If you’ve got some paper bags at home that you do not want to put straight in the recycling bin, you can put them to use with these craft projects. Some of these require heavyweight papers, while lighter brown paper bags are appropriate for other crafts.
I recently saw Olivia Colman making one of these paper crafts in The Favourite. Her character does not use recycled Whole Foods bags as The Favourite is set in the 18th Century, but in 2019 everyone — including Queens –should recycle old shopping bags for their craft projects. With a bit of paint and varnish, the effect will be spectacular! Not archival quality but hopefully biodegradable if you use the right paint.
Find heavyweight paper bags in nice colours appropriate for your design. Cut the bag into strips in preparation for quilling. There are different instructions, methods and results outlines clearly on this website. Their suggested materials include Quilling paper strips which you can make yourself so why not use up those paper bags?
Hats and Crowns
For Christmas this year, my partner, his mum, and I made paper crowns to wear at dinner. Unfortunately, I paper mache’d my crown and it was still dripping wet by the time our Tofurky was ready. The smarter people who did not paper mache the crowns were able to wear the crowns for dinner. Anyway all this to say make sure you have enough drying time before your big event if you also paper mache the crowns you make.
Roll up and squeeze light to medium weight paper until it is soft enough to wrap around your head. Connect or overlap the two ends of the long crumpled piece of paper by wrapping them with wide tape several times over. Next, paint a pattern or find some old paper bags with pretty colours. Cut the bag into strips, wrap it around the crown, and glue the strip onto the crown.
For lightweight paper bags like the ones for bulk food items or mushrooms, shred them into strips to use for paper mache projects. They will most likely still be heavier paper than newspaper so they will be perfect for the base of your paper mache creation. For the finer details or top layers, use newsprint or old newspapers; they will be lightweight enough to mould into different shapes and textures.
I recommend using PVA or white school glue mixed with water — this will result in a harder (plastic-like), shinier, and more translucent final product. Using flour instead of glue will put your masterpiece at risk of moulding
If you have ultra heavyweight paper bags from super fancy shops, you will be able to go to town with this project. Puppet shows are so much fun to watch and give the puppeteer the challenging task of giving the puppet life.
With the old paper bag you can create a frame and base for the stage. Cut out a large rectangular hole in the bag and fold the bottom to create a base which will support the upright structure of the stage. Next, use lightweight paper bags and fold them back and forth into a pleated zigzag pattern (the same way you would turn a piece of paper into a fan). You may glue them onto either side of the stage for the effect of curtains. Cut out the shapes of different creatures and characters like little paper dolls. After drawing on their faces and decorating their outfits, glue or tape the characters onto extremely thick pieces of paper, bamboo skewers, or popsicle sticks. Alternatively, you can make the puppets from wooden spoons as shown in the picture below. The puppeteer will be able to move the puppets with their hands out of sight. As for the set, you may tape or glue on pieces of cloth or paper with a painted setting. With this feature, the puppeteer will be more comfortable putting on the show from backstage.
Transform your old paper bags into book covers. With an array of different coloured shopping bags, you can make protective book jackets for your favourite books.
Cut out a rectangular piece of paper from a heavyweight paper bag. Lay your open book on top of the paper and mark the dimensions of the book. Cut out the shape of the book but leave 1-2 inches extra on the sides so that you can create the flaps of the book jacket. Fold the excess into the book cover so that it can stay on the book. Decorate the front, spine, and inside to suit your unique style!
If you are familiar with book binding or want to learn, you can even create notebooks entirely from recycled paper. Old shopping bags are a great way to add some colour to your handmade notebook collection.