Sara Wiener crafts wearable and functional art and uses recycled plastics to make wall art, greeting cards and even sculptures of sea creatures affected by the plastic in our oceans. Sara Bella Upcycled sells products that are 95 percent recycled plastic bags that would have otherwise been dumped into a nearby landfill. But how is this possible? Story by Mitch Grimmett
Americans tend to prefer the disposable and convenient lifestyle as opposed to a life full of reusable green products which require more effort on our part. Whether it be a piece of plastic silverware, a plastic cup or a simple paper plate, many of us love using anything that helps avoid loading the dreaded dishwasher for a little while longer.
Moreover, our food is often in plastic containers and the bags that we use to carry our nutritious or not so nutritious purchases are plastic themselves. With all this plastic floating around, it is isn’t surprising to find out that it is having a negative impact on the Earth or that people like Sara Wiener are trying to stem this wasteful tide using art.
Coached by her grandmother Bella, Sara learned to sew at a very young age and this prompted a lifelong love affair with textile crafts. In 1991, Sara opened her original store named Sara Bella which aimed to produce clothing that both kids and adults could enjoy.
Craving more freedom to express herself artistically, Sara opened her new store in 2010 called Sara Bella Upcycled. Although the name may have changed only slightly, the products being sold from Sara Bella Upcycled are drastically different from those which would have been found in Sara’s previous store and in other stores around the world. This is because Sara Bella Upcycled sells products that are 95 percent recycled plastic bags that would have otherwise been dumped into a nearby landfill. But how is this possible?
Sara explained, “I take a whole bunch of plastic bags of different colors and I layer them on a heat press. I end up with around eight layers of plastic bags and then on the top layer I do a collage to create the decorative elements. I take these pieces and sew them together into a larger piece of fabric which is used to create the final product.”
This interesting technique creates colorful purses, eye catching messenger bags, solid growler totes and so much more. Perhaps one of the most impressive pieces made by Sara is the upcycled trench coat with its vibrant and powerful fashion statement. If this Christmas list of wearable and functional art just isn’t enough, readers will be glad to know that Sara also uses these plastics to make wall art, greeting cards and even sculptures of sea creatures affected by the plastic in our oceans.
Each piece is completely unique in its appearance due to the varying plastics used in the plastic pressing process. Yet, these items not only have value because they are one-of-a-kind eye candy, but because they are a sign of change and a reminder that we must all do our part to protect the Earth.
Simply put by Sara, “We need to take a look at how we use plastics and decrease it.”
Sara Bella Upcycled Retail Store
Products can also be found at retail locations in Bend and Portland.
2748 NW Crossing Dr., Suite 100, Bend