Monday, June 8, 2009

My Favorite Things: Sticky-back Foam!

Sometimes, there's a material that just stands out for its sheer versatility. One of those things hanging out in your studio you'll definitely use in a variety of projects and be so darn grateful that you thought ahead to buy it. That thing, ladies and gentlemen, is sticky-back foam.

The beauty of sticky-back foam (or adhesive-backed foam, which you can buy at JoAnns) is that when it sticks to cloth, it's easily removable, but when it sticks to other surfaces, say wood, it is pretty much permanent. Here's a short list of some of the projects I've used it for (with pictures, L-R)

Emergency Art
I had a cool new frame, but nothing oval to put in it, with a party happening in a few hours. So, I just put a fat quarter of fabric in the frame, cut out a cool moustache design out of sticky-back foam, stuck it on, and voila! Instant easy-to-make art!

Costume Details
This isn't the *best* costume detail I've ever done, but this was from years ago, when I was a mere beginner. This is Princess Zelda's sash with the Triforce/Hyrule insignia on it. All it is is two pieces of dark blue felt, with red and gold sticky back foam cut out and arranged in the Triforce/Hyrule design. Easy!

Stamp Creation
As a printmaker, I've carved dozens of stamps and woodblocks (reductive technique). You can also create stamps using the built-up method, which is what is done with sticky-back foam in this picture. Come up with a design, transfer it to the foam and cut it out, then attach it (sort of permanently) to a piece of wood or plastic. Ink and stamp!

Here I've stamped some scrap black fabric using silver screenprinting ink (not recommended - use block printing ink). I learned this technique from Lena Corwin's Printing By Hand which is a great book for anyone interested in printing on fabric.

Other projects I've done with sticky-back foam include:
Cheap Self-Promotion: using it on banners and tablecloths at conventions (just cut out your letters and stick them to the tablecloth - instant promotion!)
Resist Stenciling: Cutting out sticky-foam designs, attaching them to fabric, and then using spray dye - the areas covered remain the original color.

Are there any cool ideas for using this stuff that I'm missing? I absolutely love it and always keep some on hand.
Or, is there something in your arsenal of craft/art supplies that is surprisingly versatile? Do tell!

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