Friday, November 18, 2016

Thoughts about Play Doh (Tips and Tricks)

So I have a confession to make, I'm obsessed with something weird again, and this time it's Play Doh.

I had this strong urge to make some rune stones from clay. I've done it before with a batch of air dry clay and while it was a pain to work with it was something I wanted to try again. I went out in search for my clay, but when I got to the store, they were completely sold out. I stared at the empty shelf in dismay. How could the internet lie to me and say that they had it in stock? On my walk of shame out of the store, something caught my eye.

On a random aisle I spied big packs of Play Doh on sale for $1.75 a piece. I thought, shoot, for that price, why not give it a try? So when I go to buy them, to my utter surprise they ring up 50 cents a piece for a roughly 10 oz bag of Play Doh. It was an incredible deal considering that in the crafts section they were selling 2 ounce cups of the stuff for an insane mark up.

I scurry my loot back home and get to work. And after getting past the initial stigma of "Play Doh is for babies" I actually really start to like the medium I'm working with. Unlike air dry clay, Play Doh was a lot less difficult to work with in a lot of ways. It wasn't as messy and it didn't dry out as fast as air dry clay. It has a smooth and almost plasticky texture and was easy to manipulate with tools and my hands. As I worked with the Play Doh I couldn't help but wonder how it would hold up compared to the other clay that was designed to harden and "keep forever."

The reason I wrote this post, however, is because of one main complaint I have about Play Doh: Nobody really seems to know much about its actual properties or how to do cool stuff with it. I searched voraciously on the internet for informative tutorials on the subject, looking for examples of fine art Play Doh sculptures, advice on painting it or different crafts to do with it. Sure, I found a few things. I found a lot of videos by pre teen girls sharing their Play Doh charm collections (which were actually pretty awesome) and many links to that pinterest craft about making your own Play Doh and making an ornament of your baby's hand or dog's paw or something. I even found one example of Play Doh used in a fine art setting where the artist cut out many colored swirled circles of Play Doh and made intricate mosaics out of them.
All well and good but, where's the real answers to my questions here? I couldn't find much on anything. It was then realized that I was going to have to lead by example and write about this pressing matter myself. Like a mad scientist, I will have to record my findings.

Here is one woman's attempt to answer "Frequently Asked Questions" for any strange soul who decides they want to do something serious with Play Doh. To conduct my "experiments" I started out with just a few basic projects to see how it worked including some different charms and magnets. As a disclaimer, this is all just based off of personal experience so far, and I only experimented on smaller pieces and not any large ones, so the information may not be completely accurate or applicable to you. However, at the very least this should be a good jumping off point for any curious crafters out there who want to seriously try Play Doh for themselves.

Play Doh and Salt Dough- What is this stuff?

First of all, what is Play Doh? It's actually more close to a cookie dough than actual clay. Most clays have an element of soil or mud to them but Play Doh is mainly made up of salt and flour. That's why there are so many recipes out there to make your own, and why Play Doh has to advertise itself as a "modeling compound" and not "modeling clay." This is also the key to keeping Play Doh nontoxic and, weirdly enough, edible. When people make this stuff themselves, they call it Salt Dough. Whenever you see an artist saying that they use "salt dough" know that they secretly are using a derivative of Play Doh and don't want you to judge them for using a modeling compound supposedly made for children! Interestingly, if you search for salt dough projects you will get more serious results than Play Doh even though they are virtually the same thing.

How do you dry out Play Doh without cracking or crumbling it?

There's a few strategies I found to achieve this.  A lot of people suggest cooking it in the oven like a "normal" piece of clay, but I thought this seemed kind of reckless considering how notorious Play Doh is for cracking and crumbling when dry. I have always been told to dry clay out slowly if you are trying to keep it from cracking, so I applied this knowledge to my Play Doh creations. How I achieved this- I left the pieces on a tray to dry in a fairly cool place that was not next to a draft. I also kept it away from extreme heat, sunlight and humidity. In short, I just left it on my desk for about a week. So far, I can say that none of my charms or bits experienced cracks or crumbles. Just try to keep your sculptures on the smaller side and avoid long thin pieces that extend outside of the sculpture and you will be pretty safe from cracks and crumbles. What you really need to look out for is salting.

