Here’s a peak into the needle felting process. Felt is a non-woven textile that is produced by matting, condensing and pressing fibers together. Felting needles have notches along the shaft that grab the top layer of fibers and tangle them inward as the needle enters the wool. Over time, the loose fibers are compacted into a near solid form that can be shaped by adding tufts of wool and poking repeatedly. In other words, magic.
Photo credit: @ornerydan
This one is about 2” long, with little 1/8 inch berries. It’s needle felted wool, made with love for one of my favorite people while I was living in Chicago. She’s one of the best bakers I know!
Felting needles have notches that grab the top layer of fibers and tangle them inward as the needle enters the wool. Over time, this creates a near solid form. Magical. I used black bobby pins for the eyes, trimming them to fit her head, and sculpting the sockets.
After I finished shaping the face, I used soft pastels to tone her cheeks. All the individual pieces of hair have wire in them to give her more articulation.
To start the head, I used silicone putty to create a socket that allows the head to be popped on/ off and positioned without wobbling. I embedded wire mesh into the silicone for the wool to be felted onto.
When needle felting on top of an armature, I start by sewing felt over the whole piece. This gives the wool I’m adding something to grab onto. I’m using roving–wool that’s been cleaned, combed, and carded so that the fibers are loosely oriented in the same direction, making it easier to work with.
This is a close up of a needle felted spoon stop motion puppet I made for Zombie Cat Studios a few years ago. I created the wire armature from wire, epoxy clay, and aluminum mesh. I needle felted on top of the armature and made the arms and hands out of liquid latex. Animation by Brian Lonano and Tak Masuda.
Detail pic of Peggy. I used soft pastels to add blush to her cheeks.
I got this shell and a bunch of others at an oddities shop in NY. This is just the beginning–lots more needle felting to do!
These little guys are going to be on display at FOE Gallery in Northampton, MA November 14 – December 7 for the Common Threads show. There’s going to be lots of amazing soft sculpture–check it out!
felted wool, soft pastel, wire, wood, acrylic; 5.75 x 5.75 x 6.5 inches