Mixed Media Surface Decoration

Mixed Media Surface Decoration

With the latest quarterly challenge being Surface Design, and “mixed media” in particular, I thought I would share a couple of the things I’ve made recently that might fit into this category.  The first is these wet felted Merino pendants with acrylic paper inclusions and hand embroidery.

Acrylic papers in assorted colours and textures

I came across a stack of the papers while having a sort out in my studio. They had been sitting in a drawer for several years, being saved “just in case” they might come in useful! They are in a range of beautiful colours and have wonderful textures but my mind was in “use it or lose it” mode…….there was no way they were being thrown out so the pendants came into being.

Wet Felted Merino Pendants

The second project was an experiment to see how acrylic and Inktense paints would work as a colouring medium for white Merino. I had seen an “elf” style hat and fancied having a go at making one so this became the base for my paint experiment.

Having seen on here that Ruth has a lot of success printing with acrylic on felt, and knowing that Acrylic and Inktense paints are both non toxic and colourfast when dry, (to be colourfast Inktense must be mixed with water, not used in dry form) they both seemed like a reasonable option for colouring a hat.

I started by applying Inktense to the dangly bits at the sides and all was looking good until I noticed I was loosing a lot of colour as the paint started to drip off the end of the wool and puddle on the worktop…..too much water in the mix! I blotted the dangles to remove a lot of the moisture and applied paint again but this time a lot more concentrated. It still ran a little but the wool retained more of the colour and it didn’t stiffen at all. I’m sure if I had applied that concentration of acrylic it would have been very stiff!


Next I tackled the main body of the hat. For this I used watered down acrylic, my logic being that the more water I used the less likely it would be to make the wool stiff.  I wanted to avoid saturating the hat and having another puddle so I lightly brushed the acrylic over the wool, some of the fibres not being touched by the brush. Once the acrylic had dried I overpainted with Inktense and I really liked the mottled effect this combination created. Lastly I used thick acrylic around the base of the “tail” as I figured this is the one area that would benefit from being stiffened. After leaving it to dry for a couple of days I hand washed the hat to check it was colour fast and was relieved to find that non of the colour washed out.

Acrylic and Inktense paints used to colour white Merino

To finish off I added a stem with leaves (coloured Merino – not painted) and some colonial knots at the base of the tail. I’m really pleased with the result so will definitely be applying paint to fibre again at some point. Have you tried painting your felt?



27 thoughts on “Mixed Media Surface Decoration

  1. The hat is absolutely gorgeous! The embroidery at the base of the tail is a very pretty addition and we like the variation in the colour of the silks you used.
    The pendants are a wonderful combination of felt, stitch, paper and bead, and the leather thonging is the perfect finish.

    1. Thanks Lyn & Annie, the hat was fun to make and I’ve since made those pendants in different colours and wear them all the time.

  2. Are you doing anything to the intense to set the colors? I have tried (unsuccessfully) to use inktense on silk scarf for wearing and used too much fiber base medium so it came out too stiff. I am wondering about the lightsafe of the color. Love your piece. So you started with white wool, made the hat then colored it, right? Why would you not use a colored wool to start? Did you do this just for experimentation? Just curious. Seems like it would be easier to start off with a color with the wool. Would like to hear more of your process! Thanks

    1. Originally I made the hat with white wool and the intention was to dye it using Procion. When I read about the mixed media challenge I decided to try painting the hat instead, just to see how the paint might behave and whether or not I could achieve an interesting blend of colours. The blending turned out well so it’s something I may do again.

    2. I think it is amazing you got that much colorant in the felt without it binding up and becoming stiff. I am so intrigued!

    3. I just wish you could feel the wool with the Inktense on it….it really is very soft. I did use a fair amount of water with it, also with the acrylic paint, so that would have helped retain the soft handle.

  3. Ok, I reread your blog. You are using inktense paints. I have inktense pencils. Are you in the UK? I am in the USA. Perhaps we don’t have inktense paints here.

    1. Yes Laura, I’m in the UK. You can use the pencils as “paint” by simply loading your brush with water and taking the colour from the pencil point….I often do this if my Inktense Blocks aren’t to hand.

  4. The pendants are beautiful, very stylish in my humble opinion! Wonderful hat too, fun, and lovely colours.

  5. Karen, your hat is marvellous! I absolutely love it.

    I would have never thought painting wool with acrylic paints would yield a soft fibre. I’d also never say that hat was painted!
    And as a curiosity, there’s an ink brand called Intenze, it’s for tattoos 🙂 Marvellous if you ever decide to paint fabric, once it’s there it never comes out!

    1. Wow! I just took a look at the Intenze web site….the examples of work are incredible! Thanks for the tip Leonor. I don’t know if it’s available in the UK but will find out as it could be wonderful for fabric painting.

  6. Wonderful experiment with fabulous results on the hat. I find it hard, too, to believe it would be soft. But if it were ink based that makes sense. The pendants are lovely and a great use of the fancy papers with a nice mix of media. Great job!

  7. Karen, thanks for the blog post, it’s great. I haven’t tried the Inktense on felt yet, not sure why not since I have them but now it’s on my list of things to try. I was wondering on the pendants how you kept the papers from wrinkling up with the shrinkage of the felt?

    1. The papers are very firm but I also wondered if they might suffer during the Felting process. They didn’t but thats probably due to the fact that I used prefelts and lots of gentle rubbing to combine the layers.

  8. I was thrilled to read the blog about Inktense and acrylic! I have really struggled with surface detail on most of my felt paintings. It’s so hard to find anything that marks on felt. I have both Inktense and acrylics and now I know what to do. So very grateful for this article.

  9. Ooohh! This is very exciting. It sounds like you just used water and the Inktense blocks. Am I correct that there is no need to use textile medium? Did you heat set it? Thanks!
    I love the pendants, too! I’m a little puzzled about how you made the hole so small on such a small object…..It doesn’t look like you simply cut it.

    Thanks for some wonderful inspiration!

    1. Great to hear you’ve been inspired Karen! In answer to your questions, I didn’t use textile medium, just water, and as long as Inktense have been used with water they are colour fast. The holes in the pendants were cut using tiny embroidery scissors, they are one of my “couldn’t do without” tools!

    2. Terrific! Thanks so much for the tips! I will be experimenting very soon. =)

  10. The pendants and the hat are gorgeous, Karen 🙂 I did actually get around to buying inktense blocks and pencils after one of your previous blog posts, so I’ll add this to my list of things to try 🙂 I love the effect on the hat and the little stitching detail 🙂

    1. Thanks Zed. You will love the Inktense! I use them on my art quilts to paint backgrounds, trees, etc and you can get some lovely results with them.

  11. Your hat is wonderfully painterly – and the stitched knots work really well. Love the pendants too, especially with the embroidery. I’ve been enclosing things with felt recently – you’ve inspired me to think of adding stitch as well!

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