What is "Salting?"

Untreated Play Doh Hamburger, before drying and afterwards.
Notice the deposit of salt on the surface of the figure in the second image.

The concept of salting was originally brought up to me by SoCratfastic's video on Play Doh tips and tricks. I don't know why exactly it happens,  but during the drying process, (probably having something to do with the moisture and the salt content of the compound,) a lot of Play Doh pieces become kind of "ashy" or "salty" looking instead of staying smooth and colorful. It's not ideal for pieces that are supposed to be jewelry because it just looks kind of bad and unlike its clay compounded siblings which dry smooth and true to color. This to me seems like the biggest limitation to using Play Doh, and the biggest unknown factor when it comes to the success of your project. I've noticed a few factors that seem to effect the salting-
A flat relief sculpture
 made of Play Doh that
dried beautifully.
  1. So Craftastic suggests drying the pieces evenly, but I personally haven't found much of a consistency with this technique. My first batch of charms were flipped and turned and rotated to high heaven in order to ensure that every square inch evenly dried, however this didn't seem to have made a difference in the inevitable saltiness of the pieces, if not pronouncing the problem even more. However, I have to note that your results may vary with this technique. I live in the south and experience a lot of humidity. I often wonder if how arid or humid your environment is may effect the drying process in general. The science behind this is beyond me, but if you want to keep your pieces untreated, you'll have to experiment for yourself to see exactly how it reacts to your personal drying location.
  2. On the other hand, I actually discovered that if you leave the pieces to dry flat and don't move them much, that most of salt will settle at the bottom / on the backside of your piece. This only really works if you are doing a two dimensional sculpture, but I had great success with those kind of pieces.
  3.  After trial and error, it's my opinion that the best way to avoid salting in 3D pieces is to just put a sealant over the piece before it has a chance to completely dry and salt over

The timing for this is tricky because you don't want to seal it when the piece is not dry enough (still malleable/squishy) because it's unlikely to harden evenly, but you don't want to wait too long because once the salting process starts it becomes much more difficult to make the sealer or paint stick. 

I was having a big problem with this when I was painting those first charms that had completely salted over. The salt was drying out and gunking up the adhesive and it was hard to get it a neat and smooth coat. I had to do many thin layers and really take my time with it, very annoying for one little banana!

Even with all of this thought behind it, I suspect there is no way to completely avoid having a little bit of a salty texture to your finished piece if you are using Play Doh, but you can get it to a point where it isn't very noticeable, or even create a design that uses the effect to its advantage.

What kind of sealant should I put on my Play Doh sculpture?

Personally, I just used Mod Podge, and it seems to work okay. It was cheap, readily available, and easy to wash off my hands and my brushes. It gives the crafts a fairly smooth texture and shiny finish. Try to make thin, even layers over everything, building up layers one by one slowly.  Avoid pooling the sealant in any of the sculpture's cracks- I noticed that if I painted on the mod podge too thick, it didn't completely dry invisible for some reason.

Curious on other options for sealants I decided to pick the brain of Lacy Knudson of Dozayix to see what she used to seal her incredible Play Doh mosaics. About sealants, she says: "I use a two-part UV resistant resin called EX-74 sold by Environmental Technologies Incorporated. I buy it through a local distributor here in San Diego but the website is here." There are also varnishes available at the craft store that would work as a low cost "weatherproof" sealant, but I haven't personally experimented much with the stuff on Play Doh yet.* However, I think the effect of sealing the pieces is not only more professional but pleasing to the eye, and if you get a chance to incorporate resin, varnish or other substantial sealants, I'd highly recommend experimenting with them.

