Fusible Plastic

Here is what I love and kind of hate about plastic bags. They’re really hard to manage: they take up a lot of room, float around without much encouragement and they’re just annoying, but that makes it fun to deconstruct them and turn them into something else. Fusible plastic, for example.

What you need:

At least 8 bags, but I recommend more in increments of 8- try to get some extra more colorful bags too

Iron

2 long pieces of parchment paper

Of your eight, the majority should be grocery bags or at least the same kind of bag. For my latest run, I used a kitchen bag in the middle because I wasn’t sure how it would compared to others and it still worked out pretty good. That set might have been my best.

Take each bag and fold it down neatly, so all the edges are tucked in. Cut off the seam on the bottom and the handles.

Cut down the side, so you can open it up and lay it flat. Do this with all eight of your bags.

Lay down one sheet of parchment paper and lay down your bags on top. For me, it’s impossible to make all the bags even, but just do the best you can. Make sure if your parchment paper is too short that you’re bags aren’t hanging off the side. Then add your second piece of paper. Also, be prepared for a little bit of a mess because sometimes the ink will melt.

I think the iron does best if it’s set on rayon or the 5 or 6 setting. I would rather you start on too low a setting and work your way up than start too high and ruin the plastic.

The plastic bags can easily get out of line, so the best way to start is melt one end and then work your way over. Once you finish one side, turn it over and work on the other side.

Keep the iron moving constantly. I mean constantly. The plastic tends to shrink and at first I thought I was doing it wrong, but as I kept ironing, I noticed that it was giving the solid feel I was going for. If you can feel the separate layers, you need to keep going.

Before you sew anything, decorate your bag with whatever cute plastic bags you have leftover. These will melt pretty quickly so don’t leave the iron on there for more than a few seconds at a time or you can sew your decorations on. Once I got a method down, I had better luck melting. Mostly I had to work with Wal-Mart bags, but since I hate Wal-Mart,  I did my best to cover up it’s name. For the second time, I just cut the Wal-Mart out and stacked the bags, so the hole wasn’t in the same spot for each bag.

There are tons of things you can do with this fusible plastic. I sewed up the sides, melted  some thing scraps to make handles and made a reusable bag. Because so much of my plastic didn’t turn out the first time, I didn’t have enough to make another one, so we made a pencil pouch.

Fold the bags in half and sew up the sides with right sides together. Then turn the bags inside out.

Fold the bags in half and sew up the sides with right sides together. Then turn the bags inside out.

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The material is waterproof and extremely sturdy, so it would make a great beach bag. If you really wanted to. you could sewed it as a lining on a cute bag. These are just the simple things you can do, but there are plenty of awesome ideas that I want to do someday.

Raincoat: Yes, you read that right.

Wallets

Shoes!

Resoluting

It’s that time again. It’s hard to believe that I started this blog a year ago. It never got to the point that I wanted that point where I would call it a success. That’s a bummer, I won’t lie, but I learned a ton. I’m not sure the future of this blog, but I think it’ll be what I first meant it to be and that was a upcycling DIY blog, but we’ll have to see. For now I’d like to say thank you to all the people who have been following me through the good and the bad, the positive and negative. And to my mom who read even the crummiest of posts and who made everything I’ve done possible.

And so it’s time for my favorite time of the year, New Years. The time that makes me feel a bit hopeful because it makes me feel like if I really try, I can make the change I’ve always wanted to. Last year I wanted to be able to run a 5k. That soooo did not happen. It’s pathetic, but I’ve got a new plan. And I did make it through the apocalypse, so that’s something.

This year I will make the following resolutions:

