I have been keen to try some experiments in melting materials and fusing them together to make interesting "papers" or "fabrics" for use in my papercrafting, either as backgrounds or embellishments. After a false start the other day, trying unsuccessfully to melt bubble wrap in a way that was half-way useable, last night I discovered the most incredible blog (which I am now following!) by a mixed-media artist working in St. Ives in Cornwall, that mecca of artists. I am soooo impressed with this lady's work, and hope one day to visit her studio or gallery. Here's a link to her blog:
I spent most of yesterday evening browsing through this blog, and was totally overwhelmed by the incredible creativity of this amazing artist. She is generous with her techniques and willing to share how she does things, and this has given me the push I needed to get started with my "meltings" - and is broadening my horizons in so many other ways with my art, too.
This afternoon I made 4 test pieces using heat to fuse materials together.
For the first one, I lightly painted a piece of bubble wrap randomly with blue and green acrylic paint, with a touch of white, over the raised bubbles. Immediately, before it had a chance to dry, I used this to print onto a piece of white card. There was still some paint remaining on the bubble wrap. I then proceeded to sprinkle silver embossing powder over this, shaking off the excess. I then selected some small "twinklies" - little confetti shapes in sequin material - in blues, greens and silver, and sprinkled these on top. Finally, I laid a piece of cling film over the whole thing and ironed it. When doing this, you have to cover the work with baking parchment or the whole thing will stick to your iron and ruin it (poor Carolyn learnt this the hard way - she posted a picture of her iron after the event!).
Here's the result.
And here it is again, alongside the bubble wrap printing I did at the beginning:
I think it's a credit to my camera how well these pictures are coming out, because shiny, reflective or irridescent surfaces are notoriously difficult to photograph!
I then moved on to another piece of bubble wrap. Having washed out my paintbrush with a little water in the plastic bowl that I'd squirted a small quantity of acrylic paints into, this now contained a sludgy watery mix of the blue and green paints, which I proceeded to use to paint onto the raised bubbles of the bubble wrap. I then sprinkled it with gold embossing powder this time, and shook off the residue - unfortunately quite a few water droplets came off with it, but I was able to soak these up with kitchen paper, and managed to get the excess powder back into the pot. Again I added some twinklies, and covered the whole with cling film, and again ironed it.
This one didn't photograph quite so well - it is highly reflective.
I then tried fusing two pieces of cling film together (no bubble wrap this time), sandwiching various things between them. I used some lengths of metallic thread from my goldwork embroidery box; the coppery thread was great, because when I tried to shred it a bit to separate out the strands, I found that there was one which I could pull, and the rest rouched up, giving a slub effect. I then doused the lot with some bronzing powder, and laid a few Angelina fibres on top, and after the final layer of cling film was laid on top, I ironed it as before. In one or two places the two layers have not fused, so I need to iron it again.
In the top left-hand corner of this picture, you can see the edge of the bubble wrap printing - I used the piece of card as a convenient white background in an attempt to show this piece off a bit better - it's quite hard to photograph and it didn't show up well on my green craft mat.
The final piece is mostly Angelina fibres, in blue and pink. These fuse to themselves with heat, but don't stick to anything else. The result is a bonded, non-woven fabric with incredible iridescent hues, which can be sewn, washed, dry cleaned, glued, whatever you want! When I'd laid out the fibres how I wanted, I sprinkled them with gold embossing powder, covered the lot with baking parchment and ironed it. You have to be careful not to over-heat the Angelina fibres or they lose their colour and iridescence, but you do need quite a bit of heat to melt the embossing powder, so it wasn't certain whether this would work. As it happened, a certain amount of the embossing powder did melt, but a lot more fell through the mesh of fibres to the mat beneath. I turned the sheet of bonded fibres over and wiped up the remaining powder with it, and covered and ironed it again on the reverse side. Most of the embossing powder was then incorporated into it, and on one side, it was pretty solid. Turning it over, more of the bonded fibres were visible, with the gold peeping through between, which was a much nicer effect. Again, this is a highly reflective surface and hard to photograph, but here is the result.
I also tried melting some old blister pack which had contained tablets, thinking that the ragged foil on the back might give an interesting effect. I cut out some pieces and laid them down, bubble side up, with little gems under the bubbles, and ironed it. The result was not satisfactory - the gems did not show up well, and didn't respond well to the heat, and the whole thing looked a mess, so into the bin it went!! Oh well. Can't win 'em all... I only wasted about 6 or 7 gems.
I am very pleased with my first proper efforts at melting. Here's a picture of the four pieces together:
I think this technique has a lot of potential. It would be a good way of using up those bits and pieces left over from other projects that you don't know what to do with, but can't in all conscience throw away! I've got quite a big bag of pretty ghastly mixed sequins which I think would do well being sandwiched between bubble wrap and cling film, with a bit of Angelina fibre to help them on their way!