Using Yarn for your Mixed Media Art Projects

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This article was written by Katja Blum

I love yarn!

Imagine a hysterical, yet manly cackle in the background, as my husband marvels at this bold understatement, surveying the yarn-filled tubs and baskets and boxes that are taking over our apartment. I am endlessly fascinated with the colors and textures of yarn. A skein of silk, wool or bamboo yarn is a feast for the senses – even for your nose, if you happen to enjoy the faint whiff of vinegar bath on hand-dyed yarn. But yarn is not just pretty; it is a ball or hank of raw artistic potential. A ball of yarn could become anything – a sweater or hat, obviously, but also a piece of jewelry, a fuzzy pom-pom or a prayer flag woven saori-style. It could be wrapped around a canvas as a textural background or dipped in glue and molded around a balloon or bowl for a yarn sculpture. It can be painted, stitched, knotted, cut, braided … you get the idea.

If there is one thing I like more than using yarn, it would be making it. Spinning is my very favorite craft activity – I spin way more yarn than I could ever knit or weave up. It’s great fun to make the big, crazy, textured yarns that are commonly referred to as “art yarns”. Bobbles and beehives and beads, oh my!

Mixed Media Art Yarn

If you are a spinner, grab some fiber, decorations and a tutorial and start making art yarn. If spinning isn’t your thing, you can find beautiful art yarns from fiber artists at craft fairs and online. If you need just a few yards of a special embellished yarn for an art project, you can make it yourself. No spinning required.

You’ll need:

  • Yarn
  • Craft wire, 28-30 g
  • Fabric strips, paper strips, ribbons, beads, sequins – any embellishments that can be strung or spiked on your thin craft wire
  • A sturdy clamp or vise

Mixed Media Art Yarn

The base for your art yarn is, well, yarn. Ingenious, I know. Any fiber content and thickness will work, but bear in mind that your finished yarn will be quite a bit bulkier than the base strand. You can, of course, combine different yarns for a marled look.

Prepare the wire:

A length of craft 28g craft wire is going to be the “spine” of your yarn. Obviously, yarn is made by twisting fibers, so that they for a long string and hold together. Your no-spinning art yarn is held together by twisting the base yarn with thin wire, which will make it hold its shape and secure the embellishments. For one yard of finished yarn, you’ll need to string about ½ yard’s worth of embellishments, if you want them fairly closely together.

Mixed Media Art Yarn

Paper strips are best spiked on the wire in a harmonica fashion for a firm hold, but with fabric and ribbon, you can just poke the wire through one end and secure the loose length of material while twisting. You should leave the wire on the spool while threading your embellishments. They will be spaced out later, and it’s best not to run out of wire. If you do want to use wire scraps or different colors, you can twist the wire ends together and smooth them into the other materials.

Secure the ends of your base yarn and wire in a heavy clamp or vise. If you don’t have any, that’s fine – just knot and wrap the ends around something stationary. They have to stay in place as you twist. I once duct-taped the ends to the leg of my desk. It worked.

Twist away. Make sure to twist in the same direction throughout. Longer fabric strips tend to wrap around everything else, so take care to have the wire wrap around the outside of all materials. When a length of yarn is completed, move it up in the clamp or vise for a convenient working distance. Don’t crush beads and other embellishments when securing the yarn – ask me how I know this is an issue.

Make as much yarn as you need and embellish to your heart’s content. Obviously, the wire-reinforced yarn is going to be stiffer than regular yarn, but it is a wonderful addition to mixed-media collages, jewelry, sculptures and art dolls.

Mixed Media Art Yarn

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Katja Blum is a writer and translator from Tulsa, OK. As an artist, she started with yarn, fabric and papier mache (rarely together), branching out into collage and other paper arts about ten years ago. Her latest obsession is making soft stuffies and art dolls – to the delight of her toddler. She also likes to find creative solutions for ugly or broken things around the house – to the delight of her husband.

