Felt is a type of wool (or sometimes synthetic) fabric that is made of matted, crisscrossing individual fibers blended together in no particular order. Because of this characteristic, painting on felt can be a fun way to experiment with the texture and create interesting results for your work.
So, can you paint on felt? Yes, you can paint on felt, but it is extremely absorbent and will require thicker paints like acrylic that hasn’t been watered down or has been mixed with fabric medium. Acrylic will even create a nice layer of protection against moisture.
If you want to experiment with painting on felt, let’s take a look at the best way to do that so you can let your imagination run wild.
What Type Of Paint To Use With Felt
The first thing you need to know about felt is that it is extremely absorbent. This is true for felt that is made from wool, and the absorbent ability is reduced somewhat when it is made from synthetic fibers, but it is still highly effective in absorbing liquid.
What does it mean for painting? When you paint with felt, if you use a thin liquid paint like watercolor, it can be completely soaked up by the fabric, and your designs will bleed all over the surface, creating a massive blob that looks nothing like what you want to paint.
Because of this material’s absorbent ability, we find that acrylic paint that hasn’t been watered down actually works best with felt.
Acrylic paint, especially the type that you can buy in tubes, has a thicker consistency that is easy to pick up with a paintbrush and spread around the surface, but you don’t have to worry about the paint spreading too quickly on the felted surface and ruining your design.
Acrylic paint will dry semi-waterproof on your felted surface, but if you want to take the paint quality to the next level, you can add fabric medium to the acrylic paint to increase its quality.
This step is optional, but if you are planning on washing the felt later, then adding a fabric medium is definitely recommended. This is an opaque liquid that won’t affect the paint colors, but it will keep the paint from cracking or peeling afterward, and the colors will stay true even after some time.
How To Paint Felt
What you will need to paint felt:
- Acrylic paint
- Acrylic or fabric medium (optional)
- Acrylic paintbrushes in the size that you want (bigger brushes for broad, abstract strokes and smaller brushes for fine details)
- A flat surface
- A piece of felt
- A piece of plastic to protect your working surface
How To Paint Felt
- Lay the plastic down on your working surface. Since there is a risk of the paint soaking through the fabric, you don’t want the paint to stain your desk or table. Lay your sheet flat on the working surface with the felt on top. Note: acrylic paint can be washed away with water since it is water-based paint. If you accidentally get some paint on your working area, you can easily wipe it away with a damp cloth. However, you’ll have to do this before it dries or it will dry waterproof.
- Mix your acrylic medium and paint (optional). We recommend using equal parts medium and paint, and you should pay attention to the paint consistency so that it doesn’t become too thin. Otherwise, the felt will just soak it up. If you want to be a bit conservative, you can use one part medium, and two parts paint and adjust the consistency from there.
- If you need to create outlines for the paint, you can use fabric chalk or pencil to outline your design. Don’t use any kind of marker in this step since the marker ink can also soak through the felt layer and mess up your design. This step is optional, felt works best with abstract designs, since you can utilize the texture of the fabric to your advantage.
- With your paintbrushes, paint your design on the felt surface. If you are using multiple colors, then you will need to wash the paint from your brush after using each color to make sure that the colors don’t mix. Then, wipe the brush dry before picking up the next color to prevent the paint from being too diluted. There are many different painting techniques that you can use in this step to experiment with the fabric’s quality and texture. Dry brushing is one technique that works well with felt because it barely uses any paint while creating broad strokes on your painting surface.
After you are done painting the felt, you can let it dry for several hours, picking up the felt occasionally to make sure that the back is not sticking to the plastic underneath. After a few hours, when the acrylic feels dry to the touch, your felt painting should be ready!
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