Thursday, April 30, 2015

Fabric Pyrography - 4

Sandy Snowden with the last post on Fabric Pyrography.

From time to time I have mentioned the issues with your soldering iron, location and other problems.

Where do you put it when you have to put it down?

Margaret Beale advises using a terracotta – NOT plastic – flower pot turned upside down. You insert the hot portion of the soldering iron into the hole. It needs to be a larger one so that the tip of the tool does not touch your working surface.

The Margaret Beal soldering iron and some others have an attachment which can be used to hang the soldering iron on something. You can take it off and reposition it to suit your needs. This is useful. However, I find the hook bit gets in the way of how I hold the tool. So I usually take it off.
With a bit of maneuvering, I can hold the handle of the tool and slip the hook on from the bottom. (It has a slit in it so you can get it over the cord.) And then I can hang it in a sensible place. That is, if I can find one near the place where I have plugged in the soldering iron!

So the easiest way I find to park my soldering iron is a tall mug with a rock inside to keep it from tipping over.
Lately I have also been keeping a metal dishwashing scrubber inside, too. It keeps the tip clean.

Sometimes with a curved tip, you find you can’t hold the tool comfortably because the positioning of the tip is not natural for the way you hold it.
I have found that you can turn the sheath holding the tip around. This must, of course, be done when it is not plugged in and not at all hot.
I used a pair of pliers to turn this sheath. Don’t grip too hard, as it could break.
I understand that you can get replacement tips. But to be honest, the amount of use you will get out of your soldering iron means it will last a very long time. The one case I have heard of a tip breaking was an artist who produces large numbers of work for Gallery shops and Art Council Shows. She was able to order a new tip online.

Some of the issue with holding the soldering iron is the fact that the bit of the cord below the handle is pretty inflexible. Not sure of a solution for that except keep working to find a comfortable position for you.


Things about health to consider:

As with all things you need to beware of your health. Obviously with this tool, it goes without saying that you may burn yourself!

I haven’t had any problems with any fabrics catching alight, which is a big issue for those who are using candle flames and incense sticks. But I suppose it could happen. If you work over a non-flammable surface, then you don’t have to worry about any unexpected scorch marks. This could happen with your natural ‘jerk’ reaction when you burn yourself...you may automatically release hold of the soldering iron and drop it.

About the ventilation

What may be a greater problem however, is the smell of the burning. Burning silk smells like singed hair and burning cotton has a smell like burning paper. Cotton and silk are natural fibres, but you still don’t want to be inhaling them for hours! Little wisps of smoke/heat come from the fabric as it is being burnt...surprisingly, it can come from the back and curl round an edge to the front.

Often I would be doing this and a family member would come home and say, “What is burning!?!” The interesting thing is that I have grown accustomed to the smell and thus am unaware it may be causing me problems. SO now I do this at least by an open door or window. A fan may also be an option. Of course, this is where the soldering iron is a better prospect than a candle or lighter. If you have any breathing issues, it is a wise precaution to use a mask.

About the fibre content

If you are interested in trying mark making with a soldering iron on different fibres, a burn test chart is helpful in finding out how your fabrics might behave. It gives you a way to test fabric with unknown content. (although blends still can be rather mysterious!)

There are several of these charts to be found online, but here is one burn test chart with basic fabrics. A quick glance shows that there are fabrics you might not choose to use for Fabric Pyrography – perhaps because it won't suit the purpose you have in mind, but even more importantly, it may be that the chemicals in the fibre make-up could be toxic.

Additionally, it is worth looking for other burn test charts, because you may learn of other characteristics to the way fabrics burn.

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Other links from commenters:
A sculptor who uses pyrography - with sunlight - is Roger Ackling ---Margaret Cooter

Burn Marks using Iron Soleplates: Willie Cole. His website doesn't seem to have as many images of the iron scorches, as he refers to them, but I see he also took the idea further and found a way to heat the metal perforated ironing boards and used them to print with. However, he even has a Wikipedia entry! If you want to find more images of his work, it is easiest to Google Images Willie Cole iron scorches or Willie Cole iron burns.----reg82

Madonna Yashinski, for Nov 2005 issue of SewNews. She had a pattern for wheat stalks and buds included. She used a low-temperature (750*) burning tool and natural fibers.----Luann Fischer (I was unable to find Madonna Yashinski's work online. Sandy)

The Cord Issue: I had a wood burning kit when I was a kid. I used the ironing board for my table since it was adjustable and my Mom already had one of those cord holders on the end of it. It kept the iron cord from dragging across the clothing so with my smaller hands, I figured it would keep the cord to my tool out of my way and off my hand/arm. Worked great!---Crystal Griffiths
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Well, it seems there are no questions! So, I leave you with a photo of one more example of using Fabric Pyrography.
A map of my neighbourhood. The fabric is British Calico. The burning is often just the thing to give an aged look to something.

Let me know if you try Fabric Pyrography and how you get on with it! I would love to see how you incorporate it into the type of textile work you enjoy. If you want to keep up with other things I do, please visit my blog! I try to stay busy. ;-)

2 comments:

  1. The Cord Issue: I had a wood burning kit when I was a kid. I used the ironing board for my table since it was adjustable and my Mom already had one of those cord holders on the end of it. It kept the iron cord from dragging across the clothing so with my smaller hands, I figured it would keep the cord to my tool out of my way and off my hand/arm. Worked great!

    ReplyDelete
  2. That is a great idea Crystal!
    Sandy

    ReplyDelete

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