"I begin with an idea ... and then it becomes something else"
~ Picasso

Saturday 25 April 2009

Tutorial - Making Beads from Tyvek (Part 1)

My little pot of beads needs topping up!

A little later in the day than I had intended, I am posting my little tutorial on how I make beads from painted Tyvek. I haven't done a tutorial on-line before so please bear with me and I'll do my best!

I am sure there are lots of variations on this technique. I'm not attempting to be an expert on the subject, I'm just showing you how I do it because I've been asked how I make them

About Tyvek
Tyvek looks like paper, but has a fibrous grain to it that feels like plastic and is also like soft material. It can be painted, stitched, heated and distorted but it has fire-proof properties so it does not burn. That is why it is ideal for this project - the heat gun will distort the material but it will not catch fire. The thing to be careful of here, though, are the fumes when heating the acrylic paint so that is why I need to give a Health and Safety warning before we proceed - please read!

A lot of this is common sense but I need to say it: It is recommended that this technique should be done either outside or in a very well ventilated room and a mask should be worn to protect against any fumes or smoke, especially if you are asthmatic or have other breathing difficulties. The Tyvek itself will not burn or catch fire but you must be aware of the risk of fire when using any heat gun/tool (it can easily get knocked over). Also, the wooden stick may catch fire if you heat it in the same spot for too long!!

I have specified a wooden stick because if you use a metal one it will conduct heat, get very hot and you won't be able to hold it. And, lastly, be careful with the scissors!! Please take care and have fun

OK - here we go!!

Craft heat gun
Sheets of A4 size Tyvek
Household paintbrush - 1 inch
Acrylic paints - you choose the colours
Reels of metallic thread - you choose the colours
Barbeque sticks (wooden - not metal)
Scissors, pin, glue stick

Preparation - Painting the Tyvek
Lay out some newspaper and paint your sheets of Tyvek with the acrylic paints. Leave to dry (around 30 mins should be ok as acryllics dry quickly). Then turn over, and paint the second side. Use a variety of bright colours on your sheets - paint in largish strips or paint the whole side in one colour. While the second side is drying, you can be washing up your pallettes, brushes, water pot and work surface etc.

To start with, I will show you a bead without threads

Cut the Tyvek into strips lengthwise about 12 inches long. Vary the width size a little (no need to measure, just do it by eye) - approx. (1 to 1.5 inches) and (2 - 2.5 inches)

Lay the narrower strip on top of the wider strip

Cut it in half - so you get two beads from this strip

Roll the two layers around the end of the wooden stick

and secure with a pin

The next bit is difficult to show you because I don't have three hands (one to hold the stick, one to hold the heat gun and one to hold the camera!) so I will have to explain it. Hold the stick away from you and hold heat gun about 2 or 3 inches from the Tyvek. Turn heat gun on and heat the Tyvek until it starts to bubble or fuse together, very slowly rotating and turning the stick until the bead is how YOU want it!

The other side of the bead

When the bead is distorted enough to your personal taste, turn the heat gun off. The bead will be warm and soft. Leave the bead on the stick until it has cooled. This only takes about a minute. As it cools the bead will harden and then you will be able to slide it off the stick

The bead will be rock hard when it's cooled. The size of the hole will depend on the diameter of the wooden stick you use

This is the finished bead with lots of texture and interesting layers. It can now be sewn to material using the conventional method of passing a needle through the hole or it can be couched on by sewing over and around the bead

In part two - I will show you the same method but using metallic threads to add some sheen and lustre to the beads


Joei Rhode Island said...

I haven't done or tried this for a long time. I think you did an excellent job of showing it. Thanks for the perfect refresher course. I may have to rummage through some stuff and make some for my felt book.


Hi Joei, thanks so much for leaving a message on my little bead tutorial! Did it make sense, was it boring, did I miss anything? I've never done it before!! Still got part 2 to do!!

Cathie said...

I learned something today (even though I made a whole bunch of tyvek beads last week). I used glue stick on one side of the tyvek before rolling. I like the idea of pinning it.
I cut my strips so that they gradually narrow to a point at one end so that when you roll them it creates texture, too. I love how yours turned out - and I'm going to try the metallic thread tonight. Fine job on your tutorial Carolyn! Thank you.


Hi Cathie, thanks so much for your great comment. I'm grateful for your input!!

I also cut my strips sometimes too, especially if I want a chunkier bead or a rounder bead, but here I just wanted to keep it simple on the tutorial. It's harder than I thought to get it all down and I already felt I was rambling on!!!

Glue stick is as good as a pin, but the pin is less messy. I use glue stick for sticking my thread ends down while I heat

Would love to see a piccy of your beads!!

