Introduction: Finding Hidden Gold(en Trim)

About: I re*make mobility devices and materials and give them new lives. I re*use often. And sometimes I staple drape.

If this is your first time visiting, I'm A. Laura Brody. I'm making faux peacock feathers to re-upholster a Jazzy Power Scooter and showing you the process step by step. The first step was making the peacock feather's "eye" and the second step was forming the "spine" and "ribcage" of the feather. This is the 3rd step. Welcome, stranger!

If you want to know why I'm re-upholstering a Jazzy Power Scooter, check out my mobility art at Dreams by Machine.

Now I'm ready to add some gold to my peacock feather! Well, golden trim. We have a limited budget here.

Actual peacock feathers don’t have gold highlights, but they do glitter. Golden trim really pops against the dark backgrounds I’m using for my peacock feathers, and it has a nice glimmering effect.This golden trim came from a thrift store find: a heavy twisted upholstery fringe I used on Driven, the Edwardian Cyborg Wheelchair. (Take a look at the picture: the fringe is on the sides and front of the wheelchair's "dust ruffle". Thanks to Heidi Marie Photography for the photo!) It’s got a nice metallic glimmer to it, and when I picked it apart I found my gold. The only other tools I need for this step are a pair of good craft scissors and a steam iron.

If you can't figure out where to dig for golden trim, take heart.There’s so many places besides fabric and craft stores to find golden trim. Leftover holiday trims and decorations are great resources. So are fancy pillows and draperies. Check around your place or at your favorite thrift store for all that glitters and put your shiny object syndrome to good use!

Step 1: Untangling Gold

Here's a close up of the heavy fringe I ransacked to make golden trim. You can see the golden strands glimmering.

Unfortunately, most of the fringe is beige. This is not what I want for my peacock feather. But I am stubborn and resourceful, and there's gold in there to be found! All I need to do is pick the fringe apart.

My first step is to cut one twist of fringe right at the top and then untangle it. (Picture #2) As I gently untwist and straighten out the strand, a core of thick beige yarn becomes visible. (Picture #3) Steaming the strands with the steam iron helps to separate them if anything starts to stick or doesn't unravel smoothly. I pull gently on the core of beige yarn and separate it from the rest of the strands.

Step 2: Separate the Strands

Now is when I really use the steam iron. I iron the unraveled fringe, carefully holding down one end and keeping my hands away from the steam. Once I've steamed it out, the golden strands become a lot clearer. I gently separate them from the mass of beige strands and pull them out of the bundle. This takes some patience and a lot of untangling, but gradually the gold is revealed. If a section is particularly stubborn, I steam the tangled bits again. This softens the fibers, smooths them out and helps me coax the individual strands to come free.

When I'm done pulling, I'm left with a twisted strand of golden trim. I steam iron this once again and now have some lovely smooth golden strands to add to my peacock feather. Excellent! Now I shall unwind a whole lot more fringe.

Pro tips:

Steaming is very useful, but it can give you a nasty burn. Steam burns hurt! If it's hard keeping your hands out of the way, try using oven mitts. Your hands will thank me.

East Indian style embroidery often uses golden trim along with spiffy beading work and spangles. If you find those beaded and trimmed dresses or pillows or hangings in thrift stores, snatch them up! They’re great sources for all that glitters.

Wrappings and ribbons for presents and gift bags are other good places to find your metallic trims.

Thanks! Next time we’ll outline those feather spines in gold.