Monday, 23 May 2016

FOG Tuesday - We All Felt It!

We have worked with commercial felt in past sessions, but in our session in May we focused entirely on commercial felt squares and the multitude of ways it could be manipulated, embellished, stitched and most importantly, how it distressed/melted with our heat guns.

Felt comes in a variety of colours and also as printed or embossed felt. The printed felt is quite fun to use and adds an element of extra colour to the piece. We did not try embossed felt, but it is available at Michael’s here in Canada. If you are a little more on the diva side, felt also comes flocked and glittered.

Printed felt, left. Hand cut petals of printed felt,
heat distressed and assembled with a brad.
Add a pin backing and you have a great brooch to wear.
Printed felt, stitched and heat distressed.
One of the ways we altered the look of the felt before stitching and melting was with the use of commercial and handcrafted stencils and stamps.
Jan, commercial stencil, left. Printed with metallic
paint, right.
Gillian, several techniques on all pieces.
Variations on a theme, Commercial flower stencil.
Couched yarns.

Top, felt with added painted fusible web pieces, left, 
and heat distressed, right.
Bottom, hand crafted stamp, glue gun glue on a
piece of foam core, left, printed felt, middle and heat
distressed, right.

Glue gun glue on foam core, left, stamp cut from a
shoe insole, top right. Bottom right, stamp made
from commercial, sticky backed foam stickers.
If you want to maintain some structure with your piece before melting, you can stitch on the felt beforehand. This ensures that your piece will not fall apart. We tried both cotton and polyester threads and both seemed to work.

Diane, Stitched and distressed.
Nan, Stitched and distressed.
If you own, or have access to a Sizzix™ or similar die cutting machine you can cut shapes with your Sizzix™ and then heat distress them with your heat gun. Both craft embossing and industrial heat guns work well, you just need to test beforehand how much heat you need to use to melt your felt.

Leaves cut with a Sizzix die and then heat distressed.
Many synthetic fabrics will distress/melt with a heat gun. While we mostly focused on the poly felt, by Kunin™ and Creatology™.  Both are widely available at Michael’s and most of the dollar stores. Karen did try some polar fleece and it seemed to work very well.
Karen, adding elements to a denim piece, left.
Heat distressed polar fleece, right.
Another way to embellish your piece is to print an image onto fusible web and then iron it onto your felt. Then you can be as creative as you want with stitching and heat distressing.
Chris, Image on fusible web transferred by ironing to the felt, left.
Stitched and heat distressed, right.
While we were using the 9” by 12” inch squares of felt, I guess they really should be called rectangles J, felt is also availed in larger precut pieces and by the yard/metre off the bolt at your local fabric store. Just think of the possibilities with a very large piece of felt.

ECO Alesrt! You should also feel good about using felt as a crafting item as it is mostly made from 100% post- consumer recycled and BPA-free plastic bottles and produces a high-quality fibre at a very modest price.

Until next time, have Fun with Felt. Meredith and Jan

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

FOG Tuesday – We’ve Found Our Marbles

At the April session of FOG we found out just how easy it is to marble on fabric and paper, both having the same prep for a wonderful result.

We tried two different methods of marbling, one using a thickened medium in our trays and the other using foam shaving cream. It needs to be the foamy kind, not gel, to work. NOTE: It is helpful to know some basic colour theory to understand how your colours will mix.

Prep for the first technique. Thickened Carrageenan or MarbleThix

Using carrageenan (available at art or health food stores) or MarbleThix™ by Delta, mix the quantity of dried product to warm water, MarbleThix™ used one TSP of powder to one quart of water. This is best done at least 6 – 12 hours before using. MarbleThix™ is the one that I used. Some did this in a blender; I just did mine by hand in a container. Unfortunately, MarbleThix may no longer be available. We purchased ours from a local dollar store

The second step for prep is to mix up an alum mixture to soak your fabrics and papers. Alum helps the colour to adhere to your product and improve on print quality. Fabric should be soaked in 2 TB of Alum dissolved in 1 quart of water. Paper should use more Alum - 4 TB in 1 quart of water.  Both items need to be dipped in the solution and then dried before marbling. Alum may be purchased in a health food store or in the spice department at your local grocery store.

Both alum and carrageenan are used in the production of food products so are very safe for use, even for children.

Lastly, you need to choose the type of inks, dyes or paints that you will use to float on the thickened mixture in your trays. We found what best worked for us by trial and error. We tried alcohol inks, different qualities and brands of acrylic paints, Liquitex Acrylic Ink and Dye-na-Flow™ by Jacquard.

I tried alcohol inks that sank to the bottom right away. I did not try acrylic paint and found that my best results were with Dye-na-Flow™. It is used on both natural or synthetic fabrics and papers.

Now comes the fun part.

Pour your thickened mixture into a tray. The mixture should be clear in colour. Start by dropping your colour onto the surface – making blobs of colour and then dropping additional colours into that blob, giving some interesting results.
Jan's pieces
The middle one was Liquitex acrylic ink.Right and Left are Dynaflow.
Next, drag a skewer or other tools through the blobs and your pattern starts to appear. Once you are satisfied with the results, place your dry, alum soaked fabric or paper onto the surface of the newly coloured mixture. With fabric, it helps to hold the two sides and drop in the centre of the fabric first, then the sides. Lightly pat the surface of your fabric or paper trying to get all the colour on the surface to adhere.
Jan's - on paper.
Once that is done, carefully pick up your piece from the surface and put aside to dry. If there is any colour left on the surface, run a piece of paper over it, leaving it clean to do your next design.

Meredith - the three stages of marbling.
 Top Left -Drop colour onto the surface.
Top Right - Drag through the paint.
Bottom - Finished print, this one is on Dupioni Silk
Meredith - the three stages of marbling.
 T0p Left -Drop colour onto the surface.
Top Right - Drag through the paint.
Bottom - Finished print, this one is on cotton.
Meredith - finished fabric.Top left is the Dupioni Silk, the other three are cotton.

Prep for the second technique. Shaving Foam

Spray the foam shaving cream onto your surface or tray and drag a straight edge across the surface to create a smooth even surface. (If anyone has found an unscented shaving foam, please share the brand name with us.)

Next drop your colour onto the surface of the foam and drag a skewer or other tool through your drops of colour to create your pattern. Once you are satisfied, place your fabric or paper onto the surface, tap it down and then pull your print. Lay the print on a solid surface and using a straight edge, drag the remaining shaving foam from your print.

Inexpensive acrylic paint, food colouring and inks are three good products to use on the foam. The foam can be reused several times, however, if colour is left on the foam it may affect subsequent colours that are layered on top.

Diane - Foam print on paper.
I need to get the finished result and post.
Karen - finished pieces, right, all on glossy photo paper.
Bottom left, a dragging tool that Karen made.
Top left - shaving cream tray.

Have fun with this, it is quite addictive. I’m certainly ready to make additional pieces and have purchased a larger foil tray to that I can do some larger pieces.

Fruits of our labour.

As always, we enjoy your feedback. Cheers, Meredith and Jan