Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Experimenting with Upcycled Plastic Grocery Bags

I began creating plastic woven material from long strips of plastic grocery bags, and decided to try a small project first to see how well it would work. This is a child's size purse made entirerly from recycled bags and the round plastic top from a milk jug. This type of purse would be safe for a 4 to 5 year old.

The woven plastc material is surprisingly strong, and was created using a 'pot holder' loom. The small size of the loom makes it necesary to make squares that would be fastened together with a crochet-like process, as seen below, to make larger items. This works well for some items, though it leaves open areas that might not contain smaller items and may not support as heavy a weight as the woven area itself.

While designing the child's purse I think I have developed better techniques for attaching the woven squares together, giving the seams much more strength and solidity which I'll try on further projects.

My honey has begun making me a larger hand loom that will enable me to make much larger sheets of the woven plastc material for which I have several ideas for creating different designs and plans for future useful and decorative projects.

Watercolor Tote with Pallet Storage

I've been using this tote for my watercolor tools for a few years. I fashioned it out of an old free canvas tote bag, and the material saved from a broken canvas sling magazine rack. I made a canvas slip-pocket to slide my pallet into, and wrapped two Velcro type straps around it to keep the pallet from sliding out during transport. These were sewn together and then firmly attached to the bottom of the bag as well. It works great for keeping the pallet flat during transport. A fresh or wet pallet can create quite a mess if left tipped sideways between painting sessions. Watercolor paper can be placed on top of the pallet to keep them from getting creased as well. Since the recycled materials were already somewhat soiled, I don't mind that it gets stained with water color paints and I can always throw it in the washer when needed. I do have a nice travel set of watercolors for impromptu painting, but at times I like to have my more extensive supplies along with out dragging along the plein air easel. The watercolor tote works well for art classes or workshops and my supplies are always together, ready to grab on the run.  

Friday, March 11, 2011

Preparing Matted Prints for Sale

I purchase photo mats in bulk when on sale to save money, and order those that are delivered in reclosable archival cellophane envelopes so that I can mat the print and then return it to it's clear envelope that the mat was protected in originally. I include a "free" business card (which I order online for just the price of shipping) inside with each matted print, as well as a label showing the title, type of art and artist's signature. The art print itself is stamped with artist's information on the back also. The price label is affixed on the outside, so that the envelope doesn't have to be reopened due to a possible price change.

I keep the titles of my work consistent with the titles I sell online so that they are easy to find if the design is wanted in a different format such as cards, mugs, aprons, etc. My business cards include information on the back as to where the prints are available locally and where different formats and products of the print designs are available for order online.

I keep mats on hand, and can print out an occasional print at home if a special request is made. But I find it is less expensive to order prints in bulk online, as long as you stick with a company that you know consistently provides good quality prints at reasonable charge and then keep track of the prices at each site you use so that you can always purchase them when they are at a reduced sale price.      

Thursday, March 3, 2011

ArtfulExpress Blog linked in Examiner.com Article

Photo by RLHall, ArtfulExpress

My upcyled water bottle craft was recently mentioned in the article titled "Crafty uses for fabric scraps, plastic bottles and more" on Examiner.com - Mankato Green Culture

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Creative Glass ~ Root Starter

Photo by JLTaft

My friend Jan has a cool glass root starter system for plant clippings. With spring coming up, everyone's thoughts are turning toward the warmer weather. When it's still too early to start seeds for outdoors we often turn to our houseplants to fulfill the gardening urge. Getting them ready for the better growing season - repotting, trimming up the tattered growth and pinching back the tips of tendrils to encourage fullness on the main stems. And best of all, starting new plants from those trimmings by first rooting them in water and then planting the newly rooted slips in soil for a whole new potted plant.  

Photo by JLTaft 

Jan's rooting system not only looks attractive, but saves space as well. She describes it as a set of 'petri-like' dishes, with three pouring spouts on the lip of each dish. Placing a plant clipping in each of the spouts, with the cut end in the dish full of water and the foliage protruding out on the outside, they are then neatly and sturdily stacked on top of each other to create a tower of starting plants.     

Photo by JLTaft

The system is called "The Plant Factory" and was made by Corning Glass Works. Since this factory's headquarters is located in my home town, and had changed it's name years ago to Corning Inc. this item must have been made quite some time ago. I have no idea whether they are still being manufactured for sale. A quick google search brought up no results, so they may not be available. Though there may be similar product on the market. 

Photo by JLTaft

Since Jan is taking her gardening hobby to a higher level with a greenhouse in the works and plans of offering various types of bedding and potted plants for sale. She needs a convenient way to start some plant's inside until her greenhouse is in working order and the weather has warmed up. This product enables you to add more dishes to each tower and use more towers as needed, providing a compact way to start many new plants at once, and it looks neat and interesting in your home.

Photo by RLHall

My creative root starter is not as sophisticated, efficient or attractive... but it will do, for me... in a pinch!