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Digital Printing Alternative Surfaces: Felt

By KathyAnne White

One of the surfaces that intrigues me to print is felt, so it was wonderful when Suzanne Morgan and I decided to talk about the possibilities of my printing and her felting. The pieces that Suzanne creates with nuno felting lend themselves to digital printing. One of her recent videos on felting couldn't be better for the printed surface. You can visit Suzanne's Blog for information and to see what is happening with her work. Since I have already viewed her new video (click here to find out about it) I can say you really want to learn her technique. She makes it look easy and gives simple straight forward directions. I myself an excited about the ideas that can transpire when printing felted fabric.

About a week ago I received a package of felted pieces from Suzanne and immediately got to printing them. We will go from surface to print with the steps in between.  

This first one is a heavier chiffon—rusted—tea dyed with a felted piece in the center of the bottom part of the chiffon.

1a taupe chiffon feltedThis piece is the subject of a monthly workshop for KathyAnne Art members this month. In the workshop I show how I planned the print, what changes I made to the image file and demonstrate the print process through the Printer Setting boxes for the Epson Stylus Photo R3000.

Here I will show you the printed piece on the carrier sheet and also off the carrier sheet.

2 chiffon taupe on carrier felt prints_2262Print on the carrier sheet, you can see the image printed over the edge of the chiffons edge.

1 chiffon taupe felt prints_2264Final print—10" x 23"

 Next image is on a lightweight chiffon—fully felted. The felt measures 11" x 7.5" and is an image that I used again on a darker colored piece of partially felted felt.

Here is the felt alone—

9 white felt piece 11 x 6.5blog

And the felted piece with an image.

10 nz plant white felt prints_2249 

The same image above was printed on a darker colored piece of felt. This piece is not completely felted so it could be felted more when it was printed. After applying the precoat the surface holds together and will stay just the way it is. If it was felted more it would change the image completely and I am not sure how much it would deteriorate the print. Could be interesting since the image would end up being distressed.

7a turqs long triangle

The colors from the felt will have an effect on the print. Since it is the same print as the white felt above you will get an idea of how much a darker under color will influence that printed piece. The following picture shows the felt on the carrier sheet. Notice the edges have been printed over so the felt will be covered completely. There is 1/2" masking tape around the edges to secure the felt along with a spray of 505 a Temporary Fabric Adhesive. The spray adhesive keeps the felt from lifting and stretching during printing.

turq felt carrier prints_2266

Here then is the finished print.

turq felt prints_2269


11 el cap taupe no print 13x8This piece is really sweet in person. The colors are soft and will color a print, but not take it over. It was coated with the same inkAID precoat I used on all the felt pieces—Clear Matte. There are plenty of precoats to try on these pieces, but my main thought was to let the surface show through with nothing but a clear precoat. As I continue to play with digital printing on felt I will start to change the precoats and print the same images over with several precoats on different base pieces. 

11 el capitan print felt prints_2243In the print the more vivid turquoise horizontal lines were created just by the ink on the light off white of the designs on the felt. Where the felt is creamy and off white the true colors of the print emerged. Where the felt has more color the color blended with the ink. All sorts of factors go into designing the felt and combining the best image. At this time this is pure play with me. Although I know what will happen with overprinting, it is fun to try ideas and watch the results.

3 small with rust 12x3For this smaller piece (12" x 3" 3.00mm chiffon, rusted, fully felted) I created a small pattern of a floral image.

Here's what the overprint on the carrier sheet looked like—

4 small rusted felt_carrier sheet2270

 and the finished print.

5 small rust felt_no carrier 2273


One of my favorite parts of felt is the random edges like the ones in the image directly above. When printing I preserved the edges by overprinting and having the entire piece overprinted. All the felt here has been printed over the edge to cover the entire surface with the print.

turq_white hankie opposite10.5x7.5


This piece has a white silk hankie on the back. I am in the process of printing the white side also, but it won't be ready for this post. The print on this side is a black and white image. This way the color shows through the white and grey areas as it is blocked out in the black areas. 

turq floral felt prints_2250


The texture was so inviting on this side of the felt I just had to print it.

The last piece is a bit longer than the rest of the pieces— 10" x 33"  — partially felted.

white long piece partially felted


Printed image on the carrier sheet.

felt prints succulent carrier_2254


Printed image—

felt prints_2246



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