Today I am posting a photo of my first embossed metal shrine which I created at CREATE in August, 2011. I took a class with Judy Coates Perez and it was a great experience! She gave us ample supplies and many, many options and ideas for focal point art. The painting of the focal points was fun even with my rudimentary paint skills. I chose a bee for the small focal point and a hand with an eye in the palm for the larger focal point. I enjoyed the painting process even if I didn’t excel at it as much as some of the very talented painters in the class. I saw some bees that were so realistic they looked as if they were about to buzz right off the page! I took artistic license and made mine a smoky eye as is the fashion these days.
I learned how to use transfer paper and fusible webbing and simple metal embossing tools. The actual embossing was quite enjoyable and I loved the instant gratification of the embossed design appearing with every stroke of the embossing tool. When I chose my embossing design sketch I chose it because I believed it was a fairly open design that would be easy to emboss for a beginner. Well…I was partly right. The pattern was simple to emboss–but there was just sooo much of it! It took me quite awhile to get it all done. In the end I was completely pleased with the results and it didn’t take THAT long for the hand cramps to go away!
Once the embossing and painting of the focal points was finished it was time for sewing the metal onto the fabric background using a sewing machine. I am reasonably proficient with a sewing machine as long as it involves long straight runs. It never occurred to me to sew sheets of metal to anything. It was fun to use those expensive Bernina sewing machines and now I’m probably spoiled for life! Push a couple of buttons and the machine practically sews on it’s own. I never used a zig-zag stitch before and it made a nice frame around the focal points. I realized it is pretty important to make clean cuts in the metal in the area around the focal points because as I was sewing around them I lost alignment in a couple of areas and my framework isn’t perfect. I got more experience doing the zig-zag stitch all around the edges of my shrine. In the end I was happy with my project but learned a lot about the process.
Make sure you make really clean cuts in the metal anywhere you are going to be sewing later. If your lines are off then your stitching will be off.
When you heat fuse your fabric sandwich with the iron make sure you get the edges down really well–this is important when you stitch it down so things don’t start to slip and go askew along the edges. If you look at my shrine you can see the metal is a bit crooked on the fabric base. I’m embracing the wabi sabi-ness of my piece and my next one will be better.
I enjoyed doodling with ink around the edges although it was an effort to cover up the crookedness. In my book there can never be too much gold doodling on a piece! In the end I also decided to color the metal background nice vibrant purple with a copic marker. I do plan to make another embossed metal shrine soon! Wish me luck!