Saturday, January 31, 2009

Plarn, my way

We interrupt these paper recycling ideas for a quick plarn making tutorial.

What is "Plarn"? Plarn is a slang acronym for Plastic Yarn. Most often it is made from used grocery bags or new trash bags, but any thin flexible plastic sheet could theoretically be made into plarn. There are a few ways to make it, but here you will find my favorite method.

Plarn, My way!

Step 1 - Acquire and prepare your bags. Smooth and flatten them with your hands and cut away the handles and the very bottom edge where the plastic is fused. I usually do about three bags at a time and fold them in half for efficiency.

Step 2- Open your bag and roll it up. Roll or fold in such a way that the open cut edges are at the right and the left. Leave about an inch at the top unrolled.

Step 3- Cut strips. Use scissors or a rotary blade and make cuts at the intervals you like. I personally like my plarn to be about an inch wide. Make sure to leave the unrolled section at the top UNCUT.

Step4- Complete the spiral. Right now, you have a many dangling loops. Make diagonal cuts from the bottom right to the top left (or vice versa if you are left handed) of the strip cuts you've just made. In the photo I have drawn the lines where the first four cuts should be made to help you visualize this pattern. What you are basically doing is jogging each strip to meet the one to the left of it therefore creating a spiral all the way down the bag. I find the best way to accomplish this step is to thread my arm through the bag. This prevents the dangling strips from getting tangled up in each other or accidentally getting cut while the spiral is being completed. If you do accidentally cut a strip, it's not a problem, just see step 5.

Step 5- Connecting plarn ends. Like wool, simply twist the ends of the plarn together. This tightly twisted section will all but disappear in the completed plarn fabric (I say plabric!) If it makes you feel safer, use a tiny dab of glue. I haven't found it neccesary but no one, especially me, will fault you for being careful.

But what do you make with it? Anything that can be made with yarn can be made with plarn. The plabric makes sturdy bags and rugs. Plabric that gets soiled is easily rinsed clean and is therefore great for the beach or the tool shed.
Plarn is also ideal for sculpture as it tends to hold its shape.

Here's to keeping one more non-biodegradable material out of our landfills!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Christmas Card Recycling, Part 3

Welcome back to Christmas Card Recycling...

Part 3
(Polar Attraction)
This time your refrigerator is the star attraction as the ideas here require some magnets. Magnetic stripping can be found in any craft store or big box store both in the craft section and usually in the hardware section as well! To be really Earth friendly though, use some of those promotional magnets that every business everywhere hands out.

Magnetic Poetry
1) Cut the most beautiful and most meaningful words from your cards (or silly or funny or whatever!) and glue them to the magnets.
2) Enjoy them on your fridge!
Just look at the multitude of pretty words!

Magnetic (or not) Paper Dolls

This is just like the magnetic poetry, but instead of the words, you'll be using the colors, and patterns of your cards.
1) Draw out a doll's body (or search for one on the net). You'll need two copies. One copy is the doll: Color her, and cut her out. She doesn't necessarily need a magnet since her clothing will be able to hold her to the fridge. But you can still use one if you want.
2) The second copy is your stencil. Take a deep breath and cut off her head. I know! Shocking! But this way you'll easily be able to trace her neckline. While you're at it, cut her hands off too so you'll know the maximum length of her sleeves.
2) Get fashion crazy! Think outside of the box. That night sky could look like a polka dot dress. A tree might look like a fluffy green tulle skirt. Any unusual element can be a hat or a purse or anything that you can imagine! Just trace your headless doll for perfect fitting garments.
3) Cut them out, tack on the magnet, enjoy your new little fashion icon!

Magnetic Frames
What better thing to frame with cards from loved ones than your loved ones themselves?
1) Lots of cards have built in frames which surround the main picture. Cut out the center and use them in tact. If your pictures are small, miter the corners and shrink those frames tot he size you need!
2) Make rectangles, make squares, make circles, ovals, and flowers! Is the card so beautiful you want to keep the whole picture? Cut a shutter and peek inside to see your picture!
3) Add the magnet to the back and post them on the chill chest. Or not...Those frames would look smashing in your scrapbook too, don't you think?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Christmas Card Recycling, Part 2

Last time, we covered the easy stuff. The next round of recycling, reusing, and repurposing is a little more involved.

Part 2 ("Some Assembly Required")
This time, scissors, glue, and a hole punch will be joined by a stapler, and a little more labor.

