If I could sum up the way the world looks to me during the holiday season in one word, it would be "sparkle." Sparkle is everywhere, from the moonlit snow that twinkles like diamond dust to the strings of Christmas lights up on the rooftops, to the flickering candles lit for Hanukkah and Advent.
Even chocolate gets glitzed up for the holidays with foil-wrapped gelt, fanciful Santas, and special occasion chocolates.
But I am not content just to eat those wonderful chocolates. True art quilter that I am, I don't throw those sparkling wrappers away; when recycled into an art quilt, they can add wonderful shimmer to fabrics. I am inspired by fiber artists Elli Woodsford and Angie Hughes: both are U.K. artists that use chocolate wrapper foils in their work.
I demonstrated this technique in the second season of "Quilting Arts TV"; the basic instructions for making chocolate foil fabric follow below. You can then use the fabric in a variety of ways. One idea would be to make a large enough piece of art cloth embellished with foils, then use the fabric to create your own purse.
Note: This project is not recommended for machine washing.
- Chocolate foil wrappers (I use the kind from Ferrero Rocher.)
- Fusible webbing (I use WonderUnder® by Pellon.)
- Cotton velvet (I suggest scrounging the discount bins at fabric stores for yards of inexpensive, stretchy velvet.)
- Sheer synthetic fabrics in a variety of colors
- Sewing machine with free-motion stitching capabilities
- Paper scissors
- Heat gun (optional)
1. Eat chocolate! Save the wrappers. Note: I suggest you get some assistance with this step if you want to keep your girlish figure. I find the Quilting Arts staff is always willing to help out with this task.
2. Wash wrappers of chocolate residue.
3. Cut fusible webbing to the size of the chocolate wrappers and iron to the back of the wrapper.
4. Cut the wrappers to the desired shapes. In this episode I cut them into different sizes of squares, but you could choose other geometric designs.
5. Peel the release paper off of the fusible and iron the foil wrappers to a background fabric such as cotton velvet. The foil wrapper is now firmly adhered to the backing fabric and can withstand machine stitching.
Optional: If the gold foil is too bright for your taste, you can subdue the shimmer by layering one or more chiffon fabrics or other sheers on top. I added several sheer fabrics, free-motion stitched, then lightly zapped with a heat gun to burn bits of the chiffon away. Note: Whenever using a heat gun always work outside or in a well-ventilated area so you do not inhale any harmful fumes.
If you prefer your holiday sparkle and shine minus the calories, I recommend some other projects you might want to try.
For example, in the "Quilting Arts TV" Series 500 DVD alone, there are two easy techniques for adding sparkle to your holiday art-making.
Mary Hettsmanperger shows how to make metal embellishments for art quilts using some of her jewelry-making techniques. Here's an easy one:
1. Collect soda cans in colors you like.
2. Cut the cans into shapes.
3. Poke a hole in the center (like a button) and sew them onto fabric.
To give them more dimension, stack them with washers, small pieces of batting, or spacers in between the metal pieces.
On another episode in that series, Kristal Wick shows how to create beautiful batik fabric beads, using adhesive backed paper, coffee stirrers, and fabric.
1. Cut a piece of double sided adhesive backed paper slightly larger than your fabric.
2. Peel off one side of the paper and stick it to the back of your fabric and trim edges.
3. Cut fabric strips 2 inches long by desired width.
4. Cut coffee stirrer into 1-inch pieces.
5. Taper 1.5 inches of the fabric strip, leaving the top ½ inch straight.
6. Peel off the paper backing and roll the fabric over the stirrer.
7. Dab tip of fabric with glue to secure the seam.
You could add more sparkle to these beads by dipping them in a bit of glue and then sprinkling on microbeads, glitter, or Angelina fibers. Use them as embellishments, in jewelry--they would even look pretty in a crystal bowl.
I know you'll think of something!
These are just some of the sparkling ideas I've gleaned from guest artists on "Quilting Arts TV." There's also Jeanie Sumrall-Ajero's blue beaded candle holder in Series 400, Judy Coates Perez' tips for stitching on metal in Series 300, and how to fuse metallic materials together to make shimmering fabric in Series 100. So much sparkle, so little time!
Do you have a favorite way of adding sparkle to your art? Does it involve candy? Please share it in the comments section below.