  1. I will only have one Dr. Pepper. I need to explain this. I didn’t actually resolute to not drink soda, and it’s not like I drank it all the time, but maybe a couple a year or so, but I wanted to be healthier and stop supporting evil corporations and it just kind of happened. I may have had a few sips here and there, but it was so long ago and since I didn’t actually resolute, I don’t know for sure if I ever had one or not, but I’m pretty sure a full pop bottle was never in my hand. For the last few months, I’ve been craving my poison of choice like something terrible and it’s been EVERYWHERE. Every family occasion, every junk food machine (luckily, when my willpower just happened to slip, I never seemed to have any money), every party, everywhere I turn it’s been there just within my reach. I was so close and I had been so good for so long that I just couldn’t give up the willpower. So this week or maybe when school starts, whenever I get a chance that poison is mine, but then that’s it. For another year.
  2. I’m not giving up on my dreams of being able to run a 5k. I’ve tried several programs and one of two things happens. A, there are too many people at the gym and just can’t get up the courage to look like such a loser. Or B, I start to run and then I realize how much of a loser I am because I can’t even make it to the certain point before I start gasping for air, so I just quit before I give too many people a change to notice. I don’t have enough patience with myself and I need to get over it or I’ll never be able to run a stupid 5k.
  3. Ride my bike more. There are a few reasons why I don’t ride my bike everywhere. I won’t bore you with them, but I’m hoping to find some answers out there on this great World Wide Web.
  4. Write down every good thing that happens on a piece of paper and put it in a jar. I’ve seen this idea floating around. It’s kind of cheesy, but kind of cool. I don’t know if I’m going to be able to keep up because every time I get a monthly, weekly, daily calendar I can’t even keep up with flipping the thing, but that’s what new year’s is about…trying new things. Then at the end of the year, you take out all of the notes and read them all.
  5. I think…I’m going to keep a journal. I’ve never been able to keep up with it and I’ve never really wanted to, but I think way, way too much and instead of just keeping those thoughts locked up tight, I think it would be healthier to at least get them out somewhere. Plus, I think it will help me get out of deadening writer’s block rut.

I do hope you guys have a happy New Year and feel free to leave a comment about your resolutions.

Happy Holidays

Yesterday was Christmas. Yesterday it snowed. My family had a lovely day and last weekend we saw my mom’s side of the family, which was great. Since I’ve started this journey, I’ve gotten nothing but support from my family. I’ve learned so much over the past year about the environment and about appreciating my family. All of them, make me want to do better. Be more creative, to work harder to do things even though they’re less convenient and to just generally carry on even though I don’t think it makes much difference, which is the hardest thing for me to do.

This weekend was full of upcycling and crafting while keeping the environment in mind.

We made reindeer ornaments out of corks.

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And bottle cap ornaments…out of bottle caps, which we had to cram seven people into a bottle cap size circle to go into the bottom bottle cap. We haven’t exactly finished that.

Everyone, even the guys, were totally on board with these crafts, which is interesting because when my aunt and I try to get them to do stuff at home it doesn’t work out quite as well. But there they were like Martin Stuarts!

I got a solder from my grandma and an awesome upcycling books book from my aunt.

My great aunt made me a lamp from a glass coke bottle that she found in the lake and popcorn bucket from the theater (I don’t think it was used).

028 And she made adorable bird feeders for my mom and aunt made from terracotta and old license plates.

My mom got me cruise control added to my car, which is a gift that keeps on giving and a ‘keep it green’ shirt  and more love than one could ever hope for.

I appreciate all the effort my family goes into caring about the things that I care about.

Magical Bikes

In case you’re not interested in the whole taking a week just to mod podge a crappy ol’ bike, but you still want to make the world a cleaner place and save some cash then I may know of something that will interest you.

A magic bike. A bike that not only doesn’t give off emissions, but actually removes them the air. A bike that you could throw away, guilt free and without taking up any space in the landfill. A bike made from…bamboo. That’s right. Bamboo.

http://www.5bbc.org/events/events2011.shtml

The organic bamboo is grown Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. All the other materials used are recycled and to bind the everything together Marty Odlin, founder of The Bamboo Bike Studio in New York City, hardens the fibers with flame treatment, glues the tubes together, and binds each joint, wrapping them in epoxy-soaked hemp that hardens.

Bamboo, which grow a meter a day in the better scenarios (something I’m pretty sure aluminum and steel don’t do), is known for its strength and flexibility and is said to be as strong as light steel. The bamboo absorbs the vibrations of the road and grows up to a meter a day.

The only catch is that one of the reasons to ride a bike that I talked about does not apply here. And that reason is that you don’t have get a loan to get a bike, but this bike cost $10,000. Or you could build your own for $699. I do have to appreciate the magical carbon absorbing aspect, but I think I may have to be satisfied with meager $80 reloved bicycle.

http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/655642–riding-a-bike-made-of-grass

If spending $10,000 for something that doesn’t even have air conditioning (although I must say sometimes, depending on how hot it is, the wind can make a lovely air conditioner) then maybe the cardboard bike may be more up your alley. Yes, a cardboard bike.

http://www.thefootdown.co.uk/2012/08/10/izhar-cardboard-bike-project-video/

And it has its own kind of magic. Three engineers told the creator Izhar Gafni that something like this couldn’t be done. And they definitely didn’t think it could carry around a 485 pound person. And the best thing is that it’s only $90.

