A year of MAC shopping bag make over

cat and mouse from MAC smac catMAC Loon s

It was a year ago; I started to use shopping bags to make art:
Last Christmas I went to the shopping mall, Eaton Center which is near my studio to take photos of the Christmas display. When I was there, I noticed shoppers would discard their shopping bags as soon as they exit the stores.
An idea came to me to give them a new life, I gather a handful of the bags and used for my paper cutting.
With each bag I would incorporated my design with their logo and some are my favors because of their logo.
One of them is the MAC Cosmetic bag with the yellow inside which really add a glow to my finished paper cut. I always get excited whenever finding the MAC bag in the garbage bins.

Here is a little review of my MAC bags make over from last year.

mac girlmac lotusowl


A book of three seasons

book art 1book art 2

During the recent move of my studio, I unearthed  some of my old art works which were  done my art school days. One of them were the little  booklets of how to use the school l library. One day, I found them outside the library in a boxful of them as discard. They are less than six inch square with twelve pages. I immediately attracted to them because of the size and picked up a large handful as not to let them end up in the landfill.

I created a different screen images for each page and  printed in one color except for the centerfold with two. My finished remade booklets were popular with my classmate which I had given most away.

book art 3book art 4

I was delighted to found the few remaining copies of the booklet  in my studio. Right away, I wanted to give it another make over.

My slow studio move took over six months started in winter, spring and into summer. During these times, each night after supper for relaxation I would work on my paper cut on the little booklet. Sometimes, I would worked on it few night in a row but then stopped for days or even week without  touching it.

Eventually when my move was done  I was able to finished the little booklet as well.

paper cut on book

paper cut on book


Picking up where I left


Although I been busy writing my recent trip to Qingdao, China but I haven’t forgotten my more important job:

art making.

Here are some of my latest shopping bag make over, they are all done since my return from my trip.

jacob kingfisher  baggreat blue heron  bag  owl shopping bag blue jay face of mac

Cut leaf Art


 panda on a bamboo leaf

The more I see art created by computer software the more I wanted to go back to the basic. Lately, I am entertaining the idea of making art with the minimum tools and material.
One day, I was looking at the bare trees (it was still winter) outside an idea came to me: leaves!
That time I was working on paper cut on shopping bags and I thought why not try it on leaf. Since there were no leaves anywhere I then remember the bamboo leaves my mother used for the Dragon Boat Festival:
Every year, to celebrate the festival Mother would make sticky rice bundles which fill with meat, peanuts, salted egg yolk and mushroom and wrap them with bamboo leaves.
A short visit to Chinatown and I was able to found some dry bamboo leaves. A big bundle only cost $3.
The cutting actually was not as difficult as I thought. Here are a couple of my results. limitation is artists’ best friend.

bamboo dragonfly

Art in a Box Part 2

Last year,I meet an artist in San Francisco she was preparing an exhibition in Paris. They were all small paintings on paper, from 6’ to 12” square.  She explained it was easy to travel with and her whole show could fit right into a small suitcase.

I really like her idea of storing her art in a box and this idea planted seed in my head.

Early this year, I started to work on my idea of art in a box. The first two were using paper cut with boxes I had found.

 Here are the two I made last month:

art in a shoe boxcat in a box

However, as I continue to think how to create art inside a box and more ideas came. My latest art in a box is evolved from the paper cut ones I did last month but combined with my watercolor painting.

I first painted this owl in the wood and when I was satisfy with how it look I started to cut away part of the background, in order to add more leaves and branches.

Here is my finished art in a box:

“Owl in the wood”, watercolor, paper cut in a Nike shoe box, 9″x12″

owl in a box

Art for Earth Day


Art for Earth Day

starbucks baby snowy owlstarbucks lobster

Today is earth day however earth day is an everyday project for me:

A few summer ago, we had a long garbage strike in Toronto. Every morning as I arrived at my studio I see the small mountain of trash left over night on my street. After my inspection and to discovered they were mainly coffee cups from the Starbucks at the corner of my street.

 Starbucks gold fishstarbucks Gator

I decided to take this annoying and unsightly matter in to my own hands. I started to collect those coffee cups and used them to created art. To my surprise, many of those cups were still half full with coffee. Before, I It became my daily routine of picking them up on my way to my studio. I would first wash and clean and then make whatever came to my mind that day. I like the feel of the paper cups and discovered they are great to work with. Everyday, I would come up with new idea to use those cups. Eventually, I have a whole body of recycled art all made from those coffee cups.

Here are some of my Starbucks coffee cups art for Earth day.

starbucks vespa little Starbucks panda  Starbucks holiday pony

Reuse, rethink and recreated.

Happy Earth Day!

Starbucks watchesstarbucks sandal

starbucks ladyslipper orchid

Goodbye February Hello March

butterfly with grasshopper

Today as the eve of the new month of March this is also the 58th day of my shopping bags make over. When I started this little art project on the first day of the year, I had no idea after two months I am still making it. Somehow it slowly evolve into something of a delight not just for my own amusement but also for the others seeing them.

Last week, I took down my paintings from one large wall in my studio and replaced them with the finished shopping bags. It fills up the whole wall and when I counted, I hang up 50 shopping bags and then I ran out of room. Today, at the end of the second month I had remade 57 bags in total.

Many of my friends are urging me to exhibit them in a gallery. I guess now is the hard part to find a gallery to show them!

guess beetle

Shopping bags make over update

Here is little update on my shopping bags make over:

I still making them and the design has became more intricate. Sometime it would take a whole day to complete one.

Yeste3rday, I had this idea about, instead of just doing just the cut out on it, I would turn the cutout into 3D. The first one I made was the dragonfly; I spent a lot on time on the detail on its wings. When it was done I was quite please with it. It looks like the dragonfly just happens to landed on the bag.



Today, while I was looking at the Aritvia shopping bag which has a young woman riding on a bike at one side of the bag. I have this idea of a butterfly and turned her body as the body of the butterfly and the bicycle wheel into its tail

3D Butterfly

Now, the inside part of my middle finger on my left hand has develop tough skin due to holding the knife for long hour. Oh well, it is price to paid for my art



Snow storm and art making

I love snow fall  and been waiting for a big snow storm.  Last year it was a mild winter and we had so few snow.  Finally the wait was over, we has a big one with more than a foot last Friday. It was the most we had for at least five years. I love how the whole city turned into winter wonderland. With the gift of the snow I feel more inspired and been spending the last few days taking photos and work on the  shopping bags make over.

Here are some of my latest shopping bags.

ladyslipper orchids bag

hollister loonTNA bag


Cat and Mouse with Kingfisher

Every morning while riding the subway on my way to my studio, I would think of idea for my shopping bags make over. By the time I arrive, I already have a few ideas and ready to work.  I usually has at least one bag finished by the end of the day.. Every evening,  I would go home satisfied knowing I have archived what I wanted to do.

American  Eagle Outfitters  bag

American Eagle Outfitters bag


I really like the American Outfitters bag with the blue eagle logo, there are so much possibility to change it into something else. For this one, I change into a kingfisher.

The MAC Cosmetic bag it was just for fun, I like their simple logo so I position a cat hiding behind it in order to spy on this little mouse.

MAC bag

MAC bag