You can see more of her work with fiber, paper and words at www.thewaywardsheep.com

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Artistic Jewelry made from Fiber and Fabric

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This article was written by Katja Blum

Mixed media and jewelry are a great combination – jewelry is a perfect way to take a piece of your art with you in your everyday life, and thinking about the functional aspects and size of jewelry gives you an interesting framework for your creative ideas.

I selected this project to highlight the endless possibilities of mixed media jewelry with fabric and fiber, because you do not need any special jewelry tools or skills to make this pretty bangle. You probably have some pretty fabric scraps lying around, some rope, a few beads … no pliers, hammers and anvils necessary.

You need:

  • 3 pieces of woven or braided rope to fit around your wrist – any thickness, as long as it bends easily. Man-made is fine, but those solid plastic ropes like clothesline don’t work well, because you need to be able to pass a needle through.
  • Duct tape
  • Assorted fabrics, fibers and beads
  • Mod Podge, Fray-Stop or PVA glue to treat fraying fabric edges
  • Needle and thread
  • Thin craft wire, yarn or thread to wrap around the bangle, if desired

Jewelry made from Fiber and Fabric

To cut the lengths of rope to size, measure the inner circumference of a bangle you like. If you don’t have one, here’s how you can measure: Hold out your hand, palms down, fingers together. Tuck your thumb and pinky under, so that they touch underneath the other fingers. Now measure around the widest part of your hand, which is probably close to your knuckles.

Don’t pull the measuring tape too tight. The bangle will have a slightly smaller inner circumference once you wrap the fabrics around. You won’t lose much though, so 1/4 to 1/2 inch (about 6-12 mm) should be enough extra length.

Cut the rope pieces to size, lay them out together and tape them with duct tape to form a closed ring. The three pieces are just connected at the bottom.

Jewelry made from Fiber and Fabric

Cut long strips of fabric or use unspun, dyed spinning fiber to wrap each ring, beginning with the two outside ones, leaving the center one for last. Start wrapping at the duct-taped bottom, where the three rings separate. Don’t worry about the fabric and fiber ends. Just leave them hanging, they will be covered later.

Dab some Mod Podge or Fray-Stop on the fabric, if necessary. If you are using unspun fiber, covering all of the wrapped fiber with Mod Podge or something similar works best. Otherwise the fibers might come apart with use.

Smooth fabric like the batik cotton here works well for the center bangle. Start wrapping in the center of the duct tape at the bottom, tucking in the ends from the other bangles as you go. When you have wrapped all the way around, tuck the end of the fabric strip into one of the wraps. It will be secured with thread later.

Jewelry made from Fiber and Fabric

Jewelry made from Fiber and Fabric

Once you have your triple bangle wrapped in pretty fabric, the real fun starts. Decorate your statement piece to your heart’s content. Wrap it with thread, yarn, cord or thin craft wire (no pliers needed). Add beads to the wraps, if you like, or sew on individual beads. Glue or sew on charms, paper flowers, ribbon rosettes…you get the idea.

I had much more elaborate plans for this piece, but once I saw the colors of the fabrics and fiber together, I loved them and didn’t want to obscure them too much. Remember to begin all wrapped decorations at the bottom and tuck them into the fabric of the center bangle. When you are done, secure the fabric covering the duct tape and the tucked-in end with a few stitches. If you want the rings of your triple bangle to sit close together on your forearm, sew them together in a few places. A little bit of spray varnish helps protect your paper or other fragile decorations.

Of course you are not limited to three rings, nor do you have to wrap them individually. A five-piece bangle wrapped together (just use the steps for the center ring in this project) would make a terrific background for larger mixed-media decorations. The bangles are fun to wear and so easy to make that you’ll have a whole collection of your personal, wearable mixed media art soon.

Jewelry made from Fiber and Fabric

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Katja Blum is a writer and translator from Tulsa, OK. As an artist, she started with yarn, fabric and papier mache (rarely together), branching out into collage and other paper arts about ten years ago. Her latest obsession is making soft stuffies and art dolls – to the delight of her toddler. She also likes to find creative solutions for ugly or broken things around the house – to the delight of her husband.

You can see more of her work with fiber, paper and words at www.thewaywardsheep.com

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Mixed Media Art Yarn

~ * ~

This article was written by Katja Blum

I love yarn!

