Friday, October 19, 2007

Today I decided to create a blog so that you can see some of the things I have created using candy wrappers or storage tape and paper. I am also including some of the purses from my collection that I have bought. This is a great hobby. I have found it to be very relaxing and very portable. The cost for supplies can be nothing or you can buy materials to create your items. The First purse above was a very beautiful purse I purchased while in Mexico. The flat bottom on the purse makes it very easy to display. The purse is made out of candy wrappers.The next purse is a beautiful black and gold purse which I purchased in Mexico last month.
The purses shown below are purses which I made. The first purse (shown below) is made out of the kind of material used to make food and drink pouches. The material is a little thicker than the candy wrappers. The second purse (shown below) was made of storage tape and wrapping paper. The third purse is made out of magazine pages covered with storage tape. The fourth purse is also made of magazine pages covered with storage tape.

The purse shown below is a red purse I made for a friend. I had to fold the wrappers so only the red would show on the outside.

Candy Wrapper Craft Tips

Tip#1 The Simple Side

first tip has to do with the basic link that makes up the candy wrapper chain. If you turn the the link on it's side you will see that one side is more complex than the other. It is more difficult to figure out which fold to push your next link thru when there is more than one. The best idea is to turn your link to the the simple side with one fold before pushing the next link thru it. The first picture below is of the simple side of the link the next photo is of the complex side.

Tip#2 Portable Links
I have found the candy wrapper craft to be very portable. The most time consuming part of the process is folding up the links. I try to use free time that is normally wasted to fold up my links. I store the cut up paper and wrappers in a zip loc snack sized baggie and keep it in my pocket. If your are on a plane or a bus you might be on there for quite some time. If you want to you could work on your links but maybe you do not want to make a long chain at that time. If you make a link and let go of it will unfold and it will be a hassle to re fold it. One of the things you can do is stick the link between two surfaces that keep it folded. The link could be placed in the pocket of a wallet or a back pocket. I think a better solution is shown below, it creates a link that can be stored anywhere without pressure on it. It is very simple but it works great. First you turn the link on it's side. This should be the simple side up. you will see that you have a center fold (#1) with the 2 ends of the link folded into the center. Take the end of left side of the link from the center and slip it behind the end of the right side of the link. Push the end of the left side until it goes just a little bit past the side of the end of the right side of the link. Try maintaining the three basic fold of the link as you do this and presto! you have an independent link that will not unfold until you unfold it. The links folded this way are very easy to unfold, just pull slightly of the end of the left side of the link and line up your folds again! Below you will see a picture of some of the links that I stored in a yogurt cup.

Completed link

Multiple links!

Tip#3 How To Cover links With Scotch Tape

When I started to make candy wrapper purses I found it hard to gather up enough candy wrappers for my projects. I bought a couple of candy wrapper purses to see how they were made. One of the things I discovered was that many of these purses were made of paper that had been covered with cellophane. Over the years the cellophane had began to deteriorate. I guess this is what you might expect because the old cellophane was an organic product. I began to experiment with paper and tape and I developed the technique shown below. The technique below uses Scotch storage tape which is about 2 inches wide. I like this tape because it is very strong and when put on top of paper makes it water resistent and very beautiful. The storage tape will not deteriorate like the cellophane did.

The first picture below show the Scotch tape with a piece of paper that will be covered. The paper and the tape are on a flat metal surface. You can use any surface you like but it should be one that would not be damaged by putting tape on it and removing the tape over and over again.

The second picture shows the piece of paper on the flat metal surface with a penny on the flat metal surface about an inch before the paper begins. This is where you want your tape to go. Also notice the quarter on top of the paper. The quarter is there to keep the paper from lifting up due to static electricity. You do not have to use a quarter but use something heavy enough to hold the paper down but not big enough to get in your way. This is another reason why I use the Scotch brand storage tape it is not flimsy like some of the other tapes I have tried and it does not seem to carry as much static elctricity which makes life a lot easier.

The third picture shows where the tape is placed on the flat metal surface The tape should be lined up evenly with the piece of paper so that it will cover the whole piece of paper. Hold the tape up a little bit and gradually smooth the tape on top of the paper. Remove the quarter from the bottom of the paper as you move down the paper.

The forth picture shows the the Scotch tape being cut at the bottom of the paper.

