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Needle Felting Tips & Ideas
If you are new to needle felting and have questions, I will do my best to answer those. I took-up this hobby - a very inexpensive hobby only recently. It's not only cheap - it's also easy and fun. I use it as a relaxing tool in my life to combat stress.
There are two types of felting that I am familiar with; wet and dry. These pages will focus on dry felting. I have never wet-felted. It seems a bit too messy for me and more expensive.
You will discover all sorts of online 'Needle Felting Artists' selling kits, needles of varying sizes, wool, matts, molds, patterns, wool organizers and storage bags for your hobby. You can do without most of these things.
There are three things necessary to felt your project; the first is a special needle which has a barb that catches the wool - and which compacts and creates your finished piece. The second thing you'll need - materials that your needle will respond to. While wool is the desired material for felting - there are many other materials which will respond very well to the needle. More on this below.
The third thing that you'll need is a matt - or if you really want one that will last and last, you can make your own like I did. It was so simple! And inexpensive. More on that - with pictures: How to Make a Felting Matt in Less Than 30 Minutes
Poly-Fill [the stuffing in pillows that is white & fluffy] felts extremely well. In fact, most of the little creations that I have made were created with pillow stuffing. It is much cheaper than wool - so if you're new to this hobby, you may wish to experiment with this material. I've even used pom-poms. Cotton balls will not felt, even though they look like pom-poms. Also - yarn. I've used white yard to create 'fleece' on my needle-felted sheep. And there are so many different varieties, blends and colors to choose from!
Most of the little creations I have made took about one hour. Some are about 6" in height, some are shorter. Here are a few examples:
1. How dense does the wool need to be? You don't have to stab it to pieces. It's what YOU prefer. If you want it tight enough to bounce, then go for it. I like mine to be just a bit spongy - sturdy, but with a bit of give. The tighter the wool, the more apt you are to break a needle. And yes, they are very sharp.
2. How deep do you need to plunge the needle into the wool? Not very deep unless you are attaching different parts.
3. Look for little outfits which sell for cheap that you can place on your creations. Also, little flowers, and beads for necklaces.
4. I purchased a small organizer for about $3 which I use to organize my wool.
5. Purchase 'clean' wool. Some of the more expensive packs of 'rolled' wool which are of different colors that I purchased were worthless because they were threaded with leaves and dirt. In other words - dirty wool. So thoroughly look at what you are purchasing.
6. Faces - give character to your felted creation by using your needle. Several pokes into the felted-wool will start to bring features to life - and this works for other areas, such as hind-quarters and defining bellies.
7. Is a frame necessary? Or a pattern or a mold? I will say that I'm about the least artistic person on the planet - and everything that I've felted is my own creation. There are times where I'll use a bunch of pipe cleaners to create a frame - particularly a muzzle. The downside is that I have to be very careful with my needle because hitting the pipe cleaners can cause them to snap.
8. When you felt - be sure to stick the needle straight down. If you go sideways or even bend the needle slightly, it can break.
9. Look for felting supplies on Ebay. I just ordered a bunch of needles for one dollar. Also, I use black-headed straight-pins for most of my eyes. You can also felt-on the eyes if you prefer. At times I will use a tiny white bead to add dimension to the eye. I just insert it onto my pin before sticking it into my felted item.
10. The position in which you place the eyes makes a huge different in how your creation will look. So experiment.
11. If you're having trouble creating the hands & feet - just use a white or black - or any color of pipe cleaner. Simply wrap it around and around to form the hand or foot - or paw.