*Edit: So I tried the varnish and it's no good. It just brushes right off, doesn't bond with the oil or salt in the Doh I suppose. However, I discovered that GLOSS Mod Podge works great! It takes to the sculptures a little better than Mod Podge Matte does (which is what I've used so far) and also seems to even clean up some of the salting effect. I would reccomend Gloss Modge Podge as a great starter sealant for Play Doh sculptures. 

One of Lacy's Knudson's mosaics "A New World"
made completely out of Play Doh featuring a shiny resin finish.

Should I use water to moisten my sculpture as I go?

Probably not, which is actually one of the things I like about Play Doh. Just manipulating it with your hands can smooth most cracks and creases. For the sake of comparison, this is very different from air dry clay. With air dry clay, I found myself constantly feeding it water, smoothing over cracks, trying to moisten pointed tips so they wouldn't crumble off. My hands were constantly a crusty shade of mud white, the clay caking to my hands as I worked and shedding everywhere I touched, including my clothes and work space. Not so with Play Doh. Play Doh contains mineral oil which keeps it smooth and more malleable for a longer time, but as we all know, oil and water don't mix. The only time it would be useful to moisten your Play Doh is if it's completely dried out and has time to sit and soak for a while. Little droplets as a smoothing attempt are likely to just roll off. If your Play Doh is getting too dried out while you work, you're probably leaving it out too long. Put it back in the container when you're not using it, only expose the doh to the air when you are working on it. If your sculpture is small enough, you can put it back in the container/packet for a bit and it should absorb some of the moisture from the rest of  the Doh. .

How long does it take to dry?

I did NOT cook this pizza in the oven. 
In my opinion, you should hold off on trying 
to "bake" your Play Doh.
I think they do the best by curing/drying over a long period of time. They become workable with other media like paint and varnish within the first few days (3-4 days of drying), but the longer you let them sit, the harder they become over all. I have noticed something though. Depending on the weather/temperature/some unknown factor, the dried Play Doh seems to be inconsistently somewhat harder or softer on any given day, especially the untreated pieces. To me, this difference is an even stronger indication that the Play Doh compound is effected by its environment. Just keep that in mind when storing your pieces.

 Can you paint it, and how does the paint react? 

Painted Play Doh cockatiel charms
Just regular ol' acrylic paints seemed to fair well on semi-dried pieces of Play Doh, but I had similar problems to when I was trying to seal them- if the piece is salty, it will be more difficult to apply the paint smoothly. Two thoughts on the subject: Firstly, if you have access to the full rainbow of colors that Play Doh has provided you, use them! I was lucky to get that sweet sale that allowed me to get a full palette. The colors mix extraordinarily well in my opinion- I was able to get the colors I needed by mixing them. However, if you absolutely feel hell bent on painting it by hand, no worries, I had the same sentiment. I experimented with these little cockatiel charms by sealing it over with mod podge and then painting on top of that. Painting over it with gesso or sealant before you begin to layer the paint will make your life easier because it will smooth over the surface. 

Speaking of which, I discovered, the "crumbles" from carving into the compound will also gum up your paint. For example, with my rune stones, I had to be very careful when creating and painting inside the carved symbols. I resorted to taking a tool and trying to scrape out some of the carving crumbs but to no avail. It seems better to just try to make smooth, even grooves, creases, shapes ect, if you intend on painting them, because the paint will go on much more neatly and easily.

Black widow runes - painted in red
A pisces charm that has been darkened with metallic blue gel pen color.
Another coloring technique to think about is markers and gel pens. I had great success with colorizing these purple rune stones with a glitter gel pen - I used its tendency to smear to my advantage and the effect gave it a very interesting look. Let the ink dry and then carefully varnish them to avoid smearing detailed lines. You may have to paint over only the lined parts to keep it from smearing, especially if your marker/pen was not waterproof.

Any more questions?

