I have been shopping for cheap manmade fabrics, and wanted to play with heat tools again. For this experiment, I had manmade shiny velvet (please help me – what is this stuff called in English?) and a sheer curtain fabric, similar to organza but less stiff and a sniplet of lutradur.
Edit: This kind of velvet is called panne velvet. By the way, in German it’s Pannesamt (samt=velvet). Me bad.
The first picture shows the materials as I assembled them before heating, I didn’t stitch them together this time. Sorry, it was taken in bad artificial light.
Next, I ironed the whole thing. I ironed very hot, but the curtain fabric was completely unwilling to melt, the velvet and the lutradur melted only the slightest bit. The lutradur did not adhere to the rest at all. The part where the curtain fabric melted away happened when I toughed it without baking paper under the flat iron. So I knew it was meltable.
This is the lutradur sniplet after ironing. It was coloured by the curtain fabric.
Next, I heatgunned the whole thing vigorously. Yes it did melt. Surprisingly, under the direct heat the curtain fabric melted easier than the velvet. This is still not what I would call beautiful or well done, but a start. Maybe I will use it for something, but I have no idea yet. Well, it was for the experience.
Here I show the artsy piece I’ve been working on during this vacation. I didn’t really want to show it before it is finished, but it ties in so nicely with other things that have been going on lately. I’m going to post something about what it means to me, and how I did the melted fabric background when it is finished.
The background of this was made from jute band, polyester organza and lutradur, all baked together with a flat iron on a background of batiste. All these are materials not exactly known for their durability, and when ironed they are kind of brittle too. (I will finish it off with another layer of sheer fabric because of this). Working on this made me think even more about the conservation issues discussed a few postings earlier. But doing this is so much fun that I think I will do it again anyway.
The other thing about this that made me think is that I only used kantha-like running stitches and seed stiches on it. This makes sense, it has so much colour and texture that intricate stitching on top of this would be either overwhelming or just messy. But it is strange how rarely the complicated stitches I love to practice find their way into my more artsy stuff. I love doing complicated needlework, but I often have problems integrating it into modern work. I so would want my work to express the whole me, so this is annoying me a bit. Something I will have to work on.
Two weeks ago I managed to sneak away from work early and go see Dijanne’s exhibition at Munich. Her work was breathtaking to look at. Her quilts look great on the website, but even better for real.
But there was one thing that caught my eye. She uses lots of surface treatments which are probably not washable, such as layers of silk tops or gold foiling, and that often on pieces which are too big to be easiely framed behind glass. In the exhibition, everything was hung without frames of course. I don’t really dare to question the work of someone like Dijanne, but I would try to avoid that. In fact I’m working on a sampler that will be like this,because I did not think that much before starting it, but I have good intentions for the future.
Sometimes I wonder how careless we fiber artists are about conservational issues. More often than not, we use happiely whatever strikes our fancy without giving a thought to thinks like lightfastness or manmade materials crumbling with age. I’m as guilty of this as any of you, but sometimes it makes me think twice. Because as a painter, I was taught to only use acid free paper and the best quality paints I can get. Even there I sometimes deviated from the rules for the joy of using fancy papers and other unusual things.
What makes this problem more difficult is that information about the lightfastness and lifetime of fabrics and other supplies is sparse and hard to find, especially when it is about things like polyester organza and fabrics meant for clothes or home decor (and that’s some of my favourite materials).
For me, it’s often the coice between maximum fun and common sense about conservational issues. Or is it hubris that makes me want to work for eternity, which isn’t going to happen anyway?
Do you think about such issues? What are your solutions? I would love to read oppinions on this.
(sorry for the ranty post, and the absence of eye candy)
I’m sorry I don’t post more these days. It was another completely crazy week at work, but I do keep stitching on the commute. Tomorrow you’ll get a glimpse at my background fabric, I promise.
Now this was made from two unconnected strips of jute band which were melted together with three layers of polyester organza by ironing. That worked extemely well. It is not a really beautiful scrap, but it was an interesting experiment.
So wordpress made some changes to their new image uploading process – it is slowly getting more comfortable. So I post a few more scraps. These were also treated with the heat gun, but they were not melted brutally but heated carefully from both sides to avoid curling. Obviously, the temperatures needed to melt this kind of kunin felt I have would burn away about anything else. I begin to think that it contains heat guarding chemicals or something.