The fifth picture shows the piece of paper after it has been cut away from the tape and pulled off the flat metal surface. The little piece of tape at the top can be folded behind the piece of paper or it can be cut off.

Photo #6 shows the link when it is all folded up and done. You fold the link up just as you usually do.

If you have any questions about the above technique please let me know. You can use the links made in this way just as you use your regular candy wrapper links.

Tip #4 The Backwards Needle

One of the concepts I had to get clear in my mind is that when we connect the rows of links together, althought we are using needle and thread to do so, we are not really sewing. In this process we do not go thru the candy wrappers (pierce) but only thru the folds in the candy wrapper link. We do not want to tear or rip the candy wrappers we are working with. As explained by Mylinda in her excellent tutorial (see the link to her tutorial in the links section above) we do not need to use a sharp needle and if at all possible use a blunt tapestry needle or you can make a needle out of a flat piece of plastic. This will allow you to pull the thread thru the fold in the links. When all I have is a sharp needle to use I have trained myself to go thru the fold in the links using the threaded back end of the needle this works great and reduces the chances of you tearing your candy wrappers. I at one time thought that I needed a sharp needle to sew the zipper on to the purse. However I have found that a small to medium sized blunt needle will go thru the fabic of the zipper ( you have to push a little bit harder). Therefore I do not need to use a sharp needle. When not using a sharp needle or the sharp end of a sharp needle you will find the whole process goes a lot quicker.

Tip # 5 Link Pattern Template

Recently I was working on a muticolored candy wrapper purse. While I was cutting out my links for the purse I noticed that I was getting about 6 links out of each small chip bag. I think that is pretty good. However I also noticed that half of the links had patterns on them or colors on them which I did not want to use for that particular project. In looking at the link I realised that only a small amount of the paper showed when the link is folded up. There was something I wanted to appear on the link but I could not get it to appear where I wanted it to. So I tried to figure out just where I had to cut my chip bag in order to make the pattern I wanted appear on the link. I had to work on this for a while but I came up with the solution shown below.

1. First fold up a link (use a blank piece of paper) as you normally do.

2. push the link above thru another link.

3. Take a pen and fill in the area that will show when the link is folded up and pushed thru another link. There will an area which shows on the front and one that will show on the back of the link.

4. Remove the link from the other ink and unfold the link that you marked.

5. Cut out the area that you marked on the link. I usually only do the area tha will appear on the front or outside of the purse.

6. Cut out a piece of cardboard to be the same size as the link. place the link on top of the cardboard and trace the hole on to the cardboard.

7. remove the link from the top of the cardboard. In the areas where the hole is traced on the cardboard, cut it out with a knife or scissors. when you are done, this wil be your template.

8. It would be a good idea to test your template. Cut out another piece a blank paper and make another link. do not fold it up yet. Lay the blank piece of paper down and put the cardboard template on the paper. Mark an x onto the piece paper thru the hole in the template. Remove your cardboard template. Fold up your link and your x should appear just where you want it to be !

To use the the template just place it on top of your chip bag move it around until you see a pattern you want thru the hole in the cardbord template. mark or cut the chip bag all around the template. You should now have a link with the pattern on it that you wanted. It might be a good idea to have 2-4 more templates so you can figure out how to cut up larger ares of the chip bag or wrapper material.

Tip #6 Tight Folds

One of the things that can be very frustrating when sewing the links together is when your needle will not go through a fold. this can be for many different reasons. This is especially a problem when you are sewing up the bottom of a purse or putting on the straps for the purse. There is another way to get into the fold and that is go up higher in the fold and then bring you needle and thread back down into the fold. This is usually done in three or four steps.

1. Step one is to work your needle up under the flap that sits on top of the fold. When you look at your chains you will see that some folds sit on top and some sit under a flap, The folds that sit on top are easy to get through. The folds that sit under a flap are the tough ones to deal with.

2. Step two is, once you work your needle up under the flap that sits on top of the fold you will see that you are now above the flap. under the flap is the fold but you are now higher up on the fold. work your way under the flap and between the 2layers of material that form the fold. Your needle should go from one side of the layers of material that form the fold to the other side and come out the other side.

3. Now work your needle down under the flap and back into the lower part of the fold. See picture #3

The above method takes a little more time than going directly through the fold but when it is impossible to go through the bottom part of the fold, this works great and will save you many hours of frustration. I find I use the above technique a lot in my work. There are some projects I could not have finished without the the above technique because the material could have torn by attempting to push the needle through the bottom fold. Try this technique and I think you will like it!

