A few weeks ago I got all excited about printing lunch bags. I resized my groovy doodle patterns, put a white lunch bag through the manual feeder, hit print, held my breath - and heard a disturbing crunch. Fished it out, fed a new bag from the other end. Same thing. Repeated w/flat merchandise bags. No. Wasn't going to happen, at least not with my printer. It required ten sheets of paper to clear out the residue from the jams. It was dejected and so was I. Back into the drawer went the bags, until I took out my paints last weekend to finish up something else, and thought, "Hm! I think I'll watercolor them instead."
So I did. And what fun! A big middle finger to you, printer! Liquid watercolor, I'm all yours.
If you're interested, here is how I made mine:
1. Get a large package of inexpensive white lunch bags. Target or Wal-Mart will fill the need.
2. Create a bottom layer of texture/pattern/random markings on each bag with whatever materials you have on hand. I used water soluble crayons, white out (for resist), and drawing inks (Koh-i-noor Rapidograph inks in bright colors; I drew squiggles directly from the bottle).
3. Add a layer of liquid watercolor with a foam brush (or a regular brush about the same size). At first, I diluted the paint, but upon drying the color was too insipid for my liking so on the remainder I did it directly from the concentrate. If you have patience, you can do some interesting color layering by letting the watercolor dry before adding the next layer. Be gentle - the sides are delicate and rip easily when wet. To get around this I opened the bag entirely and put my hand inside it like a puppet, which put most of the pressure on the bottom of the bag where it is strongest. This also enabled me to reach every side at once while I painted.
4. Let it dry - I found that the easiest way is to stick the bag on something like an upright papertowel holder. Or flip a chair upside down if the legs are long enough, so you can dry four at a time. I turned a few plant stands upside down and that did the trick too. If possible, put your desiccation station outside - they'll dry much more quickly. Mine were finished in less than fifteen minutes.
5. Once dry, fold them back into form. If you're really ambitious, you could run over each bag with an iron to give it that crispy look again. I kinda like the crumply shape though.
It's worth making multiples with this project, because it is a messy process and requires just as much effort for one bag as it does for ten or fifty. The more I got into the groove, the more I started experimenting, and the more fun it was!
As for the finished goods? They'll work just fine for lunch bags, obviously, but I think they would also make great gift bags, party treat bags, luminaria, or even a gift in themselves if prettily bundled up. If you have any ideas on how to spice up this project, please share - the more ways to give that old bag a facelift, the better!