The first scrap is a strip of green organza, lutradur and lazy daisies stitched with knitting yarn made of manmade fibers (I have forgotten which one).
The second one is green organza stitched on the cunin felt with the same yarn and some green gift wrapping band.
So the month of march is over. Where has the time gone? My march tif is nowhere near done, and this time I’m determined it before I start something new. I’m not that happy about this months’s challenge anyway. Up to this point, I tried to work with both the colour palette and the topic, but I honestly don’t know how to do a piece about life and its cycles in such dull colours. So I will probably pass this one.
For March tif, I have bought a nice linen fabric for the background. I’m planning to do something really big this time which may look good as a wall hanging. You will get to look at my progress as soon as I have something to show, in the mean time I have got some scraps I haven’t posted jet.
Here is one more scrap for last months tif. I stitched kunin felt with wire that was supposed to keep it flat when I heat it. Then I heatgunned it as brutally as I could. My heat gun is one of those from the hardware store, it does 300° Celsius. As you can see, it did a good job on the felt, it even altered the colours. The part that was less heaviely stitched curled up totally, the heaviely stitched part was deformed considerably.
The first picture is before heatgunning, the second one after. The pictures were scanned and prepared the same way, so they show the actual shrinkage of the piece. Of course, it is very stiff now, probably it doesn’t fit the description of Fiber any more.
Here is the next batch of scraps. The first two were done like the last, I ironed organza on batiste, but there was a layer of spunfab betwenn the organza and the rest. Spunfab is a product which is similar to bondaweb but has no carrier paper. The surface of these samples is a bit less brittle and it is only broken in those places where heavy cotton threads were trapped under the melted organza. I feel the surface is still not strong enough to be used without some unmelted top layer.
For the next experiment, lightwight lutrador was ironed onto batiste, with a few scraps of organza trapped between the layers. The lutradur melted forming a solid yet flexible surface, this works better than organza. Yes, I know, this one is kind of boring.
Oh my, I’m running out of time again. High time I start combining the scraps into a sampler, no matter how many new Ideas to try out stuff I have.
Hey, happy Easter to those who will celebrate this, and a happy springtime (or fall) to everybody else.
OK, this tif piece will have a lot of parts. But it is about tiny details, after all. Well, here are the next ones.
The first one is brhundy polyester organza ironed onto batiste strewn with sniplets. It looks similar to the green sample made the same way. The surface is similarly brittle, this one will have to go under some other layers either.
The next one is the proof that not all organzas are equal. This was extra sparkly plum organza. Looks like the warp of this was of different material than the weft, so the melting result is stripey. This one is brittle either.
So i’ve done a few more mini-samples.
For the first one, I embroidered lazy daisies in cotton floss on kunin felt, then added green polyester organza, adn two more lazy daisies on top to keep the layers together, then I ironed the whole thing.
For the next one, I trapped thread and fabric sniplets between white batiste and green organza as top layer, then ironed. The organza melted and trapped the sniplets all right, but the surface is very brittle. I will have to layer this with chiffon or organza for the finished piece. I still like the effect very much.
For the last, I trapped a piece of jute band between batiste and organza. Same effect as the last, same brittle surface. But it does stick together.
Another hard week at work, another work without much creativity. The only thing I really did was play arround a little bit. Did you know that polyester organza melts at the cotton setting of your flat iron? I didn’t. Also I didn’t know that kunin felt can stand such temperatures when ironed through baking paper.
For the first sample I stitched a piece of green organza onto a piece of plum kunin felt with cotton embroidery floss, the ironed. The organza melted completely, stuck to the felt very well and formed a smooth plastic-like surface, and it is still soft. Next, I melted a piece of the same organza onto a piece of cotton embroidery fabric. That didn’t go qoite so well. The organza did stick to the cotton, but it broke at places and the surface became sort of brittle. In both cases, there was no harm done to the cotton components.
Now this is going to be my project for the rest of the months: I will pay more attention to the deatails of my craft/art instead of just playing. I will do little pieces in several techniques that are about melting fabric, in some way, no matter if with the heat gun or the flat iron. Hopefully, I will be fast enough that I have a few to sew onto a background by the end of the month. This will be my “details of using heat with textiles” sampler.