Monday, February 8, 2010

Bobbi Huelsmann introduces wood embroidery --really!

 Bobbi mentioned embroidery on wood and I had to know more. And then when I realized what she was up to, I had to know more! And then when I saw what she had made -- I asked her to share it with everyone here. What a cool Valentine gift or better yet make one of these little wooden boxes to store your Valentine loot in! Bobbi does a great job of describing this project. I hope you'll give it a try. -- Dawn

I have been quilting and embroidering for only 2+ years but have thoroughly enjoy diving into this hobby. Imagine my surprise when Dawn emailed me to write a guest blog on “Embroidering on Wood.”

I had just posted a blog on the “TQS” website showing my first project on this subject. I am not the originator of this form of embroidering, the idea came from a “TQS” show, episode #507 with Rebecca Kemp Brent. For those of you not familiar with “TQS” it is “The Quilt Show” with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims. In the show there was a box with a lid that had embroidery on the lid. Now that fascinated me, so I ran with the idea.

My first embroidering on wood project was taking a 4x6-inch piece of balsa wood that was 1/16-inch thick and embroidering flowers then laminating to the top of a box lid. But how to go about doing this, since you can not hoop the wood.

Light bulb came on, use self-adhesive, tear-away stabilizer, easy.

Next step, pick a design that will fit within the wood but not get close to any of the edges. Now hoop the stabilizer, center the wood on the stabilizer, and start stitching. Once the embroidering is done remove the excess stabilizer. Now you are ready to laminate the piece to the top of your box lid. (Photo: 1/16-inch wood test embroidery)

We, meaning my darling husband and I, used Loctite Spray Adhesive, Heavy Duty Permanent spray on the box lid and the back of the embroidery project. Follow the instructions on the adhesive spray for when the two pieces get put together. Allow to dry thoroughly, sand the edges and you are done. We determined using a water soluble contact cement would be much better than a spray, less mess and you get an even layer of glue.
If you want the piece of wood or box to be stained, make sure you do this stage prior to any embroidery being done. Again make sure it is thoroughly dry.

Since creating this piece, I have test embroidered on several different thicknesses of wood to see how they would hold up. (See photo tiger on 1/32-inch, note the bend in the wood above the tiger's back)

I also used different needles and thread. A very dense pattern was used for the testing. I can say the denser the design the more the wood will separate so choose your designs with this in mind.

Someone responded to my “TQS” blog that they might try free motion quilting on wood. I don’t see any reason why this could not be done but I’m not even close to being a pro on free motion quilting. All I can say is try it.

It is highly recommended using Balsa wood rather than any other type of wood. The main reason is due to the denseness of the wood. The denser the wood the harder your machine has to work to push the needle through plus a greater chance the wood will crack-- not something you want.

I’ve checked with several people in the industry and all stated balsa wood is the best option for this type of craft. Now, the thickness does make a big difference.

I’ve tested 1/16-inch, 1/20-inch and 1/32-inch thick Balsa wood. (See photos above in the 1/16-inch, and 1/32-inch thickness wood. Last photo outline stitch ) The best for holding up to the serious abuse the wood takes is the 1/16” thick wood. The 1/20” thick can handle the work as long as it is not a very intense stitching whereas the 1/32“ cracked and warped.

I imagine if you were doing only an outline type embroidery the 1/32-inch thickness may hold up but definitely not anything of intensity. In all cases make sure the stabilizer is supported with the entire hoop and make the piece of wood as big as possible. The bigger the piece of wood the more support. If you are embroidering a very dense design the wood will have separation points. This is something you will need to determine if it is acceptable to what is being done.

Once the work is done, hold the piece up to the light and see how much shines through. The lamination stage will be the final determination. You do not want any glue coming through to the top. My first pieces of Balsa wood were purchased from JoAnn’s. But to get something wider than 4-inches I had to order the wood. The place I found was “Specialized Balsa Wood, LLC out of Loveland, Colorado.

The best needle I have found for this type of embroidery is a titanium coated, size 75/11 or smaller. All other types, got through the project but became dull towards the end and ended up separating the wood more than necessary.

Several types of embroidery thread were tested, Madera Polyneon, Foriani and Isacord with using Bottom Line for the bobbin. All brands worked fine with my Baby Lock.

Once you are done embroidering make sure you tear off the excess stabilizer carefully. This step could cause a weak point in the wood to crack so please be careful. Removal of the excess stabilizer is important. The stabilizer sheet could separate from the embroidered wood after lamination, thus giving you loose sections, again not something you want.

Now you are ready to laminate the piece to your main wood piece. Follow the instructions of the glue product you choose to use. Once the glue is dry then you can sand the edges to a smooth finish.

Congratulations, you are finished.


Lisa said...

Wow! Now that is thinking outside the box. ;)

Alena said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Maggie Szafranski said...

Awesome post, Bobbi! I am sure my embroidery club is going to try this one out!