I started heating plastic bags with the iron, this made them shrink and condense making them thicker and easier for them to be stitched together. At first I couldn’t get the plastics to melt together, probably because I was using baking paper on top of the plastic so not to burn the iron. I changed the baking paper to a Piece of cloth this worked and I started seeing the benefits of ironing plastics.
I started by ironing bubble wrap with lavender inside. The results where positive in the sense that this action makes the plastics melt and merge together fixing the lavender without needing to stitch or glue it. Aesthetically at this point this sample doesn’t rock my world as it is very predictable and almost child like.
I then carried on experimenting with my copper netting, a feather and some sequins. I was weary of not pressing on the iron too much and there for I found myself playing it safe and not taking any risks. At this point I learnt that I could use the copper wire and it didn’t get terribly hot to the point of causing damage. I enjoy seeing the plastic melt into the copper mesh and creating texture. Equally I enjoyed seeing some of the bubbles in the bubble wrap burst creating an interesting surface texture.
I carried on experimenting with the same medium just adding a rose. At this point I am just seeing what I can put in between the plastic and what works. I also added some lace – love me a piece of lace!
I realised that the combination of placing the copper mesh on top of the textured lace, sandwiched in between the bubble wrap, combined with the result of the bubbles melting with the heat of the iron, resulted in a interesting texture. This is the point I start getting excited.
In my next sample I just grabbed anything near me. This is when I started to loosen up and understand how my chosen materials work under heat pressure. I took a piece of cotton fabric that I had previously used to protect my iron from melting plastics.
This piece of fabric is special in it’s own right as it is a result of a happy accident. When using it for protecting my iron the pattern on the plastic bag that I was applying the heat to, had transferred to my fabric creating a faded pretty pattern.
I used the fabric as the base of my sample and started to cut a pink scourer (for washing up) as I enjoyed the zig zag patterns this afforded me. The zig zags also acted as a accent colour, adding interest to the faint pattern. I also added some organza in random areas as this gave a soft sheer feel/look to certain areas.
It is only once you look at the sample closer that you notice the feeling of a rainbow, it is almost like I caught the rainbow and sandwiched it in between plastic. There is a mixture of textures, shinny and slippery, some areas are more embossed and raised than others. I almost expect to see a unicorn in the distance… it is that magical!
I started feeling more confident with this method so I got a Tesco’s bag and some more organza and proceded to splatter yellow and orange ink and then a layer of bubble wrap. The heat resulted in the ink spreading. I left some of the bubbles more embossed than others.
I was very pleased with this sample until wait for it!!! My daughter took the time to WhatsApp me and tell me it looked like a used sanitary towel. Now with that image planted in my head and yours… I don’t know if I like it as much. Or maybe it’s the case that I am on trend without knowing it; using my textiles to talk about woman’s cycles 🙌🏻.
Ps: if your pad looks like this please run to the doctors 😂
With the sample above I melted different plastics and fabrics together. Layering them as I was going along; allowing the piece to inform me of what I wanted to add or take away. Plastic bags, organza, sequins, scourer, gold shinny fabrics, bubble wrap, you name it is in there.
With this sample I enjoy the differences in sheer and opaque. I really like the colour pallet too. The contrast in between the gold and strong pink is lovely. I equally really appreciate the frayed threads of the gold fabric against the geometric pattern of the plastic wrapper.
Above: more experimentation with bags, ink, sequins and gold shinny frayed strips of fabric. I worked out that to hold a piece a fabric in place I need to place a bigger piece of plastic on top so that this acts as a glue.
Above: the only thing I like about this sample is how the ink spreads and creates a pattern of circles where the bubbles in the bubble wrap has burst.
Above: I sandwiched some petals and lavender in between plastic, a very simple but effective method.
Above: I experimented with a smaller scale, I simply used a bag of sequins and the clearest bag I could find and in between I melted some more bits of scourer and a few scattered sequins. I enjoy the simplicity of this sample. The focus is on the shapes and accent of colours. I am really enjoying the colour pallet of strong pinks, golds and yellows.
Above; a Sainsbury’s bag provides me with a vibrant orange hue. I used scraps of bags with interesting geometric patterns combined with ink and grey organza. All heated and fused together to create a thicker and flexible textile.
Using the heat gun
This was a new method for me. To start with I was very apprehensive. I was worried that I was going to set things on fire. I made sure I covered my iron board with baking paper to protect any flammable fabrics. I started by using what was near me. Blue scraps of organza and copper wire mesh. I fused them together to see what results I could get. I like how the organza shrivels and condenses wrapping the metal mesh almost like a parcel. The organza melts into the metal mesh creating shear areas.
I am starting to get familiar with the heat gun; using the different temperatures settings to fuse more or less depending on what effect I want. I am also starting to understand what the different nozzles are for. There is one nozzle that helps me if I want to spread the heat evenly on my surface. There is another one that allows me to heat jut one designated area. Who new! I also have a welding nozzle, I will love to experiment with that one at a later stage.