I may do a follow up to this post sometime in the near future as I continue to learn about the properties of this humble but deceptively handy "modeling compound," so think of some good questions for me! Right now I am experimenting with making relief sculptures. Now to just figure out how to keep them from curling up when they dry flat... Anyways, to send you off with some inspiration maybe, here's some of my other charms. By the way, you can check in at my new Etsy store which will have charms and other fun things available for purchase very soon.  Stay tuned and in the mean time, remember to leave a comment if you have any questions or your own thoughts on the serious matters of Play Doh!

More Charms and Stuff

A bunch of banana charms!
 My first attempt at a pizza charm.

A more complicated "supreme" pizza charm.

A bunch of little skull charms.

Carrots, pickles, and apple cores, oh my!

Weiner Dogs Charms, get it?

Mushroom, Mushroom.

. * ・ 。゚☆━੧༼ •́ ヮ •̀ ༽୨
Check out my Etsy:

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Green Horn Shrine

I don't do many sculptural pieces but sometimes I get inspired by weird objects that I find, similar to when I made that Junk Wind Chime with an old crushed beer can. I don't know why I get these urges to make things with discarded junk, I suppose it's the pack rat in me that hates to see "interesting" things get thrown away. Anyways, this project started out as a hollowed out styrofoam block. "Perfect shape for a shrine!" I thought. I also knew the perfect thing to honor - my fleeting youth. I had just moved out of my parents house again and I was feeling both horribly naive and painfully aged at the same time. What a strange feeling it is, to have to be an adult but still feel like a baby! And so I dedicated my shrine to that.

According to Webster, a Green Horn is "a person who lacks experience and knowledge." It brings visions of a young buck that is just coming of age- The prime of their life, strong and youthful, their horns still budding and new, fresh and green, full of arrogance and naivety. Sometimes I feel like that buck. So in that way, this piece is somewhat of a self portrait.

 I used a lot of difference media to create the shine itself. Pretty much anything I could get my hands on that reminded me of youth, wonderment, and an overblown sense of entitlement. Mainly just old jewelry and various string, though. I loved adding the layers of stuff - I wanted it encrusted with shiny whimsical trinkets. Also, the doors on the shrine are totally functional. I wanted to be able to display this piece as "reserved" or "out in the open."

By the way, on the subject of shrines, I'm obsessed with them. There are so many beautiful examples out there of artist shrines that inspired me a lot. I love the idea of inserting symbols and relics into a shrine that are significant to only you, making them ultra personal and kind of "secretive" works of art for the viewer to decipher on their own.  Here are some amazing examples of artist shrines that embody those ideals. Some of their meanings are more obvious than others.

 By Jones Moore 
By Mai-Liss
By Collette Bain 
By Cindy La Ferle

Check out those artist pages for even more examples of shrines. Amazing work by talented people. Also, if this has got you curious on how to make your very own personal shrine, here are a few tutorials to get you started!

Shadow box shrines made with dollar store frames by Cut Out and Keep
Paper Shrine Template by Stampers Anonymous 

Make a Gratitude Shrine by Crizmac

New Horizons

So I have some exciting news!

I've been working on a new portfolio website. It will be separate from this one in the sense I will still be periodically adding blog posts and tutorials here and the portfolio will be strictly for displaying my artwork. I've been toying with a few different ways to show my work over the years and I think I've finally got something I'm really happy with. From there you will also be able to view work available for purchase! Stay tuned for more info on my new website as it continues to develop.

I also recently made a Facebook page for my art, which will be the central hub for all my social media outlets from now on. I really just wanted something I can direct all my stuff to, so I can start recommending ONE page instead of a bunch of random blogs and art sites. Please consider liking me on Facebook! 

