Sunday, January 29, 2012

Needle felting with Bamboo....(yes you can !)and other experiments

 Still having a blast playing with creating fuzzy textures on my needle felt animals . This guy is my favorite for this past 2 week . Over the base of wool I added a nice thick layer of alpaca then a layer of silk and alpaca blend so when I used the reverse barb needle I got a long haired halo of alpaca "fur" . He is super soft and petable .
 On his back, I used several alternating layers of bamboo roving . I love the shine and softness of this stuffand it felts very firmly into the wool/alpaca sculpture .
 ....and this time it was my cat Baloo who decided to get into the photo shoot .
 Here's the whole crew .....
 Probably my least favorite , still working on my tendency to make grumpy animals .
 But his back is a lovely bamboo luster....(the tail belongs to my cat)
 It's a bit hard to see from the picture but I did reverse felt his face and limbs so he has a halo of alpaca fluff and the rest is alpaca and silk rooted to his front and back .
 I tried a more subtle color merino on this guys "skin"....burnt almond . I do like it for a more realistic look but still prefer the cartoonish "pink" for over all contrast with the brown critters .
Well, that's it for awhile. I have spent the past few days hunting down some more base fiber that is brown and doesn't cost $4 an ounce . Harder then you would think but I do have 9 pounds of brown alpaca winging it's way here soon .

Happy felting .

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Practicing fuzzy texture surfaces on Needle felt animals

 It took several hours to clear my photo table off and guess who decided to join the photo shoot ?
 I did ask him to politely to  leave but was greeted by the usual cat look of disdain .
                    " Surely you jest madam "
 This group of felted animal I worked on texture and posing . Above critter is raised slightly on his right back paw and has mostly a smooth coat of alpaca and silk with the pink merino toes .
 The above critter in the next few pics is a combination of all my textures....very smooth merino on the "skin" bits of lips and toes . The paws are tightly compacted but with a hairier alpaca/silk blend but I used a new technique with the upper limbs, body and face . It involves using a reverse barb felting needle . I first learned about these from one of my favorite bear makers . She provided a link to a needle felter who is selling some of these reverse barb needles that will soon be discontinued and you can find her through this link....

If you have a few hours, please check out her other posts as she is the most generous crafter and shares her process step by step and her bears are amazing . 

 If you click on the picture, you can hopefully get a better idea of the different textures but I need to experiment more on what textures can be created using different layering of different animal fibers . I tend to use soft to medium fibers even for my cores....merino to colonial but avoid coarser fibers like Romney . I would imagine that the length of the core fiber that you pull out will effect both the softness and length of the resulting "fur" .
 Another technique I have been using for the past few years involves making a sort of "wig" over my hard felted animal . There are several different ways to do this but my personal favorite involves lining the hairs up so they are all about the same length (hard to explain but not hard to do with roving) . I then lay down the section over the area I am covering and poke in the middle of the fibers . You don't want these to come out so you need to do a lot of poking . When it is fairly secure I lay a cross section of fibers horizontally and poke them over the fiber section to further secure them . Think of it as using the horizontal fibers as your "thread" and the felting needle as your sewing machine needle that is pushing the thread over the material to attach to the animal . (I have no idea if that makes any sense but if you want further explanation, just leave a comment and I will try and explain it better ) .
 You can then fold the top of this section down and create a full shaggy look . It takes a bit of practice but I really like the durability and look of the end result .
 I will warn you, the reverse felting needles take a lot of use to get the fuzzy effect but you can create a sort of velvet texture with lots of persistence or less hair pulled out creates a more sparse look similar to the vintage "worn mohair" bears .
 Not really related to texture but I have also been playing around with animal posture that speaks to be personally . I like having one leg out straight so you get the best view of the little pink toes and one leg bent at different angles ,  partially bent back, which gives a slightly more animated look then having both limbs symmetrical . I'm trying to do the same things with the arms and head position  .
 Above just shows one very simple "furring" technique to just add accents . You lay matching fiber towards the end of the area you want long hair and felt in the top portion . Just remember that the fibers "shrink" as they are pushed into the sculpture so make sure you have the portion you want loose at the ends long enough  . I leave my edges uneven to look more natural but you can get a different look by trimming the ends evenly . You can also create several layers this way by starting at the end and doing several layers back towards the back of the limb or body .
So , although I realize that many of you are wet felters, I hope that some of these techniques can be helpful to add some "fuzzy" textures to your wet felt work .

Happy felting !

Monday, January 2, 2012

Last of needle felt animals ..... 2011

 This is as close to a "real" looking critter that I have ever made . Reality has always come harder to me then fantasy ......(just ask my mother) . The egg is there to show size and offer my camera a white balance but the picture were taken indoors before sunset, so still not very good .

 All my felting is a mix of wool and alpaca with either Ingeo(white) or blends of alpaca and silk for the top layer and "furring" . I am completely sold on alpaca and silk blends for doing animal fur . It is so soft yet doesn't clump/mat like merino .
 I just finished the below guy last night and he took several days longer then usual because of the pain killers I was taking for my most recent tooth extraction . On the plus side, the stray needle pokes to my fingers didn't hurt as much : )

 I hate felting around wires but decided this guy needed wired toes....soooo, if you want to make his toes curl more, you have that option .

 Below feltie reminds me of a gold prospector and was probably unconsciously inspired from watching that Gold Rush show . I was never a fan of gold, but watching the miners destroy the environment makes me like it even less....yet, I find the show  compelling , go figure .

 This is probably my least favorite for the month but hopefully his soft Ingeo fur and big eyes will make him appealing to someone .

 Below are my only small critters for the month and strike me as rather "generic" compared to the larger critters . The only take a night to make but it's harder for me to give the little ones as interesting  posture or expressions . Or maybe I'm just bias because I like my critters to be an arm full and not just a handful ?

It's been a very long month . Continued health issues and removal of 3 teeth have resulted in a general lack of energy . It hasn't stopped my felting but has put a strain on my blogging .( If somethings got to give...the needle will be the last to go . )

I hope everyone else enjoyed their holidays and has many blessings for the new year .


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