each other:

dog silhouettes

Yeah, you’re probably thinking “That’s a lot of dogs.”  Let me explain:  I gave Josh the framed black and white photo, and Josh gave me the two silhouettes, you know, of our dogs.  Yeah, we basically gave each other the same thing.  Creepy, right?  And this was all done unbeknownst to the other (and by the way, we didn’t tell any friends or family who may have spilled it to either of us).  Creepier still, my first plan was to make silhouettes, too.  I planned on using this photo, but we didn’t have any black paper and I didn’t have a lot of time — Christmas Eve gift making, how shameful — so I didn’t follow through with my original plan (little did I know it would look just as good in white!).  So, I spray painted this frame that Josh found at the street on trash day, made a matte out of lime green paper, and framed the photo.

Josh was feeling far more ambitious.  He took two frames (he found these at the street on trash day, also), printed out the same photo on regular printer paper, cut it out, traced it (it ended up being the mirror image side) and then cut that out as well.  He backed it with lime green paper (needless to say, we have an abundance of lime green paper).

When we opened them — which happened to be at the same time — we had a weird case of the Twilight-Zones, and then accused each other of somehow stealing each other’s ideas, perhaps using a magic wand and a Pensieve when the other was sleeping.

Then we realized that was silly and decidedly attributed the coincidence to our compatibility.  Aww….. :)

And our crazy obsession with our dogs.

And maybe the fact that we walk by the Courtney silhouette everyday (this was done when I was like 6).

See it there on the table next to the Eiffel Tower ornament?

Who knows?  But we love them both and look forward to hanging them on our soon-to-be art wall (details in blog post form to follow).

Moving on to some of the handmade gifts we received from family…

My mother-in-law, knowing well of my loves for orange and green, recycling, and handmade gifty-ness, crocheted this reusable tote for me:

hand crocheted grocery bag

I love it!!!  Things like this amaze me to no end, because I have ZERO crocheting/knitting/sewing/anything-domestic-other-than-cooking skills.

My sister-in-law (a loyal GPP subscriber) took part of this blog’s paisley background image and made it into the lid of a magnetic box:

personalized box

Recognize the pattern?  Yeah, I literally squealed when I opened it.  And even better, when I opened the (magnetic) lid, I found a pair of earring that she had made for me!

I asked her where she had the box made, and she said she wouldn’t tell me (it’s a secret she feels she must keep as she has so many gifts made through this company).  However, she did say it was a website that I had mentioned on here before.  Considering that I’ve linked up to hundreds of websites in the 63 posts I’ve written since starting this on September 12, 2011… yeah, I’m sort of scratching my head on this one.

Sigh.  Maybe one day she’ll reveal her mystical secrets…

Amanda, the aforementioned secretive sister-in-law, gave Josh a framed shadow box of the Triforce (from the Zelda games):

triforce art

(Sorry for the overly-reflective picture. this was the best of a dozen attempts, believe me).

Now, I couldn’t be less interested in video games possibly, but even this made me go “OOOHHH!”  The picture doesn’t do it any justice, but in person, it looks gooood (Scouts’ honor).  And little did Amanda know we were slowly accumulating things for our art wall!  Perfectly timed.

The next gift is also one of those funny coincidences because it was something I had planned on blogging about, but hadn’t gotten around to yet.  As a fun way to give us some cash, my mother-in-law made origami with some dollar bills:

snail origami dollar bill

dollar bill rocket ship origami

dollar bill origami swan

dollar bill mens shirt origami

I think they turned out great!  I especially love the men’s shirt origami.  She also made an origami star, but no matter how many different angles I tried, I could not take a picture of it where it actually looked like a star (but it does in person, I promise).

You can find the how-to’s all over the internet; just do a Google search for dollar bill origami (and I recommend ironing your dollar bills on a low setting before starting — they’re made of cotton, they can handle it).

Hope you enjoyed the highlights of some of our handmade gifts!  From here on out, I will try my best to not mention the holidays… at least until… September?!  (I’ve got to do another Twelve Weeks of Christmas series next year, too!)

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You might also enjoy…

Handmade Gifts (Show-and-Tell Part 1)

State String Art

This picture of my dog:

See the little nose poking out from under the cushion?  Yeah she’s pretty weird awesome.