It’s weekend, and I’ve been at it again. I stitched onto jute scrim using manmade materials, heatgunned it and sandwiched it between more or less translucent fabric, this time lightwight grey lutradur. I’m sorry the pixs are not what they should be, the blue wool is in fact turquoise, and a bit on the greenish side. My scanner hates all shades of cyan, and there wasn’t sufficient daylight for photographs by the time I was done.
I have to say for the first time that I like the sample before the process more than after. Firstly, I had problems with my cheap heat gun, it didn’t get hot enough on the first setting, so I had to use the scond which means 500 °C, and that burned the jute a bit. Also, the grey yarn didn’t melt well. Also, Lutradur doesn’t seem to be the material of joice for such things, not translucent enough and too uneven.
After heatgunning; the grey did not turn that yellow, no idea what my scanner is doing there. I liked that scanner much better before I had a digital camera and saw what this one can do in good light.
after layering; In reality, it looks much more blurred and opaque than this because the scanner will see through the fibers, while in real they will reflect a lot of light blurring everything.
In order to trap such bulky things properly betrween thin fabrics, I put a layer of fusible web on each thin fabric piece, trap the jute in between, then pack it between two sheets of baking paper. Then, I first iron the whole package on a soft cushion, from both sides. That makes the ends stick together well. Then I iron it again on a hard surface to make sure it sticks well to the bulky stuff, again from both sides. Then I let the whole sndwich cool down completely before pulling off the baking paper, because if some fusible web spills through the fabric it will adhere to the baking paper while hot and you may damage your sample when tearing the hot paper away.
Well, I was at it again. This time I wove polyester organza stripes into a piece of jute scrim. Then I heatgunned it with low heat, the label says that is 350 °C but I doubt the cheap thingy really gets that hot. As you can see, it didn’t really distort but the stripes partially turned into little pieces of plastic that nearly fell off. So I decided to trap the thing between two layers of nylon chiffon scarf and spunfab (similar to bondaweb).
The nylon scarf is nicely translucent, but also too loose and thin to keep the spunfab from showing and even spilling through. Maybe it would have been good to use some carrier fabric on the underside instead of another layer of chiffon.
It will need some stitching to turn it into something else than a curious sample. Well, maybe it’s time that I do something with some of the experimental samples I did lately instead of producing new ones ll the time. But this melting stuff is so much fun and not very time-consuming, so just what I need.
Im ealier Experimetnts I found this hot pink lutradur hard to melt with a flat iron. I had got it from a craft shop where it was sold for use as floristic ribbon.
In the first trial, I simply heatgunned a piece of it. It shrunk to about half the size and crumpled up nicely without becoming unreasonably stiff or brittle. It was not hard to make it lay flat or or maintain a regular form, This is roughly postcard sized now and will make a good background for something one day, For my taste it is still too thin to use without some kind of backing. This experiment definitely was a success.
The next one was two sheets of the same lutadur, a layer of blue polyester organza trapped between them and the whole thing stitched together with polyester and cotton thread. The whole thing is much less beautiful than the first one, because it became too flat and opaque.
This one is perfectly flat and not brittle either. It is kinda stiff, just enough that it can be worked on further without a backing. Still, two sheets of heavier lutradur like this are probably too much.
This is a detail from the latter one. The section was stitched together with polyester thread (Gütermann buttonhole machine sewing thread). The tread shrunk together with the rest of the material without completely melting away.
The last picture shows a section that was stitched together with cotton (standard stranded embroidery thread). As you can see it wasn’t harmed by the temperatures needed to melt this, but of course it did not shrink so it sticks out weirdly now. This is a good effect if it is wanted, if not I’d rather use manmade thread.
This weekend, I did my next melting experiment. This time I used the same panne velvet as last weekend and lilac fine lutradur. I applied forms cut out of the lutradur using polyester sewing thread. As you can see, I spent quite some time on the kantha stitching.
The next picture is the same piece after heatgunning. I heatgunned it rather gently, the panne velvet and the polyester thread are only a little bit affected. The lutadur melted surprisingly well.
I am much more contend with this than with my last efford. I don’t know jet if I’m going to leave it as is or add some more embroidery. I think it is screaming for a dash of orange, but I don’t want to rush this.
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.
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)
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.