As far as art goes, I've been pretty productive, just super lazy about documenting it on my blog.  In general over the past few years I've actually kind of shied away from sharing my work because I was frustrated with the quality of it and the fact I felt like I was "pimping out" really old artworks instead of making new ones. So I took some time off from all the distractions of shows and social media to live life and create new things. I'm finally in a place where I feel like my stuff is worth sharing again. And I'm starting to miss bragging about all my new projects, so I think it's time to get back into the mix a little! At the very least, it's definitely time to sit down and do some writing again.

For now, here's a hidden wardrobe I made... I wonder what's inside?

Friday, March 25, 2016

Artist Interview with Chantel Harding

Chantel Harding of Bedlam Originals at Captain's Comic Expo

I actually discovered Chantel's work while browsing through the Charleston's Craigslist artist postings. Her website blew me away with the crazy stuff on there. Grotesquely twisted clowns, bug eyed baby dolls, and an obsession with the macabre. I knew right away I wanted to pick this chick's brain. Here's a few questions I decided to ask Chantel about her process and philosophies about the act of creation, and all the twisted results in between.

 What is your earliest art memory?

I'm going to say around the age of when you start coloring on walls. I did that as a kid for just a bit. Then, my mom bought me some paper to doodle on and well, here I am now. 

What is your favorite media? Why?

Gosh, this is a really hard question to answer. I love all types really, well the ones I know how to use. Still haven't mastered graphic arts. But personally, I'm going to pick sculpture. I'm very hands on, so I enjoy picking and pulling apart, using tools on objects, and assembling them into something crazy. 

What is your "art philosophy?"

Art should entice the viewer. I always believe that art should grab a person and draw them near. Art should cause feeling in the audience. Create emotions that some people didn't think they had inside anymore. That is what I try to achieve. 

Has your art ever taken you down a path in life you didn't expect?

I never thought I'd be doing multimedia work. When I was younger I was set on the path of becoming a comic book illustrator only. But one simple sculpture in college and here I am making dolls and creatures. 

Do you have any artistic weaknesses?

Oh lord. Weaknesses, ok, here we go.  Artist and Craftsman in Charleston, horrible place to go because I never want to leave. $300 and 4 hours later, it's definitely a weakness I have. And supply stores, I can't say no to. Even Lowe's or Home Depot, so many things to create with.  

Where does your inspiration come from?

The vast unknown and the abnormal. Anything that has to do with anomalies or just anything bizarre that makes people gasp and get shocked, I crave. That's why horror is my favorite genre. I'll admit there's some movies that scare my face off and I just can't. Creature features sure thing. But when we get into ghosts, etc, I'm out. Nope. No thank you. A zombie is easy to get rid of, but the spirit of a 300 year old vengeful house demon ghost, needs more then some salt and holy water. The only ghosts I can handle are my favorites, Barbara and Adam from Beetlejuice. I just really like Tim Burton. I feel inspired by anything the world has to offer if it makes me feel something and grabs me. But not physically grab me as in a ghost grab. More like a pulling me into its creative center. 

Describe a moment when you suddenly realized that art was something you wanted to do with your life.

I've always been artsy all my life. It wasn't until high school where I got into a local art show, which spawned the idea of being a full time artist. The experience was really inspiring for me. 

Do you have a least favorite medium to work with?

Oil paint is hideous because I'm a fast worker. I like painting something and it be dry in like 30 minutes, not almost a week. Plus, turpentine is very smelly. Pastels and charcoal- I can't stand all that chalky dust. Even though I've worked with wood and other materials that have dust, chips, flakes etc, for some reason pastel and charcoal just don't work for me.

Think fast.. if you were any type of art supply, which would you be?

Super glue, because almost everything I make includes super glue

What is one piece of artwork that you are completely proud of?

I have a lot, actually. But recently, I'll say my baby twisty doll. Only because it's become somewhat of a little celebrity, even causing John Carroll Lynch himself to comment on the doll. He has a wonderful home now and I'm very proud of the success I've captured with the piece. 

What are your artistic influences?