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/technology/2012/08/recycled-cycling-the-cardboard-bike/

Homemade Hair Products

I’ve been inspired to make some hair care changes lately and they seem to be paying off. Find more toiletry recipes here and hair products here.

There is this style called beach waves. I’ve always liked them, but I never knew how to get them. I brought this up to my hair dresser and she told me how I could do it. She recommended that I go find stuff called salt spray or texturizer spray at a beauty supply store. I didn’t find the salt spray and there weren’t a whole lot of texturizer sprays, so I just grabbed one to make sure I had an option. When I got home I looked up this salt spray because I was thinking that it shouldn’t be that hard to make and turns out it’s really not.

You need:

1 cup of warm water

2 Tablespoons of sea salt- you need sea salt and not table salt

1 Tablespoon of coconut oil- if you can find some virgin coconut oil, in other words it hasn’t been processed to death then it should have a nice coconutty smell.

Some recipes will recommend a tablespoon of hair gel for extra hold, but the reason I was making my own was so it would be chemical free. If I added the gel then it wouldn’t be. For me it works fine without it.

Put it in a spray bottle and spray under the top layer at the roots and all over. Take a towel and smash up from the ends. Blow dry on the low setting. Mine usually looks fine at this point, but sometimes I have a side that likes to be a little flat. If this is the same take an inch section of hair twist it and then use the flat iron. Do as many sections as you need and then carefully run your finger through the twists to loosen the wave.

My success with this inspired me to make my own shampoo. I had found a recipe that sounded interesting a couple of weeks before, but one of the ingredients was castile soap and no one sold it here, so I had to wait for it to come in the mail. Nothing kills inspiration and motivation like having to wait.

When I finally used the shampoo I thought that it worked really well, but there are a couple of things about it that I don’t really appreciate and some of my family members didn’t either. It gives my hair a kind of sticky, oily feeling, but that comes out if I use the rinse that is recommended and if I don’t then it’s not that noticeable with my beach wave hair that I usually do. Because I take a shower at night, if I don’t blow dry my hair then I have a bit of a greasy issue. Both those problems are easily fixable. I just noticed that it’s only supposed to be used once a week instead of everyday. Taking that into account I don’t think the smidge of extra consideration is that big of a deal.

Here’s the recipe:

3/4 cup distilled water

1 Tbsp peppermint

1 Tbsp lavender

1 Tbsp nettle- I didn’t have any of this, so it’s not in mine. It may make a difference.

1 Tbsp rosemary

Add the dried herbs to boiling water and make a tea. Once the tea has steeped and cooled, add the following ingredients.

1/4 liquid castile soap or vegetable glycerin

1/2 tsp salt

1 Tbsp witch hazel (alcohol free, plain, or scented) or aloe vera

It lasts about a month and for once a week use.

I used lavender and rosemary from my mom’s garden and aloe vera from her aloe vera plant. It was pretty fun not to have to go to the store for everything.

For the rinse that is supposed to be used with and helps remove that somewhat sticky, greasy feeling add:

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

16 cups water

Use every week or two with the shampoo. Wash hair, add rinse, leave in and then rinse hair with cool water.

Last 6 months.

I got the shampoo and rinse from here. It also has several other hair products that didn’t really work for me, but feel free to try them out.

Want more ideas? Check out my DIY page.

Luffa Sponges DIY

Luffa pads/ Loopha sponges/whatever you call them can be found in just about every corner of the great Interweb, most of them fairly cheap. But I’m here to tell you that you can grow them yourself, for almost free. It’s pretty amazing actually.

There are a couple of things you should know about growing luffas. One, patience, which is needed for growing most things, is a must. It takes a while for the seeds to germinated, for the things to grow, but once they do they really, really do.

Two, it’s a vine. It needs a trellis.

Three, I’m no luffa growing expert, so I’ll leave the rest to someone else.

I do fancy myself somewhat of an expert in luffa harvesting and I have the amazingly soft hands to prove it.

You can tell when they’re ready to be picked because they have a yellowish color instead of green and the skin feels loose and soft. It took us a good few months before we got to this point and when we did they were pretty large.

Almost ready luffas.

Once your darlings are ready to be picked, carefully twist or cut it off the vine.

The next steps will only get messier. Seeds and sap will be flying, so do this outside or in the kitchen.

Step 1- take your luffa and bang it on the edge of the table. This will knock some of the seeds loose.

Step 2- at the opposite end from the vine there is a weak spot in the skin, dig your thumb into and pull that piece of skin off. This will make it easier to get the rest of the skin off. It’s very sappy.

