Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Our Crafty Readers Share Their Cool Ideas

One of our crafty readers, Emily- of Santa barbara California, was inspired by those plastic bag skirts that we like to make. She made an incredible dress from a vintage plastic table cloth and some black electrician's tape. She also made a beautiful necklace from buttons and thread. Below are some pictures and instructions for you on how she did it.

here are Emily's instructions: Thanks Emily!

Dress materials:
vintage dress pattern
vintage plastic lace tablecloth
black vinyl electricians tape
hooks and eyes

place pattern on lace in the usual way that one would lay out a pattern. cut out pieces. I cut off the seam allowances around the neck and armholes and only left them on the sides and back. Stitch the dress together on a sewing machine using a long stitch. Where the lace is lacey you may have to insert tissue paper between the seams in order to not have to deal with the holes in the lace. When dress is stitched together turn right side out. I topstitched the bust and back darts with doubled black thread by hand. The armholes, neck and back were done by placing one half the width of the tape on the right side of dress and fold over to back, matching edges of tape on right and back sides. I then top stitched the tape by hand using a doubled black thread. It's too hard to use the machine because the tape is sticky and causes the needle to gum up and the thread to break. I made the flower out of a strip of lace about 18 inches long. I did a long
running stitch by hand and then pulled it to shape the bloom. Then I stitched the running stitched edge together in places to reinforce the bloom shape. I then stitched the bloom onto the dress using doubled black thread and a large plastic button (on the inside of the dress I added a small circle of the plastic so that when I sewed into the plastic it would be stronger.. The bloom is edged in a running stitch using a doubled black thread. I called the dress "Notta Balenciaga".

materials: plastic buttons
linen thread - 6 strand
wash away interfacing

cut piece of interfacing the size and shape of finished neckpiece adding two inches extra all around for ease of handling.

useing plain thread stitch the buttons onto the interfacting in the desired pattern.

With linen thread, on each button, go up through underside of button to front and down in it's next hole to back. leave a tail of three inches or so on each side of the holes. after each six or buttons, tie the linen thread to adjacent buttons on as many sides as possible. This makes a linen web like structure on the back side. Proceed until all buttons have been linked together in this way.

rinse out disolvable interfacing in mildly warm water. allow neckpiece to dry thoroughly. when dry, separate linen thread into individual strands and fan out around buttons to your taste.

wear and enjoy!
About me: self taught, crafty from birth, age 62, woman, mother and grandmother of 3.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


It's summer in Austin!  Angsty Teenage Eco Warriors are all quite busy. Especially Katie.
Katie has been studying Japanese since middle school. She worked diligently all year on the exchange student application process.  She was accepted AND given a full scholarship! Yay Katie!

You can see what Katie is up to in Japan -here is her blog

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

We Thought you would like to know...

Check out more2girls magazine!!!
NOT because we are interviewed in this month's issue and NOT because we make a special video appearance as well...

DO check it out because it is a great online magazine that is fun and inspirational and it happens to be absolutely free! That's right free inspiration, games, music, advice and even recipes. Oh and by signing up they enter you into a draw for a cool Canon
digital video camera!

Click here for their link!

Here what they say on their website:

This is an information age. Your generation of Teen girls is computer and tech savvy, with multimedia skills that rival those of many information arts professionals. This, combined with a heart for making the world a better place, shameless idealism, and boundless energy, makes you a force to be reckoned with. In so much as knowledge is power, your ability to acquire and disseminate information has the potential to be the proverbial lever that moves the world. More2girls Inc wants to help you move it.

More2Girls' mission is to awaken you to a fuller realization and acceptance of your potential power and then to help you to leverage that power to effect positive change in your homes, schools, communities and the world.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


You Ask: What is a micro-loan?

we found this answer on wikipedia

Microcredit is the extension of very small loans (microloans) to the unemployed, to poor entrepreneurs and to others living in poverty. These individuals lack collateral, steady employment and a verifiable credit history and therefore cannot meet even the most minimal qualifications to gain access to traditional credit. Microcredit is a part of microfinance, which is the provision of a wider range of financial services to the very poor.

