Introduction: Grocery Bag Jewelry

Turn your old plastic grocery and shopping bags into custom made jewelry! User669 has taught us how to turn plastic bags into fabric and then into reusable shopping bags but this durable fabric can have many additional uses. I have used it to make jewelry as well as in a relief collage.

To see user669's in depth instructable on how to create this plastic fabric (and a cool tote) follow the link below!
tote bag

To learn how to turn your trash into treasure (jewelry) go ahead to step one!

Step 1: Materials

For this project you will need the following:

Fabric:

- plastic bags in colors of your choice (grocery bags work, as do some of the thicker shopping bags)
- iron
- ironing board
- computer paper or wax paper
- scissors
- fan

Necklace:

- necklace/bracelet clasps
- thin wire
- round metal connectors
- 2 needle nose tweezers
- straight pin

Earrings:

- 2 ear wires
- 4 round metal connectors
- 2 needle nose tweezers
- straight pin

  • Necklace and earring supplies can be found at bead shops and most craft stores.

Step 2: Preparing Your Plastic Bags

This project is best done in a well ventilated area. You are going to want to set up your ironing board near an open window with a fan on! Plug in your iron and set it to the highest temperature setting before steam (it is blends on mine).

While your iron is heating up you want to prepare your plastic bags. You first need to cut off the handle and then the bottom of the bag so you can open it up to its fullest size.

Once you have cut off the extraneous pieces turn your bag inside out (if their is print on the outside it will make a sticky mess!)

Once you have it opened up you are going to fold it so that their are 8 layers of plastic. To do so you begin by folding it in half (that should make 4 since it was already doubled) and then fold it in half again!

  • I recommend 8 for the thing grocery bags, but you can get away with 3-4 for thicker plastic bags

Step 3: To Add a Pattern or Texture to Your Fabric

If you want your material to have a specific pattern or texture use the following step:

On top of your 8 layers, place the piece of plastic that has the pattern that you like. On top of that pattern place one clear or white plastic layer. Then proceed to step 4

  • you may want to try and make several pieces of fabric before you use the plastic bags that you are really excited about!*

Step 4: Creating Your Fabric

Once you have the layers laid out as you would like you are going to place your plastic between two pieces of computer paper. You want to make sure that none of the plastic is hanging out of the edges. it will make a big smelly mess on your iron...trust me

Now you are ready to iron!

I recommend sweeping the iron across 5 times, flipping it over (computer paper and all) and sweeping the iron across 5 times on the other side. * be careful this will be hot!

Before you check your new fabric allow the paper to cool for about 30 seconds, you will hear and see the fabric start to peel away from the paper. Now it is time to check and see if it is done!

If you have ironed it for too long you will see holes in your fabric. (although this may be a desired look for your jewelry)

if you have not ironed it enough you will see bubbles in your material and it will still make that crispy bag sound when you crunch it. This means that your fabric will be weak. If this is the case but the plastic back between the sheets of computer paper and iron it some more.

Step 5: Cutting Your Fabric for Your Earrings

Once you have all of the colors you would like you are going to begin to design your earrings! This can obviously be made in any shape and style of your liking. I have chosen to use blue and black rounded triangles.

To make the earrings pictured above you begin by cutting the 3 parts for each. 2 large triangles and 2 small triangles of one color and 2 medium triangles of a second color

Once trimmed to appropriate size and liking you are to use the straight pin to put a small hole in the top of all 6 triangles.

Step 6: Creating the Earring

For this step you will need:

4 metal connectors
2 needle nose pliers
2 ear wires
6 plastic triangles you created!

The first step is to slightly open the metal connector (connector A). The easiest way is to use one pair of pliers to hold one side of the connector while you use the other pair to pry it open.

Next add the 3 triangles in order of smallest to largest and then add an additional metal connector (Connector B). Once you have the 4 items on connector A take one pair of pliers and gently squeeze it shut.

Next you are going to open Connector B (again using both pair of pliers) and add the ear wire.

Close Connector B

Congratulations you have made your first earring! Repeat these steps to make the pair!!!

Step 7: Extras!

You can also write on it with permanent marker to add additional patterns and designs!

Step 8: Cutting Plastic Fabric for a Necklace

As with the earring project you can customize your necklace as well with an array of different colors, sizes, shapes and styles!

For the necklace shown on page one begin by cutting out circle of a variety of sizes. I cut one large circle, about ten different medium sized circles and dozens of small circles for this design. Next cut a wire a couple of inches longer than the length you would like.

