Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Teabag Art–2nd Row of Zentangles

This evening I drew some Zentangles on the second row of teabag stains on the watercolour paper, using my sepia pen as before. Here is the result.

32 2nd Row of Teabag Stain Zentangles

A couple of detail shots:

33 2nd Row of Teabag Stain Zentangles Detail 1

34 2nd Row of Teabag Stain Zentangles Detail 2

I’ve decided to fill this whole sheet with Zentangles, and when it’s complete I shall scan it and use the individual images for cards etc. I am also intending to make an album of all the original art work done from the teabag stains, once I’ve got enough.


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I’ve managed to spend a bit of time in my ARTHaven this week. I had planned to have some stitched teabags ready to show you, but my sewing machine has developed a problem and is currently away being repaired, so I have had to devote my time to other activities.

My desk this week shows my various teabag art activities, from the teabag drying papers, one with Zentangles, my acrylic polymer film with tea (laid on top of my first drying paper and you can see the subtle shade showing through), my little leather art journal with its background pages painted with acrylics in readiness for the addition of the teabags, and my new takeaway boxes with different melted materials in them.


My teabag stained drying paper with the bags arranged in a diamond pattern is now complete, and you can see it on the right. I have not decided yet how I should embellish this – I would like to emphasise the places where the bags overlapped. I love this paper and think it has great potential. I am planning to scan it and print out some copies for experimenting with, so I don’t waste the original if something goes wrong.

I have also been experimenting with Tyvek and similar meltable materials – see my previous post about this. You can see some samples in the middle of the desk. I am planning to make a small pouch or neck purse from teabags, with a Tyvek, beadwork and hand-embroidered embellishment on the flap. Meantime, I am trying to source some cheaper supplies of Tyvek, as the craft sites do seem to charge a lot for a pack of a few sheets. Ideally I would like to find a friendly builder who has offcuts that he is currently throwing away!

Have a great week, everybody – full of inspiration and creativity.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Experiments with Tyvek and Other Materials

Nearly three years ago (I can’t believe how quickly the time flies!) I did some experiments with melting different things, including nappy liners. I never took this any further but stored the pieces for future use, and the experience and information for future reference.

I am planning to use melted materials such as nappy liners and Tyvek in my teabag art projects, and to this end I got out the materials this evening and experimented with them to see if any of the results would be good enough to use. In my previous experiments, I painted the nappy liners first, but this time I have worked with the unpainted materials, and will paint them later should I decide to use any of them.

The materials I am using are Tyvek, Fibertex, Butterfly SoftSpun and nappy liners, and the two methods of melting are with the heat gun and the iron.

I bought the Tyvek and Fibertex at a craft show. I am sure there is a more economical way of buying this stuff, as the quantity in each pack that I bought was pretty small, and the price fairly high for what I ended up with. I have found large rolls online but this is going from the sublime to the ridiculous – I don’t think you could melt that quantity of Tyvek in a lifetime! I got the Butterfly SoftSpun online – apparently no longer available.

Tyvek is a material normally found in the construction industry – a breathable membrane made from fused, non-woven polyethylene fibres, used in the insulation and waterproofing of buildings. It has many other applications too; for instance, strong envelopes are made from it. It is extremely strong and resistant to tearing, and is lightweight.

This is the “paper” type Tyvek. It is not actually paper, but in this form it resembles paper.

01 Medium Tyvek - Paper

It is also available in a “fabric” form, with the impression of a weave in its surface, and a slightly softer handle. I obtained this under the brand name of Fibertex.

02 Fibertex - Fabric Tyvek

I decided to cut a circle from the “paper” tyvek, using a large circle punch. Big mistake. It jammed itself in the punch, and I had a dreadful job prising the punch apart in order to release the Tyvek.

03 Tyvek Will Not Cut with a Punch

I have heard that it cuts extremely well on an electrronic cutting machine, though, and some people make stencils out of it, and when they get too covered with paint stains, they themselves can be incorporated into a piece, and new stencils can be made.

04 Melting Small Tyvek Circle

Using a barbecue stick to hold it in place, I used my heat gun on this small circular fragment of Tyvek. It was not a success.