Microcredit is a financial innovation that is generally considered to have originated with the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh.[1] In that country, it has successfully enabled extremely impoverished people to engage in self-employment projects that allow them to generate an income and, in many cases, begin to build wealth and exit poverty.

We are dedicating this entire post to micro-loans. We will show you how to get involved, even if you don't have any money!  We think that micro-loans are a great way to fight poverty throughout the world. 

This is a video from Small Things Challenge 

This video gives you the basic idea behind Micro loans.  Check out the Small Things Challenge website.
This website gives you a chance to get involved even if you don't have money! Just click and Intel donates a quarter! Those quarters add up!

Below is a video from Kiva. We used Kiva's website to loan our $275.00 of "raking money" to a woman entrepreneur in Tajikistan. She is the owner of a clothing stand. When she finishes repaying the loan (she has almost finished paying) we can get the money back and keep it or we can re-loan it to another person in need. Our plan is to keep raising money for our Kiva account and keep making loans with it. 

Curious? Click here to see and learn about actual people who need loans. 
The smallest loan that you can make through Kiva is $25.00
To get started, go to their website and follow the instructions.

Here is some info we copied from their website:

What Is Kiva?

We Let You Loan to the Working Poor

Kiva's mission is to connect people through lending for the sake of alleviating poverty.

Kiva is the world's first person-to-person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend directly to unique entrepreneurs in the developing world.

The people you see on Kiva's site are real individuals in need of funding - not marketing material. When you browse entrepreneurs' profiles on the site, choose someone to lend to, and then make a loan, you are helping a real person make great strides towards economic independence and improve life for themselves, their family, and their community. Throughout the course of the loan (usually 6-12 months), you can receive email journal updates and track repayments. Then, when you get your loan money back, you can relend to someone else in need.

Let us know what you think-Let us know if you get involved. Have questions? To contact us just click on the comments link below!

Monday, February 16, 2009


Raking it in for Kiva!

here we are practicing the ancient art of "rake fighting"

Our Inspiration:

Current Photo the inspirational Mr. Loewenstern (not in class)

In Mr. Loewenstern's Geography class we look at different regions of the world, identify their inherent difficulties and evaluate them from a problem solver's point of view. As we study different regions we take on the role of it's leaders and try to solve the problems of that region. So in a typical class period we might be negotiating with  mock leaders of a bordering country or a mock European Union or UN!  After we had finished a unit on poverty Mr. Lowenstern introduced us to some aid organizations that had been very effective in some of the most impoverished regions of the world.  We learned about operation BUZZKILL (that's another post!) but most importantly the Kiva website.-circe

What is KIVA?

Kiva is the world's first person to person micro-lending website that empowers individuals (like us!) to make small loans directly to entreprenuers working in impoverished regions throughout the world.  When you make a micro-loan you are helping a real person make great strides towards economic independence and improve life for themselves, their family, and their community. Throughout the course of the loan (usually 6-12 months), you can receive email journal updates and track repayments. Then, when you get your loan money back, you can relend to someone else in need. We definitely wanted to get involved in this progam but we didn't have any money!

HOW TO raise money...

It was Autumn, there was an immense pile up of leaves around the neighborhood... we saw opportunity! People might pay us to remove their immense piles of leaves. We started by making up a flyer -we sent it out via email to our neighbors. To our surprise several people took us up on our offer to rake.-sadie

Here is what our flyer looked like. Feel free to copy it. We charged about 2.00 per bag, most yards had between 25 and 30 bags worth of leaves



Does your yard need raking? A group of teenagers from your neighborhood (Circe, Sadie and friends) have formed a service organization that enables them as a group to volunteer and raise funds for environmental and humanitarian causes that they care deeply about. They call themselves The Angsty Teenage Eco Warriors.  These “Angsty Teens” would like to rake your yard and donate 100% of the proceeds to 

What is 

Kiva is non-profit micro loan organization that is doing great things: allows individuals to make $25 loans to low-income entrepreneurs in the developing world. By doing so, individuals like you provide affordable working capital for the poor (money to buy a sewing machine, livestock, etc.), empowering them to earn their way out of poverty. 