Imagine a hysterical, yet manly cackle in the background, as my husband marvels at this bold understatement, surveying the yarn-filled tubs and baskets and boxes that are taking over our apartment. I am endlessly fascinated with the colors and textures of yarn. A skein of silk, wool or bamboo yarn is a feast for the senses – even for your nose, if you happen to enjoy the faint whiff of vinegar bath on hand-dyed yarn. But yarn is not just pretty; it is a ball or hank of raw artistic potential. A ball of yarn could become anything – a sweater or hat, obviously, but also a piece of jewelry, a fuzzy pom-pom or a prayer flag woven saori-style. It could be wrapped around a canvas as a textural background or dipped in glue and molded around a balloon or bowl for a yarn sculpture. It can be painted, stitched, knotted, cut, braided … you get the idea.

If there is one thing I like more than using yarn, it would be making it. Spinning is my very favorite craft activity – I spin way more yarn than I could ever knit or weave up. It’s great fun to make the big, crazy, textured yarns that are commonly referred to as “art yarns”. Bobbles and beehives and beads, oh my!

Several kinds of textured, embellished yarns

If you are a spinner, grab some fiber, decorations and a tutorial and start making art yarn. If spinning isn’t your thing, you can find beautiful art yarns from fiber artists at craft fairs and online. If you need just a few yards of a special embellished yarn for an art project, you can make it yourself. No spinning required.

You’ll need:

  • Yarn
  • Craft wire, 28-30 g
  • Fabric strips, paper strips, ribbons, beads, sequins – any embellishments that can be strung or spiked on your thin craft wire
  • A sturdy clamp or vise

You need yarn, craft wire and embellishments

The base for your art yarn is, well, yarn. Ingenious, I know. Any fiber content and thickness will work, but bear in mind that your finished yarn will be quite a bit bulkier than the base strand. You can, of course, combine different yarns for a marled look.

Prepare the wire:

A length of craft 28g craft wire is going to be the “spine” of your yarn. Obviously, yarn is made by twisting fibers, so that they for a long string and hold together. Your no-spinning art yarn is held together by twisting the base yarn with thin wire, which will make it hold its shape and secure the embellishments. For one yard of finished yarn, you’ll need to string about ½ yard’s worth of embellishments, if you want them fairly closely together.

Prepare your craft wire by threading different embellishments on it

Paper strips are best spiked on the wire in a harmonica fashion for a firm hold, but with fabric and ribbon, you can just poke the wire through one end and secure the loose length of material while twisting. You should leave the wire on the spool while threading your embellishments. They will be spaced out later, and it’s best not to run out of wire. If you do want to use wire scraps or different colors, you can twist the wire ends together and smooth them into the other materials.

Secure the ends of your base yarn and wire in a heavy clamp or vise. If you don’t have any, that’s fine – just knot and wrap the ends around something stationary. They have to stay in place as you twist. I once duct-taped the ends to the leg of my desk. It worked.

Twist away. Make sure to twist in the same direction throughout. Longer fabric strips tend to wrap around everything else, so take care to have the wire wrap around the outside of all materials. When a length of yarn is completed, move it up in the clamp or vise for a convenient working distance. Don’t crush beads and other embellishments when securing the yarn – ask me how I know this is an issue.

Make as much yarn as you need and embellish to your heart’s content. Obviously, the wire-reinforced yarn is going to be stiffer than regular yarn, but it is a wonderful addition to mixed-media collages, jewelry, sculptures and art dolls.

Close-up of the finished mixed media yarn

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Katja Blum is a writer and translator from Tulsa, OK. As an artist, she started with yarn, fabric and papier mache (rarely together), branching out into collage and other paper arts about ten years ago. Her latest obsession is making soft stuffies and art dolls – to the delight of her toddler. She also likes to find creative solutions for ugly or broken things around the house – to the delight of her husband.

