Wednesday, October 6, 2010

the old bag gets a facelift

A few weeks ago I got all excited about printing lunch bags. I resized my groovy doodle patterns, put a white lunch bag through the manual feeder, hit print, held my breath - and heard a disturbing crunch. Fished it out, fed a new bag from the other end. Same thing. Repeated w/flat merchandise bags. No. Wasn't going to happen, at least not with my printer. It required ten sheets of paper to clear out the residue from the jams. It was dejected and so was I. Back into the drawer went the bags, until I took out my paints last weekend to finish up something else, and thought, "Hm! I think I'll watercolor them instead."

So I did. And what fun! A big middle finger to you, printer! Liquid watercolor, I'm all yours.

lunch-bag-2

lunch-bag-3

lunch-bag-1

lunch-bag-4

If you're interested, here is how I made mine:

1. Get a large package of inexpensive white lunch bags. Target or Wal-Mart will fill the need.

2. Create a bottom layer of texture/pattern/random markings on each bag with whatever materials you have on hand. I used water soluble crayons, white out (for resist), and drawing inks (Koh-i-noor Rapidograph inks in bright colors; I drew squiggles directly from the bottle).

3. Add a layer of liquid watercolor with a foam brush (or a regular brush about the same size). At first, I diluted the paint, but upon drying the color was too insipid for my liking so on the remainder I did it directly from the concentrate. If you have patience, you can do some interesting color layering by letting the watercolor dry before adding the next layer. Be gentle - the sides are delicate and rip easily when wet. To get around this I opened the bag entirely and put my hand inside it like a puppet, which put most of the pressure on the bottom of the bag where it is strongest. This also enabled me to reach every side at once while I painted.

4. Let it dry - I found that the easiest way is to stick the bag on something like an upright papertowel holder. Or flip a chair upside down if the legs are long enough, so you can dry four at a time. I turned a few plant stands upside down and that did the trick too. If possible, put your desiccation station outside - they'll dry much more quickly. Mine were finished in less than fifteen minutes.

5. Once dry, fold them back into form. If you're really ambitious, you could run over each bag with an iron to give it that crispy look again. I kinda like the crumply shape though.

It's worth making multiples with this project, because it is a messy process and requires just as much effort for one bag as it does for ten or fifty. The more I got into the groove, the more I started experimenting, and the more fun it was!

As for the finished goods? They'll work just fine for lunch bags, obviously, but I think they would also make great gift bags, party treat bags, luminaria, or even a gift in themselves if prettily bundled up. If you have any ideas on how to spice up this project, please share - the more ways to give that old bag a facelift, the better!

40 comments:

Pat said...

The third photo of the bags open looks like a watercolor painting itself. It is gorgeous!!!!

Your kids will be the hit of the school cafeteria with these beauties.

painted fish studio said...

sweet! yes, they'll be so pretty with candles in them!

nacherluver said...

Brilliant idea! No, literally. They're brilliant in color! ;0)
Feelin' cheesy,
Lynn

Shannon said...

screw you, printer. these are awesome!

Who you callin' housewife? said...

Just beautiful! There's no end of things one can do with an old bag.

Christine said...

They are gorgeous! And 100% unique (which they wouldn't have been if bred from the printer). I love'em :-)

Sharon said...

WOW!! I love old bags! What a great wake up this morning in the middle of a crazy work week. These are the best. I am SO glad the printer took a dump on this project. Thanx for a great Wednesday gift!

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Lori said...

Ah! love 'em love 'em! And I LOVE the pic with the bag and the tights and the cowboy boots. ROCK ON!

Sarah C. said...

Fabulous! Isn't it funny how some of our good ideas go wrong but turn into better ones? Thanks so much for the tutorial! Can't wait to paint up some bags. :)

lori vliegen said...

now this is a facelift to fall in love with......and this old bag can't wait to make some!! of course, i wish i had some of those delicious polka-tights and fabulous cowboy boots to go with my new bags.....i absolutely LOVE her style!!!! xox, :))

Chel said...

