Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Needle felting: Nuts and bolts.

I've become so passionate about this art form, that some of my friends are starting to ask me I must know something. Well, I have a long way to go, before I am any kind of an expert, but I am happy to share what I have been learning, so far. If there are any felters out there who would like to add something, please feel free to comment.

Lately, I've been learning about the importance of a light touch. It's easy to get excited and keep jabbing away like Michael in "Halloween"...but that's also a good way to stab yourself, a lot. I'm more of a tapper, now, than a jabber, especially on the flat pieces.

Felting needles are extremely sharp. They are also fragile, in the sense that you should not use them to pull fiber from one place to another. I turn them around and use the handle for this, or I grab a stronger, tapestry needle for that job. The latter is better, so you don't poke yourself. In any event, felting needles can break if you bend them, so it's best to use them, only for poking straight into the fiber.

Another thing to think about is needle sterilization. Since sticking yourself is common, sharing needles is a bad idea. Be sure to have extra needles around, if you want to show friends how to do this, or you want to teach classes. Each person should have their own needles.

Fiber comes from lots of different animals and even plants. Some is great for felting, some is not. I'll post more about that, as I learn more about it. So far, I have found that fiber that is crinkly seems to work better than ultra smooth roving, though you can crinkle some of the smooth stuff in your fingers and it will work better.

Today's pics are of a cat that is a work-in-progress and some tiny, flat "paintings", so to speak. I just keep experimenting.

I hope you will check out some of the other blogs that are listed on the right of this page. Some of them will take you to some awesome needle felters...who know much more than I.

I'm off to poke some more stuff! :)


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

"Grandfather Sun" is Evolving.

I am beginning to learn that, with needle felting, one needs to pace themselves. This is much more difficult for me, than creating a character.
Needle felting can be tedious. I mean, it's great fun to watch a character appear, but it's an awful lot of pokes, before things really start to shape up and get exciting. I still find it relaxing, but the only problem is, I tend to want to push myself to the finish line in one sitting...and if that means sitting for three days, so be it...sigh...

The other day, I sat down in the Satellite Lab, right after Lance went to work. I started jabbing this and that...just experiments...pieces and parts, many of which, were tossed in the "bone pile". Suddenly, I looked at the clock and it was time for Lance to come home from work!! I got up and my whole body felt crippled with muscle spasms and sleeping appendages! LOL...I had really zoned!!!

I just couldn't help it. New wool had arrived in the form of bag of end pieces. One pound, which turned out to be a lot of different colors, from bluegooseglen. It was very reasonably priced, and I laughed, maniacally, as I explored the bag and separated all the colors into little balls. It was like getting 20, or so, new paint colors (maybe more, I haven't counted)! Update: I counted...38 colors!!! No wonder I was excited!

I also had received some wool from my friend Noelle (trickystitchesprimitives on EBay), who had some extra and was kind enough to share some with me. Noelle is a gifted artist of primitive cloth dolls, which are just wonderful, BTW.

Another small batch of wool came in from EBay, as well, from woolpicker. I had to ask about the smell of eucalyptus...not a bad smell, but I wanted to know where it came from. She sent me a note that explained that her wool was stored with a moth-repellent potpourri; a special blend of herbs. It really smells just wonderful, while I work with it. She also sent me a picture of Erna, her beautiful ewe that crossed over in the spring. I feel blessed as I work this wool, to be honoring the Spirit of a beloved pet.

I realize, at this point, that life must go on and I must slow down, a bit, with the needle felting. I don't need to race to any finish lines...and I do have other things to do, like clean house, create ACEOs, books, shakers, dolls, music....sigh... So "Grandfather Sun" could be a work-in-progress for a long time.

I just know there must be more hours I can squeak out...somewhere.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Here Comes The Sun...maybe.

At least, I think that's where I'm going with this. Another intuitive sculpture with some cool, new fluff that came in the mail, today! It's so nice to be working in yellows.