As a kid, I would watch Tales from the Crypt which would scare the hell out of me, but for some reason would watch it still. I loved Goosebumps a lot. I was a hard core R.L. Stine fan, had like all the books, books on tape, I even had this sweet Goosebumps play house thing that glowed in the dark. R.L. Stine was like a prequel to me enjoying Stephen King later on. I'm influenced by many things in life. Mostly horror though. When I say I only celebrate Halloween because it's the only awesome holiday I believe in, I mean it. My love of Tim Burton has been from the time as a kid when Nightmare Before Christmas came out. I had the VHS and would wear it out- the tape barely played anymore. And Jim Henson I've always loved mostly for Labyrinth. That was my other video I'd watch over and over. But if I were to list all my influences, you'd really need more room on your website so I will keep it short.

Can you think of an artwork that you consider a masterpiece?

"Head of Medusa" by Caravaggio. 
I like to think Medusa is reacting to Chantel's artwork. 

Friday, March 18, 2016

How to make a T-Shirt Bag

 I have a weird fascination with recycling tshirts and other discarded clothing. I think it has to do with the fact that I just happen to have a huge collection of cool shirts with prints of interesting things on them and it's hard for me to let go when they're too worn out or don't fit anymore. I just want them to be useful again! And so, I love it when I come across projects like this that make it easy for me to re purpose one of these cool shirts in an actually relevant way. Whatever your reasoning behind wanting to recycle your old threads, here's how you can make your own t-shirt bags easily at home.

Before we begin. Firstly, your life will be a lot easier if you can get your hands on a sewing machine and actually know how to use it. For this tutorial, I'm going to be using one for the sake of time and sanity. If you are a glutton for punishment, you're more than welcome to hand sew it, but I can't guarantee it will be as sturdy as if you had done it with a machine. On the bright side, this is a great beginner's project for a sewing machine. If you have the chance and haven't yet, why not give it a try?

Step 1. Get some cool tshirts. Or not. Maybe use that ugly long sleeved black turtleneck that kept riding up every time you tried to sit down somewhere. Get revenge by having to cut it up! But that's just an example. Even though t-shirts are the easiest to use for this project, there are other options. Any kind of old clothing would work. I think the ultimate goal would be to try to find something to re-purpose.... saving the environment that way, y'know?

Step 2. The next step would be to lay out the shirt for cutting. I have been known to free hand this step, but a wise person would find a pencil or something to mark where they want to cut before they go crazy with the scissors.

Step 3. Cut it up! Begin by cutting the bottom off of your t-shirt to make the straps. Start by cutting a big strip and then fold it in half and cut it again to make it into two fairly even strips (There will be four strips total if you count the back and the front.) Then, cut the sleeves and collar off evenly so that you have a nice, straight, rectangular shapes to work with. Now you have all the pieces cut that you'll need to complete your bag.


Step 4. Time to get sewing. Working with the printed side facing down, fold over a strip of the top of the bag and carefully sew a double folded hem. Repeat this step for both the back and front pieces of your bag. Only sew a hem at the top, don't worry about the sides or bottom. 

The hemming will give your bag structure and keep it from stretching out infinitely when you start using it to put stuff in.

 (You can hem all 4 sides of the bag if you want for extra fanciness but this is absolutely not necessary. That'd only be an effect for aesthetic purposes and maybe a little bit of extra structure.)

By the way- I am by no means a super expert at sewing, so if you need a little bit more clarity on this subject, here's an excellent tutorial that explains double folded hems. I personally don't measure the hems or use pins for this project, but they may be helpful to some.

Step 5. Now, we will sew together the strap pieces. Double up the straps so that there are two pieces stacked for each strap. Just sew a few lines right down the middle of the strips/loops to reinforce them.

Step 6. Take your newly reinforced straps and sew one on each side of the bag. Orient the strip so that the end of it is right below the double hem of the bag. Very important- Make sure the long part of the strip is facing UPWARDS! Otherwise you will end up with a very twisted and confused strap.
To make this step more clear (because I didn't take any good pictures of it) here's a diagram to further explain the orientation of the straps and the bag piece.

