Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Bodacious surfaces to bead!

Have you ever dreamt about beading on alternative types of surfaces? Sure, it’s easy enough to purchase bead backing, but why leave it at that? This post will be an exploration of sorts, but then again, what else would you expect?
In my early Fibre Art Days, beads often added the sparkle needed, to ‘tart’ up a quilted piece. I certainly didn’t use beads on every piece, but here are some shots of a few of my favourites!
I’ve beaded on cotton, silk, wool, velvet, paper, and even on fabric paper! The “silk” category alone, is chock full of sumptuous possibilities! Silk velvet is a dream to stitch, but then again, you can’t beat the glowing colours of Dupioni silk! For some silks (like Dupioni), you will need to back them with a light, fusible interfacing, as it cuts down on the fraying. Raw silk can simply be used as is, and Sari silk is simply to die for! There’s even the fabulous, hand-dyed and textured beauty of Shibori silk (I confess that I was gifted a piece, but haven’t found occasion to use it yet!). You could stretch your silk on a hoop before beading (not the Shibori though), but then again you may just need to add some type of stiffer backing. I’ve used both methods, but as I really don’t like the confines of a hoop, the second is often my choice. All you need to do is baste your silk, onto one or two layers of cotton fabric, and then bead away! It feels nicer in your hands, and it just works! Sorry, I looked for photos of a couple of my silk pieces, but they seem to be mysteriously missing. Instead, how about a photo of a bowl I made out of bathing suit scraps, from the garment district? Is that bodacious enough?
Wool is a luxurious fabric to stitch! Beads seem to sink right in, and they give an interesting dimpled effect on the surface! I’ve beaded on wet felted pieces, free motion machine embroidered pieces (using wool roving and a water-soluble stabilizer), and even on old thrift store sweaters (after felting them in the washing machine)! Right now, my plan is to hand embroider, and then bead on a needle-felted piece, originally intended to be a book cover. Who knows if it will ever make it that far, but it’s certainly fun to dream about the end result? The stitching is now in progress, but so far, not one bead has been added!
Have you ever heard about fabric paper? It’s a messy process (protect your surface with either a green or black garbage bag), but you lay down a thin piece of cotton (think cheap muslin), saturate it with watered down white glue (the consistency of milk), add torn paper pieces (tissue paper, thin book pages, wrapping paper, etc.), then more of the glue mixture, and let dry. The resulting fabric is very strong, flexible, has a slightly shiny surface, and can be beaded, as well as hand and machine stitched (be careful though, as holes are left, if you need to rip something out). It’s perfect for ‘artsy’ postcards, book covers, bookmarks, and even purses (so I’ve been told). Why not use it for jewellery (see my charm bracelet-I used both fabric paper, and collaged fabric scraps)? Another idea would be to laminate used fabric softener sheets the same way! I’ve used them sparingly in the past, because even the leftover scent, makes me itch and sneeze! Achoo!! But if you’re not allergic, why not recycle?
Explore the tactile beauty of these non-traditional beading surfaces! Yes, I know that people have been beading on some of them for centuries, but that doesn’t make them any less bold in our current times! Break away from the popular trends, and experiment with sumptuous and bodacious surfaces. You’ll be glad that you did!!

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