Thursday, April 30, 2015

Playing with Tyvek

The monthly art group meeting was coming up. I'd been expending paint brushes, etc. on a piece of Tyvek instead of my usual scrap of fabric. I'd oohed and aahed over a brief Tyvek bead tutorial over on ...And Then We Set It On Fire blog (it also links to a youtube video), enticing enough to want to try it myself. It required a heat gun which I do not have, but Robin from the art group does (with invite to use it any time I want). It was just the right confluence of events during a lull in the studio - I've been wanting to experiment with making beads for a long time. So I prepped some beads to take to the meeting. I started by adding more paint to my Tyvek. The side shown above just had a bit of blue and black acrylic paint, so following the tutorial's lead, I completely covered it with blue Versatex paint which has a bit of metallic in it.

The flip side was well covered with black acrylic paint with a weak layer of yellow. My instinct was to paint over it with silver as I thought that would compliment the blue side better but with that coat of yellow...well, I hedged and used gold metallic Versatex instead. Made for a nice sheen.

Neither the video tutorial nor the blog one gave specifics and you know how I hate that. Just cut these long triangular strips (how wide???) and cut slits along the sides (how far apart? How far into the Tyvek?) Then just roll it up and secure the end with a pin. It was too difficult in the video to see for sure how she was doing it, but she did say to cut the slits on an angle and wrap around a bamboo stick. So that's what I did on half of mine which would be rolled with the black side out.

The blog tutorial however, cut the slits straight in and rolled on a knitting needle. Well, I was having none of the needle bit but thought it worthwhile to do the second set with the straight cuts, just to see if it made a difference. Even though the blog shows great close-ups, I still couldn't tell for sure how wide the strip was or how the slits were spaced. Convincing myself it doesn't matter, it doesn't matter, this is a trial. For your information, though, I decided I didn't want my beads huge so the triangle starts at about 1-1/2 inches wide. The first few I cut to a point, the rest I decided to blunt at the end.

Off I went to my meeting, where we all watched the magic as the heat gun was applied. Well, sort of magic. The loose strips made by slitting were slow to react and then when they did, I wasn't getting the same kind of lovely curling shown over on the blog tutorial. Frankly, I was very disappointed.

The feeling was not unlike when I processed my snow dyes that came out nothing like the examples I'd seen on line. When your expectations are in one place, even acceptable but different results can disappoint.

Of course, my analytical mind kicked in to troubleshoot. Perhaps by choosing a smaller bead size, those strips weren't long enough to curl properly. Or perhaps the slits themselves should have been deeper and farther apart.  This one just looks like a deformed pine cone to me.

Perhaps the problem is the colors I chose for front and back. Maybe I would have been more pleased with the silver rather than gold paint over the black. Even so, why is so little of the blue showing on these that were rolled with the black to the outside? Mysteries that only the great Tyvek gods can answer, no doubt.

I did have one pleasing result that I got by doing a loose twist of a scrap piece over a bamboo stick. It created a coil that I then pressed between an applique Teflon sheet. That place that bubbled up blue looks like a piece of turquoise. I have plans for this. But wouldn't you know it, when I tried to demo this for my group, a second piece did nothing but melt together - no bubbling, no holes. Again - the Tyvek gods were laughing at me!

If you've looked at the tutorials, you will know why my efforts disappoint. Here's an additional blog entry showing more beautiful beads so unlike mine. Oh yeah, there's one more step I can take that might redeem these. Part II coming up!


Wil said...

Don't worry Sheila, there are different types of tyvek and each type responds differently to the applied heat. Any lenght of beads will work, same goes for the distance between the cuts. Don't give up, try the other types and other types of paint. Tyvek comes in insolation material, envelops, protective clothing. Play with all of them and pick your preference.

The Idaho Beauty said...

Thanks Wil. I did not know that. I've only worked with Tyvek envelops recycled from my mail. Meg from my art group has offered tyvek left over from construction of their house. I didn't think it would be any different but now I'll have to take her up on her offer & try it out for comparison.

Michele Matucheski said...

They came out very organic looking--I was thinking pine cone, too, so I had to smile when you wrote that. I read a story once about forest fires, and that certain pine cones only open and burst forth seeds in a forest fire -- ready to re-seed the razed land. Maybe you'll have an epiphany about how to use these in future. The Tyvek comes out looking kind of organic, but it still feels hard and plastic-y. Not one of my favorite mediums, still ... beads ... makes we want to play!

Michele Matucheski said...

I looked at the tutorial -- I see why you're disappointed. Theirs look like Chihuly glass pieces or something from mardi gras. It also looked like they might have been much bigger beads. The black metallic paint kind of comes out looking charred instead of rich. Still that has it's own beauty and wabi sabi charm, too.