Tyvek Brooches

Later this month I will exhibiting at an arts and crafts event at the Baumber Walled Gardens near Horncastle so I’ve been making various small items, including these Tyvek Brooches, for the sales table.  Since it’s invention by DuPont, Tyvek has found uses in a huge range of situations. The fact that it is much stronger than paper and many fabrics, as well as totally waterproof, has led to it being used as a replacement for these materials in many applications.  It is widely used in the construction industry but you may be more familiar with seeing it used as packaging, FedEx envelopes are made from Tyvek paper.  If you don’t have the envelopes you can buy packs of Tyvek quite cheaply from Amazon.

Tyvek paper is extremely strong and durable and great for creative crafts as it can be easily cut, coloured using any paint medium, heat distressed with an iron and stitched by machine or hand.

I made my first brooch using this material when I was looking for a contrasting texture to use with my wet felted collars.

To make a brooch I normally cut out a piece of painted Tyvek in an oval shape approximately 4” x 3” and lay it between two pieces of tracing paper.  You can use baking parchment or copier paper but I find I get a clearer picture of what’s happening to the Tyvek when I use the tracing paper.  Once it starts to react to the heat things happen very quickly!

With the iron on its hottest setting I hover over the Tyvek, just touching the paper but with absolutely no pressure on it.  The heat causes the paper to shrink creating bubbles on the underside and ridges on the top side.

Bubble side

When the paper is peeled back you will find that it has stuck a little but it cools down quickly and can easily be peeled off.

Ridges are created on the top side

The underside of the Tyvek bubbles to create a pebble effect

The next step is to cut out a piece of felt slightly smaller than the brooch and attach it to the back using a hot glue gun.  This allows me to add the hand stitched knots

Another piece of felt is cut out and has a brooch back sewn onto it before being stuck in place, again using the glue gun.

I love the fact that each brooch is totally unique as this method of working means that non of the designs could ever be repeated. My only problem is letting them go as I love them all!

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21 Responses to Tyvek Brooches

  1. I make cuff bracelets using heat-treated Tyvek — you can see some pictures on my website. I don’t see an option here to post a picture, otherwise I’ld do that. I machine zig-zag stitch the Tyvek onto a leather backing, using crocheted chains to cover the edges. I sometimes put some heat-treated Angelina fibres underneath the Tyvek where holes have appeared. Love your little brooches.

    • Karen Lane says:

      I love your cuffs and necklaces too Frances! I’ve just started working on a necklace using Merino as a background and adding the Tyvek. I just love the combination of the hard and soft textures.

  2. Kay Douglas says:

    These are wonderful Karen, thank you so much for sharing!

  3. Frances Taylor says:

    Here are some pictures of my cuff bracelets — I commented on your post, but couldn't see a way to add pictures, so here they are Frances

    <!–

  4. tracey2008 says:

    Thanks for explaining the process Karen. I may have to have a play with this! What medium do you normally paint it with, will acrylic paints do?

    • Karen Lane says:

      Yes Tracey, acrylic, Inktense, transfer paints, fabric paints etc. These all work and if you have metallic paints they look particularly good.

    • tracey2008 says:

      Thanks Karen. I don’t have metallic but yes I can imagine how good they would look, maybe have to get a little tube of metallic along with the paper I have ordered……. 😉

  5. ruthlane says:

    Thanks for the lovely post Karen! I love your brooches and I have played with Tyvek in the past but love the pebble appearance of yours. I think my group might try some leaves and pebbles soon with Tyvek. One of our members has a great big sheet of Tyvek that she wants to get out of her studio.

  6. Wohw..Karen, this is totally new for me 🙂 i first thought it is Fimo clay. Never heard of it in Holland.

    • Karen Lane says:

      I only heard about it three years ago. It was mentioned in a three dimensional embroidery book I was reading and I just had to try it!

  7. Antje says:

    I love Tyvek and the unique bubble patterns it creates. The brooches look great and will be very lightweight for the lucky wearer.
    For anyone not familiar with it, the bubbles will always form away from the hot surface, so don’t press down too hard with the iron. That said you can achieve a very lacy look (although quite crispy) by pressing hard and over working the Tyvek – great for embroidery embellishment.
    I was given a whole roll of roofing Tyvek which is very ‘industrial’ grade (after ironing you just need to pull off the backing – also useable) compared to the delicate envelopes but still works a treat.

    • Karen Lane says:

      Wow, I wouldn’t say no to a whole roll of the stuff! I’ve also done some work with alternating between ironing one side and then the other which produces a lacey effect. You can also build up a really interesting piece of work by layering odd bits of Tyvek and re-ironing to bind them together……just need more hours in the day!

  8. Marilyn aka Pandagirl says:

    Beautiful Karen, thanks for sharing!

  9. Very cool, there is lots of fun experimenting you could do with that. I wonder what would happen if you cut holes in it and wove some felt in and out of the holes.

  10. Kay Douglas says:

    Hi Karen, I have been looking at tyvek sheets to give this a try and have found there are lots of different weights. Would you have any idea what the gsm of the material that you use is? If not, is it heavier/thicker than an A4 sheet of printer paper? Thank you!

  11. zedster66 says:

    I love these, Karen 🙂

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