Tuesday, February 15, 2011

CRAFT NIGHT : Fire and Flowers

It had been quite awhile since I had hosted a craft night at the house, and being that it was long overdue I wanted to do something really fun! I always try to select projects that most of my friends think they could never do, and help them realize with a little patience, time, creativity, and in this case FIRE...any craft is possible!
Fire :)
 After doing quite a few hours of research online of different types of fabric flowers we could make I decided a satin flower with "rolled" edges would be great. The best part about it, we would be lighting the fabric on fire... well some of us would, and then we'd be starting over :). But this project was the right balance of fun and a little bit of a challenge because it actually involved sewing which only one of my friends knew how to do!
The Goods.
Fabric Color Options
Materials Consisted of:

Satin Fabric (I bought about 5 yards total but it takes very little fabric to make this project)
• A good pair of Fabric Scissors
Needle and thread (clear or white)
Candle and lighter
Tongs (optional)
Beads or whatever you'd like to place in the center of your flowers
• A glue gun is also an option if you'd rather glue the center jewel pieces on instead of sewing!

All in all the materials cost around $85.00.  Sounds expensive, but keep in mind I bought about 20 times the amount of fabric you need to complete the project, and the new scissors were about $18.00 so you could do this project for MUCH less. And as always I grossly over buy materials, and keep them for up coming projects!

Fabric Cut into Squares. 1inch, 1.5 inch, 2 inch etc.
Let's get started!

First select your color of fabric and cut into squares.  You want to make the largest square approximately the size you want your flower to end up, then cut each square after about 1/2 inch smaller.  I found that the more "petals" or layers you use the more "flower like" it ends up.  Most of our flowers from craft night were 5-8 layers thick.

Cutting each Fabric Square into a circle.
After you've cut your layers into squares now cut them into circle shapes. They don't need to be perfect circles, when you burn the edge later it is VERY FORGIVING to a bad cut job!

Circles cut out, each a little smaller then the last.
After the circles are cut, stack them on top of each other to make sure your sizes work. No top layer should be bigger or over lap the layer underneath.
Playing with FIRE! See the edge curling under the heat.
 Now the fun part - playing with FIRE! Start with the largest circle and hold the edges over the candle flame, heating it until it begins to darken and curl.  You can flip the fabric over to change the way the fabric curls. While you work remember to move the fabric in circles so it doesn't burn.

The longer you hold the edge to the flame the "crispier and tighter" your flower will become. Remember the tip of the flame is the hottest spot and is the most likely to light your fabric on fire. If your fingers get to hot, resort to tongs - these came in handy for all of us!
Tongs to the RESCUE!
Making Progress!
When all of you circles have been run through the flame and the edges are curled and a bit crispy stack them to check the sizes.
Petals Cut, Burned Edges, and stacked for size check!
If any of the edges overlap or fight with the other petal edges now is the time to cut them down, and re-burn so everything fits and you're happy with the look of the flower. The edge burning takes some time to get good at, but if you practice with a scrap it makes it much easier!
Who knew they made clear thread?!
 While buying supplies I discovered they now make clear thread...has it really been that long since I've sewn!? This stuff was great looking but terribly hard to tie into a knot for sewing the petals together because it's made of thin plastic.  After about 20 minutes of struggling I switched to white thread and it was a cinch!
Can you tell these are my hands - so much BLING! :)
Thread your needle and double the thread over, tie the ends together in a knot that is big enough not to slip through the fabric.  With layers stacked start your needle at the underside of your flower and pierce through the center coming up through all layers and back down. Continue this "through" process tacking the flower together so you can add the beads.
Keep the tacking stitches small so you don't see them later when you add your beads.
Make sure your Bead holes are big enough for the size of needle you are using!
 Come up through the bottom of the flower and when your needle is exposed at the center string one bead at a time, and go back through the flower. Repeat this process to place as many beads as you like in the center of your petals.

Tie off the back and the flower is finished!
So cute!
We started making flowers around 7PM and finished around 1AM and we made a ton!
The girls hard at work.
Monte getting in on the Flower Action!

