I’ve been wanting to experiment with fused plastic for ages so what better place to try it out than here on Tutorial Tuesday and share my experiences with you.
I’ve got lots of plastic bags stored in the kitchen from a few online supermarket deliveries we’ve done since Milo was born and I’ve just never got round to taking them back to the supermarkets for recycling. Good job too as then I wouldn’t have any bags to experiment with.
As I was experimenting and learning at the same time, the images in the tutorial below show different bags all at different stages – I hope it’s not too confusing!
What you will need:
– Sharp Scissors
– Plastic Bags
– Ironing Board
– Greaseproof Paper
– Large Wooden Chopping Board
– Metal Ruler
– Craft Knife
– Cutting Mat
The first thing you need to do is lay your plastic bag out flat and cut off the bottom and the top so that you’re left with a large tube of plastic.
Stretch and flatten this out and put aside. Do the same with all your plastic bags so that you have them ready. You will need 3 to 4 bags for one fused sheet.
Put the wooden chopping board onto of your ironing board and cut two pieces of Greaseproof paper that are slightly bigger than the board and sandwich your first plastic bag between them.
Switch your iron on – you’ll have to play around with the temperature until you find the right setting for your iron. I started on the lowest setting which did nothing to my plastic, and gradually made it hotter and hotter until the plastic began to fuse. You won’t be able to iron the entire bag all at once and will have to just do it in stages and iron section after section. Keep checking and see how it’s doing. If you rub it between your fingers and it moves and rustles, it’s not fused.
Make sure to keep your iron moving at all times and try not to overwork any particular area. Vary your speed according to the heat of the iron – if it’s warm you can move slowly, if it’s hot you have to move quickly. The plastic will shrink and if you keep your movement of the iron at a regular speed and cover the whole area you’re working on the plastic should fuse and shrink evenly. Peel it away from the Greaseproof paper and then move it so that you can work on the next un-fused section. Carry on doing this until the entire sheet is fused.
Build up the layers. Take your next plastic bag and place this on top of your first fused one and then repeat step three until the second bag is fused to the first.
It helps to turn the fused plastic over and iron on both sides – I did this with every bag addition.
Once you fused all of your bags together you can then embellish the sheet with cut out shapes from coloured plastic bags – just use the same technique and be extra vigilant so that you don’t accidentally melt or burn the sheet by overworking an area. I found some bags in Tesco the other day that have a lovely design on them and so after making my plastic orange using a Sainsbury’s bag, I then cut out the Tesco design and fused this on top.
Once you have finished embellishing, you can cut out a square/rectangle using a metal ruler and craft knife on your cutting mat and then decide what you ‘d like top make with it. Mine ended up a little warped, but I’m sure if I shoved it under a few heavy books overnight it would flatten down.
There are thousands of ideas online of what to do with fused plastic to inspire you. I typed ‘fused plastic‘ into Pinterest and got some great ideas. In fact I made Milo a funky bib – what do you think?
I love the layering and really want to play with text and typography with my next few pieces I make and introduce more colours.
Why not give it a go and see what you can create. You can make so much with fused plastic – bags, bibs, wallets, clothes, jewellery, belts, decorations – you’re only limited by your own imagination. I’m looking forward to making more sheets and then sewing them together to make bags and practical stuff for the home. I’m going to experiment with different thicknesses of plastic too as it’d be great to make thicker fused plastic that I could cut into funky shapes, as I think I could make Milo a lovely mobile for his room. The possibilities are endless… Go and create….