Three years ago I painted on a blank canvas bag for my annual church auction. The results looked nice but it was very time consuming to work on because I decided to do a Zentangle background and it turned out to be more time intensive than I expected. It didn’t help that I misjudged how much time would be needed to complete it so I didn’t start the project until about a month before the auction when I really should’ve started it at least three months earlier. (I would’ve kept more sane working hours on that project had I done so.) I literally worked long hours both day and night in order to finish it in time for the auction. The bag was purchased by a longtime church member who has since relocated to St. Louis due to a job transfer.

Until this year I hadn’t done any more personalized canvas tote bags mainly because that last bag had totally burned me out. But this year I decided that I would try it again except I would do things a little bit differently.

First I took the bag to the annual Tye-Dye Sunday that was held at my Unitarian Universalist congregation back in July. Here’s a young girl getting into tie-dyeing at that event.

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I was instructed to take my newly dyed items (I dyed the tote bag and a t-shirt that day), put it in a plastic bag, and put it in direct sunlight for a few hours so it’ll cook. That afternoon I was going to an art event in Washington, DC. Since I had intended to take Metro, I decided to take that plastic bag and put it in the back window of the car so it would be exposed to direct sunlight in 95 degree temperature while I was downtown.

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The dye that was used was manufactured by the Dharma Trading Company. Following the instructions that was posted on that site, I waited until the next day before I untied everything and put it all through the washing machine. Here is what the bag looked like after being tie-dyed.

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I left the bag alone for a while until recently. I looked through my collection of chalice clip art that I could use for this bag. I enlarged the clip art then printed it out on paper. Then I took tracing paper and traced over it. I covered the back of the tracing paper (especially the drawn lines) with a graphite pencil. Then I flipped the paper back to the front and, using pencil, I traced over the paper once again until I had the art on the bag.

After that I took my professional artist-grade acrylic paint and mixed it with GAC-900, which is a fluid medium that is especially used to make the acrylic paint suitable for fabric, and I painted on the bag. Following the instructions on the GAC-900 bottle, I put it through the dryer on high heat in order to set the paint. Here is what the bag looks like now.

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This last shot shows the interior of the bag. As you can see, it is lined on the inside. (The bag was originally purchased with lining on the inside. I did’t make the bag. I only purchased a blank bag and painted on it.)

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I like the results. I have to admit that tie-dyeing the background was way quicker and easier than hand painting Zentangles on the background like I did on that last bag three years ago. I’m hoping that this bag will sell as well at this year’s auction as the last bag did.

For those who are concerned about the environment, this bag is a perfect alternative to using plastic shopping bags that are handed out at most stores. (On top of it, both Montgomery County and the District of Columbia charge an extra five cents per plastic bag in an effort to encourage people to use reusable bags.) It can also be used to carry children’s toys, books, a change of clothes, or anything else that needs carrying.

The auction will be held on November 21 at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church in Adelphi, Maryland. For details and directions, click here.

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