Andy Murray winning Wimbledon, the Ashes, wall to wall sunshine and another commission – but that’s another days post!
On the flip-side – the evolutionary work on those rocking horses, mentioned in my last post, needs a smidgen more time to iron out a few little technical problems; nothing I can’t handle of course, just the little curve-balls that trying something new likes to throw you to keep you on your toes. I will report back on that next week, as I’m almost there!
Today I write about another positive outcome after literally years of searching for the ‘right stuff’ with which to create what I had in mind.
I know with the soaring temperatures outside it seems daft to be talking about Christmas decorations – but most crafters will admit to thinking of Christmas from about this time of year if not ALL year (like me!).
Anyway – in among my huge collection of Christmas decorations I have a very special set of stars …… when I hang these stars each year, I am immediately taken back to the magic of the childhood Christmases when my sister and I would go to bed on Christmas Eve with the house looking as it did all year, and would come down the following morning to a transformation! The hall and living room had become magical places with not only a fully decorated real tree (nothing like a real tree for the smell – and the months of finding pine needles in the carpet!), but glass balls and lametta (the real stuff i.e. flattened tin mixed with lead – not the flimsy plastic stuff one gets now-a-days) suspended from the living room ceiling on a fishing-wire grid, and the hall ceiling festooned with other hanging decorations we lovingly packed every year and are still displayed to this day (a good few decades on).
These stars comprise a string of coloured foiled cardboard stars, each of which have a series of smaller ‘tin foil’ stars (possibly similar stuff to lametta) suspended below them. The stars are multi-coloured and as they move they catch the light and sparkle with Christmas magic – see part of the set below (photo taken against white wall, stars normally hang and move freely):
As you can imagine this set, which is over half a century old now, is very delicate and for a number of years I have been searching for materials with which I could make replicas.
The larger star at the top of each drop is not a problem as mirror card is readily available and comes in a lovely array of colours; the equivalents of the ‘tin-foil’ stars are a different matter however.
I tried aluminium foil but even the thicker cooking foils were too thin and only come in one colour – silver (or should that be aluminium?); I tried sticking two layers of aluminium foil together which allowed me to use my Silhouette Cameo to cut the stars without the foil tearing, but the resulting stars were not heavy enough to hang flat and I still only had silver stars.
I used alcohol-ink pens (Pro-markers and Spectrum Noirs) to colour the foil – however if I am going to try to sell some decorations in the future this was going to be hugely impractical.
Ooh! (light-bulb moment) – acetate is heavier and is available in a variety of colours albeit fairly limited; unfortunately, this option would have been quite expensive and the shine of the original would not be there! I know, I know – how fussy can you get?!
After a few years of trying different approaches I had reached a bit of a dead-end; but I was determined not to be beaten.
What I needed was something with the weight of acetate, so the stars would look like stars and the drop of stars would hang straight, AND with the metallic shine of tin/aluminium foil AND was available in a good variety of colours. The only thing that I could think of that fitted the bill was ‘sequin waste’ – however, I needed it before it became ‘waste’, before the sequins had been cut out of it ….. but I had no idea what this material was called, nor how to find it.
I subscribe to Craftseller magazine and they have an ‘Ask us’ feature ….. so I did!
I waited patiently (well mostly!) and a couple of issues later I turned to the ‘Ask us’ pages of issue 26, and there was my answer – the material from which sequins are made is sequin film (doh!) and I could get this from the ONLY manufacturer of sequins and sequin trimming in Europe, JosyRose (josyrose.com) – based in London!!
Now I had the name of the material, a UK-based supplier and a choice of 52 different colours!!!!
WOW – I bought rolls in three colours to experiment with (Metallic Emerald, Royal Blue and Red) and when they arrived (delivery is super fast) I started to recreate a single string of stars.
I will admit I had a certain amount of trepidation – would this material be the one I had been looking for, or would I have to start looking for something else (I had no idea what that something else might be)?
My Silhouette Cameo cut through the sequin film with ease (the film is easily cut with scissors too) and after I had peeled the stars away from the cutting mat, they held their shape beautifully. Once strung with a metallic thread, the drop of stars hangs and reacts to small air currents just as I wanted and the super metallic shine is about that of the original (I will say, that the photo doesn’t do justice to the richness of the colours).
Needless to say, I have expanded my collection of sequin film colours and will be able to create something very close to the decoration which for years of my life has meant so much at Christmas (don’t worry – the original is not going anywhere!). I also have lots of other ideas for sequin film decorations and plan to increase my stock of colours even further!
Thank you Craftseller and many, many thanks to JosyRose for superb customer service and a wonderful range of products (have a look at their website and see); with both your help I might be able to create some decorations which will become part of my business start-up inventory and you never know in a few decades one of them maybe someone else’s Christmas memory decoration too.
Follow my blog for further sequin film experiments in amongst other twists and turns on my creative journey.