05 Small Tyvek Circle Melted

A small plasticky pellet was what I was presented with! Through this I discovered that it is better to start with a larger piece. I cut a larger, irregular shaped piece:

06 Irregular-Shaped Piece of Tyvek

which looked like this after being melted with the heat gun. Definitely promising!

07 Irregular-Shaped Tyvek Melted

For this series of tests, I decided not to colour the material but simply to try out different methods of melting the stuff. Painting the pieces afterwards gives one more control, as there is considerable shrinkage during the heating process and unforeseen consequences can result from pre-painted pieces. The paint itself can have an effect on how well the piece will melt, and colours can darken with heat, too.

The Fibertex melted quite well, in a similar way to the Tyvek.

08 Melted Fibertex

Moving on to the nappy liners, these, being so fine, go into holes extremely rapidly with the use of a heat gun.

I wasn’t overly impressed with the Butterfly Spun-Soft. I think I need to do some more research online and see what other people are achieving with it. In this picture it looks like a prawn cracker.

09 Melted Butterfly Spunsoft

A nappy liner laid out flat, and melted with the heat gun.

10 Melted Nappy Liner

The next photo shows the result of the nappy liner being folded into 4. A much more solid, tyvek-looking result!

11 Melted Nappy Liner Folded to 4 Thicknesses

Screwing up a nappy liner prior to melting it resulted in this:

12 Melted Nappy Liner Scrunched Up

All these results look superficially the same, but close-up, you can see the difference.

Moving on to ironing the pieces, each one needs to be sandwiched between sheets of baking parchment. In the first picture, the top example was done with the Tyvek in its paper sandwich placed directly onto my Presspahn heat-proof mat (see the sidebar for info about this mat) and using a fairly high pressure. However, reducing the pressure and putting the ironing onto a softer surface, such as a folded towel, gives much better results.  13 Ironed Tyvek

Ironed Fibertex is interesting, too. The top example shows the result of high pressure ironing on a hard surface, and the remaining two show much more movement in the material, as a result of ironing onto a folded towel.

14 Ironed Fibertex

Ironing the Butterfly Spunsoft was disappointing. It just shrunk the stuff, but didn’t produce any holes.

15 Ironed Butterfly Spunsoft

I need to go back online and see what other people are doing, and if there’s something I’m not doing right, to get the results I’m after.

The nappy liners do seem to do well – in this next photo, you can see several examples of ironed nappy liners. The top one is folded once (I think) and even though it looks quite nice close-up, there isn’t a lot if interest  in it. This was done with high pressure on a hard surface. On the right is a screwed-up nappy liner what has been ironed, fusing the layers together, and I think I can use this – or cut portions of it. The final piece (bottom left) is several layers of nappy liners, ironed with less pressure, and on a soft surface. This is my favourite piece so far.

16 Ironed Nappy Liner

The next job is to try painting some of the more satisfactory pieces, and experimenting with hand-sewing them. Some of them, which have had a lot of heat applied to them, have become quite plasticky and hard.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Teabag Art–Further Progress

Last week I was able to do a bit more with the teabag art. I have started asking the kind ladies at church who provide tea and coffee after the Sunday service if they will keep the teabags for me – I collected about a dozen at the end of the Barn Dance on the Saturday, and a further dozen after  the service the next morning. However, last Sunday when I asked for them, they turned out to be pyramid teabags which aren’t a lot of use for my purpose, although they would probably make some interesting patterns on the drying papers! The tea lady said she would have a word with the lady who buys the supplies and ask if she could get ordinary flat teabags in future! (They probably think their new member is totally weird… I’d better make something with the teabags soon, as evidence that I am at least only partially weird!!)

I am very pleased with the latest drying paper – I decided to arrange the teabags in a diamond pattern this time, and initially there were diamond-shaped gaps between the marks, but I filled these with more drying teabags and am more than happy with the result.

31 Diamond Design Drying Paper

The next photos show the pressing of some of the tea-dyed fabric, and some teabags. I am using my hubby’s little travel iron, but have finally decided that it is useless – it isn’t nearly beefy enough and doesn’t get very hot, so until I can get myself a decent craft iron, I am using my regular domestic iron from now on.

28 Pressing the Tea-Dyed Fabric

29 Pressing the Teabags

I pinned these teabags onto some of the tea-dyed fabric in preparation for stitching them on the machine.

