Saturday, July 18, 2015

A Polymer Cover-up

I'm posting about a project that was completely independent, i.e. not driven by a guild challenge! ;) Don't get me wrong, I love my guild challenges, but I never seem to post about other projects here. This one happened because I have this coral/salmon colored t-shirt that acquired some bleach spots at the bottom. I love the cut and fit of this t-shirt and really didn't want to retire it to the household chore wardrobe. So, I decided to cover up the spots, with polymer!



I sketched out a basic radial design in washable fabric pen, then I set to work attaching small circle and oval cut outs of polymer in shades of blue and white (yep, still in that orange/blue phase that I've been in for the last 2 months...) ;) The blue and white clays were rolled out to a thin gauge (#4 on my Imperia pasta machine, which has a range of 6 different thicknesses, #1 being thickest and #6 being thinnest). I used a tiny round kemper cutter to cut the round circles, and I used the empty ferrule of an old paintbrush that lost it's bristles to make the tiny oval slivers. I kept the cut pieces small to eliminate cumbersome feeling within the shirt and keep the fabric movable. I attached each cut shape by applying bake n bond to the backside of the polymer pieces. I worked in segments of about 6" by 8", curing in between segments to keep the areas for curing totally flat in the oven. 
Here's a shot of the shirt before the applied polymer, you can see the bleach spots (lower center and right) that I was trying to mask:



So, next time (and I do plan to do more of these), I will use a thinner setting on the pasta machine for my polymer sheeting, probably #5. While the #4 guage worked okay here, it did add a bit of weight to the shirt. I also think that a thinner setting will make for a sturdier design. You might ask, is it machine washable? I tested that, this shirt has gone through the wash on a normal cycle and survived, only one of the polymer pieces came off (as you can see in the front view below). This I consider a success, and I will be replacing the piece that came off. If you decide to try this for yourself, please consider washing your finished garment (in cold water only) with small loads of laundry or, choose delicate cycle or hand wash to avoid causing any missing pieces... and always air dry (heat from the dryer could effect the polymer).


The design wraps around the side and also spreads across the back. Here's the flat back view:


And the flattened side view:



I had so much fun making this, I love that I saved a favorite shirt, and I love how it turned out! I can hardly wait to jazz up another piece of clothing! I can also see this idea put into use to cover up unwanted holes in clothing.... lots of ideas running around in my head! So, until my next project posting, leave me a comment and tell me what you think about my polymer bedecked T-shirt... Thanks!


UPDATE 7/19/15: I just reattached the one piece that went missing after machine washing, and I removed and replaced the one circle that (for whatever reason) got a little darker than the rest.  It must have been touching the side of the oven at one point and got a bit scorched. Let me tell you, removing that little circle was tough! I couldn't believe how fast it was attached... and it ended up tearing into the blue clay and leaving a bit of the blue behind... I was thinking it would just pop off with a little pressure, but it did not! So, now I'm even more certain about the strength of these little pieces attached to the shirt. 


I'm so happy to report that this project was shared on Polymer Clay Daily!! Here's the link:


19 comments:

  1. Beth, this is incredibly innovative (even for you!!) I've always turned to my collection of Prismacolor art markers for those nasty bleach flecks - this is much more attractive.

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    1. Thank you Susan! Your kind comments mean so much! :)

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  2. Beth, you are a genius. I love the idea! Do you mind if I borrow it? lol

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    1. Thank you Line! Absolutely, you may borrow the idea... I look forward to seeing what you do with it! :)

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  3. This is brilliant. I wouldn't have thought of using polymer clay on wearable clothes. Purely decorative, sure, but even then, I wouldn't have known to use bake 'n' bond. Great design and what an inventive way to save a favorite shirt.

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    1. Thanks so much Tammy! I really appreciate your sweet feedback! :)

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  4. Beth,
    This looks great! Keep pushing those boundaries!

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  5. How very, very clever!! You come up with the most innovative ideas. I am having a lot of trouble finding place mats I like, this may be the answer!! thank you so much for sharing!!

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    1. Thanks so much Betsy! :) If you do make placemats, I'll be interested in seeing them!

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  6. Wow! This is so very cool! The place at idea, too! Can't wait to try it.

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    1. Thank you Patricia! If you do try it, I'd love to see your results! :)

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  7. What a fabulous idea, I have used Swarovski iron ons ( which came off ) and of course there are the sew ons, so why not polymer! Its a great idea and looks wonderful, well done!

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  8. Where do you get Bake 'n Bond and how does it come, in a tube or what? I've never purchased that before. Do you think they have it at JoAnn's or Michael's? Very clever idea! I might try it on an t-shirt or a cheap Walmart tee.

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    1. Thank you Dieverdog, for the comment! I get Bake 'n Bond at my Michaels or AC Moore, but JoAnn's likely has it as well. It comes in a bottle, like the liquid sculpey and is usually found right next to the liquid sculpey in the polymer aisles at the craft stores. If you try it, I'd love to see your results! :)

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  9. Just to clarify your process of applying the polymer pieces to the Tee...Did you apply the uncured pieces to the Tee using Bake & Bond and then put the Tee in the oven to cure the polymer pieces? Or where the pieces cured and then applied with Bake & Bond? I've never used Bake & Bond so not familiar with how it works...however the name would imply its heat activated...If you did apply the uncured pieces to the Tee and cure them in the oven on the shirt...that's ingenious...wonder if Liquid Polymer would work as well...you could really do some interesting Art to wear by using the LPC to draw with...anxiously awaiting your response...Fantastic Save...

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    1. Hi Brenda, thanks for the comment! Yes, to clarify, I did indeed apply uncured circle and oval polymer pieces to the T-shirt using Bake 'n Bond and then put the T-shirt in the oven. Bake 'n bond is similar to liquid sculpey, only it's thicker (and also about 1/2 the cost of liquid sculpey). I suppose that liquid polymer would work, but since it's thinner than bake 'n bond, you might get more bleed through areas of the LPC on the shirt (notice the frontal flat view above and see the missing oval, you might have more of this darkening of the t-shirt around the polymer cut out pieces with using lpc). Bake n' bond is specifically designed as a bonding agent to adhere raw polymer to either baked polymer or other substrates, which is why I used it for this.

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    2. Oh, and I did also use a backing board in between the front and back of the t-shirt, this was a small piece of cardboard... and because of the size of that being about 6" x 8", I worked in segments of that size, curing the polymer of the first section, then adding another section of that size, curing that, then adding another, etc. I hope that info helps!

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