Yesterday, I went on playing with melting Tyvek, and playing with the beads I made before. This time, I was using the soldering iron, because Kaite in Bathurst had quite different effects using that on her beads instead of the heat gun.
First, I melted some strips of plain Tyvek, similar to the ones I used last time. This time I only used neat pre-rolled strips, rolling them on and adding a dab of UHU glue to hold them. This is what they looked like when melted: As always, it's hard to take clear close-up photos, but you can see that the medium didn't puff up and shrivel the way it did when heated with the heat gun. You have much more control of where the heat goes, using the soldering iron, so it's easy to make marks but, as the tip is small, it's harder to get big effects. I tried a sort of colouring-in approach with the tip of the soldering iron, to melt large areas of the Tyvek and that gave a interesting, rough surface. I painted one of these beads afterwards with red acrylic paint, dry-brushed on.
Then I wrapped some of the wristband Tyvek strips and melted them with the heat gun. Again, it was easy to make marks and melt the wrapped ends, but the layers didn't melt away and distort as they did with the heat gun. The colouring-in approach worked well here too, but it was also fun to make holes and lines.
We found that the wristband beads tended to be tacky afterwards, whether heated with the heat gun or the soldering iron. After some epxerimentation, we decided that it was the residue of the glue that is on the end of the wristband strip to adhere it around the wrist. If this glued end was removed, and the end of the strip adhered with UHU glue, the bead did not end up being tacky.
One of the thing that interested me was how the Tyvek beads would take colour after they had been melted. I took some red acrylic paint and dry-brushed it onto some of the plain Tyvek beads from last time. The paint adhered really well and gave a nice thick coating. Dry-brushing seemed to emphasise the roughness of the bead surface.
Then I painted the acrylic onto the free-formed plain Tyvek beads from the last time - the strips that were allowed to flap about under the heat gun as they were rolled. The left side bead was dry-brushed, while the right side one was painted with a wet brush. The paint adhered much less well when applied with a wet brush, the paint colour was much lighter and there were visible brush strokes in the paint surface. This looked fine on the asymmetrical shapes of these beads but might not on the rolled beads. I also used the wet-brushed red paint on one of the small gift ribbon beads, and it adhered OK but I'm not sure how permanent it will be once it's dry. It looks as if it might rub off over time. This isn't a big deal since wrapping ribbon comes in so many colours anyway.
Finally, as I had the paint handy, I painted over the white patches on some of the wristband tyvek beads that I had melted with the soldering iron. The colour on these beads was from the surface of the wristband and, as they melted, a lot of this colour disappeared, showing the base white Tyvek colour. I painted just the white areas with the red paint. I really liked the way these turned out. It's hard to see the contrast on the orange beads, but the red has added shadows in an interesting way.
I still have a lot of questions to ask about melting Tyvek, and of course I've hardly tried melting acrylic fabric into beads! But I now know that, by myself, I can make interesting beads in certain shapes to use in my work, so that's a start!