Once you have your circles and wire cut, make two holes in the center of each circle (like a button) and begin to put them on the wire putting it through one hole and out the other (like sewing).

  • I found it easiest to start with the biggest one in the center and adding them one at a time to each side so that it would be symetrical *

Step 9: Adding the Clasp to Your Necklace

Once you have added your desired amount of circles fold the wire over one of the metal connectors (A) (fairly close to the last bead about 3/4 cm away). While holding both ends of the wire twist the metal connector until the wire winds up tight to it. Wrap some of the excess wire around itself a few more times and cut off any excess.

Again using both sets of pliers (one to hold and one to pry) Open another connector (B) and hook connector A onto connector B. Next hook the necklace clasp to connector B. Using the pliers gently close connector B

Add Connector A and B to the other side of the necklace.

Congratulations you have now created a necklace out of recycled grocery bags! Now go get creative with your own designs!!!

Comments

author
Curly Made (author)2016-08-27

I also love making recycled jewelry mostly with paper, allways has so much potential

author
The plastic whisperer (author)2014-05-28

Nice idea! I will surely try it!

author
Yashfa Zafar (author)2013-03-29

Going to make one. looks so cool.

author
mourijn (author)2013-02-15

What a good idea!

author
controlledwrinkles (author)2012-04-06

You should invest or make a jump ring opener, it's a real time saver:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YCOqz4QfaNU

author
mammadove (author)2012-01-17

I tried this and it turned out terrible, it didn't look like yours at all. The plastic looked really gross...Idk if I did something wrong, but I followed the directions =(

author
mammadove (author)2012-01-16

Really cute, I'm definitely doing this =)

author
jclouseau42 (author)2011-12-02

helpful hint: it's better if you open the metal connectors (aka jump rings) by twisting them rather than spreading them open. Open they end up looking like a single section of a spiral. Close them by reversing the twist so the ends are back together. This keeps them completely round.

author
vegansweetie (author)2010-01-11

can the fused plastic be painted? like with acrylic paint?

author

I'm in the process of doing that right now. It can be painted, but make sure you have a surface that can get paint all over it, and something to carefully pick the pieces up with so as to not get your fingerprints in the paint. I'd also recommend sealing it once you're done. I'm using matte Mod Podge.

author
willow.narwhal (author)2011-08-05

This looks so fantastic! I've fused plastic bags together before, but I never really knew what to do with them. I never would have guessed from the pictures that these were made from shopping bags! Now I have a new project before school starts again. :)

author
janaro (author)2011-06-20

really good work

author
ozpolar (author)2010-09-10

Maybe I read your description wrong, but the best way to open a jump ring is to hold both sides near the gap and twist them sideways in opposite directions. Put what you want on them, then twist them back. If you just pry them apart, you will wont be able to get the jump closed in a nice circle.

author
childgoddess (author)2010-08-16

Wicked idea. You are so creative. This is better then buying pretty jewlery from some stores.

author
tbcross (author)2010-05-30

very cool thanks :)

author
theHERO (author)2009-04-09

I LOVE this, your necklace is soo cute!(=

author
hishealer (author)theHERO2009-07-31

And sooooo many possibilities, shapes and colors. Multiple strands. Additional round beads as spacers... My head is spinning!

author
Nucleus (author)2009-07-30

Cheap, but elegant....

author
secretsoto (author)2009-06-26

thank u

author
crayzclown1 (author)2009-04-21

if i were a girl, i would wear them, but there for my mom.

author
J@50n (author)crayzclown12009-06-01

haha nice mine would be too!

author
chrystopherlewis (author)2009-04-09

You're pretty & talented :)

author
selenamarie.draco (author)2009-01-04

Great idea! I have made some fabric using a similar method though I've found that parchment paper works even better and prevents the paper from sticking to the plastic bags... just make sure to use the side that has plastic on it so it will peel properly. I've even heard of using wax paper but I've never put it into practice. Also, some designs on bags are ink which melts and can cause it to stick... this can be remedied using a really thin layer of clear bag on top! Great job. I will definitely try this!

author
mikeface (author)2008-12-10

What a brilliant an innovative use of plastic bags! Your jewelry is beautiful :)

author
foobear (author)2008-12-09

cool technique. I like the neclace best. I wish there was a better picture of it with more light.

author
mg0930mg (author)2008-12-08

Nice. It's really pretty, for grocery bags.

author
uguy (author)mg0930mg2008-12-08

Really pretty for jewelry. Nice work, and ible, thanks for sharing. Love the red polish

author
mg0930mg (author)uguy2008-12-08

That's what I meant very pretty jewelry.

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