FORGED FABRICS: HOW TO MAKE HIGH-END SPECIALTY FABRICS FOR COUTURE, TEXTILE ART, TAPESTRIES, FASHION DESIGN & MORE!
I get so much inspiration from materials.
When I see a material that gets me excited, my mind races with ideas of what I could make with it!
I love “playing” with materials of all kinds (not just traditional textiles) - to see what their limits are, how they can be used in new and different ways, re-mixing, and applying techniques used for one material to another.
Here, I’ll show you how to apply branding techniques traditionally used for wood to create spectacular, exciting results on fabric.
These heat-batiked, torched textiles are beautiful pieces to display on their own, framed or as a tapestry. The resulting textile art has rich 3-D textures for sculpting, painting or mixed media compositions. The custom fabric often takes on a lacy effect and becomes designer fabric ideal for garment embellishments or couture.
Bringing a new meaning to “fashion branding”, I create one of a kind garments out of the custom fabrics that I make using this technique; you can see some pictures in this Instructable and on my website www.amykarle.com
I’m excited to see what you make out of your “Forged Fabrics”. Please share your work!
Step 1: Get Your Materials Together
You will need:
- A well-ventilated place to work
- A place to safely heat metal: a forge, kiln, or fire pit (+ fuel if needed like coal)
- Work surface: metal table, sheet of wood, or xl piece of cardboard
- Paper: packing, brown or newsprint
- Metal stamp to use for branding
- Protective eyewear
- Welding gloves
- optional ~18 gauge wire
- optional weights, pins, or painters tape
*See pics of what different metal stamps and various fabrics look like at the end of this Instructable*
Step 2: Prepare Your Workspace
- Lay out paper that is a little larger than your fabric on your work surface. (Work surface can be a metal table, sheet of wood, or xl piece of cardboard.) This paper will become a temporary "backing” for the branded fabric.
- Next, lay your fabric out on the paper. Make it as flat as possible. I like to double my fabric or layer 2-3 different fabrics on top of each other.
- Weight, pin, or tape down the corners of fabric if need be (you will need to do this if you are outside).
Optional: Attach wire to the back of your metal piece as a makeshift handle.
Step 3: Get Your Fire Going!
Put on your safety equipment (goggles, gloves, etc).
Prep your heat source to a temp that will get your metal hot, but not red.
The temp of the heat source and metal will vary with fabric. It will take some experimenting to get the desired aesthetic.
In this Instructable, I’ll be using a fire pit with coals to heat my metal grates. You could use a forge or kiln. I have used a forge and kiln with great success branding into fabric, wood and other materials. Although a forge is the easiest heat source to use because of quick, uniform heating and steady temperature, I am using a fire pit on the beach for this Instructable to show that anyone can make these fabrics even if they don't have access to a studio.
Step 4: Branding Your Fabric: the Most Fun Part!
- Place the metal piece in the heat source.
- Before red hot, remove it with tongs.
- Immediately stamp the hot metal on the fabric, starting in an upper corner. Press firmly and remove quickly.
- The first stamping will be your test. If you like how it looks, keep going. If not, adjust stamping time, temp or fabric type.
- You can usually get 2-3 stamps out of each heating.
- After you have stamped your fabric, return the metal to the fire and repeat until you have completed your piece.
Watch this 15 second video to see how I do it!
Step 5: Finishing Up
Once stamping has been completed, the fabric will be left seared to the paper in some cases. It is your choice if you’d like to remove the paper and reuse/recycle it at this point or a later date.
Although it takes up more space, I usually keep the fabric attached to the paper until I am ready to use it; this way the pattern stays intact and I don’t loose little pieces. The exception is for fabrics that do not stick to the paper, in which case there is no need to keep the paper backing.
Step 6: Now What?
Now that you have created beautifully branded fabrics, you may have created something so interesting that you are ready to hang or frame your textile art as is… or your torched textiles may just be the beginning, inspiring an amazing new creation out of your custom raw materials!
Some things I’ve done with the forged fabrics is:
- Bunch and scrunch and sew together
- Embellish with other materials (feathers, furs, led lights etc.)
- Dip in epoxy resin, drape over forms and make into sculptural pieces
- Create into Haute Couture
What will you make with your branded batiks?
Please add your ideas below and share pics of your creations!
Looking forward to seeing what you create :)
Best Wishes! -Amy