Why Not?

One of the things that’s fascinated me for years and years is the belief that anything you can do on paper, you can do on fabric, and anything you can do in a journal, you can do on a garment. This has led, of course, to a ton of experiments in my efforts to find ways to do stuff that’s permanent, that will go through the wash, that will stay on without falling off. Some of the experiments have worked well, and some, eh, not so much. My original Journal Skirt has a brad on it, one meant for scrapbooking and part of an alphabet (this one is an X) that has been on there forever and has been washed dozens of times with only a little chipping. I’m actually amazed that it’s held up so well seeing as how it was never meant to be, you know, laundered. Few things are: most of the embellishments and ornaments, even those intended for clothing, are meant to be removed before laundering. Or you’re supposed to have the whole garment dry-cleaned. I say, “Whatever.” I don’t dry-clean stuff, and who has time to remove things and then replace them? Eh.


Here’s the thing, and it applies just as much to what you do as to what I do: what’s the worst that could happen if you try it out? If you experiment with using something in a way it wasn’t meant to be used (unless it’s something that will catch on fire or explode or give off hazardous vapors—but that’s a whole nother thang, as we all know), and it doesn’t work out, so what?


So when JoAnne’s had one of those coupons where you could get 50% off your entire purchase for 7.5 minutes just before closing on a Sunday (OK, that’s an exaggeration, but not by much: these sales don’t last long, and they’re not convenient, but they ARE worth the effort to get there), and I saw a display of these metal embellishments by Tim Holtz:

Freeman-Zachery why not?


I was all like, well, why not? I’d been admiring these little bits for a long time, but since I don’t work with paper, and since they aren’t cheap, I hadn’t bought any. The sale, though, combined with a kind of recklessness—what could go wrong, anyway? and who cares if it does?—spurred my purchase.


[OK, confession time: this happened a couple months ago. This photo was taken this morning. That means these unopened packages have been sitting on my desk, waiting for a return of that reckless abandon. End of confession.]

I’m going to sew these on a garment, or on various garments, and I’m going to wear the clothes and launder the clothes and wear them again, and I’m going to see what happens. What’s the worst that could happen? Well, I made sure nothing I bought was small enough to go through those little holes in the bottom of the washing machine, because that would be pretty bad, tearing up the washer. Other than that, though? I could end up with ruined metal pieces, or holes in the garments where the metal bits are pulled off. They could rust and stain the fabric. But so what? Rust is good; it’s an opportunity for experimentation. Holes can be covered with mending or appliqué. The metal bits are supposed to look old and funky, so anything that happens to them will just further that unless the old funkiness is really just paint that washes off, and then I’ll have shiny metal bits, and that will be OK, too.

As long as you’re not going to ruin expensive equipment (the washer, your kiln, the Dremel), there’s no good reason not to play around and see what happens. It might not work, and then you can do something else. Or it might turn into something way cooler than anything you imagined, and who knows where *that* might take you?

P.S. Have fun! It’s really not that scary.


Ricë is the author of Living the Creative Life, Creative Time and Space, and Destination Creativity. She also blogs at The Voodoo Cafe.

Mixed Media RevolutionExperiment with using uncommon materials with Mixed Media Revolution by Darlene Olivia McElroy and Sandra Duran Wilson.






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One Response to Why Not?

  1. linnerlu says:

    Rice, you always have a way of giving me the courage (it really doesn’t take that much courage, does it? just the idea of it!) to do something different. Thanks!
    Linda Teddlie Minton