30 Pinning the Teabags to the Fabric

It was at this point, when I opened up the sewing machine, that I realised that there was a problem. The feed dogs were down, and I could not raise them. The lever is loose. Removing the top cover from the machine, I was able to peer down inside and as I turned the flywheel, and then the feed dog control lever, I could see that the small cam was not moving – obviously the spring has broken. This was beyond my ability to repair it, so the machine has gone off to Sewing Machine Hospital and I won’t get it back for about a fortnight… I am hoping they will be able to fix it, and that parts are still available for this now pretty ancient sewing machine – almost as ancient as me! I had it for my 21st birthday and I am now nearly 61 so you can do the maths. It is pre-electronic. It is a Pfaff and is extremely robust, and I have used it intensively at times, and it has served me well, only having to go in for repairs about twice during its lifetime. I haven’t used it for quite a while, and we have moved house during that time, too, and it may have got damaged in transit… who knows? Anyway, all stitching is now off for the time being, so I have to concentrate on other areas.

In addition to the sample page in my small leather art journal, I also have plans for making a small pouch or neck purse (a tea bag!) made from teabags backed onto the tea-dyed fabric, and embellished with machine embroidery using metallic threads. On the flap I am planning to make further embellishments using Tyvek or similar, painted with acrylics and decorated with hand embroidery and possibly some bead work.

To this end, this evening I did some experimenting with Tyvek and related materials, and this is the subject of my next post.

I have also been taking advantage of some days when I haven’t felt up to much health-wise, to continue working on my knitting. (Looking at the date of that link, I see to my horror that it’s two years ago! High time I got this project finished!!!) The front is complete, and this evening, I have almost finished the back. Once complete, I can join the two parts at the shoulders and begin picking up the stitches for the sleeves. So far I am loving how it looks! Photos to come.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Teabag Art with Zentangle

I have now finished the large watercolour paper that I’ve been drying the teabags on, and this is the result.

21 Teabag Drying Paper

I love how some of the impressions have creases on them where the teabag wasn’t touching. Here are some detailed shots of the impressions.

22 Teabag Drying Paper Detail

23 Teabag Drying Paper Detail

It struck me that these shapes could be used as instant Zentangle strings complete with shading, so I took my sepia permanent marker pen and started to add some patterns. As they are very small, I used my clip-on magnifier so that I could see better what I was doing.

24 Teabag Drying Paper with Zentangles

Some detail shots.

25 Zentangle 1

25 Zentangle 2

26 Zentangle 3

27 Zentangle 4

If you look at the detailed shot of the original teabag drying sheet you will see that I have drawn around the creases and marks, and the outline of each shape. I have also left some “white” space in each one to emphasise the small amount of pattern that I have added.

I think there is definitely some potential here! I would like to try drawing some Zentangles directly onto some actual teabags, but they would need to be sized first with acrylic gel medium or clear gesso… Lots to think about.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014


To join the world’s best and biggest nosey fest, click on the WOYWW link in my sidebar which will take you to our hostess Julia’s blog, where all will be explained.

Not a lot on my workdesk this week as I spent most of last week languishing with a horrible throat infection which is now a lot better. I am continuing with my teabag art, and in the meantime had to make a birthday card for my sister. You can see more about this on the post prior to this one.


I recently acquired some lovely Stampin’ Up equipment, including the Mosaic Madness set which includes a collection of stamps, a punch and an embossing folder, all of which fit together perfectly. I am not really into card making but sometimes do have to make them, and my new Stampin’ Up stuff will help me create cards relatively quickly when I need to.

To the right of the card you can see a background I created with the embossing folder and some distress ink – this did not work for the project in question, and it’s now found its way into my Backgrounds folder for use in the future. You can also see my teabags, some gel medium and a fan brush, and a large sheet of watercolour paper with a regular pattern made from drying teabags.

Not sure how much time I shall have for my ARTHaven this week because the monthly accounts need doing, so I shall have to closet myself in the office! Horrible.

Beatrice, our kitty in the dress, is still in the dress – her wound is healing very slowly but she’s on the mend. She’s been on antibiotics this week for her urinary tract infection, and my hubby will be taking her back to the vet this week to see how she’s doing. She’s been climbing the apple tree and sitting on the summerhouse roof – it looks so funny seeing her climbing trees in her little dress – like a proper tomboy! We are trying to stop her doing it though, because we don’t want her to get caught up in the branches.