Here’s How it Works 

  • Angsty Teens will rake your yard, put the leaves in paper yard waste bags and place them at the curb for City of Austin pick up. (You supply the bags and the City will compost the yard waste) 
  • Angsty Teens will invest the leaf raking money at you can track the investment online at the Kiva website. As the loans are paid back Angsty Teens will continually reinvest the money to 
  • Angsty Teens are parent supervised. To make a raking appointment or to get an estimate on leaf removal call us 

Click the links below to learn more about Kiva:  

micro loans are a Nobel Peace Prize winning idea! Click below to learn more:  



mentally preparing for the task

Ahh, the fresh scent of autumn. Cool mornings, blustery days and most importantly, leaves!

Whether the smell of leaves bring sweet maple memories, or just give you the sniffles, raking is something that any able bodied person can do, and some good can come of it if you are willing to roll up you sleeves! 

a steep learning curve: What goes in the bag?

Grabbing our "garden" variety household rakes and claws, a bunch of us got together and tackled those immense piles of leaves. With nimble hands and feet we deftly maneuvered the tall mounds of leaves into huge paper sacks (not without some trouble though, somehow some of us ended up inside the bags, too). It was quite a fiasco. The piles of leaves everywhere seemed endless, but that didn’t stop us. After a couple of weekends spent in many yards, we had earned $275.00. We thought that amount was a good start for a micro-loan. Just by being willing to rake our friendly neighbor’s lawns, we ended up “raking” in the dough for a micro-loan that will change someone's life. -sadie


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Keep Austin Beautiful Event

posted by emily

We are The Angsty Teenage Eco Warriors and we say go Austin Green Art!

A few months ago, the Angsty Teenage Eco Warriors, along with several other plastic bag crafters, volunteered at the spectacular Austin Green Art booth for the Keep Austin Beautiful Festival. The Austin Green Art booth is made out of plastic bags woven through cyclone fence panels


Check out this booth! We are all trying to fit into the slice of shade.

Veggie burger for volunteers YaY!

The crowd checking out the many plastic bag creations

Zarina! Future angsty warrior we hope!

Under the sweltering sun, we proudly showed off our plastic bag creations, provided information about our organization and Austin Green Art.  We talked with the festival goers about plastic bag pollution and performed endless craft demos for hundreds of curious folks. We quelled our grumbling tummies with piles of veggie burgers generously provided to all volunteers for free.

Here are some pictures from when we nearly succumbed to the unforgiving Texas heat!

Sadie succumbing to the heat while donning her trademark fish hat

Katie on the left, me on the right- melting and the reusable bag give away behind us

Other highlights of this festival were the reusable bag give away by our local grocer and the  Ariel Dance Theater contemporary bag dance complete with incredible bag dress costumes- it was totes a fun time!- emily


Here's a new feature- Emily's poetry corner!

A Poem

 (or heat stroke you decide)

The radiance in my heart flared up like an explosion of plastic bags 


Magically showered upon my welcoming and grateful hands 


The joy was just too much to contain 

My eyes sparkled in sudden realization

 of the wonder 

of the world 

of bags


Their crinkly goodness.

Photos on Flickr

We post photos from our events and workshop on FLICKR.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Their Angsty Mission

Displaying their typical cheekiness, sense of fun and zeal, This small group of high school students, friends since childhood, christened themselves The Angsty Teenage Eco Warriors and committed themselves to using their considerable superpowers for good. They also committed to coerce their friends, by any means possible, to join them.

The concerns of The Angsty Teenage Eco Warriors are humanitarian and environmental issues worldwide. Their twofold mission is to identify and evaluate critical environmental and humanitarian situations and to take action with engaging, effective volunteerism. Secondly, they seek to invoke power of the internet by blogging about their Angsty Teen activism. The ATEW blog is a chronicle of their ideas, actions and outcomes that serves as an interactive template to guide and inspire other small groups of like-minded teens to take action, with the belief that their combined efforts will make a difference in the world. Their blog will chronicle all ATEW projects as well as the efforts of other teens that have been inspired by their example, creating a forum for the exchange and innovation of teen activism ideas. Additionally the blog contains informative how-to’s and comedic craft tutorial videos.

