Projects

Decorative Fused Plastic Leaves

This project is one which has evolved out of my recent experiments with fused plastic. It’s a way of recycling old crayons and plastic bags creatively and I love the finished ‘leaf-like’ feel of these. The finished leaves can be used for a wide range of purposes, or alternatively you could cut the fused plastic sheets up into any shape you like.

 

Materials

  • Plain white plastic bags – or bags with large areas of white that can be used.
  • Roll of Cling film
  • Old wax crayons
  • Metallic Gold Ink Pen
  • Baking parchment

Equipment

  • Old kitchen grater
  • Domestic iron
  • Pinking Shears
  • Heat Proof board (I used a toughened glass chopping board)

Preparation

  • Cut up your white plastic bags into pieces that will fit onto your ironing board – my pieces were about A5 sheet size.
  • Grate your wax crayons into separate colours, and place in different pots – I used cake cases for the purpose, which worked well.
  • Place the heat proof board onto your ironing surface, and lay a protective sheet of some sort over it (I used an old tea-towel).
  • Place the heat proof board on top of this, and then cover this in turn with a piece of baking parchment bigger than your plastic.
  • Place your base sheet of plastic on top of this.

 

Method

I like to start by ironing the plastic smooth to begin with, so place another sheet of baking parchment on top, and switch the iron onto a medium heat non-steam setting. The actual setting will vary slightly depending upon the thickness of plastic bag you are using. Thicker bags require higher heat to fuse – just experiment. Iron the sheet smooth for a few seconds.

Remove the top layer of parchment paper and you are ready to start decorating. I found that the most effective way to do this was to build up the design in layers of different colours one at a time, separating and sealing each layer with cling film. If you don’t do this, and put all the colours on together in a single layer, you are in danger of creating a muddy mess as all the colours mix together. The designs shown here all used about 3 or 4 different layers. Because each was separated from the other, the colours do not physically mix, and each layer acts like a glaze creating beautiful bright and colourful designs.

Less is more – you don’t need to sprinkle very much on – as you are not looking to cover the plastic completely with each individual layer.

After you have sprinkled on your first layer, place a sheet of cling film a little larger than the base plastic over the top of the sprinkles, and then a sheet of baking parchment over this – again, this should cover all the plastic layers so it doesn’t melt on your iron.

Iron the layers together – you will see the wax crayon sprinkles melt very quickly, but you may need to press a little harder and longer to enable the cling film to fuse to the plastic beneath depending on the heat of the iron and the thickness of the plastic bag used – just experiment and you will soon get a feel for it.

Repeat this with different colours, sealing each layer of crayon sprinkles with cling film, and fusing them together using the baking parchment to protect the iron. Small air bubbles will become trapped and the plastic will wrinkle, creating an almost leather like marbled surface. You can see each individual stage below.

 

Once cooled, trim the extra cling film away from the sheet and cut it into whatever shapes you like – using pinking shears makes a particularly decorative edge for leaf shapes.

You can draw on the fused plastic with sharpies, or other pens – for example I used a metallic gold ink pen to draw decorative stylised veins on the leaves.

fused-plastic leaves bookmark

 

If you want to make a bookmark like I’ve done here – punch holes in the end of two of the leaves and attach together with ribbon leaving the ends trailing. Alternatively this would also make a decorative gift tag.

 

fused plastic bookmark

 

If you make lots of leaves, you will have enough to make a garland, or simply hang them individually onto twigs and branches placed in a pot. There are plenty of possibilities!

 

 

 

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