Have a great weekend Cathie and I look forward to Sunday's Stitches, x


Me again - I'll post PART 2 tomorrow as it's good on the telly tonight!! Also, I will show the tapering method as well to make a more rounded chunkier bead. That will be fun!!

Timaree said...

Enjoyed your tutorial. You did an excellent job. I will have to pull out my tyvek and try it - after I get a new heat gun. Mine broke and I can't get one locally. I saw one that looks a lot like yours on the Jo-Ann Fabrics website but the reviews are terrible. What brand is yours? Have you used it much? I'll be checking back for part II.

murgelchen said...

Hello Carolyn,
thank you for the super tutorial.

Corryna said...

Great tutorial. I will try it.



Hi, thanks for all your comments. Hope I inspired you to try it for the first time or reminded you of an old skill!!

Freebird: I used a cheapie "Heat It Up" heatgun - it does the job!

Cindy Lietz, Polymer Clay Tutor said...

This is a really neat way to make beads Carolyn! I love the thread wrapped around them. It gave me an idea for my polymer clay beads! Thank you so much for the inspiration!

Heather said...

Love your beads - they are gorgeous. I have just learned another way of making them! Thanks for sharing.

Jo McIntosh said...

Hi Carolyn

Thought the Tyvek Bead Tutorial looks great and will be having a go at following your instructions.

Am starting a new Textile blog shortly, so watch this space!


Thanks Cindy and Heather - hope your beads turn out fun and groovy!!!

Thanks Jo - good luck with your new textile blog. Be sure and let me know when it's up and running and I'll add you to my blog list!

Jeana Marie said...

i would love to try this sometime! thanks :)

Julie said...

It's a great tutorial Carolyn! Lovely and clear. I shall have a go when I get my studio back.

natasha said...

i think it was a great tutorial. i have been meaning to try these with all of the old tyvek postal envelopes i have lying around. i made paper beads with utee (embossing powder) and metallic powders and they look great, but were a really pain to make. lots of burns:) i tried this before i saw your tutorial, but i think you did a great job of explaining. when i did it, i painted the tyvek and while it was wet, sprinkled the powders on and i tried using white glue to secure the end which works some of the time, and used pins some of the time. i wasn't sure if embossing powder would stick or not or get too hot, so i will definitely be trying that next. i had it out on my desk and then thought it would get too hot for the beads. anyway, great job. i am glad i was doing it right!

Muriel said...

Many thanks, it's a great tutrial, I love your beads !

Anonymous said...

hi, i love this idea and you have inspired me in doing this as part of my as level course work, i was just wondering where do you buy your tyvek sheets from ? thanks

Anonymous said...

Love the tutorial. I bought some of your lovely beads, but never thought about making it myself. Maybe one day. It sure sounds like great fun. Thank you Carolyn.

Anonymous said...

Great tutorial. I bought some of your lovely Tyvek beads. They are lovely. I hope I will be able to make some of my own one day, with the help of your tutorial.Thank you

Unknown said...

Hi Carolyn:
Your beads are stunning. I had never heard of this technique, but I am new to a lot of things thanks to Pinterest.
I tried my hand and not bad, but I have a long ways to go. Thank you for being so open to imparting your knowledge because no everyone is either willing to tell how they made or give all the instructions.
Thank you so much!


Anonymous said...

Currently studying btec art and design and am going into my secon year and have chosen to focus on textiles, you are a huge inspiration. I have been trying different ways to heat up the tyvek as I haven't been able to get a heat gun just yet. I've been using the flame of a candle and it seems to give a great effect. Thank you for your tutorial:)xx

Sasha Crow said...

Lovely! And such clear instructions! Thank you.

I just discovered tyvek beads last night and your tutorial was the first I read. Then I went on a mad hunt online to find the colored tyvek cloth bits like you have and I couldn't find them at all.

I could find papers (white) -- I could find rolls (hugely expensive. I'll never make THAT many beads) and some worksuits or overalls.

I am in the USA but maybe I can find similar to what you have if I know where you got yours so I can look for the right search words:)

Lovely! And I look forward to exploring more of your blog

EDUTH said...

Just painted my first piece of Tyvek!
Was a US Post Office envelope I received a while ago.
Will paint the other side and then cut.
Your tutorial is excellent.

Sandra said...

Hi, I work with Tyvek and love the way it 'burns'. Your beads are wonderful and I only have one question: When will you post Part 2 of your tutorial??




PaulinaRitsa said...

Hello Carolyn, I've just discovered tyvek and I'm really inspired to try using it for my art. Did you use a certain weight of tyvek when creating your beautiful beads?

Heather said...

This was a great tutorial. Thanks for sharing :-)