May 09, 2009

Craft Foam Obsession

I always thought that craft foam was the domain of crafts for children. After all it is in the aisle with all the cool kids craft kits and other stuff. So I never imagined the possibilities of craft foam until a friend mentioned a book by Sherrill Kahn, "Creative Embellishments". I went to my local library (which almost never has anything that I am looking for) and lo and behold, they had it! While most of the information in the book I had seen or read elsewhere (or figured out on my own), I was immediately intrigued by the short section on craft foam and of course, had to try it out! Also, I recently purchased one of Quilting Arts Magazine's workshop DVD featuring Alisa Burke, a mixed media artist. Alisa does some cool techniques with paint on canvas, fabric, paper, etc. Very cool! In the video, she explains how she creates all her own stamps and that she uses craft foam. What! Craft foam again? How have I managed to get by without knowing about craft foam? So today I conducted the big craft foam experiment and here are my results. First of all, craft foam comes in several thicknesses. Most of my experiments were with the extra thick and super thick craft foam from Jo-Ann Fabrics. Apparently, there is also a thinner thickness but I will save that for another day.

Craft foam is very easy to cut with scissors and thinner varieties are easily sliced with my Cutter Bee (basically any craft knife will work). So making stencils is a breeze! I cut my stencils out of black craft foam (extra thick) and then tested it with purple spray paint (which is why the stencils are now purple). Very cool and very quick and easy!

Alisa also mentioned in her video that she uses a wood burning tool to carve stamps so I got out my trusty soldering iron (I have a wood burning tool but it's in the garage where there are also spiders). You have to make sure the tool is fully heated, and it doesn't so much melt the foam as crumble it. Still I had a lot of fun and the fumes were awesome (please do this in a well ventilated area unless you like breathing in toxic fumes). The stamps printed very well with paint and if I didn't like something, I simply wiped the paint off and burned it some more! I was able to draw on the foam using a pencil and discovered quite by accident that even the slightest impression on the foam would print.

Here are some foam squares I wrote and/or drew on - helps to either write backwards or nonsense, cursive writing is very effective as well - very cool to layer this with the stencils. Please don't try to read what I have written as most of it is gobbledy gook.

Alisa also makes stamps by cutting out pieces of foam and gluing them onto other pieces of foam. This was also fun but the trick was finding a glue that would hold right off the bat and not let the pieces smoosh out of place. Sobo glue did the best at holding the foam pieces on and dried the fastest as well. Also when cutting the Super thick foam with scissors, you might want to turn the pieces over and trim. I also took one of my stencils and attached it to a foam piece and it made a nice stamp (lower left corner).

Finally, I followed the instructions in "Creative Embellishments" to make some pieces and parts to use for pendents and possibly items of interest for fabric books. The items in the photo are not glued or set in place yet - I was just playing with all the different textures and colors. After I finished playing with craft foam for the night, I thought craft foam would make awesome buttons as long as they wouldn't get a lot of wear - like for the cover of a fabric book or a pendent, etc. (oh the ideas are endless for craft foam, but I must sleep some time!)

Anyway, not bad for a days' work! A collective shot of all the stuff I did with foam today! I dyed some canvas pieces several weeks ago and tomorrow I will be using these stamps and stencils to add more visual interest to the canvas. Definitely want to make some buttons! I think a trip to Jo-Ann Fabrics may be in my future - want to get some of the thinnest foam and see what I can do with that.
Hope you are having a wonderfully creative weekend! Happy Giraffe! Belinda
BTW, click on any of the photos above to be taken to a larger image.

No comments: