Origami Coffee Scoop

I recently acquired an unlikely but exceptionally effective Aeropress espresso coffee maker that consists of 3 simple plastic parts. I do still miss the hum of our old Expobar espresso machine that died, but this new set up makes an awesome Americano and has the added advantage of being portable for camping or travel.

The only problem, albeit a small one, was that I needed an efficient way to transfer the coffee grounds from our grinder to the Aeropress. I wanted something reusable, easy to wash and simple to store. The idea for a fused-plastic, folded scoop was born.

I have made things using fused plastic in the past. The process for fusing plastic is very simple, although it can be a challenge these days to find plastic shopping bags. As you can see from the photos, there is only one store I frequent here in my town that still uses plastic bags. I cut off the seams and the handles of 4-5 bags and stack the flattened layers of plastic between two sheets of parchment paper. Using an iron on medium heat setting, press firmly and evenly across the pile of plastic. The plastic will quickly melt and shrink into a solid sheet of plastic. Keep ironing, turning and flipping it occasionally, until the sheet of fused plastic is no longer visibly shrinking. Once the plastic cools, you can trim off any irregular edges.

To make my scoop, I trimmed the plastic sheet into a long rectangle. Then I folded it in half in both directions as well across both diagonals. The open, creased rectangle is laid under the spout of the grinder to catch the grinds. By pinching half of the long rectangle together, a scoop is formed on the other half, making it easy to pour the grinds into the coffee press. The fused plastic is durable, easy to wash, and dry, and fold to store away.

What have you created out of necessity – the mother of invention?

In celebration of Earth Day and Easter, my daughter and I made a basket of (yes, again) fused plastic.  1/2" strips are woven in and out of a slitted, 5-sided box base.  Extra strips are used to fill the basket like grass. One more strip becomes the handle.  I folded a few leftover squares into a hopping frog, a crane, and a butterfly.  Did I ever mention how much I love origami?

I’m still fascinated by all the creative possibilities for fused plastic.  I have collected more plastic bags than I could ever use.  And I have found that not all bags fuse well.  Simple grocery bags are best.  But thicker, more graphic, plastic bags from retail stores provide more color and design possibilities.  Don’t mix plastics, or the fusing will be very wrinkled or bubbled as various thicknesses of plastic melt differently.  And some inks for graphics can hinder the fusing process as well.  In case you missed this link in a previous post, here is a “how to” for fusing plastic yourself.

This project is a simple folded box based upon a design from Fozzils.  I’ve also tried making the spoon, but my fused plastic is too flimsy, no matter how many layers of bags fuse together.  Obviously the high quality, food grade, polypropylene used to make Fozzils is superior in stiffness to high density polyethylene (HDPE) from which most shopping bags are made.  My box is still useful as an drawer organizer or even a tabletop decoration. 

This project combines two of my favorite things: origami and fused recycled bags.  Fusing is really easy, as demonstrated in this Etsy “How To”.  Once you create your plastic sheet, you can use it like fabric, or as I found, like origami paper. I used an xacto knife to cut the sheet into a rectangle. It is relatively simple to fold, although creasing the plastic takes some effort.  Eight layers of plastic (about 4 grocery bags) provided enough material for one simple origami box. I then used my sewing machine to stitch the edge.  In my first experiment, I tried to fuse the box edges, but the melting process just deformed the box shape.