You can see more of her work with fiber, paper and words at www.thewaywardsheep.com

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Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Wearable Art: Fabric and Fiber Jewelry

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This article was written by Katja Blum

Mixed media and jewelry are a great combination – jewelry is a perfect way to take a piece of your art with you in your everyday life, and thinking about the functional aspects and size of jewelry gives you an interesting framework for your creative ideas.

I selected this project to highlight the endless possibilities of mixed media jewelry with fabric and fiber, because you do not need any special jewelry tools or skills to make this pretty bangle. You probably have some pretty fabric scraps lying around, some rope, a few beads … no pliers, hammers and anvils necessary.

You need:

  • 3 pieces of woven or braided rope to fit around your wrist – any thickness, as long as it bends easily. Man-made is fine, but those solid plastic ropes like clothesline don’t work well, because you need to be able to pass a needle through.
  • Duct tape
  • Assorted fabrics, fibers and beads
  • Mod Podge, Fray-Stop or PVA glue to treat fraying fabric edges
  • Needle and thread
  • Thin craft wire, yarn or thread to wrap around the bangle, if desired

Fabric and fiber jewelry – Materials

To cut the lengths of rope to size, measure the inner circumference of a bangle you like. If you don’t have one, here’s how you can measure: Hold out your hand, palms down, fingers together. Tuck your thumb and pinky under, so that they touch underneath the other fingers. Now measure around the widest part of your hand, which is probably close to your knuckles.

Don’t pull the measuring tape too tight. The bangle will have a slightly smaller inner circumference once you wrap the fabrics around. You won’t lose much though, so 1/4 to 1/2 inch (about 6-12 mm) should be enough extra length.

Cut the rope pieces to size, lay them out together and tape them with duct tape to form a closed ring. The three pieces are just connected at the bottom.

Taped lengths of rope form the core of the bangle.

Cut long strips of fabric or use unspun, dyed spinning fiber to wrap each ring, beginning with the two outside ones, leaving the center one for last. Start wrapping at the duct-taped bottom, where the three rings separate. Don’t worry about the fabric and fiber ends. Just leave them hanging, they will be covered later.

Dab some Mod Podge or Fray-Stop on the fabric, if necessary. If you are using unspun fiber, covering all of the wrapped fiber with Mod Podge or something similar works best. Otherwise the fibers might come apart with use.

Smooth fabric like the batik cotton here works well for the center bangle. Start wrapping in the center of the duct tape at the bottom, tucking in the ends from the other bangles as you go. When you have wrapped all the way around, tuck the end of the fabric strip into one of the wraps. It will be secured with thread later.

Bottom of the bangle with fabric ends tucked in

[Wrapped rings of your fabric bangle

Once you have your triple bangle wrapped in pretty fabric, the real fun starts. Decorate your statement piece to your heart’s content. Wrap it with thread, yarn, cord or thin craft wire (no pliers needed). Add beads to the wraps, if you like, or sew on individual beads. Glue or sew on charms, paper flowers, ribbon rosettes…you get the idea.

I had much more elaborate plans for this piece, but once I saw the colors of the fabrics and fiber together, I loved them and didn’t want to obscure them too much. Remember to begin all wrapped decorations at the bottom and tuck them into the fabric of the center bangle. When you are done, secure the fabric covering the duct tape and the tucked-in end with a few stitches. If you want the rings of your triple bangle to sit close together on your forearm, sew them together in a few places. A little bit of spray varnish helps protect your paper or other fragile decorations.

Of course you are not limited to three rings, nor do you have to wrap them individually. A five-piece bangle wrapped together (just use the steps for the center ring in this project) would make a terrific background for larger mixed-media decorations. The bangles are fun to wear and so easy to make that you’ll have a whole collection of your personal, wearable mixed media art soon.

Wearable art – mixed media bangle

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Katja Blum is a writer and translator from Tulsa, OK. As an artist, she started with yarn, fabric and papier mache (rarely together), branching out into collage and other paper arts about ten years ago. Her latest obsession is making soft stuffies and art dolls – to the delight of her toddler. She also likes to find creative solutions for ugly or broken things around the house – to the delight of her husband.

You can see more of her work with fiber, paper and words at www.thewaywardsheep.com

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