We found that each of us had a little bit different burn style and they all looked SO different! By the end we were adding burnt edge leaves, feather details and putting beads not just in the center but all over the flower petals.
Petal close up.
Feather Detail
After the girls left, I added brooch backs, and sewed fabric loops onto the flowers so they could be worn either as hair accessories or on a scarf, jacket or purse! Then I whipped up some packaging for the gift shop so they were ready to sell!
The following images show me and my friends wearing the flowers! They turned out great and might be our most successful craft project to date!
Brit Rocking the headband!
Brooke and me working our accessories!
My best friend Amanda, so cute with one on her jacket in SC.
Brooke, me and Kelli working our flowers on the Chi-town streets!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Glass Classes

The class hard at work!
I've been getting emails from people around Iowa and Illinois asking about my glass classes, and after a little research I realized I hadn't included a page on my blog about them! Must have slipped my mind considering the classes are the main reason why I started my blog.  I always have students asking where I live, what I do in my spare time, and about other crafts I complete, so I wanted a place to show all of that! The following is a little more information about what all is accomplished in the glass classes!
Bins, Bins, and more Bins!
 A week before the class starts I get a final list of how many students and my prep work begins. Each student gets a bin prepared with: a cutter, breaker, thin fire paper, safety glasses, glue, pen, and most importantly their bag of glass. Each student starts with about 15 -20 pcs of assorted colored glass, all 90 COE some transparent some opaque. My Dining room becomes the prep room...

Base Glass.
Dichroic Glass, the fun stuff that makes it all sparkle!
After all the bins are packed and ready to go, I load up my car and small kiln and hit the road to teach in the Quad Cities! First matter of business when I arrive is putting on my teaching glasses...I feel way more professional this way - and get out of wearing geeky eye wear protection while I work!
Fused Glass Class for Beginners consists of 2 days of classes for a total of 5 hours.

Day 1:
· Overview of fused glass and techniques complete with informational handouts and suggested books and websites to get more information and/or design ideas.
· Topics include kiln and mold preparation, glass selection, project design, firing schedules, safety, glass supplies, cutting, assembly, annealing, compatibility testing, slumping and draping, working with frits, stringers and  inclusions, as well as many other wonderful things you have always wanted to know about fusing glass! Previous experience working with glass is not necessary.
· Students will design glass pendants, earrings, and other jewelry pieces of their liking and will watch an in class firing of student practice pieces.

Day 2:
· After pieces have been fired and annealed the final part of the class (Day 2) will be spent finishing projects with bails, ear wires, bracelet blanks, ring blanks, and wine stopper mounts. Students make between 10 - 40 pieces each!

My goal for Beginner Fused Glass Class is to provide all participants with an overall understanding of fused glass and the various techniques involved in the creation of basic pieces.
After we get past the boring stuff (me explaining how to make the glass work) we get into the fun stuff WORKING WITH GLASS! The next two hours of class fly by as all of the students usually "get into the zone" and get to work. It's amazing to see how different each students work is, and how differently they all work!

While the students work, I do an in class firing in my table top kiln, so they can see the glass fuse in real time. After the kiln has fired all of their projects from the day are put on trays to be taken home and fired in my large kiln for the final day of class the week after.
A cookie sheet and camper drawer liner go a long way while driving home!
Once the projects make it back to Cedar Rapids, hopefully safe and sound, I set them up on the kiln shelf and start the firing. It usually takes me 5 nights to get all of the students work complete and ready for them to mount at class the next week.
And as usual there is never enough time in the day...I usually find myself firing until the wee hours of the morning!
2:13 AM... REALLY?!
 After the projects have annealed (cooled in the kiln) They are ready for mounting. This takes the students about 2 hours to complete all of their projects and they're ready to be taken home that night!

Ready to be mounted!

Finished Bracelets.
For more information about when Chicken Scratch Studio will be holding it's next class, either in Cedar Rapids or the Quad City area email me at erinfitz27@gmail.com and I'll send you a PDF with class dates and info! Check out my blog later this week for a fun new craft project!