Bluebird of Happiness - Coat - Part XX
The flowers found in the borders of the coat are made by cutting synthetic fabrics with a wood burning tool. Let's first talk about why synthetics are the fabric of choice and the wood burning tool is the tool of choice.
Synthetic fabrics are ideal for such a technique because at high temperatures they melt not burn like natural fabrics such as cotton or silk. This means that once cut, the edges will seal themselves and not fray. These fabrics do have a tendency to fray, but if sealed by heat, they won't. The sealed edges are perfect because the edges do not have to be turned under and stitched down as in traditional applique. I can place flowers or other motifs where ever I'd like and hold them down with just a few beads.
The wood burning tool (yes, used for burning designs into wood) is ideal because it has interchangeable tips for cutting lines. The only negative thing about the tool is that you must be careful with it as it can burn you, too. Witness my hand below. I accidentally touched the metal part when the tool was hot while I was on while doing something else at the ironing board.
To make consistent shapes, I use metal templates. Any other template material would melt or burn - plastic or paper specifically. I make the templates from aluminum roof flashing that I get at the home improvement store. I trace off the desired motif from the original artwork and then cut out the shape with a pair of old scissors reserved for this job. Once the template is cut and tested to make sure the shape is right, the edges are filed with a bit of sandpaper so that the edges are not sharp.
To cut out the flowers, the fabric is laid on another piece of aluminum flashing, the template placed on top and the flower traced.
I usually cut ten or so at a time, and then pull off the excess fabric surrounding the flowers. I can easily cut a lot of flowers in a very short time. You can see that there are negative shapes created, too, which could be useful in another piece of artwork.
There are really only two downsides to this process. One, the possibility of getting burned, which we already discussed. Two, the fumes released from the melting synthetics. I would suggest doing this in a well ventilated area. Even in the winter in cold climates a window and a fan for the short time it takes to cut out motifs is a good idea.
Next, the final touches for the flowers!
Parting Shot: Mantel. Here is this year's mantel decorations. I change them around a bit every year - sometimes the topiaries are on the mantel rather than the hearth and the flowers are arranged differently.