Things have been really busy here at radmegan HQ. I am teaching my Needle-Felted Peeps class at the Urban Craft Center this weekend, my 3 workshops at Craftcation are just around the corner, I have two upcoming television appearances (more on that soon!!) a few really fun commissions that I'm working on at night, and I'm traveling a lot for a new crafty client I'm working with. So many great things in the works. I'm feeling very blessed. I'm also feeling like I need things in my personal life to be as tidy as possible so that I won't get slowed down or distracted.
Which brings me to today's project. Full disclosure: The photo below is what our laundry room shelf has looked like for almost two years. This week, I went to grab one bag and the entire shelf almost came down on me because there were SO MANY PLASTIC GROCERY BAGS stuffed into a teeny tiny space.
In a fit of rage and craftiness, I pulled the entire bundle down and decided to make SOMETHING USEFUL from the bags that had been cluttering up our hall for so long. In a wild moment of clarity, I flashed back to a small woven pot that I had made during my brief stint as a Girl Scout. I grabbed my cutting mat, a cutting blade, a ruler, some masking tape, a heavy yarn needle and crochet hook. I was going to weave a basket out of all these plastic bags.
The plan started coming together rather quickly. Plastic grocery bags are easy enough to smooth out. I used my ruler to cut each bag into three strips. The two handles became long strips, and the middle section became a third.I arranged the strips of plastic into piles according to color and size. Since the plastic bags are so prone to static electricity, I placed several dryer sheets between the piles so that they would stay in place.
I decided that since I had so many white plastic bags, I would use those at the inner cord of my basket. I really wanted my entire project to be made of recycled materials. I took un-cut plastic bags and twisted them in my hands until they were about a half an inch in diameter. Then I took masking tape and put small pieces (about an inch of tape) around the twisted plastic to keep it from unraveling, and to help keep the size relatively consistent.
To add length to the cord, I would simply twist more bags together and tape them down. The inner cord got pretty long, pretty fast.
Once I had about five feet of white plastic cord, I took the strips of tan and brown plastic and started to tightly wrap them around the end of the inner cord.
To begin the basket shape, I wrapped strips of brown plastic around the white center cord. When I had about 3-4 inches of inner cord wrapped in brown, I bent my center cord until it was shaped like a lowercase letter "g". I tried to keep the hole inside the g-shape as small as possible.
I threaded pieces of brown plastic through my heavy yarn needle and wrapped the coil of white plastic with the brown plastic. As I did this, I wrapped the coil around the g-shape so that a spiral began to form.To keep the outer coil connected to the inner coil, I would wrap the white plastic in the brown about 5 times, and then use my needle to push it through the layer below. It took a while for this to feel natural again (it's been a LONG time since I was a Girl Scout) but eventually I got in a rhythm. Wrap, wrap, wrap, wrap, thread over and through the layer below, wrap, wrap, wrap, wrap, thread over and through the layer below...
I used trace amounts of masking tape to hold the brown plastic down on the white cord when I needed to re-thread my needle. To prevent the tape from showing, I would wrap a little more brown over the taped area before continuing.As my basket base progressed, I started to incorporate additional colors into the design.
I also had to keep adding length to the inner cord as my basket grew in size.
When my the base of my basket was as large and I wanted it to be, I wrapped the next coil in the same way as I had all the rest, only starting on TOP of the previous coil, instead of next to...
In about four hours, I had a medium sized basket!
When the basket was the size I wanted, I taped off the end and tightly wrapped my last few layers of plastic over it and the layer below.
I tucked the end of the brown plastic under one of the previous loops, hiding the loose end, AND allowing me to re-open the basket if I ever want to add more size to it!
I have to say that I am really pleased with this basket! Since it's made entirely of plastic bags, it is a a terrific companion in the garden, great green gift for your little one (hello homemade Easter Basket!!), and it's just a really fun craft to help you un-clutter your life! I used mine to harvest a few odds and ends in the garden...
And then put it back on my formerly frightening shelf in the laundry room! Once that handmade-plastic-bag-basket starts overflowing, you can bet your boots I will be making another one! Or, I might even continue building up the original!
Either way, I feel a lot better knowing that the plastic bags I've been holding onto have become something useful (and cute!) instead of clogging up a landfill OR clogging up my home/life!