Preparations before actual construction of project:
1) Paint at least two yards of Wonder Under (Bond-a-Web) with very watery acrylic paints and allow to dry
2) Iron unpainted Wonder Under (Bond-a-Web) to the reverse side of assorted polyester, stretch velvets
Gather the following tools: iron and ironing board; sewing machine with free motion foot; soldering iron; heat gun; staple gun or tack and a hammer; and scissors
Gather the following supplies: baking parchment or other silicone coated paper; stretcher bars; and metallic foil
Gather the following materials: 100% acrylic craft felt for substrata; assorted polyester velvets with Wonder Under (Bond-a-Web) already ironed to the reverse side; chiffon scarves; and 100% cotton machine sewing thread
STEP ONE: Cut felt to size of stretcher bars. (Pictured: stretcher bars with outer measurements of 40” x 20”) and iron painted Wonder Under (Bond-a-Web). The area to be covered corresponds to the space inside the stretcher bars. (Pictured: area measuring approximate 36” x 16”.)
STEP TWO: Cut into rectangles the assorted polyester, stretch velvet with Wonder Under already ironed to the reverse side. Cut and arrange the pieces on the painted Wonder Under surface. Leave approximately 3/16” to ¼” between shapes/boxes. Iron into place while working. Use baking parchment or other silicone coated paper in order to iron. (I use Seal Release paper…a product generally used in the art and picture framing industry in order to dry mount posters.)
STEP THREE: Add metallic foil to the spaces between the “boxes”. This step can be eliminated or can be done before adding the “boxes”. (Doing it at this point, however, eliminates wasting the foil. Pictured is a blue foil. Pictured above is the first/bottom layer of "boxes". The blue foil has been applied to the lower half of the image. I continued to add more foil until the spaces were covered.)
STEP FOUR: Cut the velvet into smaller “boxes” and layer them onto the bigger “boxes”. Some layers can be three or four pieces deep.
STEP FIVE: Tear painted Wonder Under (Bond-a-Web) into pieces and iron onto the top of the layered “boxes”. (Pictured above are torn pieces of previously painted Wonder Under/Bond-a-Web laying on top of several "boxes". The piece being torn is pictured at the bottom of the image. Directly below is another shot of this step...one in which the various colors of painted Wonder Under are more obvious.) Once this is ironed down, more metallic foil can be added, if desired. (I generally use a different foil than used between the shapes. I try to apply it unevenly…as if it were an antiqued patina. In the second image below, silver foil has been added.)
STEP SIX: Tear chiffon and distort small pieces of chiffon scarves. Apply these ripped pieces as a patchwork over the entire surface. (Where overlaps occur, the upper layer of chiffon will not adhere. By adding a small, ripped piece of painted Wonder Under between the chiffon layers, everything will become flat and attached.) The object is to have a smooth, non-adhesive surface on which to stitch. (Pictured below is the piece ready to have the assorted chiffon scarves added to it. Torn pieces measure, however, approximately 2" x 2" to 3" x 3".)
STEP SEVEN: Free motion embroider each “box” with “bridges” linking each to the “box” beside it. It is extremely important to use only 100% cotton thread and to be sure each “box” is linked in at least three directions; up, down, and both sides, preferably. (I generally create patterns and symbols in each “box”. Also, I generally include a “bridge” to “nowhere” on the sides of the “boxes” that become the edge of the finished piece…this is just a short, ¼” line…in and out.) CHECK EACH BOX CAREFULLY. BE SURE EACH BOX IS ATTACHED TO ITS NEIGHBOR.
(Pictured below is a detail of the free-motion stitching before "melting".)
STEP EIGHT: Staple (or tack) the piece to the stretcher bars. Allow soldering iron to heat up; about two to four minutes. Solder tiny holes and lines into the “boxes”. There is no reason to solder between the “boxes”. This step should be done in a ventilated area or, preferably, outside. The fumes are quite bad.
STEP NINE: Apply heat to the reverse side. Use the highest setting. The spaces between the “boxes” will melt away. Watch the melting process. If one isn’t paying attention, one could literally melt the entire “box”…but this could only happen while not watching! The melting does take more than a few seconds! Work the center before working the edges. This step should be done in a ventilated area or, preferably, outside. The fumes are even worse!
STEP TEN: Melt the edges until the piece is barely hanging on to the stretcher bars. Some places will already be falling away. Use the soldering iron to melt the piece free.
STEP ELEVEN: Apply a touch of heat using the heat gun to the front…just enough to melt some of the chiffon…until you like the results.
Use torn pieces of an old painted canvas or torn pieces of denim (or other heavy material) for the first (bottom) layer of “boxes”. Add Angelina fibers instead of or in addition to the metallic foiling on the top of the layered “boxes”. Use a chiffon scarf with a metallic thread running through it. Stitch each “box” with the same symbol.
STAINED GLASS VARIATION: Many people said these “In Box Series” pieces looked like stained glass. Eventually, I decided to cut the polyester velvet into shapes that better emulated the look of a real stained-glass window design. Otherwise, the instructions are the same.
FRAMING: I generally stitch my completed “In Box” to Cresecent linen #7553, Edelweiss or Bainbridge 8311 Seafoam Alphamat. I use ecru colored upholstery thread and stitch directly through the mat board. Each mat is cut to 18” x 38”. I also use a one-inch oatmeal colored linen liner. Thus, glass or Plexiglas can be placed between the liner and frame…which keeps the glazing material from touching the artwork (mini-shadowbox!).