Art project-recycled flour sack tote bags

Recycle, upcycle and make new art

Behold! A new art project! I give you the recycled flour sack tote bags project! Hand painted and sewn by Heather Alley. A super fun project using upcycled materials. Painted with acrylic paints. Recycled flour sack tote bags, they are the bee’s knees. 

An overwhelming gift 

Bill and I were gifted a huge (OMG SO MANY!) flour sacks. We sat there and looked at the mountain of sacks and thought about what the heck we were going to do with them. I of course, said, “I know let’s paint them!” He said, “go for it and see what happens.” 

This is what happened first. The birth of a new art project.

recycled painted flour sack pink background and a white mandala
The very first attempt.

One is never enough! Painting the flour sacks

After we saw that the sacks would take paint, we moved into what to do with them mode. Bill saw a tote/backpack combo and I saw grocery totes. We started experimenting. I went to the painting table and started figuring out to best paint to use on the material. A week later I looked up (just kidding it wasn’t a week, maybe a few days) and I knew how to paint them and what materials I needed. Here are a few of those experiements:

painted flour sack with a green background and a red yellow and blue mandala
colorful painted design on a flour sack

Starting production. First the idea then the work

Now that we knew what the plan was for these recycled flour sacks, we went to work. Kicking into high gear, I started letting the paint and ideas fly onto the material. The next week was mostly a blur, I painted and dreamed about painting and was generally my obsessive art brained self. Here are some of those results…and now many of them have front and back sides. Products take time to develop themselves. You have to listen closely and be flexible. 

hand painted flour sacks drying
abstract painting of a woman's face

Practice time is over. Let’s make some totes!

I have brought you up to current time now. This week I have concentrated on making each bag and each side tell a story. Imagery was added with stencils (Shout out to Stencil Girl Products, I love your company and products!) Now the bags started becoming art. With the introduction of a story, the art was allowed to bloom. Take a look:

brightly colorful recycled flour sack painted tote bag with abstract figures love peace harmony
front side
bright yellow painted background woman's face with butterfly transform
back side
blue painted background woman's face wearing head dress flanked by half mandalas
front side
blue painted background with woman's face blowing a mandala into existence
back side

The big finish

I’m going to start the sewing portion of the project next week. I have three designs now. The backpack/tote, the basic tote and a messenger bag style with a longer strap for cross  body wear. I think they will be challenging to sew, mostly because I’m still perfecting my sewing skills. These will be great practice in that effort. Learning structure in sewing. FUN! I am really looking forward to the experience.  For sure, I’ll post the final results, right here. 

fairy graphic sign make art not war

Life update

A little side note on real life. We are remodeling the art galley/retail/classroom. In order for the remodel to happen we had to address our kitchen situation, first. We are taking the oversized double car garage and turning it into a gallery space. Where we can have showings, open studio tours and have classes, individual and group. We learned the zoning for our home allows this so we are going for it. The art studio is staying mostly the same but with the addition of the gallery space we double our ability to create Xlarge works. Sqqquuuueeeeee! 

The kitchen had to be done first because some of the changes in the gallery space affected that room too, so we got busy tearing everything out and remodeling the whole place. We decided to go with a fully tiled kitchen, ceiling to floor. With all the upgrades in place I’m starting to feel like I get to cook in a restaurant kitchen, I love it. Here’s a peek at it, we hope to have it finished by the end of this month. Then we get to start the next phase-the gallery.


kitchen in the process of remodeling tiled walls
kitchen walls being tiled

I’m in love with the pattern we choose. It’ll be amazing when complete. Bill is a wizard and can do almost anything and everything. 🙂 

That’s all for me today, gotta go enjoy my studio time. Big love to you and thanks for being here today. HA! 

grid pattern of art images
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