Our local region of the IFA (International Feltmakers Association) is collaborating with Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills to produce a felt exhibition inspired by the mill or it’s contents. It’s a great place to visit with lots to see, I urge you to go and if it’s wool you like then next Saturday 3rd June is Leeds Wool Festival.
As part of the industrial past of Leeds there are some printing presses and the conservators said they could use one of them to print onto our felt if desired and they proved it by running a test piece on commercially produced felt using oil based ink.
I was keen to see if we could print onto pre felt (part made felt) and fabric and then continue to felt. Would the print survive the felting process? would we still be able to read the words after or would they be too distorted? Taking along some prefelt and fabric to the mill the experiment began.
The picture below shoes print on pre felt prior to further felting
The ink began to disappear almost as soon as I began working on the prefelt, by the end all you could see is these few faint dark marks and then only if you look hard enough. It’s probably because pre felt is very soft and airy and is anything but smooth to print upon. The fibres aren’t locked together properly and therefore there’s insufficient ‘surface’ for the ink to hold onto.
Next up was print onto silk chiffon which I doubled up and got two prints for the price of one.
On cotton muslin with freshly loaded type and then again without reloading the ink.
and on silk
I laid Merino fibres out, placed the fabrics on top and nuno felted in the usual way. Once the fibres were through the felt was subjected to very hot soapy water and lots of pounding and I’m very pleased with how it worked out.
In all instances you can see see and read the print, even on the cotton muslin which is now quite textured, I had feared they would be too distorted or the letters too squashed together to read but they worked out well. Even the faintest print on the silk chiffon
and the silk worked very well which you’d expect as it’s a smooth fabric.
Now to work out how this might fit in my final piece.