Sunday, July 17, 2011

Tutorial on needle felting Part 1.......Needles and Mat

tutorial on making simple needle felt dog<---(not by me)

Above is a link on making a needle felt miniature dog . I didn't write it but it has some good basic information and shows how to use pipe cleaners, which I seldom do . If your interested in making a larger, more intricately detailed sculpture , we can start at the beginning...materials and tools .

Tools: Needles, finger protectors, pads

Needles> I began felting using size 40 triangle needles only . I then discovered that 38 star gave almost as nice of detail and was much faster . I now use 38 triangle to begin "prefelting and shaping" , 38 star for smaller more delicate areas like paws and face and 40 for doing fine detailing . I would recommend these as a good beginning set and more then one just in case you accidentally break one ....(very frustrating to have to wait for new ones in the mail mid felting)

=There are several different suppliers but I usually plan on paying around $1 per needle or half that if buying in bulk . I buy most of my supplies on Etsy .

=You can buy different holders for the needles or make your own holder out of femo . I made my own handles out of craft supplies I had around the house . If you can find a thick two sided tape....the kind using for tacking carpeting down works it on leather, suede or craft felt and roll several layers around the needle . then cover the needle top(L shaped head where you hold it, with another strip and to cover the metal end and tuck in and continue rolling outer leather around to holed in place . You can wrap the needle as thick as you want but I find that about an inch or less in diameter gives me a comfortable hold on the needle . I felt by holding my pointer finger on the L shape end and thumb and middle finger on either side but do what ever you feel gives you the best control of where the needle tip is going into the fiber .

Matting>I've tried several different types of matting base . I like to work on my lap instead of a table so I need a very thick foam . Some people cover the foam with a thin fabric to prevent cross contamination for fiber colors and to avoid the surface from breaking down as quickly . This does work OK but it should be a thin an old you have a bit less wear on your needles and you have to be careful that you don't poke into a thick fabric wrinkle which can break your needle . I generally work without the fabric but that is just a personal preference .

+denser the foam the better it will hold up to needle poking
+when felting a something flat, like an ear, keep picking item up and flipping it over to avoid felting it to your mat .
+a large enough felting surface will allow you to wrest your arm and wrist to avoid joint strain

Buying foam matting can buy on-line but check local sources, like sewing supply stores, AXman, or thrift store < for a thick foam pillow form . I felt alot, so I prefer buying children or crib foam mattress and cutting up squares to use . of the most confusing things there is to learn about felting is what fiber to buy and what to pay for it . I began by buying all my fiber on Etsy with no idea on what I should be paying . I would often buy hand dyed merino at around $5 an Ounce including shipping and sculpt a 12 ounce sculpture from it . That gets expensive and is a waste of beautiful fiber . I've since learned the economy of using a fiber filler . I think the best filler is a nice, clean quilting batt of fiber around 26-30 < refers to the diameter of the fiber hair ,( more on that later) . Fiber is a huge topic so I will cover that later and try and break it into digestible bits . To start though, please check out my right corner links under (learning and cute) and click sheep fiber . It's a good reference in learning a few sheep names .

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