TAFA: The Textile and Fiber Art List

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Connie Volkman's Experiments with Hot and Wet Fibers

by Connie Volkman

One of our members in our Fiber Focus Group, Connie Volkman from Wichita (Kansas), started a focus group called Hot and Wet Fibers. She mentioned a few things she was doing with it, using names of materials totally unfamiliar to me. I asked her to describe a bit more of her process:

"I started paying serious attention to melted materials while on vacation to Cornwall, UK. We went there for genealogy reasons and the famed uncovered "hidden gardens" but I came across the most fabulous fiber art and unusual media. I brought back with me, several yards of this unusual fiber called Lutradur and Pelmet Vilene. Ideas started to come as quickly as I could put into my idea/sketchbook that I carry around.

Liturgical fiber art installation by Connie Volkman

I had been employed as a Liturgical Artist for awhile and had created several large fiber pieces for churches and church conventions that use Liturgy as their base of their service. I was always trying to do three-dimensional objects but was unable to get them to really stand up without using some sort of stiffener or support.

Ah, but now I had discovered these fabulous fibers and all I needed to do was experiment. That was 6 years ago and I'm still trying new things.

Tuesday night I had my continuing beginner's class called Layering It On Hot and Wet. It is the best class of students ever. They are so inventive and creative and yelled out loud in class about how much fun they were having. I came home so excited I could barely sleep because they had found new ways to deal with their first night of melting Tyvek. To top it off, one of my students is a master costume maker for our Music Theater (she had her costumes rented-out and travels all over the world, including China). Another was transferred here from Boston and is a Viking Rep. They are all gals that sew or create. Of course, you have to understand that I usually have students that just stand there and ask why they need to learn to melt things in order to create a work of art.

The piece above is made with Black ( tq. blue Luminere) Lutradur that is woven on top of felt that made from re-cycled Coke Bottles. I wove it altogether, added metal mesh pieces and handmade beads, heat gunned it, and attached it to some painted chop-sticks. Off to the right hand side it should look lacy in the photo and that is the back and edge of the plastic felt.

Always remember when experimenting or melting with a heat gun, iron, or soldering iron, wear a face mask, or open a window no matter how hot or cold it is outside. These meltable fibers give off toxic fumes.

Thus ends the Hot Fiber story for the day." (Connie)

Have you experimented with anything like this? We'd love to hear about others who are recycling plastics or working with these materials. Share your stories by leaving your comments below this post. You are also welcome to join our Fiber Focus group and become a part of Connie's further discoveries!



  1. Love it, love it, love.

    And love the idea of a "hot and wet" group. Hehehe.


“Sing like no one's listening, love like you've never been hurt, dance like nobody's watching, and live like it's heaven on earth.”

“Whatever you say, say it with conviction.”

(Both by the master, Mark Twain)

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