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It all starts with bags of chips ...
Chip bag craftsman Ricky Peters stands behind his recent big project; a decorative wellhouse for the front yard. It took 4,598 bags and 646 hours to make the well. He's still not finished. He needs 50 more Doritos bags and 25 Cheetos bags to cover the side supports.
Ricky Peters' unique craft combines recycled materials, patience, creativity ... and plenty of snacking.
Peters, of Axton, makes things out of potato chip and snack bags. His collection includes vases, purses, baby shoes, picture frames, belts, flip flops, CD boxes, jewelry boxes, model rocking chairs and a briefcase.
"I try to stick with things I'm really good at, like baby shoes, rocking chairs and ladies' purses," he said.
He cleans the bags (especially on the inside), folds them around plain paper, weaves them together and sews them with fishing line. To get a silver surface, he exposes the inside of the bag. He exposes the outside of the bag to make combinations of colors, all depending upon the package design.
The crowning glory of his collection is a model well in the front yard of his mother's Axton Road home, where he lives. One side of the well is made of all Cheetos cheese-puff bags, and the other side is made of Doritos corn-chip bags.
Peters' inspiration for the well design came from - where else? - the back of a Doritos bag. Peters, a big Superbowl fan, remembers it well.
It began in 2008, when Doritos won an award for having the best Superbowl commercial, Peters recalled. He was impressed by the the snack food company's initiative in creating a great commercial.
At the time, "The back of the Doritos bag said "˜Do something,'" he said. It was a contest challenging people to get involved in projects, clubs or charity.
"I thought I would do something different that nobody's done before," he said.
So Peters decided to make something unusual out of snack bags.
He used 4,598 bags to make the well in 646 hours. He's almost finished.
"I need about 75 more bags to do the sides where the two-by-fours (supports) are," he said. That would be 50 Doritos bags and 25 Cheetos.
Peters alternates strips of the inside of the bag with the outside of the bag to get the checkerboard pattern on the roof of the well. The well's wall is decorated with designs of hearts, crosses and letters. Each design tells its origin, because the color and style comes from a particular snack bag.
Peters pointed to different designs on the well. "Each "˜X' is a different bag. All yellow is Lay's plain; all black is barbecue. It's got Sunchips in it, sour cream, Doritos, popcorn," he said, pointing to an example of each.
Peters' hobby may seem unique, but he said he is not new.
"People have been making that stuff for about 100 years, and to the best of my knowledge," there is no patent on it, he said. "It's just something I do as a pastime."�
Peters, 39, learned to create crafts out of potato chip bags while he was in jail. It "takes material you had handy. It's easy to collect trash in there," he said.
"It was a way of making money inside," he added. "The baby shoes are pretty hot sellers." He estimated that he has made about 30,000 pairs.
Peters said he thinks his favorite hobby may become a money-maker for him again, but so far he hasn't pursued it. "I've been wanting to put it (his items) on e-Bay, but I only know enough about a computer to get me in trouble," he said with a chuckle.
He has a lot of support in his craft. Several friends give him their empty snack bags. People at Axton Baptist Church also stepped up. "Ken and Jackie Byrd donated a lot of paper, and Axton Baptist Church donated a lot of bags to help me pass my time when I don't have a job," he said.
Peters also does not mind coming up with his own crafting materials.
"I can eat a bag of Lays plain, probably in about two days," he said. "If it's Cheetos, probably about 10 minutes."