Monday, April 05, 2010

Continuing To Nerd Out Over Plastic Bag Iron-On Decals

Although I was enthusiastic about my success with the plastic bag iron-on decal tutorial posted over at Filth Wizardry, I was not completely satisfied with the results. Kitten Muffin’s decals appeared much better fused onto the fabric than mine, and while the original Barnes & Noble book-tree logo wasn’t going to just fall off . . .

. . . I had no faith in its capacity for surviving in the wash. And forget about any of new, smaller bits I spent Saturday trying to add to my mini-masterpiece. 

They are decently stuck on, and I think the minor warping is kind of cool, but with only a little effort I can get a fingernail under them and peel them right off.

I like the way it looks, but for some reason it still seemed a little like wearing a plastic bag on my shirt.

That’s when I had the idea to take a closer look at the shirt label. When I’d pulled it from the closet it had been mostly because it was a shirt I rarely wore, but also because it was manufactured by a company named “Seattle Cotton.” If Kitten Muffin mentioned the type of fabric in her posts, I missed it, but I’d sort of made the assumption that cotton was the way to go. Who knew that Seattle Cotton made shirts that are 50 percent polyester? Was this why the plastic wasn’t fusing properly?

I grabbed a 100 percent cotton shirt this time and a cutting from a Trader Joe’s 5 lb. potato bag. I also turned my iron to its highest setting, giving it time to get really hot.

 Now that’s what I’m talking about!

Some of the ink came off on the parchment . . . 

. . . but that logo is fused on there for good. I’m absolutely confident it will survive the laundry.

Now up to full nerd speed, while wearing my Organic Russet Potato shirt, I got to work on my final “junker” t-shirt and the bag in which my mom brought her belongings home from Overlake Hospital after her surgery last week. I worked with using multiple layers of plastic to create shades of the light blue. I’m very pleased with the result.

It's hard taking a picture of a shirt while you're wearing it!

So my take-way is: if you want a permanent plastic bag iron-on decal, use cotton and very high heat; if you want a temporary plastic bag iron-on decal, use a cotton blend with a cotton setting. It will peel right off.

Now I’m off to Goodwill for a stack of 100 percent cotton t-shirts.

And while we’re on the topic of making art from plastic bags, here’s what Austin, Texas artist Virginia Fleck is up to. (I found this through a post at Get Your Mess On!, but her link is bad, so use mine.)

I know what everyone's getting for Christmas!

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Unknown said...

Nothing can stop you now, Tom : )

Unknown said...

Very cool, Tom! I might have to use this project this summer with the nieces and nephews at the beach!

Unknown said...

I also saw this project and have been saving some interesting bags I've come across. Yours turned out great! Get your nerd on, Tom! :)

Deborah Stewart said...

My mom always lines the edges of decals with that fabric bubble paint. Perhaps if you want it to last longer, this would be an idea but then again, the paint would be permanent:)

Play for Life said...

This is so cool Tom. I too had a lot of fun with my nieces over the Easter break practicing with an old t-shirt. We found the pictures they drew with sharpie pens on clear snap lock bags adhered really, really well. Only problem was they worked best with the ink side down which meant writing their names proved to be very tricky! With the ink side up the colour wasn't as crisp, like your potato bag the ink came off on the parchment paper ... actually we used baking paper! I'm not sure off the cotton content in our shirt but certainly the thickness of the plastic bag appeared to make a big difference. We used a book shop logo which was off a thin plastic bag and like you I could certainly pick it off when I tried ... however it left no residue at all which meant we could re use the same shirt which was great.
Cheers for this one Tom, Donna :) :)

P.S. Virginia Fleck is one awesome artist!

Anonymous said...

Don't you just love trial and error? lol

Lindsey said...

Oooh, good point Tom! Everything I tried it on was 100% cotton. I've not tried putting plastic bag decals on any other kind of fabric. I'll make sure to mention your discovery about the not so secure fuse to part polyester on the blog when I get a chance.