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Needle-Felting! Share your creations, and your tips!!!

 
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Needle felting is my new passion! I've only been needle felting for about 6 months, but I love how forgiving of an art form it is. It's like the best of both painting and sculpting! And it's all natural and non-toxic. What could be better!

Show us your creations, your favorite needles, your tips for felting, whatever!
 
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I've attached a picture of some dinosaurs I made. They both start with a basic 'sausage' shape and then are bulked up around the middle with more and more layers of wool, with extra bits attached and shaped. I like how needle felting creations can just gradually grow from a basic shape, and a pattern isn't needed.
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Kate Downham
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Ladybirds are a good first project. I started these with a flat-ish round shape, then felted in a line down the middle, and then added the black bits. They can be made in any size.

I started with a kit from Heidifeathers, their instruction booklet, and a couple of books from the library for ideas. I also like the 'magic wool' books for more ideas. I still have those needles but am thinking I'd like to get one of those multi-needle holders to work a bit faster sometimes. I get wool from Steiner/Waldorf supply places, but would like to grow and naturally dye my own one day.
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Nicole Alderman
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Ooooo! I hadn't thought to make a lady bug! My children love ladybugs! You inspired to make a little one for my daughter--she loves it! It still needs a bit more tightening up, but she snagged it before I could!

I love how colorful your dinosaurs are. It's so much fun to add the colors with abandon.

Like you, I don't really follow a pattern--I just start felting. I tend to start with a wire frame, wrap it in the roving, and then just keep adding more roving by layers, and shaping as as I go. I used to make parts--like the horns--and then attach them, but I found that they weren't very secure that way. So, now I just build the horns right on the dragon and they seem more firmly attached that way.

One trick I recently learned was to NOT poke all the way through. I really had no training when I started. I got the needles and the roving and just started poking away, with no real idea what I was doing. Then about two months ago I learned that I shouldn't poke all the way through: it makes it have more stray threads, and it can wear out the roving so that it can't be felted any more (been there, done that when I made my rainbow fairy's skirt).
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Kate Downham
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Your ladybird and little one are very sweet!

I wonder if we could make lots of different beneficial insects this way, and little aphids and other 'pests' for them to eat?!

Do you use undyed wool to do the bulkier bits of your creations? I made the larger dinosaur this way and am finding that the layer of colours over the top shifts around as it gets played with. It could be that I just didn't felt it on enough, or maybe the layer isn't thick enough?

I've never felted with wire. Maybe I will try making a dragon one day this way.
 
Nicole Alderman
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Kate Downham wrote:I wonder if we could make lots of different beneficial insects this way, and little aphids and other 'pests' for them to eat?!



Very much so! Though, if  I made tiny aphids I'd probably poke my fingers waaaaay too much. I've never used any sort of foam to work on, or thimbles, so my fingers tend to get quite poked up when working on tiny, hard-to-hold things.            

Do you use undyed wool to do the bulkier bits of your creations? I made the larger dinosaur this way and am finding that the layer of colours over the top shifts around as it gets played with. It could be that I just didn't felt it on enough, or maybe the layer isn't thick enough?



Nope, never used undyed wool. I honestly don't have any, nor any source of affordable wool. I just use the roving that I buy from WeirCrafts (some of which actually comes from New Zealand!).I also don't really start with rudimentary shapes. I start with a ball of fluff and just start poking at it and adding more as I go. It's how my brain works. For example, when my brother would sit to draw something, he'd sketch out the basic shapes and form, and then add more and more detail. Me? I just start drawing and erase and re-draw as things look wrong. I can't identify basic shapes like he can.

I did use a base of white roving when I made my grandfather's bluebird, and that didn't seem to mess with it too much. The layers seemed pretty well stuck together. I think the key is to keep the inner filler really loose. If you tightening it up too much before you add the next layer, it doesn't seem to meld as well...kind of like when trying to add wool roving to wool felt... It kind of works, but it's not nearly as well attached. The more felted something is, the harder it seems to be for something else to be felted to it.


(The bird I made for my grandfather. The fairy was for my grandfather, and I needle felted the winds and blue rose dress.)

Another problem I see when using a core of a different color, especially if the object is small, is that sometimes the color mixes together in ways you wouldn't want...like having white show up on a black dragon. So, just to be on the safe side, I use only the colors I'd want visible in the final product.

I've never felted with wire. Maybe I will try making a dragon one day this way.



I like the wire because it makes the thing bendable and pose-able. Some people don't like using wire, I guess, because it's harder to poke through. I guess since I've always used it, it doesn't bother me too much. And, when there's wire in the middle of something, sometimes it shows through, especially with pipecleaners, as they are fluffy. I see this a lot with my dragon's feet/legs, and I have to be really careful felting there to get it covered over.

What type of needles do you use? When I first started out, I used the Clover ones that I could find in my local craft store. But they kept breaking (probably largely to my novice-level abilities). I was sick and tired of spending so much money on needles that kept breaking, that I bought the Z-Color needles. It was $8 for 60 needles, and I figured for that price, even if I broke them all quickly, I'd still be saving money. I still haven't broke one of them!

Do you use one of those felting pens? I used the pink Clover Felting Pen that holds three needles. And, I loved it...but then I realized I really like the control I have when I just use on needle. It takes longer, but I think I'm able to do a better job with out the pen than with it.
 
Kate Downham
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I use a bit of foam for my needle felting. It helps me to do flat things (although I imagine wet-felting might be better for doing this). I have thimbles but feel a bit awkward using them, so I am just very careful when I'm felting instead.

I make waldorf dolls as well (not very well though), so I have undyed wool that I use for stuffing them here. There's no shortage of wool here in Australia!

I just have a single-needle felting pen, and the set of needles in different sizes that came with the kit I started with. One of them is a 'star' needle which is a bit more quick to work with than the others, I like it a lot. I'm still getting a hang on which size needle is best for which task, and generally use the middle-sized ones the most, with the tiny ones used for finishing.

Now I just need to work out how to stop toddlers from climbing on me when I'm felting!
 
Nicole Alderman
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I've heard about that star felting needle! I'm thinking I'll put that on my Christmas list, as I can't justify buying more needles when I have a good 60 of them! I tend to use the medium size the most, too.

I've not made a Waldorf doll yet! I'd love to see yours. If my daughter didn't already have SO MANY dolls, I'd make one for her.

As for keeping toddlers off, I wish I had tips. I usually resort to needle felting standing up. Sometimes I bring the felt, needles, and dragon with me and we go for a walk and I felt as I walk. It talks longer to felt that way than if I got to sit...but the instant I sit, a certain little one wants milk, or a book, or to poke with the needle or all three! I also have a problem keeping the roving away from them. They home in on it like a missile and next thing I know it's on the floor and I have to pick lint out of it. Sigh.
 
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My first-time needle felting.  

We had some leftover felt from a project we were working on, so I attempted to make coasters.  

Now I'm wondering if it is possible to needle felt dryer balls.
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Nicole Alderman
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What a great idea, Raven! Now you got me wanting to needle-felt some oven mitts!

And, I'm pretty sure one could needle felt a dryer ball. I'm not certain it would be faster than felting it the other way. But, one probably doesn't have to get it perfectly felted to make a dryer ball--just get it in a round shape and it could felt even more in the dryer as load after load gets done, right?
 
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