Tag Archives: fiber art

Jet another melting experiment

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.

Before heatgunning:

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.

This week’s heat gunning experiment

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.

The piece before heatgunning:

After treatment with the heat gun:

After putting it between nylon scarf pieces; the whole thing is a bit bigger than a postcard now, but could be trimmed to that size.

A detail of the picture above, it shows the remnants of spunfab.

Heatgunning Lutradur

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.

Another melting experiment with panne velvet and lutradur

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.

melting experiment

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.

Tutorials and other web finds

I had some time for checking out other people’s blogs and general websurfing, and would like to share a few things I really liked.

Carol-Anne Conway at threads across the web has posted a tutorial about using a sinking needle . This is a special technique from japanese embroidery to pull the ends of heavy couched gold threads through to the backside of the fabric. To me, it looks like it could be useful for any couched work involving bulky, wire-like or otherwise defiant threads or materials.

At My Patchwork of Life there’s a tutorial about crocheting flowers using regular skirt buttons as a base . I haven’t tried it but it looks convincing and useful.

At Magpie’s Mumblings there’s a posting about ironing and heat-gunning several materials. It caught my eyes because I’ve been doing much in that direction lately myself. I appreciate it greatly when people share their experiences in that way, it always gives me new ideas.

At Arlee Barr’s blog There’s a tutorial about making fabric paper. It is two years old, but I just found it via a link in a new post of hers and it is the first online tutorial for this I have seen. Thank you for this one Arlee!

Clyde Olliver has a nice new website which showcases his work nicely. I just wanted to tell you in case you have stopped checking his half-dead blog. Yes I’m a fan.

Dijanne Cevaal’s work

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)

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