Wall hangings, yard art, sun-catchers and coffee table art can all be made using an inexpensive substitue for silk - fine-mesh polyester! It's more transparent, less expensive, and "stretchier" than silk, and your finished pieces can even be heat-set for outdoor display.
The production of decorated silk fabrics began thousands of years ago in China. Over the centuries, its popularity spread around the globe and many cultures created their own processes for weaving and dying this luxurious fabric. During World War II, synthetic fibers began to be developed because silk was needed for parachutes and other necessities.
- Cut the polyester fabric into 9" × 12" pieces. One yard of the 42" wide fabric will make 12 pieces. Cut the wire into pieces measuring 5-ft to 6-ft.
- Cut the freezer paper into pieces measuring approximately 9" × 12". Secure the pieces to scrap cardboard with tape or staples.
- Sketch a simple contour line drawing on a 9" × 12" paper. Keep the perimeter of the design at least 1/4" from the paper's edge to make sure the fabric will fit.
- Bend the wire to follow the contours of the sketch and twist the ends together to close. The wire cuts easily with scissors and it can be bent into tight curves with pliers. Press the shape down on a tabletop to flatten it, then place it on a piece of cardboard. Note: if creating a piece that will hang, make a loop in the top of the shape.
- Use the remaining wire to form details and inner contour lines inside the shape. Arrange these on the freezer paper. For best results, lightly sand the top of wire with a fine-grit sandpaper to allow better adhesion. Brush an even coat of permanent fabric glue over the wire, making sure the top is completely covered.
- Place the polyester fabric over the wire. Lightly tap the fabric into the glue all along the wire to assure good contact. Start in the center and work outward to allow the fabric to stretch.
- -If the wire won't lie flat or the twisted areas won't allow contact with the fabric, press push pins into the cardboard on the outside of the shape to hold the fabric down.
- -If the glue rubs off while the fabric is being placed, brush more glue on the wire from the top side. The glue will penetrate the fabric to the wire beneath.
- Allow the glue to dry for a couple of hours before attempting to pick up the piece. The glue will appear white when wet, but it will dry glossy and transparent.
- When the glue has dried, paint the fabric with transparent acrylic color. Setacolor may be thinned with water to make it flow like a watercolor wash. Opaque Setacolor can be used for resist techniques. The paint may be applied from either side. Allow the paint to dry and apply a second coat if desired.
- Trim the edges with sharp scissors, either flush with the wire or with some fabric extending beyond. If unable to reach into the curved areas with scissors, bend the wire to access or make small snips up to the wire, apply more glue and wrap the fabric.
- Heat-setting is not necessary for indoor use, but if displaying outdoors, set the color permanently by placing the piece in a preheated 300°F oven for three minutes. Do not touch the wire until it has cooled fully. DO NOT OVERHEAT. Note: for best results, display the artwork where it will be protected from the wind. Do not allow it to freeze.
- Pebeo Fabric Glue provides the safest, fastest and best adhesion. If it is unavailable, Weldbond Adhesive may be substituted. Make sure the wire is sanded before applying or the Weldbond will not fully adhere. Note: Do not heat-set Weldbond.
- Shapes can be larger or smaller - adjust to fit your budget and your skill level.
- To make a painted banner:
- -Assemble Blick Stretcher Bars(07211-) and cut the polyester fabric 1/2" larger than the size of the stretcher bars on all sides.
- -Stretch the fabric over the frame and secure it with tacks or staples. Begin in the center of one side and tack it down, then move to the opposite side and tack it down. Continue stretching until you reach the corners.
- -Paint with transparent Setacolor. When dry, remove the fabric from the stretcher bars, trim the unpainted fabric that was on the stretcher bars, and heat-set it with an iron set on the "nylon" or "polyester" setting.
- -Hang the banner on a dowel or a decorative rod.