Tyvek can look really dull and boring – no colour or texture, but this week’s product is worth having a play with. Tyvek is a synthetic sheet, water resistant, it can also be recycled. Tyvek comes in three weights: 54gsm, 75gsm and 105gsm. I get the sheets cut into A4 size pieces, but it can come in larger pieces or even on a roll if you need that much.
Tyvek can be found in a lot of different forms. It is most commonly found in the US as free USPS envelopes, but we don’t have that luxury here in Australia. It is a man made paper type of medium and is now most commonly used for archival purposes. Water proof, no acid, smooth surfaced, it is a great storage paper when slipped between items being stored. The other place you find it is in hardware stores in the form of protective clothing (a great way to start a wearable art piece by the way). In earlier times, you would readily find tyvek used as wall insulation. You do not want to use industrial tyvek in your craft as it will probably have a lot of other, nasty additives which you particularly do not want to heat and therefore release into the air.
Using it is supper cool. Tyvek bubbles and warps with heat. It also bonds to itself and other materials when heated. Yet it remains soft and pliable and can be hand or machine stitched or embellished.
To use, place the Tyvek between two sheets of baking paper or an appliqué mat. Using an iron on the cotton setting gently iron until the Tyvek starts to change shape. You can keep going until it bubbles and separates, or use it with limited warping. Painting the Tyvek on one or both sides not only creates interest, but helps with the warping process. You can use any paints. They will behave slightly differently, but it is fun to experiment. I particularly like the effect of Lumiere paint on melted Tyvek. When you put a surface of paint onto the tyvek, it acts as a bit of a resist, slowing down the heat activated reaction. This will often give you more time and, dare I say it, more control.
Both sides of the Tyvek will look different after being heated. You may like to heat some of the sheet on one side and flip it over to heat other areas. That will create an interesting combination of hills and valleys. I have also had a lot of success using a heat gun on Tyvek.
Some ideas for its use include:
- Cut out shapes and heat or use scissors to create slashes or nicks in the paper before heating.
- Paint and then lightly apply Shiva stiks or other highlights.
- Stamp on the surface.
- Hand or machine stitch patterns or designs on the Tyvek and then heat. The stitching will slow the warping in some areas and create interesting designs.
- Sprinkle or stamp embossing powder onto the surface – the heat will warp the Tyvek and activate the embossing powder.
- Lay Hot Fix Angelina on one side of painted Tyvek. Heat. The Angelina will melt into the Tyvek but will also limit the warping where the Angelina is. Try this with non hot fix too.
- Cut strips of painted Tyvek, roll onto a skewer and heat with an iron or heat gun. The rolls will bond to become chunky beads.
- Cut Tyvek shapes and apply to a background of Tyvek. Heat to bond.
As always, play experiment and wonder ‘what if…’ and you will get some great results.
Tyvek Project – A Swirl of Pearls
Silk velvet (about a 10inch square)
Backing material and wadding
Hot Fix Angelina Fibre
Acrylic Paints – I used Lumiere
Small number of Pearl beads
Appliqué Mat or Baking paper
Thread, Sewing Machine
Foam Brush for paint
Sandwich the backing fabric, wadding and velvet, pin to hold together and stitch around the sides to baste.
- Cut small pieces of Tyvek. Start with pieces about 10 by 15 cms.
- Paint both sides of the Tyvek with the acrylic paint and leave to dry.
- Lay a thin wispy layer of the Hot Fix Angelina on to one half of the appliqué mat. Cover with the remaining mat and iron to bond the Angelina together making a cob web effect. Set aside.
- When the paint on the Tyvek is dry, place between folded appliqué mat.
- Scatter some Angelina fibre over one side of the Tyvek and iron with a warm to hot iron. Hover the iron over certain areas to cause puckering and bubbling. Flip the Tyvek and do both sides until you are happy with the effect.
- Lay the Angelina web on to the velvet ‘sandwich’ and stitch to hold in place.
- Pin the Tyvek in place and stitch in place.
- Scatter pearl beads and hand stitch into place.
- Quilt and edge to create interest and texture.