I've been spending a little bit of time playing with resin recently, and spending even more time looking at all the wonderful jewellery and decorations that can be made with it. There are so many resin projects I want to try - you might say it's becoming my new obsession.
A couple of weeks ago I was contacted by Hillary's Blinds asking if I wanted to enter their craft blogging competition. I entered last year and I loved the challenge so much that I jumped at the chance to do it again. The idea is that you get to choose from 4 of Hillary's fabrics and then each blogger gets sent a metre of their choice of fabric to make something awesome out of - and then blog about it. I chose the Safi Turquoise as it is one of my favourite colours.
Given that I've been spending so much time reading about resin projects, the idea of combining fabric and resin was an obvious choice for me. I wanted to somehow coat the fabric in resin to make a piece of jewellery. The pattern is quite big and bold so it would need a bold, chunky piece of jewellery to do it any kind of justice. I wondered if I could roll the fabric into large beads in the same way that rolled paper beads are made. This way I'd get a hint of the pattern running through lots of beads in a bracelet.
I should probably clarify that I'm in no way a resin expert. The most I've done is pour it onto shrink plastic images a few times with mixed success, so this is all in the name of experimentation. I searched for quite a while to see if anyone else had made fabric beads in a similar way, but I couldn't find them anywhere, so I had to develop my own method.
How I made my rolled fabric resin beads:-
- Upholstery fabric, I used Safi Turquoise by Hillary's Blinds.
- Grease proof paper
- 1:1 mix of PVA glue and water
- Paintbrushes - 1 small decorators paintbrush for spreading the PVA and 2 small cheap disposable ones.
- Cocktail sticks
- Strong glue
- Nylon beading thread
- Florists foam
- Jewellery grade resin
- Resin stirrers
- Disposable measuring cups
Cut a piece of fabric a little bigger than the size of A4 paper. Mix a good squeeze of PVA glue with about the same amount of water and stir until it is fully combined.
Place the fabric on a piece of grease proof paper to protect your surface. Using a medium sized paint brush, coat one side of the fabric with the pva mixture and leave it to soak in for about an hour.
Turn the fabric over and coat the other side with the PVA and water mixture. Leave the fabric to dry for an hour and then hang it to dry overnight.
When your piece of upholstery fabric is dry it should be quite stiff which makes it perfect for cutting into strips as the edges won't fray.
Here is the rolled bead template I designed and there's a link to the PDF here. If you use thick upholstery fabric you should get quite a roundish bead. If your fabric is thinner your beads will be more of an eyelet shape. Print out the template and pin it onto your fabric so that each individual strip has two pins in. Cut out the long thin strips.
Starting at the wide end, roll the fabric around a cocktail stick to start with.
Once you've wound it tightly around the cocktail stick a few times you can take out the cocktail stick and finish rolling the bead between your thumb and forefinger, making sure that the strip stays central to the bead to ensure that you get an even, round shape.
Clip a peg to the beads to hold the coils in place, leaving a few cms of loose fabric free from the peg.
Use a strong glue, (I used E-6000), to glue the fabric end onto the bead.
Once your beads are glued, re-position the peg so that it holds down the glued end.
Leave them to dry overnight.
This next part took quite a bit of thought and experimentation. I needed to somehow work out a way of suspending the beads so that I could paint them all over with resin without them resting on anything.
If there's an easier method of coating beads in resin I'd love to know -
Thread all of the beads onto some nylon beading thread and knot a cocktail stick between each bead. Insert the cocktail sticks, one by one, into a block of florist foam, making sure that the thread is taut and the beads sit in the middle of the thread between the two cocktail sticks.
Mix the resin according to the instructions. I used Ice Resin, but any jewellery grade resin would work. I mixed up about 15ml at a time which was ample. Using an inexpensive brush, coat the fabric beads in resin, turning them with your brush as you apply the resin until they are fully coated. Unfortunately your brush won't be usable again so don't use your best brushes. I buy mine for 25p at my local factory outlet.
Leave them to dry overnight. They will probably have become fixed to the nylon thread so just give them a tug to release them. Apply a second coat of resin and leave them to dry overnight again. The first coat will soak into the fabric beads and bond the fabric layers together. The second coat sits more on the surface creating a slight sheen.
Here are the finished fabric resin beads. They definitely don't feel like fabric any more and feel more like a cross between ceramic and wood.
Of course I couldn't go to all that effort and not turn them into a piece of jewellery so here is the bracelet I made out of them.
Just like last year, I really enjoyed the challenge that was set by Hillary's Blinds. Sewing isn't really my forte so it was great fun to turn a pretty piece of fabric into a piece of jewellery. If you'd like to see more entries into the Hillary's Craft Competition 2015 there's a Pinterest board of all the entries here. Feel free to like and share your favourite!
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