It is their ambition to be continually inspired by their world to make a difference, and to inspire the world through their own “Angsty” brand of humanitarian and ecological activism while encouraging others to do the same.

see our photo set on flickr !

see our intro video post!

The Angsty Teenage Eco Warrior are high school students in Austin, TX at The Liberal Arts and Science Academy, an urban public magnet school that educates sociallyresponsible leaders, problem solvers, and thinkers through a nationally recognized, rigorous, innovative, interdisciplinary curriculum. 

How to make a plastic bag tote


posted by angsty mom


One paper bag

Plastic bags

Plastic hardware cloth ½ mesh (available at home improvement stores)

Metal scissors or tin snips

Crochet hook small

Craft wire (any wire that is pliable)

Magnetic snap optional (you will need pliers to install the snap)

this messenger bag (above right) was made by Roz!

We are going to demonstrate how to make a messenger bag. First, make a simple pattern or template for your purse out of a paper bag.Decide what size you would like, then cut a rectangle that when folded in thirds, will make the front, back and bottom of the messenger bag. Then cut one for the handle and sides. Keep all your angles 90 degrees. Play around with it until it has the dimensions that you like.

Now lay your pattern over the plastic mesh and cut the mesh to match your pattern. To cut the mesh you will need strong metal scissors (plastic handle scissors might break) or tin snips. Remember to trim off all the pointy nubs on your mesh pieces or else carrying this purse could be a painful experience! You'll see below that we changed our minds on the dimensions of the purse- It's called artistic license!

here the pieces have been cut

Here the big rectangle has been folded to make the body and the flap of the messenger bag.

We temporarily put it together with a little wire just to see if we liked the shape. If we put all the pieces together now for real it would be very hard to weave the plastic bags through the mesh. We found this out the hard way!

Prepare your plastic bags! Smooth them out on a flat surface, fold the bag on the vertical into thirds. Cut off the bottom of the bag close to the seam and then snip off the top of the plastic bag if it has handles. Next cut across the folded bags about every three inches. This creates loops that you will connect to each other with a slip- knot. The loops that you slip- knot together are your “plastic yarn” that you will weave with.

Flatten the bag then fold it in thirds vertically, cut off the seam at the bottom and cut the handles off. Cut what's left into 2-3"wide strips

Now you have created loops, next step connect them to each other with a slip knot.

To start weaving, take a plastic bag loop and slip- knot it to the top left of your larger mesh piece. Begin your weaving! Keep adding on loops with a slip knot. If you are intimidated remember there is no need to get fancy, a simple over and under weave looks great. The weaving part takes some time so be patient and enjoy the process.

here's the starting slip knot, next is the first row of weaving with a simple over and under weave

Keep adding loops as you go. Invent your own stitch if you are feeling creative! When you get to the end cut your plastic yarn and leave a few inches remaining. You will weave the remaining end back into the weave with the help of the small crochet hook. Next, work on your plastic mesh handle the same way.

Here's what it looks like as you add rows. Use a crochet hook to tuck in the ends of the plastic bags.

Now that your two pieces are woven, you need to connect them. You will “sew” them together with a simple over-hand stitch using the craft wire. Sew them together tightly so that your bag doesn’t fall apart.

We used florist wire from the craft store to sew the bag parts together.

Next you will bind the edges with a strip of plastic bag. To do this cut one of your bag loops open so that it becomes a single strand. Thread the plastic strand through the upholstery needle. Now you are ready to bind the edges with plastic bags strips.

We used a blunt upholstery needle to bind the edges

Why am I telling you to bind this again? It’s worth the extra effort- it will add to the structural strength of your bag and give it a great finished look. For this final binding use the overhand stitch again. When you are done, tie a knot and tuck the end into the binding so that it doesn’t show.

Tying the knot at the end of the binding using the blunt upholstery needle

Sometimes we add a magnetic snap for a closure. You will need pliers to install the magnetic snap. You could also invent your own closure. Admire your bag! Guess what you are almost done!

