You can make your own screen for your bag or purchase a pre-made one.
The screens I make are made one at a time using a Thermofax, a small heavy machine--a predecessor of today's copy machines. The silk screening material is a double layer polyester mesh, not silk. A carbon-based original is layered with the screen material and slipped into in a plastic carrier. The Thermofax has an opening where the carrier is inserted. A belt passes the carrier through the machine (this takes about 30 seconds) and a special bright, hot bulb burns the design from the copy onto the screen. The screen is now ready to use, mounted into a plastic frame.
Creating the Handle
Finish the handles first--this way they're ready and waiting when it's time to construct the body of the bag.
Finished length of the handles is 22 inches.
Cut four 28-inch lengths of ribbon.
Cut two strips of fusible webbing, 18 inches long and 1/4 inch narrower than the ribbon.
Follow the manufacturer's instructions, and fuse the web in the middle/center of the piece of ribbon, so there is no fusible web for about 2 inches at either end. This makes it easier to slip on the decorative tube bead.
Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse two lengths of ribbon together, then stitch together along the edges.
Slip on the decorative bead and trim each handle to 23 inches. This includes 1/2 inch seam allowance at either end to attach to the bag. Set the handles aside.
Preparing the Fabric
Choose which bag you'd like to make.
Cut the pattern out for the bag you've chosen.
Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse the fabric and the lining together.
How to Apply Metal Leaf to Fabric
Read all directions before you begin. Have fabric, tub of water, package of metal leaf, brush, matte medium and muslin all close at hand. Work in a room with no draft, ventilation fans or wind, as the leaf is so fragile it can blow away before you use it. It's handy to have a small portable vacuum to clean up excess metal leaf at the end.
Make a practice sample before working on the fabric. Work on a padded surface, such as 2 layers of acrylic craft felt.
Place the fabric onto the padded surface. Position the screen so it's centered side-to-side and top-to-bottom, using the finished size of the bag as a guide.
Load up the brush with matte medium. Squeeze a line of matte medium at the top of the screen then pull the sponge brush through the medium downward, using an even pressure, spreading the medium evenly across the screen.
It may take more than one pass to apply enough medium to the fabric. You can gently pull away one corner of the design to check on the amount…and remember that this technique is hand done, so each impression is one-of-a-kind and necessarily 'perfectly imperfect.'
Watch your screen as you work and be sure to keep the screen 'wet' with medium at all times. Do not allow the matte medium to dry or it will clog the screen
Use plenty of medium as using too little will result in a faded obscure image
Get into the habit of checking to be sure the open areas of the mesh on the screen are clear
As soon as the matte medium is screened onto the fabric, remove the screen, lifting carefully, and immerse the screen into a tub of water so it stays wet, enabling you to rinse and remove the matte medium at a later time.
Working quickly and carefully, cover the entire screened motif with overlapping squares of leaf. The design should 'strike through' or show up through the leafing.
Cover the entire surface of the metal leaf with a piece of clean muslin or parchment paper and burnish/rub firmly but gently so the leaf adheres to the matte medium.
Allow the medium to dry thoroughly, 2 - 3 hours, leaving the muslin in place to prevent wind from disturbing the leaf. Drying overnight is a best.
Remove excess leaf by brushing the surface of the metal leaf with your fingers or a clean natural bristle brush. This can be done outdoors or indoors. I recommend having a vacuum close at hand to clean up the excess leaf when working indoors. The metal leaf makes a strong bond with the matte medium. It's now ready for beading and can be ironed or laundered.
Beading the Bag
Bead your bag before you construct it. The interfacing is firm, so isn't necessary to use an embroidery hoop.
Choose an assortment of flat smooth beads that are sturdy and won't catch on things. This is the fun part - look for related shapes, textures, sizes and colors.
Mock up the lay-out of the beads, take a digital photo and print a copy to use as a template.
Cut an 8-inch length of silk thread. Thread on a chenille needle then double the thread. Run the thread through Thread Heaven.
Starting with the center donut motif, bring the needle out from the back side of the fabric. Pull the thread through, leaving a 2-inch tail on the back side. Thread on your bead then pass the needle back through the bag--repeat if necessary. Once the bead is secure, knot the two thread ends together - making more than one knot if necessary. Remove the needle.
Repeat Step 4, placing and sewing the other beads on one at a time. Each handmade bead is slightly different, so adjust placement of each one if necessary.
When all the beads are sewn into place, put a drop of superglue on each knot to secure. Trim thread ends once glue is dry. Do not cut the threads while the glue is wet as it will destroy the scissors.
Construct the bag after the beads are sewn in place. Follow the instructions provided with the pattern.
The pieces featured in the Gallery of Designs are copyrighted designs and are provided for inspiration only. We
encourage you to substitute different colors, products and techniques to make the design your own.
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Fire Mountain Gems and Beads - One Fire Mountain Way, Grants Pass, OR 97526-2373
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