Sunday, June 26, 2011

Fun With Tyvek

Today's project was to work from mcElroy and Wilson's Surface Treatment Workshop.  There are 45 different mixed media techniques, most of which I am going to try.  The first one that caught my eye was a "subtractive" technique. 
Materials needed are parchment paper, tyvek, iron.
I had some painted tyvek envelopes left over from a tyvek poppies project and thought they would be the perfect thing to experiment with.  The first thing to know is that tyvek will pucker different ways based on which side of the tyvek you heat.  To make it pucker with raised areas you should heat the backside of the painted tyvek and if you want it to pucker away from you with "valleys" then heat the side with the paint on it.
So the first thing you do is to go outside - trust me on this - melted tyvek will give you a wicked headache!  I went onto the concrete patio and laid a towel down and pluged my iron in.  Next take the parchment paper and fold it in half.  Slip the piece of tyvek into it and then start to experiment.  I would suggest experimenting on a piece of unpainted tyvek.  It takes some experimenting to get the hang of it without burning a hole in the tvek.  But once you have it put the tyvek into the folded parchment with either side facing up, based on the result you want to achieve.  Next what I found worked the best was to hold the iron very lightly over the area you are heating.  When the tyvex gets to the right temperature it will shrink very quickly so you really have to watch it.  Anyway, let it cool and start arting with it!
Above is my first trial.  I always like to make an atc with my experiments so I can make notes on the back and use them as references in the future.  The piece above is called "eyes of peace" and utilized a few holes that showed up in the tyvek from overheating.  The eyes are compliments of Abraham Lincoln and fit perfectly into the holes.  The biggest challenge with this was how to adhere the tyvek to your base surface.  I have a piece in my journal that I stuck into a big blop of gel medium and will wait for it to dry.  I got a nice texture on top of that piece with the gel medium by putting a piece of velum over it to push down on the tyvek to get it good and stuck to the piece.  When I pulled the velum straight up it left a nice complimentary texture to the buckled tyvek.  Anyway to adhere the piece above I used E-6000 and then wrapped the top and bottom edges with copperfoil tape and stapled them.  I added a few more pieces of copper tape to stamp my text onto but first I dry brushed the whole card with viridi acrylic.  It really helped to accentuate the tyvek buckling.  And yes, it really is Abraham Lincoln under there!


  1. You are an artistic adventure, Anna. I am fascinated reading about your process with this. I can't really do it in NYC because I don't have a backyard with a plug, but I'm enjoying living vicariously through this post.

  2. You are so clever and adventurous / inventive! Great job. I have been collecting tyvek envelopes and haven't done a thing with them yet! Your experiment looks really cool, especially with those eyes peering out!

  3. Oh this turned out so cool! I've been meaning to try this technique out for years now, maybe I'll have to finally give it a try. Thanks for sharing with us!