Experimenting with Materials

I’ve recently begun investigating methods of permanently stiffening fabric.

Goal: Harden fabric in various degrees of rigidity.

Fabrics: Felt, burlap, cheese cloth, and canvas.

Day 1, 5/21/12:

Began with surplus items I already had on hand: various combinations of fabric with fusible interfacing and Stiffy. Fabrics and interfacing alone lack the rigidity necessary to hold a distant shape, and Stiffy’s cons vastly out weigh the pros. Despite the fact that Stiffy achieves a fairly crisp 90-degree edge, it is very vulnerable to atmospheric conditions. The smallest amount of humidity will cause the product to soften thus altering the shape desired. It should also be noted that stuffy is white within the bottle, but yellows as it dries. Results are not satisifying.

Stiffy

Stiffy applied to felt, cured to 90-degree angles.

Day 2, 5/22/12:

Experiments began with epoxy/fiberglass resin(s) and fabric. Applied epoxy resin to fabrics with wooden spreader and brush, following directions as indicated on packaging, (i.e., mixing equal parts of resin/activator, let mixture rest, stir, etc.). The resin cast items/materials should have been ready to handle within 45-minutes and fully cured within a couple of hours. The epoxy was applied at approximately 9:30 a.m. and by noon the fabrics had not yet begun to set. Epoxy was used in an outdoor area, with gloves, mask, etc. Odor was present but mild through mask.

Fiberglass resin was applied per package instructions. At approximately 9:30 p.m, application occurred with a wooden spreader and brush. On a whim I decided to test application on a single layer of fabric and double layered fabrics. Fiberglass was used in an outdoor area, with gloves, mask, etc. Odor was very strong, a fan was used to aid in drawing odors away from work station. Fiberglass resin cured and was ready to handle within 30-minutes.

Both epoxy and fiberglass resin test strips received 2-oz of product and were set on wax paper lined surface. Test strips were 10” on length x 1.5” wide.

On a side note, pending the results of resin products, I may invest in a good respirator style mask.

Day 3, 5/23/12:

Both epoxy and fiberglass resin test strips released from wax papered surface easily.

Epoxy resin is clear and there was little to no air bubbles on cured test strips. In researching this product air bubbles were one of the more frequent irritants.

Fiberglass resin test did not have excessive amounts of air bubbles. Fiberglass does maintain its amber hue.

Rigidity is evident in both the epoxy and fiberglass.

Epoxy resin on one layer of burlap.

Fiberglass resin on two layers of burlap.

Results:

I am more likely to use the fiberglass resin for the following reasons: ounce-for-ounce it is more cost efficient than epoxy; fiberglass cures to a smooth-to-touch finish; and, application/curing time is much faster (10- minute working application time with 30-minute cure time).

Good experiment, learned a few things, and added another tool added to my arsenal!