Sunday, 19 December 2010

Blowin in the wind

Presenting. . . . . . . . my arty farty customised canvas bag.

A few miles away from here is a council tip, and on a windy day the plastic carrier bags which are brought in on the trucks with the rest of the rubbish, are tossed a mile or so and deposited amongst the hedgerows. This makes the place look untidy and people complain, so the council have to employ agency workers specifically for the job of cleaning it up..

This is the picture of messiness that came to mind. Bags littering the ground and caught in the trees, fighting a desperate battle against the wind in their bid for freedom, only to be ripped to shreds and scattered far and wide. Bio degradeable? Not for another five years.

I wanted my bag to have a message, so I decided to decorate it with plastic carrier bags to convey this. First of all I unpicked the stitching and took the handles off. They are very flimsy so I threaded a piece of rope through each one. Luckily I have some very soft white rope that I recovered from a container on the back of my lorry, a few years ago. It was used to secure the contents, no one wanted it so I brought it home, just in case I could find a use for it.

The bag itself is rather flimsy as well, it needed a lining. My first thought was to find a piece of fabric, but that wouldn't be in keeping with the plastic versus canvas theme. So I looked in my box in the kitchen, and found a plain green plastic bag which was a perfect fit. Sewing the lining and the handles to the bag was the last thing I did.

To build my picture I needed different coloured plastic bags. I made some pieces by fusing (ironing) together four layers. This makes it thick enough to sew through without it tearing. If you are going to do this put brown or greaseproof paper top and bottom so the iron doesn't stick to it.

So with lots of pieces made I cut out the shapes. The blue sky was from a Millets bag.

I made lots of miniture carrier bags and stitched shop names onto them.

The grassy pieces along the bottom are from Millets and Trespass bags, the outdoor shops. I found the little bird on a charity bag, and the tree trunks are made from Tesco wholemeal bread bags.

Everything was stitched on individually, starting with the grass, tree trunks, sky, and green tops. Then the smaller pieces were added.

Hope you like it. I am quite pleased.


  1. I LOVE it! I think it's fantastic Ilona, and so well done :0)

  2. I love it. I get the message you are trying to make very clear from it too, so it looks like you've succeeded there. It really is eyecatching. I bet it does well in the exhibition too.

  3. That is such a clever idea and a great way to get an important message across.

    I`m amazed at how many people in a supermarket queue still don`t bring their own bags with them.

  4. That's so cool! All the trendy gals will be wanting one :-D
    It must have taken ages to embroider all the mini bags.

  5. You are so creative. This idea is brilliant in conception and excellent in implementation. It's a great pity that your art doesn't get a wider audience.

  6. The message I got from your bag without reading the blog was 'plastic bags don't grow on trees' which I thought kind of fits with the theme of things. I think the whole project is really well considered and thought out and beautifully executed - and I really like that you have made the bag useable by reinforcing it where it is needed. I would be interested to see the other bags but I bet they aren't any better than yours.

  7. Cool, I love it!

    Happy Christmas Iona!

  8. You should look into selling things like this on Folksy, I just bet you'd sell so many things and raise oodles for your puss cat fund. :)
    x x xx

  9. Thank you for your comments, I really appreciate your thoughts. Billie Jane, you are much cleverer than me with words, your interpretation makes more sense than mine. If you don't mind I would actually like to call it 'Doesn't Grow on Trees', for the exhibition. Gives it a twist.

    I need to know from the Arts Centre how they are going to display it. I have stitched across the bottom corners so it has a flat bottom, I want it to stand upright and not be laid flat, so I have to pack it out with something heavy. I may insert wire into the handles so they don't flop.

    Hi Fishcake random, you are not the first to say I should sell them, but I can't bring myself to do that at the moment. I make things for me, because I enjoy thinking of an idea, and playing with it to see if it works. If I keep them I can look back on them, and see how I can do it better next time.

  10. This bag is really great - Is there a prize for the best - hope you win !

  11. There are no prizes, lizzie, it isn't a competition. I will just be pleased to have something with my name on it on display for three months.

  12. You've made a fantastic job of the bag. You are very talented.


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