Tip #7 The paper clip needle and dental floss

The other day I was at work and a friend asked me to repair the strap on an older purse. I did not have my needle with me and I did not have any thread, so I looked around for something to use and I found a paper clip. I had no thread so I asked my friends if they had any dental floss. I had never used dental floss to make a purse before. The paper clip was a large one. I tied my dental floss to the bottom of the paper clip. I put a little tape around the rough metal ends on the sides of the paper clip. When I sewed I made sure those rough edges were facing away from my work. I found I really liked working with the paper clip and the dental floss. the paper clip felt good in my hand. I also found that the dental floss worked great. It seems that the dental floss is waxed and it does not seem to tangle as easily as my upholstery thread does and just to think, I would never have tried the paper clip or the dental floss if I had not been forced to use them!

I have since found that the paper clip works even without the tape on the sides of the metal ends. Just make sure that the rough edges are facing away from your work.

Tip #8 Materials

I just thought I would include a section in my blog about materials. This blog is about candy wrapper purses. Why are candy wrappers so popular to use in making purses? First of all they are beautiful they come in so many beautiful colors. They also have some great art work on them. They are also durable and water proof. Candy wrappers are made to protect food so they are food grade. you can not have the printing on the wrappers rubbing off. All the graphics are permanent.

I have experimented with many different materials in making purses. The best I have found is the potato chip bag. The material used to make the bags is a little bit thicker and stronger than some of the candy wrappers. The potato chip bags are easy to work with and are very dependable. The candy wrappers and the potato chip bags are easy to find. Millions are thrown away everyday. If you let your friends and coworkers know that you can use these wrappers, they will save them for you and give them to you. I find these days most people want to recycle.

Other Materials

I at one time thought that all foils were equal now I know from my sad experience that that is not true! For example let us look at wrapping paper. Most wrapping paper is made for a one time use. These foil wrapping my have a temporary finish printed on paper that will rub off. Some of the metallic foil papers have the metallic color and silver backing just sprayed on. So test the material before you buy it. Get a small piece of the material and rub it with your hands until it warms up a bit and see what happens. Some surfaces will come off right away but others will only come off after they heat up a little when you rub them. Folks you do not know how depressing it is to buy a beautiful foil to work with, get it home, start working with it and then you start seeing it come off, at first you think it is your imagination and then you realize it is really rubbing off!(big timer BUMMER!) As far as I know candy wrappers are made in layers the inner layers might have the printing and silver backing on them and that layer is covered with a clear layer on top and a clear layer on back. The layers are bonded together to create the candy wrapper or potato chip bag. Some of the wrapping paper material may not have a protective layer over the printing or silver backing.

Recently I purchases some candy wrapping material. It came in squares. It came in many beautiful colors. But when I received it although the color on it seemed to be stable, if was a thicker form of aluminum foil which was not bonded to plastic of any kind. It tore and wadded up just like aluminum foil and I can not use it in any of my projects.

There are some other materials that I have found to be stable. The material used to make gift bags seems to be very stable. The ones with the holographic designs on the metalized surface are really nice to work with. They are backed with a thick paper so you do not have to add a piece of paper to them before you fold up the links.

I have also tested some of the foil banners sold in dollars stores and those seem to be stable. They seem to work up just like the candy wrappers do.

Covered Materials

All of the above materials were used without covering them in anyway. When you start covering materials a whole new word opens up. Newspaper, wrapping papers, magazine pages can all be used to do beautiful work, if they are covered. One way to cover the paper materials is to use plastic storage tape. The tape makes the paper very strong and water resistant shiny and beautiful. This takes a little time but the results are well worth it. I have some instructions up above for covering magazine pages with storage tape. Always cover your paper materials before you start handing them a lot. The color will start to rub off it you handle the pages before they are covered. Once you cover the paper there will be no problem.

I am now experimenting with covering the pages with cellophane. The cellophane seems to work great. I cut the cellophane to the size of the paper, put it on the paper, rub on it (it stick to the paper) and fold up my link. You have to make sure that the cellophane does not slide out of position. I am working with the very thin cellophane that you find in most craft stores. It is a little tricky to cut it and handle it because static makes it stick to things and itself and it is slippery. I am hoping to find a little thicker cellophane and that should work up just like the candy wrappers. I have seen some beautiful items made using the cellophane. I do not know how the cellophane will age so I tend to want to use the acrylic cello like materials that are not as biodegradable. I need to do some more research on which material will last the longest.