Sydne is happy about her new bag! Circe's bag on the top right.

Here’s the last part, and it is REALLY important- make up a bunch of information cards with some fast facts about plastic bag pollution on them, put them in your bag and pass them out to people that comment on your one of a kind plastic bag creation.

Find out the facts! Here are some really good websites that contain a lot of information about plastic bag pollution.

Here’s what we put on our card:

We use over one million bags per minute world wide.

Each year an estimated 4 billion of those plastic bags end up as litter. Tied end to end that’s enough to circle the earth 63 times.

Plastic bags choked drainage systems in India during monsoon rains and lead to loss of human life and outbreaks of water borne disease.

Mountains of plastic bags in Africa's slums are a major health hazard. They collect water and become breeding grounds for malaria-carrying mosquitoes.

There is an area in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, estimated to be a thousand miles wide, that is covered in floating plastic trash!

We hope that these instructions are enough to get you started. You can start with a small purse and work you way up to a larger tote that you can bring to the supermarket! Show us your plastic bag bags! Send us pictures of plastic bag totes that you have created and we’ll post them here on our blog.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Angsty teenage eco warriors video


This video made by our friend Lowell, (thanks Lowell!!!) features Sadie, Circe, Roz, Katie and Emily. Special thanks to an Angsty Mom for providing the "laugh track"!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Flash from trash!

posted by Circe

Over the summer of 2007 we received a challenge from artist Virginia Fleck (aka my mommy) to reuse the bags that she had saved from her 2005 art installation, Laguna Gyre. Well, first let me give you some background on Laguna Gyre. It was made from about six thousand plastic bags, all defective and bound for the dumpster. My mom obtained them from a distributor. The purpose of the Laguna Gyre installation was to call attention to plastic pollution in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre. Here’s a picture of what Laguna Gyre Art installation looked like:

Here is an animation that show the currents in the North Pacific Sub Tropical Gyre 

Here is a link about what's been going on there

Sadie and I helped my mom install it and then uninstall it a month later. I guess that's why they call it temporary public art!  Installation consisted of several days of filling plastic bags with air and then nailing them into the ground. The day we started the temperature soared above 100 degrees. We toiled in the hot Texas sun. I’m pretty sure that child labor laws were violated, but I digress. This is us after a hard day’s work deinstalling, looking rather wilted.

Needless to say, Sadie and I never wanted to see these bags again, BUT, apparently time heals all wounds, emotional and physical, because two summers later we were happily reunited with the bags- pretty much all six thousand of them!

Anyway, Sadie, Roz, Emily, Sydne and I met to discuss the bag using challenge. What can we do with 6000 plastic bags? We thought of a million things to make with plastic bags, and somehow we managed to narrow it down to full body armor, hats, or tote bags. We decided that the answer was totally totes. If we made totes, once they were done we could bring them to the grocery store fill them with our groceries (Ben and Jerry's chocolate fudge brownie ice cream for me!) and eliminate the need for the single use throw- away plastic bag.That's right fill our tummies AND save the environment! It was what they call a” win-win situation”. Here are some picture from our bag making adventure.- circe

here we are with our finished bags!

This is Sydne being very happy with her work in progress

Roz's bag is almost finished, just the shoulder strap is left! The cat is helping too of course...

Sadie's bag is almost done too!

I'm not sure why I'm inside the bag, but it must have been for some important reason...


We did a little  "angsty " research and found a lot of surprising information about plastic bags. Here are some really good websites to check out.

Here's what surprised us:

  • We use over one million bags per minute world wide.
  • Each year an estimated 4 billion of those plastic bags end up as litter. Tied end to end that’s enough to circle the earth 63 times.
  • Plastic bags choked drainage systems in India during monsoon rains and lead to loss of human life and outbreaks of water borne disease.
  • Mountains of plastic bags in Africa's slums are a major health hazard. They collect water and become breeding grounds for malaria-carrying mosquitoes.
  • There is an area in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, estimated to be a thousand miles wide, that is covered in floating plastic trash!

See our HOW TO MAKE A PLASTIC BAG TOTE tutorial to get directions for making your own fabulous bag creation