There are thousands of needle felting needles, & just as many (or more) techniques for just as many creative ideas to pursue.
Stabbing Safety Tips: always stab into your felted item the exact same way you pull the needle out of your felted item. Very important. If you change direction mid-stab, you will most likely break or bend your needle- depending on the amount of force you apply.
Always know how far away your hand/fingers/thumb are from the needle.
There are many ways to hold down your felted item. To secure it from “jumping around” as you needle it, having the other hand “participate” is very helpful. Meaning: one hand stabs, the other hand rotates, rolls, pins down, or flips, grips, pinches, or flips the felted item around while you work it (with out being injured along the way).
Here are a few short YouTube Links as examples: Cute little Bear 3D
It is good to get to know your wool. This is a picture of a wool fibre under a microscope. Notice the scales are interlocked together (like a pine cone) each scale lifting at the ends, naturally designed to snag and catch on other fibres. Perfect for Felting! Amazing!
The Needle Felting needle will catch on the edges of these scales, forcing the fibre to mesh with other fibres, as the needle is punched into the wool over and over.
Needle Felting Fibre Arts in 2D & 3D is a relatively new creative medium, for the needles used is from industrial machines to create industrial, & mechanical felted fabric. These needles were never intended to become a tool for a wool fibre arts & crafts enthusiasts to create sculptures, artful fabrics, wool paintings and so forth.
Industrial Needle Felting looks like this:
Consumers beware: If you are seeking an online needle felting kit, and you see a tool included that looks like “pincers” “tweezers” that are also “scissors” ask if you really need that item. In needle felting, the less you cut the wool, the more pleasing your item will be. I associate the “strange looking scissors” with the cheaply made 2 sided needle that can cause frustration during the felting process. There are sculpture techniques that involve a little cut with scissors, however wool always changes when cut. Best practice is to purchase kits & supplies from reputable companies, shops you can talk with & see the product, or online artists creating kits who show images made with the supplies in the kit. Once you find a supplier that makes you happy, enjoy!
Get to know your needles, look at them closely, run your thumb carefully along the shaft to feel the notches, touch the point (carefully) to ensure it is sharp. Sometimes needles become dull after prolonged use, some last longer than others.
We can make almost anything with the right kind of needle.
For another take on the subject, visit: Article for Fly in the Fibre
Things you will need:
A safety sponge, or supportive work-surface: important for 2D & 3D needle felting. Needles specifically for needle felting & fleece, roving, sliver, batting, enough wool for a project to be completed.
Facts About the Needle: This needle is not for a sewing machine, though attachments are available. Theses distinctly different needles have purpose, each little notch at the tip of the needle is designed to create specific results when felting wool fibre. The “notch” is important, careful when buying needle felting supplies from online distributors that do not show a close up of the needles, or can offer testimony from clients or some proof of quality.
Most commonly used is the standard “Triangle” needle, with good sharp notches on the edges of all three sides of the shaft. This triples the felting action, allows for great variety of technique to be used all the way through a project. Other needles that are popular, (my all time favorite) “Star Needle” has 5 sides notched and is amazing for building the core of any sculpture item, however it is aggressive. When used, I switch it up after the the building has begun, and return to a “triangle needle” (the star when over-used can cause a hollow 3D item if not careful), the star over used can also cause “pitting” and “dimpling” adjust the strength behind your stabbing, and how much of the needle goes into the wool. The very point of each needle can offer great finishing effects, bringing the surface tension into a tighter weave, even though at first it looks like nothing is happening, keep stabbing and you will see results.
Needle Felting is not a race – you can only felt as fast as you can felt, or rather – as fast as you are willing to felt. Handmade felting is not fast, more like a very slow & at times meditative process. Needle Felting by hand just takes a very long time to do. Teaching patience at the same time as offering time to relax & enjoy.
Two general warnings I always offer workshop participants:
- The sharp needle means concentration key. Always know where your supportive hand is, & exactly how deeply you are stabbing. To avoid stabbing your finger – keep your eye on the needle. If you do stab your finger, know that the “ouch” feeling does not last long. Apply pressure & continue felting.
- Fibre Addiction happens & it can be serious. You may find it very difficult to stop. Felting is relaxing & calming, it offers creativity & freedom in a unique way, where inner reflection is put through a type of happy filter. Handling the fibre often instills a sense of ancient art being remembered rather than being learned, plus very fun!
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