This is a work in progress and I'm thinking about a sun...but these things have a way of running away with me, so who knows what it will really end up becoming. Whatever it becomes, you can be sure I will be back to post about it (Creator willing and the Ohio River don't rise).

I wanted to mention, here that my practice in sculpting in polymer and other clays has come in very handy in this art form. The parts and pieces come together in much the same way, as with clay, but instead of using my fingers and other tools, I am using a single needle.

If you are interested in this art form and have never sculpted anything, before, I highly recommend checking out some books on polymer character building. If you are already building in clay, then you shouldn't have any problem creating fun characters with wool...but a word of warning...If I had sculpted this head in polymer, it would have taken me about thirty minutes or less. I've spent the last FIVE HOURS working on this face....and there's still a long way to go!

I have a whole new appreciation for the time spent creating needle felted characters. No regrets, though. It's the most fun, relaxing thing I've done in a long time.

Well...I'm off to make dinner.


Wednesday, August 15, 2007


In my last blog, I had begun my exploration into the world of needle felting. You can read more about needle felting, there, but I wanted to pop in and tell you about "Edward".

"Edward" is my first, intuitive, needle felted sculpture. I couldn't wait for more roving to arrive, so I used the left-overs from my bear kit. I'm really champing at the bit to start playing with more colors, but I'm thankful there was enough purple left over to create "Edward". I used what I learned, but no patterns. He just poked, right out of my hands!

I've listed him, but it was hard. He's my first, original design, in this art form...but I need more roving. :)


Monday, August 6, 2007

Needle Felting: Uh-oh...

...I feel another addiction coming on...sigh...

So, you take a ball of fluff (wool roving) and jab it a gazillion times with a very sharp, barbed needle (a specialized tool) until the fluff is packed down into a shape.

It's really rather amazing.

I wanted to try it and was advised to start with a kit, so I did a search in EBay, for "needle felting", and found a very nice kit, listed by Blue Goose Glen. It came with most everything I needed, along with instructions which had lots of color photos of the step-by-step process for making an adorable, little purple bear.

When my kit arrived in the mail, I couldn't wait to get started, so as soon as I could get away from everything else and settle down into my "Satellite Lab" (the bed) I opened the box and began looking over all the supplies. I read all the instructions, carefully, before beginning (not like me, at all), then, when confidence was high, I sat back with my "fluff" and my foam pad (Cardinal rule # 1. Always work on a foam pad!!) and began my project. After a while (all that evening and part of the next day) and a couple of finger pokes ( I only drew blood twice) I had a surprisingly adequate sculpture of an adorable bear...that looked nothing like the one in the picture, but then...we all know...I'm a rebel. Their bear was short and cute and mine is tall with more "human" proportions. Theirs had an embroidered nose, mouth and paws, but I couldn't find my embroidery thread, so mine are felted.

This has to be one of the most satisfying, creative activities I've discovered, to date. Sculpting with wool. The detail that can be achieved is the amazing part. Right now, I am learning, so I'm practicing with whimsy. There are those on-line who are making some extraordinarily realistic creatures, as they combine this technique with others, like polymer clay. That's where I want to go. Since I have sculpted dolls in polymer for years, I am already ahead of the game, there.

I know I will be back, with more on this subject. Right now, I'm just trying to decide if I want to put clothes on this little guy.

Have a beautiful, creative day!


Saturday, August 4, 2007

I'm Back, With Color!

I have to get back to the Lab, but I thought I would surface, for a few minutes, to add this update and bring the color that I promised. You should be able to click on the picture, for a larger view.

So, I bought these, cool, bamboo tiles from saigonron2000 at EBay. They are about the size of a domino and have two holes down, through them, so all they need is a little embellishment.

I used hand-dyed paper towels for the basic texture and color, then added one of my hand-made embellishments, made from air-dry clay, in the center. The leaf is hand-sculpted from white, fired clay. Metallic paint and vintage copper wire finish this little pendant.

There...promise kept. I'm heading down to the Lab, now, to get some more work done!

Happy creating!