Tip- Sew a square over the strap ends and finish it off with an X to make a sturdy bond between the strap and the bag front.

Step 7. Now it's time for the final construction step! Put the back and front of the bag back together, print sides facing inward, and sew up the sides. Be very thoughtful about your seam allowances and don't sew too closely to the edge. I usually make two three separate passes with the thread, to ensure it won't be busting a seam any time soon.

Step 8. Turn the bag right side in and take a step back. Admire the bag. See how many things you can fit in the bag. Pet the bag. Marry the bag. OK, maybe just date the bag because you aren't ready for that kind of commitment yet.

Seriously though. These things take a very impressive beating! And it was so easy to make, too.

Other Helpful Tips:

Don't get freaked out over little (or big) mistakes while sewing this bag. It's supposed to be kind of shabby chic anyways, so there's a lot of room for variation. For example, check out how badly I messed up on some of the steps at first...

Remember that step that I said was really important? Well, I ignored my own advice at first and I accidentally sewed the strap downward facing instead of upwards... now there's an extra fold there... oops...
Also, check this out... I originally sewed the strap to the completely wrong side of the bag altogether. HOW DOES SOMETHING LIKE THIS EVEN HAPPEN!?! I had to cut it off and start over, haha.

I guess my point is, don't be discouraged if your bag turns out not being exactly "perfect." Sewing projects can be tricky sometimes, but are often very much worth it!

"Grocery Bag" Design
Still a little wary about construction? Try to make an easier version of this t-shirt bag. It doesn't involve as much complicated sewing. All you need to do is cut off the collar and the sleeves, kind of in the shape of a U. This will give the bag shape. From here, just sew up the bottom of your t-shirt and you'd have something that would function like a bag. And that's it. However, this quick and dirty job won't last for very long, and you will end up with a bag that eventually starts tearing apart or stretching out too wide. Still, if you have a lot of t-shirts that you'd like to utilize or you don't want to go through all the trouble of cutting and sewing the pieces for your bag, this is another way to go!

Even moar ideas:

Try painting a design or a pattern on the t-shirt before cutting it up to make it even more one of a kind. For example, I spray painted a stencil of some skeleton hands on this stripey bag I made out of an old tank top. I also added a little ribbon trim to the top for a hem instead of folding over the shirt itself.

Do you have a t-shirt that has long stretchy sleeves that keep getting tangled in your washing machine? Time to get that revenge. Utilize those pesky sleeves by making the shirt into a messenger bag. The sleeves can become just one big strap! I didn't end up having to sew the sleeves at all, I just tied them together in a few knots and done.

Spaghetti straps re-imagined!
I keep all my underwear in this bag. Seriously...

A few words of caution. Pointy things are these bags' worst enemy. You're more likely to stab a hole in the thing than bust a seam. Be careful with scissors and sticks, I've blown out a few bags because of these items.

Weight can also be an issue, but not as much as you'd think. While the bags don't have issue with holding tons of objects inside, carrying them around by their handles when the bag is over loaded can sometimes result in tearing of the fabric itself. I also like to hang these things in closets with hangers and sometimes the bags are so heavy the hangers warp so much that they fall down!

There are so many different uses for t-shirt bags. A lot of people use them to save money on grocery bags. I personally use them mostly for storage purposes - all of my pajamas, underwear, socks, and other odds and ends get tossed into these bags and it saves me time and space. They're great if you have a huge haul of stuff to carry and you need a bag ridiculously big enough to hold it all. The expanding capacity of these bags is actually really amazing.

I'll conclude this tutorial with an invitation to show off your own recycled bags or any other project that utilized second hand materials in a practical way. How did they turn out? What do you use them for now?

Also, If you have any questions about this tutorial or any more ideas on the subject of how to make your own bags, please do leave me a comment below!