I happened to also be experimenting with blocking baskets using a stiffener I've never tried before. Epsom salts, dissolved in water. It was recommended by someone who used it to stiffen snowflake Christmas ornaments. Basically, Epsom salts are dissolved into hot water until the water is saturated (no more will dissolve into it), then the items are soaked in the water and pinned out, like the usual wet blocking.
Having mixed up enough to soak several larger items in it, I was left with a bowl full of dissolved Epsom salts, and I didn't want to waste it. So when I made the bracelets and was ready to block them, I wet one with water, as usual, while the other got a quick dip in the Epsom salt saturated water.
This is what they looked like, after drying overnight.
Visually, there is no difference. The top one (a slightly wider bracelet) is the one blocked with Epsom salts, the bottom one with plain water.
The water one is much softer. After unpinning them, the water one also retracted slightly in length. It also was more likely to twist around itself, though nowhere near as much as it did before blocking.
Here, you can see that the Epsom salt soaked one is slightly stiffer and keeps its shape more when the bracelet is folded in half. I was somewhat concerned that it would be somewhat scratchy, as well, but it isn't at all.
The Epsom salt bracelet was MUCH easier to put on one handed. That slight stiffness made putting the toggle through the loop so much easier. In the plain water blocked one, the loop tended to get easily pushed away while trying to get the toggle through. It was also harder to put it on without twisting the bracelet.
Overall, I think I prefer the Epsom salt soaked bracelet. The only thing I would change in the future is to not stretch it out as much when pinning it down. I'm used to it bouncing back again slightly, like the plain water blocked one did. With the Epsom salt one, the length it's pinned to it the length you get! So it's a bit longer than I intended it to be. Still, I would definitely recommend using it for blocking jewelry items, or anything that would normally be starched to hold its shape.
Until next time;
Get Crafting! :-)