I want to say one word to you. Just one word.... Plastics.”
Mr. McGuire, The Graduate

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Florida Workshop

Not to make anyone in the North East jealous, but I spent last weekend visiting my family who lives in Naples, Florida. It was sunny and 80 degrees every day. I spent some time exploring the Edison estate with mom on Friday, and dad made paté that he served with chilled rosé upon our return. Don't fret, I am now back in the NYC cold like everyone else, and there's nothing in my fridge.

Since my mother was curious about the Knit For Trees project, I showed her how to make yarn out of plastic bags, and she immediately started knitting.

My sister and my niece joined us on Saturday, and we spent the day making yarn and knitting. My mom had a lot of shopping bags that she had kept in the garage. All told, we cut probably between 50 and 65 bags: the entire collection.

As is evident in the photo below (the smile is NOT forced at all), everyone had a really good time.

In all seriousness, my mom, my sister and my niece were a big help this weekend (dad cooked both nights so his help is also greatly appreciated!), and they all seemed to enjoy participating in the project. As a matter of fact, my mom emailed me on Monday morning to let me know she had finished her first panel.

Thank you for a great weekend!!!

Friday, March 25, 2011

The journey of plastic bags: from scourge to art

My process feels like the journey of plastic bags: from nefarious scourge that we are embarrassed to admit we have in our closet, to a very flexible building material that has been the foundation of my art for the past few years. My studio mate gave me all his plastic bags, a collection of a few months. I took photos of this treasure and documented the journey.

The first step is the sorting process. I sort by color and/or logo. Some logos are so recognizable that I set them aside, for example the Smiley Face logo on a lot of bags gets sorted by itself.

The pile of Bravo Supermarket bags at the lower left corner of the photo here had about 24 bags. It took almost 2 hours to cut all the bags in long strips. Here's the pile:

The next fun step is to roll this giant pile into a workable ball of yarn:

A few days later, with some orange, white and brown:

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Union Pool Knitting Party

Sarah rallied the troops last night for a knitting party at Union Pool in Brooklyn. Everyone who came worked tirelessly to help with the project, and for that I am very grateful. The event was so successful that I thought I would post photos and explain how to stage a Knit and Bitch.

Step 1: invite a bunch of cool friends

Step 2: Make sure you have plastic bags, brownies and enough PBR for everyone

Step 3: get a mean boss who's not afraid to yell when the workers slack off

Step 4: get the best plastic yarn cutters in the business

Step 5: make art and have a good time!


Friday, March 18, 2011

Tutorial Series: how to make yarn part 2

Multi color yarn is very fashionable these days. You can make multi color yarn out of plastic bags using the following steps:

Cut off the handles and the bottom seam, and set aside for later use. Cut the bag in 1" strips along its width. You will now have about 10 to 15 loops of plastic

Cut one end of the loops so you now have strands of plastic

Continue cutting different bags of several different colors. 4 or 5 colors work best in my opinion. Mix all the strips lightly as if tossing a salad

Tie all the strips together. I like to tie colors randomly instead of using a color pattern. Experiment with different colors and see what works best for you.

Since you will have a lot of knots, you will need to trim the excess plastic when all your knitting is done.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Knit'n'Bitch in Brooklyn this Saturday March 19

Sarah is motivating me to rally the troops and have a Knit'n'Bitch to help prepare for Knit for Trees. If you want to help us, we'll be at:

Union Pool
Saturday March 19
From 5 pm until we get bored or hungry.
484 Union Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11211
Subway: L or G to Lorimer

BYOPG (bring your own plastic bags):
Bring between 3 and 10 plastic bags you want to recycle/use as yarn.
I'll bring the rest: scissors, and knitting needles.

Bitching topics:
My favorites these days are Bloomberg, sex in art, and of course politics. Feel free to bitch about anything you want.

All genders and sexual orientations welcome.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Tutorial Series: how to make yarn. Part 1

Making yarn out of plastic bags is very easy.  I use two methods: one for single color, and one for multi-color yarn.This first tutorial describes how to make yarn for a single color (or using a single bag).

Cut off the bag's handles and the bottom seam, and set aside for later use (I'll teach you how to make pompoms later).

Start cutting the bag in a continuous strand, and keep going around the bag in a spiral (as if peeling an apple)

Roll the yarn and start knitting

Please note that the strip should be between 1/2" to 3/4" wide depending on the thickness of the bags. Some shopping bags are very thin and light, and you might want to cut the strand a little wide (1"), while other bags are fairly thick and you might want to cut a strand that's 1/2" wide at most.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Initial Proposal to Figment

In December 2010, I sent a proposal to Figment for an installation in the Sculpture Garden on Governors Island. The proposal was accepted in early March 2011. Below is the proposal as an introduction to the project.

Knit for Trees

Project description:

According to “reuseit.com”, about 1 million plastic bags are used every minute worldwide... a staggering figure. What is then the best way to fight this ecological disaster and at the same time acknowledge the futility of the task? Use the plastic bags as yarn to knit sweaters, scarves and mittens for trees.

Throughout the summer, I will set up a work table and collect unwanted (clean) shopping bags from visitors to Governors Island. These will be cut and used as yarns to knit sweaters, scarves, and mittens for the trees of the island. Visitors are encouraged to participate further by helping me cut the bags, roll the strips into yarns, sort the yarn by color, and knit.

You can see mock-ups of my proposal (and all the proposals for the Sculpture Garden) on  Figment's website