HOW TO fuse plastic bags
I made a cardboard tray and lined it by fusing a plastic bag directly on the cardboard. I also made the handles for the tray by fusing plastic around a nylon cord. My junk mail and magazine vases have removable fused plastic linings. This lets me fill them with water for fresh flowers. I created plastic versions of my origami accessories with squares of fused plastic. These are great, because they’re more durable than the paper versions. I even use this technique to wrap gifts.
Fused plastic is waterproof, flexible, easy to work with, and a cinch to make. Let’s get started.
- 1 plastic bag
- 1 pair scissors
- wax paper, parchment paper, or copy paper (Forego used copy paper. Ink from the paper may transfer onto your iron or the plastic. Use new copy paper. You can always print on the paper after your done using it to your fuse plastic. I’m going to use wax paper because it’s what I have in my kitchen at the moment.)
- 1 clothes iron
- 1 towel, ironing board
- First, cut off the bottom seam of the bag.
- Now cut off the handles.
- Flatten out the bag.
- If you’re using a towel, layout it out on your work surface. I prefer using towels, because I find it easier to fuse sheets of plastic on a larger surface.
- If the plastic bag has printed graphics, turn the bag inside out. This prevents the bag’s ink from transferring onto your waxed paper or iron and smudging everywhere.
- Lay a protective sheet of wax, parchment, or copy paper underneath the bag.
- Place second a sheet on top.
- Set the iron on polyester or rayon and turn of the steam.
- Iron the plastic bag, running the hot iron from the center outwards. This prevents air from getting trapped in the bag and forming bubbles. If you do find bubbles you can pop them with a pin and iron over them. Keep the iron moving at all times running over the entire surface two to three times. The plastic bag will smoothen and the protective sheet will adhere to the plastic bag. Be careful to run the iron over the protective sheet only and not directly on the plastic bag, otherwise you may melt the bag onto your work surface and your iron.
- Turn the plastic bag over while keeping it sandwiched between the protective sheets.
- Iron this side of the plastic bag.
- Allow the fused plastic to cool.
- Once it’s cool to the touch carefully peel off the protective sheets. If the plastic isn’t fused completely sandwich it between protective sheets and iron again.
- Now you have a two-ply sheet of fused plastic. You can make it thicker by ironing another plastic bag onto it. Remember to sandwich the plastic between protective paper before ironing!
- Keep the scraps from the bottom and handles. You can place them on top and fuse them with the main part of the plastic bag too, so there's no need to throw anything in the trash.
- Ironing your plastic a little longer will cause it to melt and form holes. This can make for an interesting texture, but be careful not to burn it!
- You can fuse multiple bags together to make an even thicker and durable plastic sheet. Fuse additional plastic bags by stacking one on top and fusing it completely before stacking on another. If you try ironing together a stack that's too thick, the iron may not be able to fuse the bags in the center of the stack
- Cut out shapes from different colored bags and fuse it on fused plastic sheet for like an appliqué effect.
- I made my plastic origami accessories using four-ply fused plastic. You can even go up to six or eight-ply.
- There will be minimal fumes, so keep the door to your work room open or crack open a window.
- Here's a tip from talented crafter, Arely. You can use clear plastic bags to laminate paper. If you use a clear plastic bag, be careful because it tends to melt faster. After fusing, the plastic will still be clear, but it will have a matte finish.
- Becky, the plastic crafting maven of Crop Rotation, says sewing plastic is like sewing regular fabric, but can be a little more slippery. Use denim sewing machine needles and general purpose yarn or denim yarn.
Becky, a college math professor with a crafty side, sent me a collection of Show & Tell projects. In her fused plastic projects, she uses rare bags, especially ones that friends or family bring back from other countries. She's made a brilliantly graphic messenger bag and iPad sleeve by carefully composing a collage of prints. Check out more of her math influenced creations at Crop Rotation and see what inspires her on her Pinterest.
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