Monday, 8 June 2009


Yes, it's true. It's my new favourite thing. Purely in the interest of diversifying the materials and styles of my brooches you understand.

I've been investigating other fabric flower techniques and taking full advantage of the opportunity afforded by my DH & DD trotting off to the swimming pool on Sunday morning I managed to get round to having a a private play with some organza and a candle (ooo Mrs!).

Here's my lovely pile of shrinkly meltage.

(what a rubbish photo this is)

For an intelligent tool using animal, it took me a surprisingly long time to work out I would burn my fingers less frequently if I held the little bits of flimsy of fabric with a pair of tweezers (I have the same problem when using a hot glue gun - wow, that stuff is really really hot!)

The technique is simplicity itself - ensure you choose fabrics with some synthetic content as the idea is to melt the fibres causing it to shrink and distort and become stiff and hard
in places (as previously mentioned, OOO Mrs!). You end up with effects not unlike those you get from Tyvek only its much more delicate. Cut the fabric into various sized circles (or other shapes if you want experiment), then light your candle and melt away!
Different fabrics distort at different rates, so you need to go steady to start with and find each fabrics optimum distance - hold it above the candle and bring it down into the heat - (the idea is to use the heat not the flame itself), though a couple of the bits I used were prone to going up like fireworks at the drop of a hat, hence the tweezers/tongs/asbestos suit & bucket of water being useful tools to have about your person when doing this (if you happen to know a rufty tufty fireman, it may be a good idea to invite him round before you start). Aim to do the edges of the fabric first - this will give a nice edge and stop any fraying, then make a couple of passes to the centre of the cirlcle to give the suggestion of flower petals.

Once you have a bag full of shrinkly stuff, its up to you what you do with it. You can use it to embellish other pieces, add to collages to give 3d-ness to your work, combine several pieces to make an attractive brooch or hair ornament - The first picture below shows a couple of different colours of organza coupled with some synthetic satin (the kind that's shiny on one side and matt on the back), some stretch crushed velvet and a needlefelted ball studded with some seed beads - a brooch back stitched to the back, hot glue to stick the layers together and voila, my first fabric only brooch. Yes I know they've been done before by many different people in many different ways, but this was MY first one, so bum to you. Next time I shall experiment with my hot air gun, though I suspect the ferocity and broad spectrum of the air current will be less successful than the more focussed heat of a small candle flame.

So then I experimented a little using the shrinklies as an extra layer in my crochet brooches and it worked very nicely adding an intensity of colour rather than an extra colour hit - I like the slightly foamy effect you get.

I have another idea for some earrings I'd like to try - making a stack of shrinklies about the size of a 5 pence piece, then combining with beads on a headpin, but making shrinklies that small means I need to concentrate really hard and have that rufty tufty fireman to hand (mainly to rub aloe vera onto my poor burnt fingers or any other body part that may get injured in the pursuit of art - NB it is extremely inadvisable to do this naked - however, if you can persuade the fireman to get his kit off, then GO FOR IT)