Your comments and emails about my last post were so sensitive and loving...truly, our corner of the bloggosphere is filled with sweet souls. Thanks, everyone.....
This week-end I changed focus to play with the French Flower making tools that I borrowed from Susan Elliot. These are tools that allow you to permanently shape fabric that has been stiffened and cut out into petal shapes. Then you assemble them into 3 D flowers.
You heat the tools over an open flame and then....
Why not just come have a look?
Here are my gathered tools and supplies. Top left shows the tools...they are solid brass balls and other shapes with wooden handles. Below them is my "sand pillow", which is used as my tooling surface. My little denatured alcohol (also known as methylated spirits) burner is next to the pillow on the plate. I found it on eBay.
The fabrics to the right were all soaked in a solution of one part PVA archival quality glue to four parts water and then hung up to dry. This makes the fabric slightly stiff, and prevents the cut edges of the petals from fraying. It also allows the petals and leaves to hold their shapes, once tooled.
My pile of stamens, glue, scissors, and thread complete my set up.
The first thing I did was play with the stamens a little bit.
I wanted to see if I could use Tsukineko inks to color over the red ends...I wanted orange. It worked pretty well.
Then I took some little premade buds and sewed a ring of beads at their bases. Kind of picky work, but I wanted to see how it would look. Maybe ok...
The next thing I did was cut out my shapes. I didn't really plan my flowers ahead, and didn't use templates. I just wanted to see how the different kinds of fabrics behaved. I've got dupioni silk, silk habotai, silk chiffon, silk charmeuse, cotton batik, and commerically printed quilters' cotton. There is some stiffened nylon lace in there, some upholstery fabric, some silk organdy...I just grabbed a bunch of stuff.
Here you can see me shaping an organdy petal in the sand pillow. A smaller-balled tool is heating up in the flame.
Whoops! Duh, the tool was too hot for the nylon lace.
You knew that was going to happen, didn't you? After this little mishap I let the tool cool off before I used it on the lace and it worked fine.
This special tool is used to put the center vein into the leaf shape.
My shapes are all tooled and ready to be assembled into flowers.
I tried this two ways, by sewing the shapes onto fabric, and by creating "free standing" flowers on wire.
Obviously, sewing them onto fabric was what came naturally to me. The chiffon flower is at the top, with a bead and some French knots in the center.
The purple flower below is sort of camellia shaped, and has some little silk ribbon roses in its center to act as stamens.
The peony flower has one of the ready made stamens poked through to the back and then sewn down.
That background fabric is some of the lovely handpainted cotton that Vicki Welsh sent to me.
Not too bad for a first try!
The free standing flowers were more difficult, and involved glueing the petals at their base to the wire at the base of the stamen. I was a klutz at this...
They are a little hard to photograph, too!
My husband said the top flower looks "druggy".
I like it, though. I used an abstract cotton print for the petals. And I love how the cotton behaves.
The crocus-like flowers are made from the dupioni, which also takes the tooling really well.
Below them is a flower I actually made from some pre-fab petals I had on hand from the crafts store...they sell them in the wedding section. They are mixed in with some organdy petals, with French knots in the center.
Those were Saturday's flowers. Today I just made one, my favorite of all flowers, the peony...
This time I laid out my flower as I cut out the shapes. Makes sense.
I used a peony print cotton. Why not? There is also pink lace and silk inner "feather" petals.
For the center I decided some needlepunch would be nice. I am using 6 strand rayon floss, and needed a heavy fabric, as the punch needle was big and made large holes in the fabric. This fabric scrap worked great.
Here are my petals and leaves all tooled and ready to go.
And here is my peony!
The silk background square is about 6" X 7".
Here is what I have learned so far:
--the lighter weight the fabric, the more glue is required in the ration of glue/water when preparing the fabric. The lightweight silks didn't hold their shape as well as the heavier fabric.
--it's great to mix different fabrics in the same flower for interest. That's why the lace petals were in there. You can mix organdy or chiffon with charmeuse for the same kind of effect.
--Tools need to be heated to different temperatures depending on what fabric you are using. The charmeuse burned, for some reason, when the tool was really hot, but the cotton and dupioni didn't.
--Even after the flower is created, you can do some creative refining with your scissors to get a petal's shape just right....or to cut off any wispy frayed threads (but there were hardly any).
The tools can be purchased here...but they are pretty expensive.
My burner is an old Swedish Triangia stove I got here. Poke around online if there are none left at the link. It uses denatured alcohol, found in the paint section of the hardware store.
This is early days for me...I know I'll be doing a lot more experimenting.
Petal shapes could be embroidered before they are tooled, for example....and...and...and....