Have a good creative week, everybody, and I’ll try to visit a few more of you this week.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Stampin’ Up Mosaic Madness Card 1

I recently acquired some beautiful Stampin’ Up equipment which will encourage me to make more cards – not something I really enjoy doing but needs must! Included in this new stash was the Mosaic Madness set which includes some stamps, a punch and an embossing folder. All these things work together and are interchangeable, and the potential for variation is endless – looking online I have discovered that you can create regular patterns like Moroccan tiles, or go completely random – you can even go 3-D with them! The shapes are beautiful and I am looking forward to exploring the possibilities.

This week is my sister’s birthday and after being poorly all last week with a throat infection and not able to do anything much, the deadline was suddenly upon me and I had to make a card quickly.

Here are the materials and equipment I used to create the card.

Materials for Mosaic Madness Birthday Card 1

I decided to use some things already in my possession. The background paper came from a small A-6 pad of decorative papers from Sizzix which I have had for more years than I can remember, with only a few sheets having been used.

Sizzix Background Papers

(You can see how old it is from the picture of the antiquated embossing machine on the bottom left of the picture!!) I found a nice mottled background paper:

Mosaic Madness Birthday Card 1 Background Paper

I used the Mosaic Madness embossing folder to create a lovely background. I wanted to ink the raised pattern, and gently rubbed my Broken China distress ink pad over it, but made a terrible mess with lines from the edge of the pad etc.! I was about to chuck it out, but thought I might be able to rescue it, if not for this project, then for another, so I swiped it again with the Fired Brick distress ink pad and came up with this:

Mosaic Madness Rejected Background 1

which has actually turned out really nice! It’s gone in the Backgrounds folder for the time being.

Some time ago I made some little ink blending pads, using the wooden blocks from some old rubber stamps I’d unmounted, and glued on some cut-n-dry foam. You can see this just below the paper pad in the top photo. I used this very, very gently to ink the raised embossing on a fresh background sheet, using Broken China distress ink, and was pleased with the results.

Using a selection of the Mosaic Madness stamps, I used a mixture of sepia archival ink, Broken China and Fired Brick distress inks – to achieve a more subtle shade of the latter, I stamped off most of the ink onto scrap paper before re-stamping, and I then cut out the shapes using the Mosaic Madness punch. (I forgot to put the punch in the first photo…) I love how all these things work together!

I used one of the small stamps to print a small shape in the centre of some of the shapes on the embossed background, and then added more small shape stamping onto some of the larger shapes, and then glued these shapes using Pinflair glue gel to provide some dimension.

As you can see from the rejected background sheet, the paper was just too large to be completely embossed by the embossing folder in the Cuttlebug. I trimmed off the excess, and then reduced the sheet some more, and made a border from the trimmed off sections, to go down the right hand side of the card. This is the finished result.

Mosaic Madness Birthday Card 1

The sentiment stamp was also from Stampin’ Up – this time from the Perfectly Penned set – quite beautiful, and with several different ones which are all going to be useful!

I kept this card relatively simple, and avoided doing my usual inked background sheet – I didn’t even distress the edges. It was hard to restrain myself but this card was a radical departure from my usual style, as I am trying to discipline myself to be able to create a card in a single sitting, so that I can restock my card stash, and then devote the time for the things I prefer to do. The Stampin’ Up stuff that I have now got will certainly enable me to do this, as it enables one to be incredibly versatile. Limiting the colour palette to two colours is helpful, too.

Here is the inside, which you can see echoes the same theme:

Mosaic Madness Birthday Card 1 Inside

This time the sentiment was stamped using the Fired Brick distress ink.

Finally, a couple of detail shots of the card:

Mosaic Madness Birthday Card 1 Detail

Mosaic Madness Birthday Card 1 Detail 2

You can see that the final touch was to add a small bead of Stickles glitter glue in the colour Fruit Punch, to add a subtle touch of bling.

(I made a video of the process, but it is not yet edited, and I am experiencing some problems with my software at the moment. If I can resolve this problem, I will edit this post with the video in due course,)

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