Monday, 12 May 2008

Burning stuff

This post is in honour of Beverley's husband who wanted to know when she was going to start "burning stuff". Well, today she did and so did I, at our Fibrecircle playday.

First, I wound some strips of Tyvek around a bamboo skewer, added a dab of PVA to hold it and zapped it with the heat gun. Then I took the coloured Tyvek wristbands, found for us by Kaite, and did the same. Finally, I used more plain Tyvek strips but let them twist onto the skewer as they wanted to.
The top image shows the Tyvek (originally in the form of disposable overalls) and the wristbands. The second shows the bugle-bead-shaped plain beads on the left and the free-formed ones on the right. The middle one was made with non-melting thread wrapped around it, which acted as a resist to the heat, so it has deep ridges around it where it melted less and hollows where the heat could reach unobstructed. The tendency of the Tyvek to puff and distort seemed more noticeable on this one. I plan to try painting some of these to see how the Tyvek takes various media. (Sorry the photo is so poor, but I tried all different ways to photograph them with no better success!) The wristbands melted and distorted in really interesting ways, as the layers melted individually allowing the heat to reach the inner layers. I suspect it's because the printed colour affected the way the medium melted. They would be quite spiky and uncomfortable used in jewellery against the skin, but they have very organic shapes, like coral.

Next, I melted cheap chiffon ribbon. Like the Tyvek, this was much more interesting if the ribbon was wound on with folds and twists. Others in the group experimented with using two colours of ribbon and allowing them to twist as they were wrapped onto the skewer. They looked really good!

Then I played with melting yarn. Like most craft people, I have a huge collection of the new fancy acrylic/polyester yarns, including eyelash yarns. We wondered if these would melt into interesting beads. I used four different yarns - the variegated one which I can't identify, a thick orange and red one called Showoff, the pale wispy one called Sparkle and Paton's Feathers in purple and navy (not photographed). In each case, the yarn was tied to the skewer with a slip knot and then the yarn was twisted onto the skewer as it melted. All of them melted most satisfactorily. The fronds of the variegated one melted very well but the braid didn't so, although the beads are quite stiff, they look like threads wrapped around each other into tiny balls. Showoff was very thick and quite slow to melt but it created lovely textured beads that are quite soft to the touch, although they are well adhered. The pale Sparkle was a surprise. It melted into a very stiff plastic bead, with much more intense colours than the original yarn. Feathers behaved rather like the original variegated yarn, as the wisps melted and tied the braid together. I really think this is something worth exploring, as each yarn seems to yield different results.

Prue had been playing with melting gift ribbon so I tried that too. Her ribbon was pink and gave small, firm, very solid beads. I tried pearlescent ribbon but mine were not as tidy as hers - more "organic", as we artists like to say when we mean kinda weird looking. Again, the pale beads were very hard to photograph clearly - probably needing a black background for contrast. This is really fun and easy, and if you rolled them first and glued the ends, you'd get very neat spacer beads, the ultimate in recycling.

One area I wanted to explore was melting man-made fibres. In the end, I only made one textile bead. It was from a fairly loosely woven fabric in shades of red with a streak of gold thread through it. Some fibres, especially the gold, did not melt as fast as other ones, so the result was a very fibrous bead, with lots of glitz. The other bead in the photo is made from a short section of 1in chiffon ribbon on which I had stamped a flower in acrylic paint for another project, but not used. It really looks great, and I think this is worth further experimenting too.

Carol tried a medium called UTEE, Ultra Thick Embossing Enamel, over some of her beads. It worked best with beads that had some texture to begin with, so the medium could get a grip. It was best used as a couple of layers, rolled on rather than dipped, as too many layers tended to become cloudy and crack when the bead was moved on the skewer. It could also adhere the bead permantly to the skewer, if allowed to get under the edge. However, it gave the beads a really interesting glassy finish, which might look particularly good on the painted chiffon ribbon, and adhered tiny beads really well. Something else to try out! We would also like to see if it gives a different finish to painting beads with clear nail polish (no, not heating it, just painting and drying naturally!).

Not everything worked, of course. The foil from chocolate wrappers melted but could not be removed from the skewer. We hypothesised that using a short section of drinking straw underneath it might solve this problem, but we didn't have any to experiment with. Similarly, some heavier fabrics melted but could not be removed. Some things just didn't melt at all, at the temperatures we were producing, and one fabric turned gray-black at the same time as it reached melting point. Usually there is a small gap between melting and burning point, which is what we were exploiting.

So I had a fun day and have a small pile of interesting beads to play with. And, as usual, a lot more questions.


Alan Roberta said...
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aykayem said...

sounds like you had fun ;-)
... maybe for those fabrics that stuck to the skewer you could try a smear of petrolium jelly (vaseline/etc) on the skewer ... it might stop the bead sticking? (or it might not ... lol) or maybe wrap a bit of alfoil around the skewer so the bead sticks to that instead ... and also your beads will have a silvery insidy bit ... LOL