Sunday, March 28, 2010

How To Make Needle Felted Bowls - Part 2

At this point in the bowl making process you should have your base, and have decided which type of sides you are going to use.

Just in case you missed the first part, here is Making Felted Bowls-Part 1

Whichever way you choose, you will be starting with the base you made in Making Felted Bowls- Part 1.

You have a choice of two ways to attach or build up the bowl sides.
You will choose what I call the coil method or the flat side method.
I will go through each way of making your finished bowl.

The Coil Method.
Take a piece of roving about 1 inch thick and 6 or 8 inches long, and twist it slightly. Attach one end to your base and start felting at the base. You want to felt it in from the side, top and bottom with your felting needle so it hold well in place.

Continue to twist your roving or fiber gently and continue felting it in as you go around.

You will be making a coil that continues around the bowl.

The best way I can describe it is that it is like making a pottery bowl or one out of play dough, if you have ever done this.

Be careful not to get it to tight. You want the coil to start to move out as you work on the bowl until you get about to the middle of the piece and then start back in slightly to form a bowl shape. If you start pulling in too much at this stage, it is hard to get it going out the way it should.

As you felt in your coil, keep adding pieces of roving onto your coil and twisting it in to make a continuous piece. You don't need to twist it tightly, just enough to form a loose coil.

You will want to keep working the felt as you go to make sure it holds it's shape.

You are building your bowl up with the coil a little at a time.

A couple of things to be aware of are:

Your bowl will shrink as you work it. Make it just a bit bigger than you want it.

The more you work the felt with the needles, the tighter the felt will become and the thinner.

After you have your basic shape, you will need to add pieces of wool in between the coils to make sure you have a somewhat uniform thickness.

I use my fingers to feel for thin spots and fill in.

During the first stages, you may have places where you can insert your finger, it is so thin between the coils. Don't worry about this. You can go back in any where add more fiber.

Once you get to the basic shape you want, and have filled in between the coils in thin spots, you can start shaping the bowl.

If one side is a bit too high, or it is seems a bit lopsided, you can use your felting needle to shape it.

At this point, I often insert something inside the bowl I can felt against to help shape the bowl. I use a baggie of yarn ends or another piece of soft foam.


If you are using other fibers as a top layer, you can now add your more expensive and exotic fiber at this stage. I felt in little pieces of yarn. I use mohair in little coils, sometimes letting some stick out.

Some fiber will not felt very well.

Mohair with it's luster and color or another fiber blend can add a special touch to your finished bowl.

Mohair, although beautiful will sit on the surface and you will have to work at poking the ends in so that it stays well. I love this look, but some prefer a bowl that is tighter.

Keep shaping until your bowl is the shape you want, and the firmness. Keep making it tighter, and refine the shape as you work it more.

Keep checking for a somewhat uniform thickness and no thin spots.

Be careful not to add too many layers unless you like a thicker bowl in the end.

You may need to work the inside and from the bottom to make sure it is all well felted.
Here is a bowl decorated with mohair and yarns.  This one was made by a friend of mine.  Unfortunately, my puppy got hold of it and that is why it looks a bit  crooked.  Felting around the top and on the left side would help to make it a more uniform shape again.   You can see the yarns weaving on the top right edge, and on the sides.  All of the colors are individual pieces of dyed roving felted on separately.

The Flat Side Method

For the flat side method, you are going to make a flat piece of felt that will wrap around your bowl at the base. This works best if you have a larger base.

You will be starting with the base you made in part one of this article.

Make your flat piece of felt a bit higher than the height of the finished bowl.

Layer your roving on and start felting on your foam. You can keep it loosely felted.

Once it is so that it will hold together and is a solid piece of felt, you will start to attach it at the base of the bowl.

To attach, push your needle in along the base from the side, top, and from inside to attach. You will need to felt a seam to attach the two ends where they meet.

It works best if your felt is not too tight in this stage.

Once it is attached, you will have a floppy looking piece that collapses in itself.

At this stage, you will need something to put inside that you can use to shape and hold your felt as you work. ( A bag of yarn ends in a plastic bag or another soft piece of foam works well.

You will continue now to add fiber, shape, and tighten your piece.

Make sure you felt the inside seam at the bottom as well as form the outside. I like to add colored wool both in and outside of the bowl.

You can turn the bowl inside out to work on the inside, especially in the first stages of working on it.

As you felt, pay attention to your base. Make sure it is staying flat and that you have a good base to sit on so it does not lean when it is done.

There you have it as best as I can explain without you being here with me working.

Let me know if you need more help with this.

Plunge in and have fun.

Watch out. These bowls are very addicting. 

I have sold them, used them for rings, and jewelry, dried flowers, and just beautiful decorations in my home.

I have wanted to hang beads and dangles, but have not gotten to that. Perhaps, you will be the one to take them to that next level.

Send me pics. I would love to see them.


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