Crafty Challenge 3: Fast Food Folio

Fast Food Folio
Front cover and bookmark drinking straw.

Crafty challenge number 3 is no one’s fault but my own. While I was making my hardware-store handbag for the last challenge, I began to think of a challenge that would be mostly confined to materials that were incidental to an item I had bought. Things that you do not buy to use, such as packaging materials, plastic sacks, and styrofoam drinking cups.

There were two materials that had particularly caught my fancy. One was sales slips. Every time I clean my car, I cannot believe how many slips I can accumulate in just a few days. The other was the paper wrappers that hamburgers and breakfast sandwiches come wrapped in. These materials are perfectly suited for their original purpose, but could I think of a secondary recycled purpose?

The sandwich wrappers are plasticized on one side and I thought that perhaps they could be used as an element in a plastic fused-fabric, but the sales slips proved harder to recycle. Sometimes when I don’t have any deposit slips, I’ll grab a sales slip from the floor of the car to write my information on, so I decided that they could be made up into some kind of notepaper.

Since I could only think of notepaper as a use for the sales slips, I knew I would need to make a notebook. I could use other types of wastepaper for additional pages and the various plastic items I had been saving could be used for a plastic fused-fabric cover. One unintentional consequence of this challenge was the ever rising pile of junk on my work table. Just as I found myself putting something in the recycling or the trash, I would think: “wait that may be useful.”

I decided that my “fast food folio” notebook would be composed of three signatures of paper. A signature is a sheet of paper which folds to page size and is then bound with other signatures to form a book. My signatures would be made from sales slips, paper fast food sacks and sandwich wrappers. I glued the sales slips into 8 1/2 inch by 11 inch sheets and cut the paper sacks and sandwich wrappers to the same dimensions. There was just enough material to make eight sheets of 8 1/2 by 11 inch paper per signature. When folded those 8 sheets gave me 16 sheets of 5 1/2 by 8 1/2 inch paper and with three signatures that gave me 48 sheets of paper in a notebook that would be approximately 6 inches by 9 inches with its cover.

I decided that I would make the cover from layers of plastic bags, bubble wrap and sandwich wrappers. I wanted the bubble wrap to give the cover a honeycomb texture and to make the cover stronger. The plastic bags would provide the graphics and the sandwich wrappers were unique in that only one side is plasticized and I could use them as a protective layer on one side and a fusible layer on the other.

When fusing plastic into fabric some people use wax paper to protect their iron, but I believe that parchment paper is sturdier and less likely to become a part of the fused fabric.This fusing plastic bag tutorial  has excellent instructions. The one thing to remember is that when you start mixing different types of plastics, you can have unexpected consequences. Not all plastic materials melt at the same rate and at the same temperature. You have to keep experimenting and have some back-up materials in case a “shrink and shrivel” happens.

When I had the cover and the signatures made I sewed them together with a large-eyed blunt needle and cotton kitchen twine. I used beeswax on the twine to make it slide easier through the holes in the cover and the signatures. This youtube video ‘simple bookbinding part 1 and its companion video part 2 were the most helpful to me in explaining signatures and how to sew them to a cover.

Most of the time we keep our projects secret from each other but Kristin was in town and I did not wish to spend our time together alone in separate rooms while we worked on our projects. So Kristin saw my project and had some helpful ideas. I wanted to use drinking straws in my project and had experimented with melting them onto a sheet of plastic vinyl. The straws do melt, but not in the way I wanted. Kristin suggested slicing the straw into small circles and then melting them onto the cover. As you can see below, the idea worked extremely well and is quite decorative. She also suggested using a straw as a bookmark. I connected it to the end of the binding twine and used beads as stopper knots. That is the one problem with these challenges. We miss the feedback and suggestions from each other that make our projects just that one step better.

I am surprised by how good the plastic cover feels and by how sturdy it is. I was also very curious how the different types of paper would respond to ink, markers and colored pencil. The brown paper works very well for my squiggles and surprisingly so does the plastic side of the sandwich wrappers. However, the sales slips are treated to accept the ink of their cash registers and are hard on markers, pencils and ink pens. I am thinking of covering them with gesso and if that doesn’t work, a few collage pages will look very good in my notebook.

Our crafty challenges have challenged us in ways that we never anticipated. I have been surprised and amazed at the results. Enough so that we are already working on crafty challenge number 4.

Fast Food Folio
Outside cover and view of hand-sewn binding.
Fast Food Folio
Pages made of sales slips and sandwich wrappers.
Fast Food Folio
Detail of beads used to cap the drinking straw bookmark.
Fast Food Folio
Inside cover and first page with first squiggle on brown paper bag.

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