Tyvek Part II: Using a Heat Gun

by Marjorie Lee Jin En DeQuincy

Tyvek – Part I provided directions for painting and marking Tyvek. This tutorial discusses how an iron or heat gun can be used to manipulate Tyvek into an artistic element. It can distort or even “vaporize” the Tyvek depending on how hot or how long the heat is applied. Because Tyvek does not fray, it provides a clean edge for narrow or intricate motifs.

Let’s start with distortion on unpainted Tyvek. Cut a piece of plain Tyvek:

Note:  Make sure that you are either outside or in a place where there is PLENTY of ventilation. You can also use a respirator mask.

Place the Tyvek on a Teflon sheet and cover with another Teflon sheet. Sandwiching the Tyvek between the Teflon sheets saves the work surface from damage and prevents the Tyvek from sticking to your iron. It also prevents the Tyvek from jumping off your work surface when the heat is applied to it. Wait until the Tyvek has cooled down before you touch it to avoid burning yourself. This is how the unpainted Tyvek looks — distorted on the heat-applied side.

Either side of the distorted Tyvek can be painted. The reverse side is painted below.

The Tyvek should be rotated to determine which orientation you want to use.  From this perspective, I saw a pony peering at me. By adding painted fabric strips and an eye, I coaxed the pony out into the open.

You can also paint the Tyvek before you distort it with heat. If you have a nonstick soleplate on your iron, you can skip using the top Teflon sheet, but consider using a stick (knitting needle or bamboo skewer) to hold down one edge of the Tyvek. Heated Tyvek curls up and can quickly move off your work surface when you least expect it.

Here is how the painted Tyvek looks when distorted.This is a rotation of the painted Tyvek. I think I see an elephant’s big eye peeking at me.

Below is the reverse side of the painted Tyvek. Could this be an albino gorilla profile?

In looking at the rotated painted Tyvek again, I was charmed by the shy elephant. By tempting it with some grasses, the elephant stepped out for a snack.