Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Paper Bag Portfolio: Making Leather

Our SpirARTuality group meet yesterday to make "leather" portfolios from paper bags. Here are the supplies you'll need:
Paper bag--we used grocery bags
Brown (or black or maroon, etc) acrylic paint--we used Setacolor fabric paint
Pellon 72 (73?) double-sided stiffener (or your favorite stiffener and sticky stuff)
Fabric for the lining of portfolio
Envelope or folder to hold things in your portfolio
Glue--we used Tacky Glue
Sewing Machine (optional--for binding)
Fastener optional (elastic to go around binder, ribbon and button etc etc)

To Make "Leather"

Step 1: Open paper back to lie flat.

Step 2: On inside of paper bag, do a light wash of paint. We used about 1 part paint to 10 parts water, and got the whole bag wet, but somewhat splotchy.

Step 3: Let dry completely. The patient people can do this by waiting a day. Some of us are impatient and use a hair dryer to speed the process.

Step 4: Crinkle up the bag into a small a ball as you can get it. The flatten it out. Crinkle again. Repeat 3-4 times until it's nice and wrinkled. Spread flatish.

Step 5: Daub on full-strength paint onto the bag. The goal is to rub the paint over the top layers of wrinkles, but leave the gullies without paint in them. It looks good to have a little more paint here, a little less there. Try to keep the paint on the top--not down in the holes.

Step 6: When it's dryish, iron flat.

You've got yourself a piece of "leather." See the next post for making the portfolio.

Paper Bag Portfolio: Making the Portfolio

Once you've turned your paper bag into "leather," here's how to put the portfolio together:

Cut a piece of Pellon to the exact size you want for your portfolio. We used double-sized fusable Pellon, which made it easy as pie. You also could use many different stiffeners or stabilizers.
Iron the wrong side of your "leather" onto one side of the Pellon.

Trim your "leather" to the exact size of the Pellon.

Next, use your "leather"/Pellon as a pattern to cut your lining fabric. Leave 1/2 inch of fabric around all sides. (OR leave a full inch if you chose a fabric that frays. If so, then you'll fold the fabric over twice in the next step.)

Take the protective coating off the Pellon and iron the wrong side of the lining fabric to the Pellon. I used a thick fabric and had to hold the iron on for quite a while to make it stick.

Next, fold the liner fabric over the "leather" and sew to make a binding. I found this machine didn't like doing a fancy stitch through all these layers, but it would do a zig-zag just fine.

After you've sewn the binding on, next glue your pocket onto the lining fabric so that one side folds over to the top of your folder, and the other side folds over part way.
I used a plastic 5-pocket folder, and roughed it up with sandpaper before gluing. Jo used an old mailing envelope. Pat will make her own fabric pocket.

Happy Birthday to Me!
I'll probably just attach a circle of elastic to keep the binder together. Or maybe a ribbon and button if I find Just the Thing.

If you are going to use your portfolio alot, you should cover your "leather" with Mod Podge, Gel Medium, or some other thing to protect it (and to protect you since the paint may run if it gets wet.)

And here are the SpirARTuality questions for this project:

Portfolios are for keeping items we're proud of.
What is in your inner portfolio? Spend some time thinking of the moments in your life you are most proud of. What 5 events do you want to save in your Inner Portfolio?

Take a moment to give thanks for those moments, the people involved with them, and the gifts and skills you used.

Consider spending more time over the next year honing one of those gifts or skills.