Friday, March 26, 2010

Learning How To Needle Felt- Basic Felting Introduction

If you have not tried needle felting, I highly recommend it.  It is so much fun. You can make animal figures angels, all kinds of sculptural shapes. You can also make lots of other things like the bowls I showed you in my last post.

  These were made with basic needle felting methods.  The next article in this series will have the instructions for them.

First, let me say, needle felting is  really pretty simple.  You have very simple tools, and materials.  Felting needles, and  a foam mat of some kind  to keep you from stabbing yourself, and to support your work as you felt.

You also need a material that will felt like wool or similar animal fibers.  Usually wool is the standard material for felting.

It is helpful to have an understanding of basic felting to see how it works.  Wool fiber has barbs in it that you cannot see. When you felt, you are locking the barbs together and once they lock, it is permanent.

If you have ever felted ( hopelessly shrunk)  your favorite wool sweater or socks in the washer, you know just how permanent it is.

There are various ways to make felt. We are going to be doing what is called dry  felting, or needle felting.

If you are new to needle felting, I would recommend you purchase a how to  book unless you have someone who can teach you.  I like Beginner's Guide to Needle Felting by Susanna Wallis.

To felt, you are going to need felting needles. They are sharp barbed metal tools.  You will need to purchase more than one,  as they will break frequently especially when you are learning .

I use a felting tool which is a holder that hold three or four needles at a time.  It makes the project go much faster and saves on your hands and wrists.  I use the Clover Felting Needle Tool

Needles also come in different sizes from finer to larger. You might want to experiment with different sizes. I use large needles for my bowls because it goes faster. I am impatient, I have to admit.

If you don't have any wool or supplies, you might want to get a Felting Starter Kit that has everything in it.  That way, you won't have lot invested at first until you try it out.

A kit has the needles, wool, and a small mat.  Make sure you pick up a couple extra needles, if the kit only has one.

If you are going to try a bow, here is the materials list.

Felting needles- Medium or large size
Wool  -at  least 2 ounces.  ( How much you use for a bowl, will depend on the size- 2 oz. will make a small starter bowl.  I use up to 8 ounces in some of my larger bowls.)
Corridale is a good basic wool for this project.
If you want to embellish your bowl, you can also use mohair fiber blends, pure mohair, and other silk and wool blends in small amounts for the final layer.
A working mat of foam. It can be a soft styrofoam, or a softer foam like you would have in a seat cushion. You might have something lying around the house that you can use. If you use soft foam, it should be fairly thick so you don't stab yourself. It hurts.

Next time---
Drumroll please......
How to make the bowls.

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