Friday, August 17, 2007

Needlefelting fun

Hi Everyone! Yes, I know I'm late late late with this tutorial... but I just managed to find my USB cable for my camera! Sorry about the delay!

OK... so here we go...

This is a needlefelting tutorial, and here is the basic supplies you'll need:

*unspun, cleaned & dyed wool fibers
*dense foam padding (I purchased my foam padding here)
*felting needles (I use sizes 38 & 40)
*a piece of wool felt (I used a piece of scrap felt -- but NOT the craft store felt you can purchase for 20 cents a square!)

NOTE: you can use alternative background felts, such as a bit of accidentally felted wool sweater, or you can knit or crochet wool yarn into squares and wet felt those... you can even needle felt your background felt - but be aware that this can be a very time consuming process. Since this tutorial is for felted ATCs... I thought it would be best to use a pre-felted background rather than start from scratch.

1. I started with a piece of pre-felted wool felt (I believe it's a wool blend of some sort, I am not sure, the lovely lady who sold me my dense foam pad to felt upon at Colonial Fiber Arts sent me some scrap felt from her stash.) I cut it to 2.5" x 3.5". The piece may spread a bit when you felt it, but usually, it's a very small amount of spreading (like about 1/4 of an inch or less).

2. Pull out your wool fibers into small tufts, and lay them out in one direction for the first layer, following up the first layer with a second layer of tufts in the opposite direction. (example, the layer shown is vertical, the next layer of tufts would be placed horizontally) I generally overlap the area that I intend to felt, as this will ensure that I will cover the area and not have bald spots. Here, I'm using a merino wool that has a varigated pattern in yellows, oranges and reds. It's one of my favorites because the hues are so vivid.

3. using the needle, begin stabbing the fibers well in to the background felt. The needle has little spurs on it that grasp onto the wool fibers and entangle them with the other wool fibers to make a dense fabric. The more you stab, the more dense your fabric will become. Here, I am using a gauge 38 needle (my personal favorite). Thicker gauge needles tend to be more difficult to punch through the denser fabrics.

Continue to stab, stab, stab your fibers until they've acheived the desired density.

4. I usually fold the excess fibers (over the edge) over onto the areas I've already felted to have a clean edge. You can also cut away the fibers if you prefer. Or, you can leave them for a unique and fuzzy look. I generally continue to felt until the piece looks less like loose fibers and more like a piece of dense fabric.
5. At this point, I usually run my fingertips over the surface of the felt to help smooth out the needle punched holes that cover the surface. You don't have to do this step, of course, that's all up to you and your muse! Note: This just minimizes the appearance of the holes, doesn't always eliminate them completely!
6. While I run my hand over the surface, I also check for thinner areas, and add additional tufts of wool fibers as needed to create a consistent surface, and continue to stab, stab, stab (I love the stabbing... it's VERY theraputic!) until the desired thickness, consistency, and look is acheived.
7. Create your design as desired. Below are two ATCs that I've made using this same background...

I created these design by tacking on additional bits of wool using a thinner gauge felting needle (40 gauge). I will add some additional embellishments such as beads or buttons later.

Here's another felted ATC that I made using a different background. This one required a bit more planning, because I wanted the background to be a non-varigated, two-toned background.

I used the varigated red/yellow/orange wool that I used previously for the pear, along with a small amount of white to bring out some highlight.

So there it is, my tutorial... I hope you found it helpful! You are welcome to email me with any questions, and I'll do my best to answer them if I can!

No comments: