Needle Felting

Okay, a long overdue post, heh. Sorry about that. Now for what you’ve all been waiting for…. How I started needle felting! And what is it, anyway?

I first discovered needle felting while browsing the fantastical and often fabulous art on Elfwood (www.elfwood.com) a couple years ago. This one artist, Amanda Edlund from Sweden, made extremely appealing bipedal creatures with amazing color patterns. They had wonderful ears and great expressions. Here is one, The Blue Creature!

wool felted doll
Blue Creature by Ulltotten on deviantart.com

Check out more of her amazing art over at deviantart.com here: http://ulltotten.deviantart.com/gallery/

In short, I fell in love with her creatures and I desperately wanted to know what this “felting” was! I sent her a few notes and she kindly explained what needle felting was and how to build the armature underneath so the creatures would be pose-able.

Here are the two pictures she was generous enough to share with me:

Wire armature wrapped with wool
Adding the layer of dyed wool along with the details

So what is needle felting? It is the art of poking wool into shape! Here’s the official definition: Needle felting is a popular fiber arts craft conducted without the use of water. The artist uses special barbed felting needles from industrial felting machines to sculpt wool fiber. The barbs catch the scales on the fiber and push them through the layers of wool, tangling and binding the fibers together, much like the wet felting process. Fine details can be achieved using this technique, and it is popular for both 2D and 3D felted work.

My first felted creature was Glip.

wool felted doll
My first needle felted creation

As you can see, he was heavily inspired by Amanda’s work. I took some pipe cleaners and twisted them into an armature over which I wrapped undyed wool to make a padded base — the “stuffing” if you will. Then I needle felted the dyed wool over the top, poking myself several times in the process. I discovered how difficult it was to make the fingers slender and delicate! Also, how you really should use multiple layers of the dyed wool to build up stability and a deep color. It was a wonderful learning experience!

Some time later, I fixated on making a snonkey (see previous post) with the needle felting technique. After considering it a for a while, I decided to felt the body but let the shell be an actual shell. I love shells and the hard smooth texture of a real snail shell can’t be beat! But the trouble was finding the right sized shell. Up until that point I had been using (to make other works of art) the small garden variety snail shells I found lying around my neighborhood, abandoned by the local snails. Then my family came home one day from grocery shopping with a bag of escargot shells! They were the perfect size. I made a pipe cleaner armature, felted wool over it, then glued an escargot shell on the back.

felted wool doll with snail shell
The first felted snonkey

So that’s how I started needle felting. Next time I’ll tell you about the Lorisnail, a special kind of snonkey. Take care, everyone! Thank you for reading!

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