TAFA: The Textile and Fiber Art List

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Snow: The Dogfood Purse (Candywrapper Weaving Technique)

Snow, by Rayela Art, $340
a candy wrapper purse using dog food bags
7.5" high (without strap) x 11" wide

This is my second purse using the candy wrapper technique. The first one, shown below, was made out of wallpaper samples. Click on it to see my first article where the technique is explained and where links to other sites with more info can be found.

Each square starts out a strip which has been folded and interlocked into another one. If you look closely, you will see a dog's eye peeking out at you:

I start out by cutting the strips on a mat. I used a rotary cutter to try to go through the task more quickly. For both purses, I cut strips measuring 4.5"x 2". It's unbelievable how many strips you have to have to make a purse. I kind of lost count, but am estimating that Snow, the dog food purse, used up six of the biggest paper bags, four medium ones and two small ones. It may have been more.

I estimate I used at least 500 pieces for snow. Once I had a big stack of them cut up, I separated them into color content, not easy to do on bags that have a lot of images and text.

The strips are then folded. I fold down the middle to get a crease, open it up again and then both sides down to the middle again, ending up with a long skinny piece.

That gets folded in half once again:

Then each end is folded once more to the middle. These are the links. If you really want to learn how to do it. Go back to the beginning of the article and follow the wallpaper link to the first one I did.

The links fit into each other, forming long, zig zag strip. The strips eventually get sewn together. It was much easier working with the dog food paper then with the wallpaper. The wallpaper was really too thick, although the effect was gorgeous. This paper has a slick coating on it and made it very easy to link one into the other. I also think this coating will help protect the purse over time. This example shows how color choices can impact the look of the strip:

Taking care in color combinations keeps the design from becoming too chaotic.

I covered the purse with white buttons and I think I am the first person to use embellishments in this way on these purses. At least, I had never seen anyone else add to them with the exception of zippers or closures. The added texture makes the bag for me.

I am going to add a magnetic closure for the flap. I just haven't had the time to go face Mall Land yet. It will fit in the empty area below:

This not just a purse. It is wearable art, a piece that will start up a conversation wherever you go. I love making something beautiful out of garbage, but even though it is functional, it should be treated with care. I've reinforced edges with super glue, but if it gets banged around a lot, the purse will get damaged.

In my mind's eye, this will go to someone who loves dogs. But, who knows? I just know it will be someone who appreciates the countless hours it took to make. I started out keeping track and then lost the paper I was recording. I'm estimating around 60 of them. Lots of movies...

When people see this technique, they say, "Oh, I used to do that when I was a kid!" I keep thinking, "Whew, that'a a lot of candy!" I first saw these bags through outsider art publications. Prisoners use cigarette wrappers to make purses and even large sculptures. I've now seen easier versions made by fair trade groups and even mainstream outlets. In my book, anything that reuses what is headed for the trash is great!



  1. Way cool! I want one...but not enough to get a dog!

  2. This is great! Fantastic idea & so interesting.

  3. Very cool! Can't imagine where you found the time to do it!

  4. Very cool! I've seen a few small candywrapper bags here in Guatemala.

  5. This is crazy cool. I'll be linking to this.

  6. Excellent! I used to do this with gum wrappers when I was a young girl. Perhaps with my cat food and other packagings I can start up with this again.

  7. Muita imaginação e lindo trabalho de recuperação!

    Beaucoup d'imagination et beau travail de récupération


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