First Quarter Challenge – Mixed Media Surface Design

First Quarter Challenge – Mixed Media Surface Design

As many of you may know, I do a lot of mixed media on felt. I especially enjoy trying out ideas that are not usually considered appropriate for felt. Some work, some don’t, but I do like to see what happens. The mad scientist in me, I guess. My latest explorations are in paint pouring. You can find tons of YouTube videos about how to do this so I’m not going to go into the details here. Paint pouring is usually done on canvas or hard surfaces. But I wanted to see what would happen when I poured on felt or on cotton fabric. Would it work? Would I be able to machine stitch through the fabric or felt after the paint was dry? What else could I do with a piece of fabric or felt that had paint poured on it?

Our group got together last Friday to do a session of paint pouring. Everyone else was pouring on canvas, board, ceramic tile or some other flat surface. I had prepared a couple of canvas ahead of time by covering with felt or cotton fabric and stapling the backside while stretching the fabric tight.

Here’s the backs of the canvas and then the front sides. The dark purple one is the felt.

Normally you follow a procedure as above that Sally poured on a black ceramic tile. It’s really a lot of fun doing this because the results are pretty random with this type of pour and it is exciting to watch and see the changes that occur in the paint.

Here’s the tile after it’s completely covered. It wasn’t dry yet so it probably still changed from this photo but you get the idea.

I started with the cotton fabric covered canvas. I poured some white paint on the corners to cover completely. Corners are the last to get covered usually and I didn’t want any issues because the paint didn’t travel as well as on canvas.

Then I did a “dirty pour” as seen in Sally’s tile photos above. And it worked! I haven’t seen the dried piece yet as it is still at Paula’s house. These take a while to dry.

Next up felt! I should have done the same type of pour that I did on the cotton but I decided to try pouring the different colors separately which you can see on the left. The minute the paint hit the felt, it barely spread at all. Very little mixing of paint. So I decide to try adding more black and white paint at the edges and spreading them lightly over the surface. That is the photo on the right. Ugh. Pretty ugly and disappointing. Again, I haven’t seen it dried yet and we’ll see if it can be salvaged in some way. The next step is to take it off the canvas once it’s dry and see if it can be stitched. Hopefully, I won’t kill my sewing machine.

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Here are some other people’s results on various substrates. We had a great time and I will carry on with my experiment once it is dry. I’ll show you the results even if they are the ugliest thing ever!

29 thoughts on “First Quarter Challenge – Mixed Media Surface Design

  1. The paint pouring produces some excellent results Ruth but I guess the felt, with its rough surface, interferes with the flow. However, photo no1 of the felt looks pretty good even though it’s not what you were aiming for.

    1. Thanks Lyn! The end result isn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. Now I need to try the machine stitching on it and see what happens.

  2. What an interesting experiment. I am trying so very hard not to try paint pouring, but keep being mesmerised by Youtube! I really don’t have time to start anything new, but I so want to. Now you have thrown felt & fabric into the mix….. argghhhh I am so tempted! Thanks for sharing your experience.

    1. Thanks Tracey, according to Rosie below, it won’t be an issue. I do think I’ll need to get some heavy duty needles though.

  3. Hi Ruth, don’t worry you won’t kill your sewing machine. I have a friend who is really into this. She did pours on both canvas and thinner cotton material. She asked me to sew them into simple bags. It’s much like sewing leather. I used a leather needle and a roller or Teflon foot. I was even able to put a zipper in one. Good luck.

    1. Thanks Rosie, it’s good to know that this will work. Now I have to pull the felt and fabric off the canvas backing. Hopefully, it isn’t permanently glued together.

      Does you friend stretch her fabric over a frame to pour?

  4. What a cool experiment! I may have to try this–thanks for the inspiration. It brought back a very old memory of my 10-year-old self in 1969… spending a long, hot summer at my grandparents’ Alabama farm, I was bored. It was too hot to be outside. Grandpa took me to a “dime store” in “Town” and I bought a few bottles of crazy colored nail polish (green, blue, yellow–all the grown-up ladies just rolled their eyes at my colors–beautiful to a 10 year old). Anyway, I took some cardboard, and started dropping blobs of nail polish on it, then dropping different colored blobs into the still wet blobs and it did really quirky things… just like this “new” technique of paint pouring! 🙂 Somewhere in a treasure box, I still have one of my nailpolish creations from 1969. Looks like the tile piece above.

    1. Thanks Meterrilee! Sounds like you’re way ahead of your time. Just goes to show that nothing is really new. Give it a try, it’s fun!

  5. She uses painter tape to adhere to a flat surface like cardboard. you can put thick plastic on the card board so it won’t adhere. You can also separate your surface at about 24 hours, before it is totally cured.
    The thinner fabric was easier to sew. Especially if I wanted to hide the seams then turn the fabric right side out. Some seams I did with a zigzag stitch (so the stitching stayed on the outside) those looked nice and were easier than turning the fabric. I was lining the bags with a cotton batik fabric.
    The painted fabric was surprisingly supple. I hope you have fun and success.

  6. Fascinating! I’d never heard of paint pouring, especially on felt. Like Lyn, I assume that the felt fibres prevent the paint from spreading easily. What about splattering (a la Jackson Pollock)? Could be messy though!

    Even if you aren’t happy with the result, I think it could look completely different after stitching. Fingers crossed for your sewing machine! 😉

    1. Thanks Kim, the paint pouring is really messy without adding the splattering component 🙂 I think I just need a sturdy needle but it might be stuck to the canvas and I might have to go another route now.

  7. Very cool Ruth. I wonder if thinning the paint would make it move more onthe felt or perhaps you need to use one of the spinning boards I saw on facebook, get some centrifugal force going.

    1. Thanks Ann, this paint is thinned down as it is. I think next time, I would use a less hairy piece of felt, such as prefelt merino. Haven’t tried the spinning method yet but I’m sure we’ll get to it eventually 🙂

  8. Great experiment Ruth! It reminds me of marble painting on paper or to some extent ice dyeing. I love the unpredictability and the fun results. I look forward to seeing how it works with the machine stitching.

    1. Thanks Marilyn, it is kind of like marbling but much less control. Closer to ice dyeing in the way you have minimal control over the results besides choosing your colors. Hopefully, the machine stitching will make them better 🙂

  9. I agree with Lyn. Yeah, the felt didn’t get the same sort of results as the other surfaces do, but it still looked good. Maybe don’t think of it as a step in making something, but the finished item, with the felt being a different surface. Or, maybe add the stitching first, that bubbly free motion technique you do, it might work s a guide for the paint? I’ve had results like your geyish pink one when I’ve tried to ‘improve’ paintings 🙂

    1. Thanks Zed. The felt actually turned out better than I expected. Not beautiful but will work for a background perhaps. We’ll see how the stitching works once I decide what I am going to stitch 🙂

  10. I came across this post whilst down the rabbit hole (about all I can manage to do in this heat). Have you done any more posts on using the results of your pourings Ruth?

    1. Sorry to hear about your heat wave Ann. I have not used paint pouring for much else. The problem with it in my opinion is that all paint pouring looks very similar. Yes, you have different colors but the patterns are always easily distinguishable as paint pouring. It’s hard to stitch through. I did make some artwork with “skins” by cutting it up and collaging it. Skins are paint poured on plastic, let dry flat and pealed off the plastic surface. I still have a bunch that I should probably throw away at this point.

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