Another way to protect the surface of your paper is to cover the page with clear contact paper before you cut out the links. I have not done this myself. I will experiment with the contact paper and let you know how it turns out.

Liquid Protectants

I am now experimenting with some liquid protectants. The protectants are put on after the project is done. I have worked with a product called modge podge on a paper basket I made. It seemed to make a nice surface and made the basket much stronger. I also tried polyurethane on one basket made of brown Kraft paper. I found it (the vapors from it ) to be a little too strong. I would not like working with the polyurethane on a regular basis. I have seen paper items that were protected with lacquer they look really good. I will try to work with the lacquers and see how that goes.

Please let me know how these tips work for you . Also, please post any tips that might be useful.

Using Cellophane to make a candy wrapper purse (01/30/2010)

As you can see from my blog I have used many different materials to make candy wrapper purses. That is one of the great things about this technique, you have so many choices. One of the things I have found is that when you use materials that others have made or designed you are limited to the colors and designs that they used. This is true with candy wrappers. However with paper you can use magazines, food lables newspapers and even typing paper. On the paper you can put your own designs. I made a purse using typing paper and I printed my own design on to the paper. This flexibility is very important when you are trying to create. When using paper you have to protect it from water and from tearing. I first found that covering the paper with packing tape worked great. It took a lot of time but I was happy with the results I got. I have some pieces that are 2- 3 years old and the still look great. I tried another way of covering the paper to protect it and that was to cover it with cellophane. The cellophane I used, at the time, was some I bought form one of the big box craft stores. The cellophane was very thin and difficult to work with. The cellophane would stick to itself( and sometimes to my face!). I also learned that true cellophane is biodgradable. That is not what I wanted when making a candy wrapper purse that I worked 20 to 60 hours on. I wanted my purse to last as long as possible. Although it was difficult to work with the thin cellophane I was able to make a few purses and they looked great. I gave up on using cellophane. One day I was at work and a co-worker at work told me about a thicker stronger cellophane that is used to make gift baskets. I found a supplier of the thicker cellophane on Ebay. I found the material to be much easier to work with. I have since made many purse out of the thicker cellophane. The Poly clear cellophane protects the paper making it water resistant and prevents the paper from tearing.

The cellophane I am talking about is 1.2 mils thick. I would recommend that you do not use cellophane that is more than 24 inches wide. The source I use for my cellophane is at . They carry this item on a regular basis at a good price. I have recently seen an even thicker variety of cellophane and it is 1.6 mils thick. The 1.6 mil cellophane should work great too. I buy the poly man made version of clear cellophane ( non biodgradable).

One of the most difficult parts of working with the cellophane is cutting it. As I said the cellophane tends to stick to itself. I take a 5 to 7 foot piece of cellophane off of the roll and and I fold it in half longwise. I then cut it using a paper trimmer. The ones I have seen are about 12 inches long that is why I recommended that you not use material more than 24 inches wide. To cut the material I would not recommend that you use scissors as this would make the process more difficult than it needs to be. The trimmer you uses should be a major brand so you can always find the cutting stylus when you need to replace them. The trimmer I uses is a Fiskars trimmer. The trimmers run between 10 and 25 dollars. Here is a link to a great video on paper trimmers. (trimmer video). To cut the cellophane I slide it into the trimmer making sure that my the cellophane does not slip. I want all of folds and edges to line up straight. I cut the cellophane into 4 and half inch wide pieces. I then unfold the pieces and stack up 5 or 6 of them and cut them into pieces that are 2 inches wide. This gives me pieces that are 2 by 4 and a half inches. The pieces I make are usually a little longer. I like to add an eight of a inch ( this gives me pieces of cellophane that are 2 by 4 and 5/8 inches long ( that works better for me).

You might have to practice cutting the cellophane but once you get your cellophane cut it is very easy to use. The cellophane is placed on top of each link before you fold it.

I have seen comments from people saying it was difficult and time consuming to use the packing tape method. I think you will find this method much easier and faster and it will produce beautiful results for you. Please let me see some of the purses you create using this method.