TAFA: The Textile and Fiber Art List

Friday, June 4, 2010

Doggie Love, a new Rayela Art dogfood paper bag

"Doggie Love" a candywrapper bag made with 
dogfood bags, by Rayela Art.

 This is the third bag or purse I have made upcycling with dogfood bags.  Until recently, I had four dogs, so I have plenty of these bags stored up, ready to transform into "art" (or craft or whatever...).  My love for these dogs has brought a lot of pain recently as one of them bit a utility man (who came into my yard without my permission...) and another has been diagnosed with lymphoma.  

Sheba bit the water man and then she bit the dust.

Sheba lost her life because of that bite and now lies planted under a little tree in my yard.  It's a horrible thing to put a healthy dog down!  She was six and had never bit anyone before.  But, she did have a kill instinct and had attacked two smaller dogs in the past and killed a cat.  99% of the time, she was a great little dog, smart, full of tricks, willing to please, and a funny girl with her own special antics.

Sheba was born in my apartment in Chicago.

Now there is Mitchie, my oldest, who was the gallery dog in Chicago.  Supposedly a boxer/lab mix according to the shelter he came from, we have had ten great years together.

Mitchie as an old dude in Kentucky.

Younger days at Dara Tribal Village.

Mitchie made the Sun Times in Chicago.  
He had a huge following of people 
who would stop in to see him.

These dogs, Sheba, Mitchie, along with Laila and Juba, are spoiled, well loved, and have been through a lot with me over the years.  Yes, I know they are "just" dogs, but, in my world they have a lot more empathy, humor and consideration than many of the people I see around me.  They give me affection and protection in an "iffy" neighborhood.  I'm sorry that the water man got bit.  Fortunately, I have renter's insurance and he will get a nice settlement from them.  But, that doesn't seem to be enough as he drags me through court, making an awful situation even worse.

 "Doggie Love", side view.

I finished "Doggie Love" shortly before the pain started with Sheba and Mitchie, so it is tied in my mind to this difficult time.  This technique is widely known as the "candywrapper technique".  It involves cutting small rectangles of paper and folding them then interlocking them together into long lines.  Those are then sewn to each other.

 "Doggy Love" detail, by Rayela Art.

 I like to incorporate beads and findings into these bags, altering the surface and adding texture.  So far, I am the only one that I know of who does this to these bags.  On this one, I used African coconut discs, Ethiopian copper and soapstone beads.

This was the first project where I also incorporated fabric.  I wanted the piece to stand upright, like a vessel, so I made a fabric bottom for it.  Normally, the sides are sewn to each other at the bottom into a traditional purse shape.  There are many other ideas I want to play with to take this technique to new levels.  The folding is time consuming, but a perfect activity when I don't want to think.  I can sit and watch a movie and fold away.  You wouldn't believe how much paper a vessel like this takes!  There are probably eight or nine large dog food bags folded up into this piece, paper that would have otherwise ended up in a land fill.

Yes, my heart is heavy with the loss of my two dogs.  But, Juba and Laila will still be with me, so I will have many more bags to use up in the future!  By the way, Laila is Juba and Sheba's mom.  I found her all torn up in Chicago, pregnant.  

Juba and Laila, daughter and mother.  (??!!!???)

National Geographic had a great article, a couple of years ago, where they examined the relationship between dogs and humans.  Because we have lived so closely together for thousands of years, we have developed a symbiotic relationship.  Dogs will look ahead to where you are pointing, while wolves don't get it.  They just stare at the finger.  If you pet a dog, it lowers both your blood pressure and theirs!  Most dogs can learn 150 words.  Smart ones can learn 300.  I will always have dogs in my life.  But, I don't think I will go for four again.  One thing I learned was that it is really hard to control a pack, especially in an urban environment.  I miss Sheba, still counting out four treats, and I know I will cry when the time comes to say good-bye to Mitchie.  They definitely do not live long enough!  I am grateful for the time we have had, for the inspiration they give me, and for all the good memories I have of them.

Bye-bye, Mitchie and Sheba!

Click here for more posts on the other bags I have made and for information on the candywrapper weaving technique. 

Oh!  You want "Doggie Love"?  It's yours for $360.  20% off if you buy it before I list it on Etsy...

 Mitchie, Juba, Laila, Sheba and me...




  1. Beautiful doggies!...and bags...

    ...and where do you get the beads?

  2. THat is a pretty cool vessel. I use to weave wrappers as a child, but I don't remember how any more. I'll check out the link and see if it refreshes my memory any.

    Sorry about your your loss...I am not a dog lover so don't get attached, but I know it is a grief to be borne like any other. Wishing you well...

  3. Thanks to both of you...

    Chris, I have loads of beads that I've accumulated over the years. I had retail stores in Chicago for over 20 years, so traders would always stop by. I do have the coconut ones available in my Etsy shop. They are a must have in my supplies list:


  4. I ( Kind of laughed) at the bit the dust comment and then more than kinda cried. What a cute puppy. When I was little we had a dog that bit the sheriff.

    BUt he did not bite the deputy. I love the bag but more than that ,the dogs! I have turned into a crazy cat lady. Wanted a dog but got a cat that thinks he might be a dog.

    I can't wait to read more of your blog but I need to be in the work room playing with my silk.

  5. The sheriff! Did your dog get to live? It's all been so heavy and hard. I just want the legal stuff to be over so that we can go on with our lives. The guy who got bit filed a complaint against me with the county for having a vicious dog. Sheba was six and had never bit someone before (although she almost killed two other smaller dogs.) If I plead guilty, that makes me into one of these dog fighting people. If I plead not guilty, it will go to trial and I could end up in jail.

    The ironic thing is that the guy who got bit had a brother who shot his ex-girlfriend (in front of her four kids, at the local park) and then killed himself. This was last summer. So, maybe Sheba sensed something...

  6. the pups, they break your heart don't they


  7. I just have to say, Mitchie is absolutely adorable! I love his little squinty smiley face!

    I'm so sorry to hear about the sadness you have had to deal with!

  8. Thanks, Stephanie! I've never met a dog with so many expressions as Mitchie has. Sure will miss him when he goes... I took them to the lake a couple of days ago and he loved it. Swam, went after sticks and was just so happy. But, he has been very low energy since then...

  9. darn - can't even remember how I got here but glad I did (Oh yeah, spoonflower!) I just had one of my girls put down this past May. She actually bit my brother BUT hey, he came into my house with the lights dim and since he couldn't remember which was which he didn't call their names (Molly & Sadie) - Sadie came awaggin' - Molly being the older, 'smarter' gal decided Sadie wasn't safe so she snapped at him and caught his arm! Luckily he didn't sue. So sorry for you but love the bag and am going to try it - I'm so convicted over the fact that I HAVE been throwing those bags in the trash! BTW - I'm convinced that anything over 2 is a pack and they develop different propensities for 'collective' protection, so for now on, I'm stickin' with two BUT I'm with ya' - I'll always have dogs in my life!

  10. Oh, Robin! So true! I miss the other two terribly, but I have to say that having just the two is so easy! I'll never have four again. Thanks for sharing your story!

  11. Thanks for sharing this post with me! I loved it, and the piece you created is absolutely marvelous.


“Sing like no one's listening, love like you've never been hurt, dance like nobody's watching, and live like it's heaven on earth.”

“Whatever you say, say it with conviction.”

(Both by the master, Mark Twain)

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