Monday, November 16, 2015

Fused Plastic: The Betty Apron

Meet Betty: back view

This is what I am calling a "fused plastic soft sculpture." The apron theme was inspired by the wonderful apron-making ladies of San Miguel del Valle. This piece was intended to go entirely another way, but I discovered fused plastic has a mind of its own. The fusing of old plastic bags created an assortment of new plastic textile pieces. I then fused or stitched those pieces together to create the sculpture.

Fused plastic textile detail


The Betty: front view

Close-up: sampling of plastic textiles

Plastic fused textile; sewn-on plastic circles

Delicate frill: scraps of colored plastic fused between thin produce bags

Fused plastic textile


  1. Hello! Just checked out your fused plastic shoes and aprons. My mouth is hanging open in amazement.

    I wonder if this garment can be worn, or is it more a decoration? Is it very delicate, or can it take some abuse? Is there a particular type of bag that works best? How much ventilation is necessary? Are there fumes? Any other tips?????

    I hope you don't mind so many questions. I, too, work in materials that would otherwise be considered waste, which is what inspired my friend to send me your link. I've been taking a Master Recycler program here in Vancouver, and I think you've given me the key to my community outreach project needed for graduation. Thanks for getting my wheels turning...

    If you're curious, check out my site: here's a garment made from tiny, 50 year-old, polyester, double-knit scraps - no cutting, no seams - everything fits together just like a puzzle.

    Here's a collar made from medical waste: there's a tutorial on the way for this one:

    I'm going to be all over your site, first chance I get - I can't wait to discover more of what you're into.

    Leah Price

  2. Sorry! Just responded via email when I first got this notice, not realizing it wouldn't go through, so here is my full response below.
    Delightful to meet you and thanks for turning me on to your blog. I enjoyed it. To answer some of your questions:

    While the two fused aprons I created recently can be worn, they are actually intended as what I am calling "fused plastic soft sculptures." I have been obsessed with aprons just in terms of their iconic symbolism and that is reflected in these pieces. If you follow the "fused plastic" link in the label menu on my blog you'll find a range of different things I have created out of fused plastic:
    Creations range from shoes to bunting to Barbie clothes. As you scroll down those posts, you'll actually get to see photos of my work area and in various postings I talk about techniques I use. I also recommend an online tutorial: for learning the basics regarding fusing plastic.

    Fused plastic can be worn and can take some abuse, but it ends up stiff and a bit awkward - it doesn't flow or act like fabric, so you need to choose what you'll make accordingly.

    Also note that for the two recent apron sculptures I combined a lot of appliqué with fusing. That is, I'd fuse some plastic with a decorative pattern I liked, cut that into shapes, and then stitch those shapes on top of yet more fused plastic. I just liked the look and the control that the stitching gave me. Fused plastic is dead easy to stitch by the way.

    In terms of what type of bags the key is experimentation. Collect all the bags you can and then collect more. Experiment with fusing them in one, two, three, or more layers. The key to the whole thing is experimentation actually. You need to experiment with what works best with your iron setting (fairly high on a non-steam setting). I put one large sheet of paper down on a wood table, then layer some plastic, then another sheet of paper on top, then I iron. I work in a bay window up in my living room, keeping all windows open for cross ventilation. Never noticed any problem with fumes. I have worked with very thin bags (the kind they give you at the supermarket to put your vegetables in), layering scraps of colorful plastic inside two or more thin bags to create a new textile that is delicate and airy. I've worked with heavier, patterned plastic, layering it with lighter blank plastic on back. Again, just try everything. And again, run through that fused plastic link on my blog that I gave you above and it should give you more information and ideas.

    Good luck, and let me know if you have any more questions.


  3. Hi Cathy,

    I hope you are well.

    Thank you so much for all this information; I am only just finding it now!



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