Eco is chic. We asked James from Plasctic Rapt(yes, he’s the same as James from FireFly) to teach us how to make recycled table numbers from fused plastic bags. These are great for an eco friendly bridal shower, bachelorette party, or even your wedding. It’s time to dig out those bags sitting in that drawer in your kitchen!
We’ll be fusing the plastic bags together then cutting out the numbers. Half the fun of this project is finding some funky plastic to decorate them with. You can use almost any type of plastic bags for this project. I chose a regular grocery bag for my base and then prettied it up with a target bag. There are sooooo many possibilities with fused plastic. Especially, since you can sew the fused plastic sheets as though they’re fabric! Now keep in mind that “used” bags are more in the spirit of “econess”. So don’t go to the store and grab a few extra bags ’cause that kinda defeats the “eco” part of all this. =]
To prepare for this project you’ll need to find the materials below and spend a moment on the computer. Make a print out of the numbers you’re constructing that you can use as a template. I like to print them out in grey to save some ink. There’s also no reason (unless you’re not artistically inclined) that you couldn’t draw the numbers out by hand.
IMPORTANT: Do this in a well ventilated area
- Tape (scotch or masking)
- Parchment paper
- Number template
- Wedding Magazine (or any other kind, heavier the better)
- Spiffy blue Vespa key chain(optional)
- Can Do Spirit (not optional)
Step 1: Take the grocery bag and flatten it out in front of you. Fold the bag in half so the handles overlap.Take your scissors and gather both handles together and cut them off. This is to square the bag up and helps keep it symmetrical.
Cut the bottom of the bag off as well. This gets rid of the extra gathers and folds in the bag.
Step 2: Fold the bag in halves until you’ve gotten to a size just large enough to lay your number template on top of it. The size should be slightly larger than the number you plan to cut out since the plastic shrinks a little bit.
Step 3: Tear off 2 sheets of parchment paper that are larger than the folded bag. Place the folded up plastic bag between the two sheets of parchment paper.
Step 4: Set your iron on a mid-level heat setting. I use the Rayon setting on mine. Anything hotter at this stage will be too hot. If the iron is too hot, holes can appear in the plastic or it can shrink and distort. Using a steady back and forth motion, run the iron over plastic (which should be between 2 pieces of parchment) with a firm pressure. Do this a few times then turn the parchment/plastic over and repeat on the other side.
Once you’ve done both sides turn up the heat on your iron a couple of clicks. Again run the iron over the plastic a few times. After you’ve ironed for a few minutes, take a magazine and place it on top of the parchment. This is to help the plastic lay flat as it cools. Cooling only takes a few moments.
Step 5: Check the plastic for adhesion. Are the different layers beginning to fuse together? If not, keep ironing and gradually raise the temperature. I wouldn’t go past the cotton setting at any point though.
Step 6: If your layers have fused together, grab the decorative plastic. In this tutorial we’re using a target bag. Those little targets are a great visual pattern. Place this on top of your fused plastic sheet. Cover them with the parchment and again, starting at Rayon, iron the plastic sheets. After the first few passes raise the heat and iron for a few more. Once fused, trim off the excess material.
Step 7: If your sheets are now fused, grab your number template and tape it to the plastic sheet. Using the scissors cut the number out of the plastic sheet. Once the cutting is complete, peel your number template off.
Step 8: Look at your new masterpiece with a heightened sense of self worth and accomplishment. Smile! Now calculate how many more you have to do and get to work.
The numbers aren’t incredibly stiff, but would look pretty cool if you hung them from a tree branch or used a bamboo skewer to hold them up. Get creative!
Extra Notes: White plastic bags as a base make the colors you put on top of it more vibrant. A great source of some colored bags are the pooper scooper bags the city puts in parks. I have found that the plastic in Target bags is very easy to work with.
Heres another number I did from the scraps on this project. I just covered it with a thin yellow bag I had in my bag stash.