Using unusual materials

I just found an article about using cheap and unususal materials by Arlee Barr via Arlee Barr’s blog. It is very well done, I learned a thing or two from it although I’m not as much into plastic an using heat guns as she is.

Here are a few of my cheapo favourites that she doesn’t mention.

  • All kinds of jute fabrics. I like to work on burlap/ hessian, but also on the very loosely woven deco jute and colourful jute bands. Glue arround the edges of the loose stuff with fabric glue or glossy acrylic gel before use. I’m adding an ATC sized embroidery on jute band and present band at the end of the posting
  • browse the deco shops regularly, they will often have small fabric pieces for reduced prices; especially useful if you like to work small
  • Try to pester a local tailor for her/his waste fabric
  • make use of clothes you don’t wear any more, it also adds a very personal note to your art
  • The ribbons and bands you use for christmass presents and flower arrangements. You often get good deals on them after major hollidays, and you can use what comes off your presents
  • Cocoa fiber and similar stuff. The loose ones can be used for couching, the glued sheets can be used to do embroidery on or for collages.
  • natural bast is very good for stitching on rough fabric, but it isn’t washable. If you use the coloured ones do a fading test before using them on precious projects; it bends easier when wet, but will shrink considerably when drying again
  • use natural materials and found objects
  • buying cheap jewelry and cutting it up for the beads is often cheaper than buying beads at a craft shop
  • glossy acrylic gel makes a good surrogate for fabric glue and is cheaper if you need more than a few ounces of it. Beware of the matte varieties, they will come off if you wash pieces, while the glossy one from Schmincke even survives procedures like wet felting with hot water onto the glued piece.
  • If you’re into painting save your brush cleaning rags to do fiber art on them later. But never ever burn them if you use any cadmium colours
  • if you already have acrylic paints use them instead of fabric paints. Again, beware of heating cadmium pigments (they will turn poisonous if you do)

now here’s an example, a roughly ATC-sized thing assembled from jute band and flower band ironed on black vilene and embroidered:

wild rose


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