Painting on Felt - Felt Journaling

The questions I was asking with this #feltjournaling piece was "can I paint on felt? And can I felt on it after it's been painted?" 

But before we get into that, first things first. I wanted to talk about a readily available felt you can use with your felt journals if you're not too keen on making your own prefelt, and that would be this stuff:

There is an aspect of my life that I don't typically share, which is that I suffer from chronic pain (and I may or may not write a separate about how it affects my creative-self, and what I do to allow myself to create while at the same time being gentle with myself). Luckily I have a lot of good days, but when fit hits the shan, I'm out of commission (read survival mode) for at least a week or two then need to be extra gentle until I get back to the good days. That being said, wet felting involves quite a bit more energy than needle felting, so that kind of puts a damper on the felt journaling pages. Or so one might think. Enter Dimensions 100% wool felt. This stuff is THICK. Like a quarter of an inch thick. Also, it's fairly cheap for the amount of wool it uses, especially if you buy them on sale, which is how I ended up with this one. You can find them in the rather sparse and sad needle felting section of your local Michael's. I don't recommend buying their roving or their kits (you can find infinitely better and cheaper wool as well as much better kits online), but their felt is definitely quite handy. When life hands you lemons, make a lemon mojito.

Since my pages are about 11x11, this comes in the perfect size. I just trimmed off the excess so it can match the other pages I've been doing. Now, let's get painting. 

For painting, I used a textile medium to mix in with my acrylic paints. I happen to have lots of Folk Art ones because I love the colors, and it's cheap to stock up on all the different colors as opposed to buying the artist-quality tubes. I've also found that they hold up really well, and I have a few things that have sat outside through two years' worth of seasons and still look as bright as the day I painted them. The textile medium I had on hand was Ceramcoat's, and though the directions specify using their brand of acrylics, any will do. You do want to pay attention to the ratio of how much medium you use with the acrylic paint. If you use more of the medium, your paint will become quite thin and soak into the material more, less and it'll remain brighter, though it'll leave a thick acrylic coating. If you're planning on trying to felt on top of it, I would recommend thinning it down to about 50/50. 

The green at the bottom was using the recommended 1 part medium to 2 parts acrylic, and the white and aqua colors were 50/50. I needed to really lay it on thick in the square where I'm planning to write to get it that bright. The felt really started soaking up that paint quite a bit, but due to the thickness of the felt, none of it leaked to the back. Make sure you let it dry before working with it (I let it dry overnight). I really love the rough texture of the paint on the felt.  Because of the way I'm using this, I was not worried about heat setting or any of that other stuff. If you choose to paint on anything you're going to wash/wear, make sure you follow the directions on the textile medium. 

With this project, I also decided to try a new material. So far I've been playing around with needle felting with silk sarees, but I want to see what other materials I can use in my projects, so last weekend I headed over to Joann's fabric store and rummaged through their remnants bin. I love digging through the remnants bin, because you get 50% off of whatever the original fabric price was, and I'm much more likely to explore new materials instead of having to pick from the bolts and pay full price. It's just so hard to choose otherwise, not that I haven't done that. When it comes to playing around and exploring, I find more excitement in figuring out what I can do with the materials I have on hand than having to plan everything out ahead of time and then go and acquire the materials I need. Though, if I have a really good idea, I'll do that too. I guess you could say I like to hoard potential. Last weekend I picked up tons of remnants. Actually I got so many awesome deals and clearance items, I only spent a third of what everything would have cost without all the discounts. The kids were so happy when I started unwrapping all the remnants at home, they were dancing with them all over the house (I had to keep reminding them to be gentle lest they all become a frayed mess)! This one is probably one of my favorites, and I just had to use it with this project:

The label on this one is Cosm Sparkle Mesh Red 58," with 68% polyester, 17% metallic and 15% nylon. Looking it up on Joann's fabrics, they have something that looks just like it called Sparkle Mesh, though on there it says 49% polyester, 36% metallic and 15% nylon. I'm going to assume it's the same material, and either the label or the website is wrong on the exact fiber makeup of this product. That doesn't matter, but this does:

As a synthetic-fiber mesh, I wasn't sure if it would act like tulle, which is not really feltable (and why it's used to assist in wet felting or to help hold your work down when using an embellisher. Except this mesh worked really well! It attached quite nicely to the felt underneath without the use of any wool over top. I wonder if it's because the mesh is quite more open and loose than tulle. No matter, I stabbed at it and it stuck! The rest of the process was similar to what I had discussed in my previous felt journaling posts.

I used a silk sari in one of the hearts. Other hearts I just used wool (the dark purple and teal ones were ones I dyed at home). As you can see with the dark purple one, it felted onto the painted square just fine, despite the fact that I used several coats of paint in that area. I had no issue stabbing the needle through the painted surface. I also went over both the fabric and the wool with more paint, this time just using straight acrylic without any medium. I then outlined the hearts and the quote with my sewing machine set up to do free motion quilting, and sewed on the heart button for a finishing touch. The heart button is from Belle Buttons by Dritz (they have some really adorable buttons with dangly bits on them, even ones that look like sheep with little dangling legs). 

Final thoughts: I don't believe that any fibers that are coated in paint will actually felt. Since needle felting entangles and punches the other fibers through, it won't have an issue of sticking in place, but I wouldn't consider it durable. How your final piece will be used is definitely something that needs to be considered. For strictly art/sculptural applications, I think painting on felt is worth giving a try.

"You are much deeper, much broader, much brighter than any idea you could have of yourself."

Happy Felting!