These are AWESOME!!

Inner Toddler said...

Shalev totally has those boots too. We have to make sure these two go to college together. I'll be like "just look for the girl with the watercolor lunch bags. and the boots..."

You could turn these into kickass lunch bag puppets. Way better than the brown variety.

suzanne cabrera said...

Oh...and I bet they SOUND amazing. So crinkly.

Rita A. said...

These are wonderful. So cheerful.
I love the boots. I had some just like them.

S.E.Minegar said...

cute bags. i love artsygirl's style!

iHanna said...

Your photos makes me happy!

cindy said...

you're like winston churchill who said 'never give up, never, never, never' or something like that. i love those bags, but your funky cowgirl even more!

Katrina said...

adorable! and the bag in the photo matches her tights. perfect.

Janie B said...

These are wonderful! When my girls were little, I always drew pictures on their lunch bags and left them notes inside. They still talk about it today (in their 30s).

Sharon said...

I'm going to have to get some of these lunch bags and then take them with me to see my grandkids next time. I think we'd all love to paint them and see what we can do with them. I love the idea of gift bags and party favor bags myself. Woo hoo! So glad I stopped by today. Love your little cowgirl's photo too.

Phoenix Peacock said...

I CAN"T WAIT to be the funky mama that has my kids going to school with these `

Anairam said...

Lovely bags - you are such a clever girl! (Locally we don't get paper lunch bags like yours, if we did, I would already have bought a stack - we have horrible little plastic sandwich bags.) I have to add that I absolutely love your daughter's sense of style!

rachel awes said...

aimeeeeeeeeee!
it's like,
any ol' thing,
when it gets
in your hands,
becomes
t
r
a
n
s
f
o
r
m
e
d
*
xx

Bella Sinclair said...

Girlfriend, what are you ON?

And can I have some????

I imagine your home with all your dining room chairs upside down and little colorful baggies on all the feet. Like a colorful gyno office.

Seriously, though, you are on one fantastic creative tear! I love it!

keepingthemistakes said...

Cool! Have you seen the paint brushes called Aqua-Flo? They have empty handles that you can fill with whatever liquid media you like. Liquid watercolors work great in them.

●• Thereza said...

yay for the crafty tutorial queen! :)

freebird said...

Very cute idea. My daughter homeschools (and wonders why she is still spending 3.5 hours in the car on any given day)so these wouldn't be so good for lunches but gift bags would be great. I'll share the link with her.

Kate said...

These are just wonderful. I am having an Art Birthday party for my soon to be 10 year old daughter, and these will be a great activity or I might make a few and use them for luminaries for the front walk.

tori said...

I love this idea. I happily have a supply of white gift bags and now something fun to do at work tonight with my girlies. I thought my son was brilliant when he had his jr. high students dry their dijeridoos on the legs of upside down chairs. Turns out you're brilliant too!!! paper towel stands...nice!

JessiVille said...

These are awesome! I love the fabulous colors!

CJD said...

Wow! So beautiful. I love them.

The Dreaming Bear said...

Middle finger to the printer, indeed!!! These are gorgeous! I would love to have these in my store for my customers to carry their goodies out in!

meg duerksen said...

i am in love with these!
totally LOVE them!
makes me relaxed just looking at them.

Eliza Lynn Tobin said...

I imagine your children are the coolest kids in school with these lunch bags...they are so awesome and colorful, giving a whole new meaning to "bag lunch"!

AG Ambroult said...

She is going to be the star of the cafeteria. Thanks for the how to.

Regina said...

THIS old bag could use a colorful face lift like that.

Very cool stuff.

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lugarandcompany said...

How enjoyable and what watercolor flair! Thanks for sharing!

Lisa kudrow said...

This is a terrific gift bag and the colors you used are so spectacular. It really looks good and useful in so many ways.

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