Tyvek is a product made from 100% polyester which can be distressed and encourage to change form by the use of a heat gun.

Technically known as "Spun-Bonded Olefin", this product is also used for packaging, construction, protective garments, medical packaging, graphics, tags and labels. It is made from high density polyethylene fibers. It is strong, lightweight, rip-proof, flexible, smooth, low linting, opaque and resistant to water, chemicals, abrasion and aging.

This material generally comes in two weights: heavyweight and light weight.

This product looks and feels like paper. It is firm and can be fed through an inkjet printer. Never put Tyvek through a photocopier or laser printer as the ink is transferred by heat!

Light weight Tyvek is softer and more fabric-like and will give you a bubble effect when heat is applied. The effect is more subtle than the effect created using heavy weight Tyvek. Care is needed when heating lightweight Tyvek as the fabric can disappear almost completely if too much heat is applied.

Contemporary curtain made from Tyvek


Using an iron
Tyvek must always be placed between two layers of baking parchment with the iron set to cotton. Allow the iron to hover over the surface of the Tyvek without pressing down. The rate of shrinkage will depend on how hot the iron is, how much paint has been applied and whether there are any more resists to the application of heat e.g. stitching and how thin the Tyvek film is.
Health and Safety
Always turn the iron off when you finished using it.
Always use baking parchment.
Let the Tyvek cool before touching as it will retain some heat.
Let your classmates know if you have used the iron and it is still hot.

Using a hot air gun
Place the Tyvek on a non-combustible surface and ‘zap’ with the air gun. Do not move the air gun around but let the heat concentrate in one area until there has been sufficient distortion.
Health & Safety
Always lay the hot air gun on to the metal map
Beware of any other tool you may use that can retain heat
Never point the hot air gun at anybody
Only apply heat to water based products
Wear a mask if fumes are troublesome or use in a well-ventilated area

Using a soldering iron
A soldering iron can be used to incise the surface of the Tyvek, especially when making beads. It is possible to buy different tips for the soldering iron which will give you different marks.
Health & Safety
Do not touch the end of the soldering iron. It is hot!


  • You can write on it with crayons, ink and some markers. Regular pencils will not work well.
  • You can print on it with an ink-jet printer ink. Laser printers are not suitable, since their high heat will melt the product.
  • You can affix most adhesives to the product.
  • Colour it with ink
  • Paint it with Lumiere or any acrylic paint
  • Colour with watercolours, pastels, dyes
  • You can stamp it with rubber stamps.
  • You can cut it into intricate shapes, even fringes, with little danger of it tearing.
  • You can sew it.
  • You can make beads and embellishments.
  • You can use it to strengthen the spine of a book.
  • You can dry emboss and heat emboss.

This is the Tyvek handout that we used in class.

Links to websites that show how artists have used Tyvek.

Ruth Lee is a textile artist who is currently using knitted wire in her work but has previouly used Tyvek surfaces.

Gwen Hedley in her book Surfaces for Stitch demonstrates how to use Tyvek for making textured beads.