How our Felt Products Are Made - Story Time Felts
We have a very special printing process for all of our felt products. First we start out with an artist. She is given a story or a concept to work with and creates a beautiful work of art. The artwork is given several drafts and then approved by Lori Whiting. After the approval the artist will paint the figures. Once again they need to be approved by Lori before the work can continue.
Next, the artwork is entered into a computer. Every detail is examined to make sure that the computer will display everything in the way the original art work intended for it to be. Because we now have a special printer in the main office, we don't have the paper transfers of all the stories laying around anymore. Each story is printed off as you order it.
The story is first printed out onto paper. The paper is then taken to a heat press.
A piece of white felt is cut to the appropriate size and then put on the press.The paper with the printing of the story is them placed on top of the felt, face down. A worker then sprays a mist of water on the back side of the paper. This helps the inks from the printing to transfer onto the felt the best.
Then the worker presses a button and the press moves over the felt and paper. The press then applies 80 pounds of pressure while at the same time applying 395 - 400 degrees (Fahrenheit) of heat. This pressing lasts for 35 seconds. During this time, the ink that was printed on the paper transfers into the felt. The special process that is used makes the ink permanent. That means that it won't bleed when wet. When the time is up, the press releases, lifts up and then moves away from the felt. The paper that once had the ink on it is discarded and the felt then travels on to one of several locations.
If you ordered a set with a felt board, the felt needs to be mounted to the corrugated plastic. This is not an automated process, but one that is completed by hand by one of our great workers. First the worker will get the appropriate size of corrugated plastic. She will spray the corrugated plastic with spray adhesive and then centers the felt on the board and adheres the front side to the corrugated plastic.
Then she will turn the board over and trims the corners so that they are the neat and crisp. She will then spray the edges of the back where the felt folds over and then adheres the felt to those spots and tapes the edges down. The edges are taped down so that when your kids are playing with the felt boards they can't pull the edges up and take the felt off of the corrugated plastic base. The felt is then mounted to the felt boards.
This process is the same whether you have a printed background or a plain felt board.
If you ordered your felt uncut, the felt is then folded and packaged up. If you ordered it precut, it is folded and sent out to one of our "felt cutters". These are some great people in the area of the Story Time Felts (also formerly known as the Storyteller) home office who take the felt and cut it out by hand. This makes the precutting process more accurate then using a machine and you get a personal touch too! If your felt item is ordered precut then it is also assembled for you if it needs to be assembled (like the puppets, mitts, quiet books). The people that cut out the felt also will assemble the products for you.
If you ordered a Toggle Book, then the book needs to be sewn together. This is also a job that is done by hand by one of the wonderful workers at this sewing machine .
When they are finished they bring your felt back to the home office and it is packaged up in individual sets and then everything you ordered is packaged in a box and sent out with the UPS man.
From there it is up to the UPS man to deliver your order safely to your doorstep.