Friday, October 5, 2012

Needle felt animals with fur and leather "Franken ears"

These are my latest two felties . Both have the natural fur/leather ears that I am going to show how I made in a bit . The "table head" , (verses a wall mount head ),  has a neck that is covered with the coat sleeve of a mink coat . This was very experimental process as I wanted to just attach the bottom and top of the sleeve to allow for a wrinkly neck like a Shar-Pei dog . It was a bit fiddly but I like the end result . Both critters also have the fur eyelashes that remind me of alpaca lashes .

My goal with the ears was to create something more realistic then my felted ears but it has a major drawback . The wood glue makes the ears very stiff and I can imagine this being a huge pain if you plan on shipping . I suppose that means I wont be able to sell them unless I take them to shows where they wont be thrown about like some mail packages . Or I can just keep them : )

That warning said here is the basic process I used .
Above supplies......
wood glue in Tupperware(with just a drop of dye to make pink ) and gel super glue
stiff angled brush
ruler (for making ear pattern)and marker for drawing ear on leather and skin side of fur
repurposed leather for inner ear
repurposed fur for outer ear
strong stiff wire (craft wire works fine but I used copper)and wire cutter
scissors for cutting leather
exacto type knife for cutting non-fur-side ONLY of fur
Dremal or drill (or in my case a vintage electric eraser that I used dremel bits from thrift store)
 ..... The above is for making the end of the wire needle sharp so you can stick it in the needle felted critters head ....(ouch)

first is to design the shape you want for your animals ears,
draw onto suede side of leather and cut out with scissors
I used these as patterns to draw on skin side of fur collar here
(However...if you want an even more realistic ear make the bottom of the leather wider then the fur ear and you can then add those cool little wrinkles we all have in side our ears )

Tricky but important part is cutting out the fur part from skin side without cutting fur...I think an exacto knife works best for this but go slow as holding the fur between your fingers to keep it stiff enough to cut is dangerous and tricky but you lose very little fur this way .

cut the wire to the desired length (depending on the size head they are going to be pushed into but at least a few inches in) and use super glue gel to attach wire to skin side of fur . (pressing it down with a craft stick is better then using your finger...(lesson learned the hard way .) The super glue dries fast so don't leave the stick in one place to long just sort of pet the wire with it from top to bottom ) .

Once super glue is dry, paint the skin side of fur with the wood glue(or whatever glue you use) to seal it and wait a few hours until it is mostly dry and add another layer of the glue and match up all the edges of the leather inner ear with the inner fur ear and press down with craft stick(Popsicle stick) . I let this dry another few hours then add a layer of glue to the leather inner ear that is now covering your wires . If you want to add a bit more realism you can add a few strands of alpaca hairs or cut up tiny pieces of it like flocking .

When this last layer is "mostly" dry...barely any wet spots but not to stiff, you can shape it a bit to curve in at bottom and edges . I use a Styrofoam head to stick the wires into to keep the shape as it dries . Last steps not shown are just experimenting with ear placement and once found, adding a few drops of superglue gel to the bottom edge of the ear and pressing (hard) into place .

(Just make sure that your placement is exactly where you want it as it can't be moved once you press down and don't go crazy with the crazy glue as it's more important to make sure you press and hold it deep into the head then use a ton of glue . (You don't want the glue showing at all so sink that ear in firmly so glue goes down into the wool and not around the edge of the ear . )

OK, so I am not a huge fan of these ears . They look interesting but take a long time and most importantly, they don't have the softness of the felted ears . That said, I did promise to show how so there you are, perhaps something in there is usable for someone to play around with but here is the best tip I have to share ....

That is the eyelashes . I tried several different methods for making lashes with many time sucking failures   . The only method I found worked for me is using an exacto-knife to cut a very thin sliver off the edge of real fur . This might work with fake fur but the important thing is that you have a natural backing for the hairs to attach to the edge of the lid . Worked a charm and you can trim length of lash as desired . I left mine long because I'm a sucker for long lashes . Actually I think I should make myself a pair to wear as my lashes are almost nonexistent .

Besides making a few critters and lots of experimenting, I also got my craft room a little less cluttered so I can enjoy looking at my own critters ....

You can see the floor now and I can get into the dresser drawers to get my supplies...whoa hoa !
Still a lot of organizing to do but the sewing table is almost usable . I will be adding a TV with netflix to lure me to the sewing table ( I hate sewing) .

So, not all goals completed but making some headway and that's better then a poke in the eye with a sharp stick . Happy felting to you all !


  1. Your craft room looks very organized.
    Hugs KAy

  2. Well, I'm afraid it didn't stay that way long but it was nice while it lasted .



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