We have been getting lots of questions from folks wanting to try out new crafts now that most of us are spending a lot more time at home. We're excited that lots of new fiber artists are going to enter the world! Since we're getting so many questions we decided to make a series of blog posts with some basic info to start you off with several different fiber craft disciplines! This week we're going to cover: Needle Felting!
What is needle felting? Needle felting is a method of felting without the use of water, which is used in most other felting applications. The technique employs a barbed or notched needle to tangle the individual fibers together to form images and shapes. The most important needle felting supplies are the needles themselves, felting needles can be used one at a time or in a group utilizing a handle/holder. Single needles are used for details while groups of needles create broader base shapes. You can create both 2D and 3D pieces with wool felting.
In order to create 3D sculptures you will roll your wool up to form 3D shapes and felt around the entirety of the 3D object instead of just one flat side. You will need a foam or sponge surface to work on whether or not you are working flat or three dimensionally. This will protect your table, lap, other work surface from the sharp needles. Needle felting is both additive and subtractive sculpture. You take away from the volume of your sculpture as you poke the needle into the wool and add to the volume when you add new colors or shapes of wool to your piece. The more you poke into your needle felting project the denser your wool will become, creating a more solid sculpture. The great thing about needle felting is that it is super versatile, you can really create any image you would paint on canvas or sculpt with clay with wool.
Starting With A Specific Kit:
If you just want a taste of needle felting and don't have grandiose plans of creating original sculpted works, a kit is a great place to start! We have several needle felting kits that are great for beginners and come with all of the wool, needles, and instructions to make a completed project!
- Going Gnome kits are a fun way to get into needle felting. Their full color instructional booklets are good for beginners to make any of their cute gnomes or woodland critters.
- WoolPets makes cute mostly animal themed kits that have simple shapes for beginners! You will need to purchase a foam felting surface separately.
- We like these Sculpting With Wool egg and heart kits for beginners. You will need to purchase a foam felting surface separately.
Starting Out On Your Own:
If you already had an idea of what you wanted to make and don't want to use a kit that makes a specific design then we still have suggestions for you!
- This Beginner Needle Felting Kit comes with absolutely everything you need to get started with needle felting; 25 of colors of wool, a felting surface, 3 different sized needles, and a booklet of Needle Felting Tips.
- You will break needles, it happens as the wool forms get more dense, or if you happen to jab in at a weird angle. Replacement needles are inexpensive so you might as well stock up! We offer them in both singles and variety packs.
- If you're planning on doing a lot of needle felting it might be helpful to have a tool that can hold multiple needles at once for shaping bases or larger forms. Our Rosie's Felting Needle Tool is a good option. The Ashford Felting Punch can store the needles inside the handle when not in use.
- When you need more wool, almost any wool fiber can be used for needle felting. Frabjous Fibers Gumball Packs are great for getting little tiny bits of color for detail work. Wooly Bully Packs come in nice color selections such as neutrals or pastels. If you need a lot of one specific color we really like Corriedale Top because it comes in many different shades.
- Our Felted Acorns blog project is a great beginner project with a full photo tutorial.
Books Can Be Your Guide:
We love building our fiber libraries! Books can be a great way to continue your fiber journey, here are some suggestions for making your own Needle Felting section of your library.
- Beginner's Guide to Needle Felting by Susan Wallis, this book covers simple techniques with photos to help you master the basics and comes with 6 starter project ideas.
- Painting With Wool by Dani Ives, this is an absolutely gorgeous book. If you're more interested in creating flat works of art with wool, this is definitely the book to pick up. It gives you information on techniques as well as ideas for projects like embellishing a tote bag or shirt.
- The Natural World of Needle Felting by Fi Oberon, lots of people get into needle felting for all of the cute felted animals, if you're wanting to make your own adorable felted zoo, this is a great book to get started.
Needle Felting with Kids:
Felting needles are SHARP! You can and will poke yourself even if you're being extremely careful and using a foam felting surface. We do not recommend needle felting as a craft for small children who do not yet have good motor skill control or patience. We do have an alternative option for young kids who can't handle pokey needles.
- This cute Felted Acorn Kit utilizes wet felting instead of needle felting so there are no sharp dangerous needles involved.