Angelina—Reflected & Refracted Light
By Sonja Lee-Austin
© Copyright 2005
Angelina Fibers are a rainbow of sparkling polyester and metallic fibers. You may also have come across Angelina in Michael’s Craft Stores masquerading as Fran’s Fusible Fibers. Angelina is glitter for grown-ups. Remember the fascination of little kids’ covering their artwork with glitter. The random bits of glitter that don’t stick to the glue go everywhere creating a glistening table top and carpet. Angelina will ignite your passion for glitz. The possibilities of Angelina transcend glitter’s use for kid’s projects. Angelina does like to stick to your clothes like glitter though. A used dryer sheet is handy at clean up time to catch any stray fibers.
The soft fibers are great for adding sparkle to any creation. As with any new material, it is important to play with it to learn what it can lend to your artwork. It is easy to get seduced by Angelina’s range of attributes: color, luminescence, iridescence, holography, opalescence. It can do all of this while remaining soft enough for comfortable clothing uses.
The fibers can be stitched to fabrics, fused into sheets or shapes, spun, and felted. Angelina usually comes in 4” long strands that can be stitched down or you can create longer lines of sparkle by hand-spinning the fibers. You can then use your sewing machine to zigzag stitch over the twisted strand of Angelina or you can use ae couching embroidery stitch* to stitch the strand in place.
For hand-spinning simply twist the 4” long fibers into one strand and add more Angelina fibers overlapping the first 4” bundle as you twist. Continue to overlap fibers and twist as you stitch the Angelina into place. To make hand-spinning easier, practice twisting the fibers around a strand of yarn first. It will also help if you dampen the fibers with water as the water will help hold the fibers together.
About half of the Angelina colors available will fuse to themselves when heat is applied with an iron or an embossing heat gun. (It is very unlikely your hair-dryer will get hot enough to work. Mine didn’t.) To begin fusing the fibers, start with an iron. You will also need a piece of baking parchment, a Teflon press cloth or some tissue paper to protect your iron and better control your Angelina. Lay down a thin layer of Angelina on the parchment. Fold the parchment over to cover the Angelina layer. Heat your iron on the silk setting and iron the Angelina-parchment sandwich for a few seconds. Check to see if it has fused. If not, iron it a bit more.
Colors may change as they fuse. The Purple Flash will shift to a peacock’s color range while the Opal Sparkle will remain the same color unless of course you happen to burn it. When Angelina is burned it looses its shimmer so make sure your iron doesn’t get too hot.
To get even fancier results, hand-spin the fibers and then arrange them in a pattern on the parchment before fusing them with the iron. A chopstick or tweezers are handy tools to place the fiber strands exactly where you want them. Make sure the Angelina strands overlap so your whole pattern fuses into one piece instead of separate little pieces.
Have fun playing with Angelina! Just because the name is Angelina doesn’t mean your artwork with Angelina has to look “angelic.” See if you can push the artful uses for the fiber away from the overly sappy that its color names like “Mint Sparkle” and “Sugar Plum” might imply. (Unless of course your art is all about sappiness.) For more Angelina ideas you will want to look at a copy of “Between the Sheets with Angelina” by Alysn Midgelow Marsden, a small
If you have any questions, drop me an e-mail: Sonja@FriendsFabricArt.com
Colors that can be heat-bonded: