Saturday, 21 January 2017

Melt It! - Part 1

I'm going to share with you the process I use for making my burnt fabric pieces.

First the tools of the trade - a soldering iron, heat gun, glass cutting mat, steel wool, a metal ruler and the all important respirator. I keep the steel wool tucked into a toilet roll tube to make it easy to handle when I'm cleaning melted fabric off a hot soldering iron. For fabric I use felt and organza.

You'll want to work outside as this process is quite stinky! It helps if there's no wind which can blow your organza away.

First I layer up several pieces of polyester/nylon organza on top of a piece of acrylic felt. Don't use wool felt as it will blacken and burn rather than melt. Most felt you buy in spotlights etc will be acrylic felt. You can usually tell wool felt by the higher price! If you are not sure which you have, hold the soldering iron to the edge; wool will burn, acrylic will melt.

Make sure you are working on top of your glass sheet so you don't damage your table. Use the metal ruler to "draw" lines across the fabric pile with the soldering iron. This process melts the layers together along the line. Don't press too hard with the soldering iron or move too slowly because you will cut right through the felt at the back. It helps the layers to bond well if you push the ruler tightly into them as you work.

The organza layers are now attached to the felt backing.

Use the soldering iron to make patterns and holes in the fabric.

You can use tweezers to tear off the layers in places to expose the colour underneath

I made a blue one too.

Use the heat gun to melt and distress the fabric even more. Be careful, once it starts to melt it only takes a few seconds to get down to and through the felt layer.

Now it's time to cut. I wanted circles so I used crockery to "draw" around with the soldering iron.

I took the remaining hole, turned the piece to the back and tacked another lacy man-made fabric onto the back by melting it on in a few places with the soldering iron.

Next I took a larger plate and cut out again to make a ring.

I repeated the process with even larger plates. It's difficult centre the circles exactly so I deliberately placed them asymmetrically.

I'm going to add these pink circle pieces to the blue background piece. Check back soon for part 2. 


  1. Fascinating. I am so inspired to play with this. I have one question. Could I use a hair dryer to do this? Would it melt the upper layers or is a heat gun required?

  2. I don't think a hair dryer would get hot enough but it's worth trying.