I started with the basics, trying to understand what effects I can achieve with a heat gun and what heat does to different fabrics depending in what they are made off. I started with black felt and the reducción nozzle. The effect is sharp, jagged, serrated holes.
Below: I then tried placing two contrasted coloured felt on top of one another, the longer and hotter I place the gun the bigger the serrated hole. If I quickly pass the heat gun at a distance I get a frayed interesting effect.
I then practiced with my gold syncretic shinny cloth and the felt on top, using a high heat setting to see the heat melting the felt on top of my gold material. I am enjoying the results. Although it’s all new I am starting to have an element of control in what results I want and what I would like the fabric to do.
I enjoy the result, as the felt has stoped being a rectangular block of fabric and instead it has became an etch on the gold fabric, almost like a carving in a contrasting colour. Interesting!
I am also starting to realise that this technique works better with synthetic fabrics. I tried with denims and cottons and they do not shrink or change at all.
Above: Back to my lace netting and black felt, the lace melts beautifully and becomes stiff adding an interesting and effective impression on the felt. If I control the heat I can get to melt the lace to my liking. The more heat applied, means that I can make areas disappear forming shapes. The less heat applied and I can distress the lace giving it a frayed look. This sample works well because the black felt acts as a good base to showcase the different effects in my lace netting.
A cream polyester fabric serves me well to be able to see the effects of the heat and how the fabric changes. The polyester shrivels creating a gathered effect surface pattern.
Above: I played around and created a collage of my samples just to see the different effects and textures.
My gold fabric has become almost like a gold leaf. I love it! When applying heat it just becomes bubbly and shrivels up in random areas creating a master piece with little effort. I couldn’t resist inverting the colours on photoshop to see the effects, I think it’s beautiful! You can see clearly the texture the heat has created.
Above: Blue organza on my much loved gold fabric. I enjoy the transparency of the organza in contrast with the gold shimmery fabric. The heat has created mountains and valleys in the organza achieving abstract forms.
I had a small piece of acrylic netting which I experimented with. The heat created holes. I enjoy the different scale of ruptures and bubbles that the heat has created in conjunction with what the fabric already provided me with.
Below: These are some of my favourites, the organza and gold are just like poetry to me, they are both almost dancing together, intertwined moulding to one another. The organza melts into the gold filling the cavity’s and gaps creating very beautiful forms and air bubbles.
below: I thought I would experiment using my gold fabric on one of my samples from a previous exercise folding and crumpling. I used the gold fabric as if it were real gold leaf sheets and applied the heat for it to molde and shrink into my folded sample. I enjoy the results! I like the messy disheveled effect.
Above: this sample is one of my favourites. I really let myself go on this one. And applied all of my learnings on practicing with a heat gun. I had previously experimented with several paints, discovering which paints burn better and which ones don’t change at all when applying heat. I learnt that ink spreads with heat and acrylics don’t change at all, if anything they became more lumpy and shrink ever so slightly.
So with all of this in mind I took a piece of acrylic fabric and splattered ink and acrylic paints. I then put some of my lace netting fabric on top and started applying some heat controlling the heat settings and distance of the gun to achieve the desired look. I wanted the paint to expand but also leaving some blobs of paint to create different texture. The lace has been carefully manipulated so that in areas it is distressed and in others it retains the original beautiful shapes and motives. I like the fact that there is strands of fibres left joining and keeping together what has become a delicate lace. The lace provides a window in which the viewer can get the feeling of colour. In a large scale this piece would look like an interesting art installation.
Above: Using a piece from surface distortion – a piece of cardboard that I had slashed and cut – I melted two wide strips of gold fabric. Fusing them together with the cardboard. I enjoy seeing how the fabric melts into the groves of the card. I like the movement in this sample. It almost depicts the feeling of wind.
More variations of my collection of materials. This time using the card, lace and gold fabric. These materials have become my favourite so far.
Above and below: I enjoyed the idea of making my own piece of fragile lace. I used all my favourite materials collected in this exercise and began to heat and fuse them together, constructing a delicate and fragile piece of textiles. I then splattered some acrylics to add some accent colours almost like a Miró painting (well…in my head it is).
I like the spontaneity of this piece. I call it “method in the madness”.
And finally the “piece de resistance”. I think this piece represents all my learnings in heating and fusing. In this piece I am demonstrating how I can use both my materials and heat to create an interesting piece of textiles.
This sample is a fusion of all my discoveries so far. The metal mesh serves as a solid bendable structure, the red felt when melting becomes an etch that not only adds a tactile interest but also helps glue together other materials like the gold fabric. The lace netting provides a delicate contrast to the industrial look of the copper mesh. I dyed the lace netting with yellow ink creating balance to the overall sample. This piece for me captures the feeling of autumn.
Loved, loved, loved this section of mixed media.