Step 3- cut the luffa into sections. Depending on how long it is, you may be able to get two or three sections from it.

Step 4- Next you’ll shake the seeds from the luffa. You’ll probably want to do this into a bowl. This part is a bit time consuming at least. Again, banging it against something helps make the seeds come out.

Step 5- Take your seedless luffas and soak them in water for a couple of hours.

Next, take each luffa put a spot of soap on it and hand scrub the rest of the sap off. When you can squeeze the water from the luffa against the sink without any soapy type residue that usually means you got the sap off.

Once you’ve got that done, let the luffas dry out for a couple of days.

And that’s it. You got yourself some new luffas and some amazingly soft hands.

If you want some seeds, check out my mom’s etsy page.

And if you don’t want to do all the work but still want luffa sponges then you may check her page out because have the sponges for sale as well.

Want more ideas? Check out my DIY page.

Sun Made Record Bowl DIY

My plan was to have a pretty cool DIY for you today, but instead I have an idea, the do’s and don’t’s and proof that this project does work even if I don’t have the cut and dry exact rules just yet.

A couple of months ago my mom was got some large spools for tables and chairs. These spools had some big holes in the middle and my mom didn’t want spiders or bugs to be able to crawl up through the hole, so she decided to cover the holes up. She got some records, covered up the holes of the record with broken pieces of other records and then glued them down on top of the spools. Needless to say they melted.

Here is what our spools look like.

And that is how I came up with this idea of making record bowls in the sun.

What you need:

Records- I got mine from super scratched up and unusable at the thrift store for 10 cents. I knew this would be a learning process, so I got a bunch.

Dishes- especially if you’re going to use the oven. The taller the items, the deeper your bowls will be. You need some taller for the bottom and something wider than the bottom dish for the top.

Lots of Sun

Lots and Lots of patience

I’ll give instructions for the oven verison first.

Step 1- Turn on the oven to 200, which is the lowest most ovens go. If your won’t go down that far then 250 will work. Stack like so. I used a funnel type colander for the bottom and a wider colander for the top. Put it in the oven. The great thing about this is that the bowl pretty much makes itself. I made these a while ago, but I believe that after 10 or 20 minutes the records get soft enough that you can start to mold them how you want.

If you want to make the plates, then just turn the plate upside down and place the record on top.

Finished Products

I believe the blue one was the one I made with the colander. The orange I made with a a bundt pan. It was more shallow.

Here is how the plates turned out. We ended up making a three tiered appetizer type stand with ours. The deepest bowl which ended up being the narrowest bowl on top and the plates went on the bottom.Turned out pretty cute.

For the sun method, things are a bit different. There is no dish stacked on top and most of the molding you’ll do yourself. You can either let the record melt into the bowl, like shown, or you can let the record melt over the sides of the bowl like it was shown before, but without the bowl on top.

The sun seems to be a bit tempermental. This doesn’t work just because it’s ridiculously hot; It works because the sun is beaming directly down on it. If you put these in your back yard and the sun is still beaming on your roof then it won’t work. As the sun moves, your records have to move.

I tried to make these at my aunt’s house. I had to put them on concrete because she didn’t have any tables that were in the sun and it didn’t work. By the time I got my records out and found a decent place to put them, it was a little later in the afternoon, so maybe that’s why.

At home the best place for me is from 1-4 and I’ve only had luck on these white tables. Why it worked I don’t know, maybe I waited too late at my aunt’s house or any other time I worked on a different surface, but it’s something to consider if this doesn’t work for you.

Some other things you should know: I broke a lot of mine because I was impatient. Some of the records are extremely flimsy, so they seemed to be soft and bendible, but they weren’t ready. I ruined a lot of mine that way. Check them every 20 minutes or so. You want to get those extremely flimsy ones because they melt faster and they’re easy to mold. You’ll know what I mean once you buy them. Once you start your bowl, try to finish because the sharper curves make it hard for the sun to reach that part of the bowl.

This may sound hard, but it really isn’t. You just have to have patience and be willing to try different methods. What worked for me may not work for you because it’s all about the sun. You may be tempted to just throw them in the oven, but making them in the sun is better. It’s free, you won’t create extra heat in your already hot house and it gives you a little extra time outside. It takes about 20 minutes or so for it start to make it workable and it cools pretty quickly, so shape fast.

You can use these bowls for any number of things. I think I’ll make mine into a planter for a shallow rooted plant. Or maybe even into something like this.

And most importantly  have fun with it.

Want more ideas? Check out my DIY page