What's Old is New Again!
Reuse all the elements (pictures, words, fibers, anything!) from your old cards and turn them into new cards. No explanation needed here. Use your imagination.

Matchbook "Books"
Matchbooks don't have to have matches inside. They could be filled with a small stack of paper and made any size you like for a quick and sweet little notebook.
1) Choose the size of your filler paper. Use the blank side of junk mail if you have it or you might like some notebook filler paper if you prefer lines.

2) Cut the cover of the matchbook 2 and a half times the width of the filler paper and as long as the filler paper plus a quarter to a half inch extra. Fold it to fit around the paper like so.

3a) Visible staple- Staple it at the bottom. Leave a little room so the top flap can easily slide under the lower flap to secure. You could make these over sized and use paired holes and ribbon instead of a staple.
3b) Invisible staple - If you don't want to see the staple, place the card picture side down on the filler paper and staple. Fold as shown in the pictures. Don't let the photos fool you! I did use junk mail (yay reusing!) but those words won't be visible because the backs of the papers are blank. The blank side of the paper should be against the picture side of the card and when folded, the blank sides will be properly visible.

Of course, you can pretty up real matches by removing the cover and replacing it in the same way. Save the strip on the back of the old cover and glue it to the new cover or you won't be able to light your matches!

Advent Calendar or Peekaboo Frame
This card was just a happy find. The flags made perfect little shutters for small pictures that I had received over the holidays. But consider this idea for next year's advent calendar. If you don't have enough photos, use images from your holiday cards hidden behind the shutters. Use a separate piece of poster board or a large card if you have one and use a craft knife to cut 24 shutters. Number them and open one every day in December! The shutters could be fun shapes or haphazard rectangles or anything. Glue the pictures to the back of the poster board or large card so when the shutters are open, you will see the surprise image!

Coming Soon- Part 3 ("Polar Attraction")
Stuff for your fridge.

Christmas Card Recycling, Part 1

It's nearly the end of January and if you haven't already, you're just about ready to take down the decorations. I know I have. I've got a collection of Christmas cards too. I can't bear to just toss them in the recycle bin, so it's time to craft.

Part 1 ("The Easy Stuff")

Paper is paper. Anything made of paper can be made from Christmas cards. Let's take a look at the old classics. You'll need scissors, a hole punch, and glue.

Gift Tags
SO EASY. Templates for interesting shapes are available all over the internet, but rectangles can be just as nice if the image is particularly pleasing and there's no reason you can't just wing it. Any card from any occasion can be made into a gift tag beautifying your gifts. Cut any shape you want and punch a hole wherever you think it should be. Here's a great site for templates and envelopes.

Post Cards
This one is a no brainer. Cut off the back page of your cards and use the front as a post card. (And post cards are quite a bit cheaper to send than regular cards, so next Christmas you'll not only save coin on the stationary itself, but the delivery fee as well) Just be careful that if the front has words on it, that they are complete thoughts, or at least complete the thought when you write your note.

A little more body and a lot prettier than that ripped piece of notebook paper. You could just cut a strip, or you could cut shapes, punch holes, add tassels, glue bits onto other bits, weave, sew, and tear. A bookmark really can be made into a work of art with a little creative thinking. As you can see from the picture, elements from your cards are readily adaptable to the slit style bookmark because the paper is just a bit stiffer. Simply cut a right angle and slide it onto the corner of the page! You could also cut curves or shaped outlines and fit the bookmarks over the edges of the page rather than the corners.

Recipe cards
Same as postcards but cut to index card size. This would be an excellent project if you have a repertoire of recipes that you really only use around the holidays. Print your recipes by hand directly onto the cards or print them on your computer and paste them onto the cards. Maybe you could add envelopes to your scrapbook and keep the recipe card there to remember the look on your mother's face when she realized your cookies were better than hers.

Next time...Part 2 ("Some assembly required")

My Name is Amanda

I recently joined Etsy because I love to craft, knit, and tons of other things and I just can't keep everything that I create! While there, I started involving myself in the forums and sometimes I'd post something that was a little long to be just a response so I figured it was time to start a blog and save these ideas where more people can benefit from them.

Find my shop here:

I'm also a member of the Cleveland Street Team
Cleveland Handmade

His name is Kevin and he crafts with me, but much more often than that, he updates his webcomic.

Hope to see you often!