Introduction: Grocery Bag Sunglasses

So, I have all these left over Trader Joe's paper bags stuck between my refrigerator and counter spilling over into the kitchen. Back in the day we saved them to cover our school text books, but what to do with them now??? In California, we have to bring our own bags when we go shopping, but some how I always forget to bring them in with me. We finally broke down and purchased these new fangled ones that are fabric and hook on to the shopping cart. So now, I'm left with all these paper ones and didn't really know what to do with them. I love the look of wooden sunglasses, but didn't have the proper equipment to make them. I thought that maybe I could make them out of these old paper bags. What the heck. I'll give it a try. So here's how I did it.


Grocery bags


Paint brush

Paper and pen


Exacto knife

Cutter (Robo, Silhouette, Cricut) Not required but recommended)

Old pair of sunglasses

6 small hex nuts

2 nails with nail head

Step 1: Creating the Template

I had an old broken pair of sunglasses and used these for the lenses and also to create the template. I popped the lenses out and disassembled the glasses. I put the lenses aside and traced out the frames and arms to create the template. It can be a bit tricky because of the curve in the frames and arms.

Step 2: Getting the Frame and Arms Cut Out.

After I was happy with the tracing, I colored it solid so I could us my cutter to make multiples. While the cutter was cutting, I cut down the grocery bags so it would fit in the machine. (If you are using a plotter/cutter, please follow the instruction that came with your model.) If you don't have a cutter, you can always use and exacto knife or scissors. You will have to cut with precision. All in all I ended up using 4 bags.

Step 3: Creating the Elements

After all the elements were cut, I used polyurethane and a paint brush to bind all the layer together. First put down a sheet of freezer wrap waxy side up. Lay down a smear of polyurethane directly on the freezer wrap, then place the first piece of frame down in it and cover that piece with more poly. Be sure to saturate each piece as you go. Next, lay another piece of frame on top of that, lining it up perfectly with the one below. Paint that with more poly. Repeat this step over and over keeping everything lined up until you have the desired thickness. For me it ended up being about 24-26 pieces. I kind of lost count. Repeat this same process for the arms.

Step 4: Compressing the Layers

After you have the desired thickness of both the frame and arms you can fold over the freezer wrap and bring them to a flat surface. Lay the packet of frames down and add a book on top being careful not to shift the pile, and then take the packet of arms, lay that on top of the book and place another book on top of that. Weigh everything down with what ever you can. I used a couple of bricks and a couple of 10 pounds weights. The idea here is to keep everything flat. Let all this sit over night.

Step 5: Getting the Curves

Approximately 24 hours later you can un-wrap your frame and arm packets. Carefully peal them from the freezer wrap. If there is anything stuck to the wrap, they aren't ready yet. Leave them for a few more hours. When you can easily peel them away from the wrap, they are ready. They should be dry but still a bit soft and pliable. This is where they are just flexible enough for you to create a curve with out running the risk of separating the layers of paper bag. To get the curve, I used a piece of stiff cardboard and wedged it against the sides of a cookie sheet. I inspected the curve and found it was a little too high. No problem, just cut away a piece of the cardboard until you have the desired curve. I tried to keep the curve the same as my old broken glasses. It's ever so slight. For the arms, I used the old arms to create the curves. Because the curve was only half way down the arm and this was the most accurate way I could accomplish this. Now put all this aside to finish drying. You will know when it's completely dry because it will be hard as a rock. I put mine in the sun to finish drying and it took about 6 hours.

Step 6: Making Room for the Lenses

To make room for the lenses, I used a Dremel with a rough sanding barrel to carve out an edge for the lenses to nest in the frame. It took a little finessing but go slow and keep checking the fit. I also dug in a little with an exacto knife to give it a slight inner grove so it could catch the edge of the lens. Check the fit. You may have a better tool than I to put an actual grove for the lens. But this way worked for me.

Step 7: Putting It All Together

Now that all your parts are dry and you have made a space for the lenses it time to assemble. I originally
found another pair of glasses to steal the hinges off of, but it didn't work out so well and I won't bore you with the details. So, I had to get creative and find another way. I found these really small nuts in my big box of "who knows what box" which is full of nuts, screws, nails, washers and so on. When I studied the old glasses I find that there is 2 holes on the frame and one on the arm. So I mimicked that with the nuts...sorta kinda. I lined the 3 nuts up in a row on the frame using a tooth pic to keep the from slipping around, but only glued the top and bottom nut to the frame. (For measurements I just lined up the arm to the edge of the frame and glued the 2 nuts there (with super glue) while holding everything in place. Then I slipped out the middle nut and glued it to the center of the arm. Just repeat this both sides. After all the glue had set, I lined up the 3 nuts by holding the arm in place, slipping the arm nut in between the other 2 nuts. Back to the "who knows what box" I found a couple of small nails with nail head and slipped them down the center of all three nuts. I marked off where the end of the nail meet the bottom nut slipped it back out and cut off the sharp end. After re-inserting the now cut off nail back through the nuts, I placed a drop of glue to the nail head and the top nut. This secured it so it won't slip out, but the hinge will still work.

Step 8: Pop the Lenses in and You Are Done!

All you have to do now is pop the lenses in and shine 'em up and you're good to go! Thanks so much for taking a look!

Trash to Treasure

Second Prize in the
Trash to Treasure

Pocket-Sized Contest

Participated in the
Pocket-Sized Contest