Friday, May 12, 2017

Needle Felting

Frog Selfie in Hell
I couldn't get enough of zombies this Easter, some would argue tis the reason for the season.  But before I post about felted Easter zombies I'd like to share about my needle felting journey.

Way back, when my daughter was all into hamsters, I got it in my head to make her a toy hamster.  A friend suggested needle felting, which is poking roving wool with a barbed needle until it magically turns into something.  She gave me a needle and some felt and I proceeded to make a hideous looking hamster head. Which I then over-felted trying to fix it, until it was rock hard and completely unusable.  On the upside I was inspired to make a Cthulhu, but that was the extent of my felting until recently. 

I was at the library* researching another project when I came across Woolbuddies by Jackie Huang. I've seen his frogs before, but it never dawned on me that I too could make such wonderful creatures. Per the instructions, to make a frog all I had to do was make a ball, or three actually if you include the eyes, so I figured I could handle that. There isn't a lot of detailed instruction, but there are pictures of each completed step.  Since the Wool Buddies are basic shapes put together, with minimal but effective details, I don't think a lot of instruction is needed.

*Although I love the vast sea of knowledge the internet affords, sometimes I like to wade around in a small pond where the water is only knee deep and I can see to the bottom.  Thank you little local library.

Here are the frogs when they are not off touring Hell.
This is a video for the frog. Someone commented that it should be time lapsed but I disagree. I think one of the hardest things about felting, and maybe this is just as a beginner, is finding that sweet spot of where it's felted enough but not over-felted. You want it to be firm but not rock hard like a hideous hamster head we won't speak of.  The video gives you a realistic idea of just how much poking is involved.

The other thing I have a hard time with is gauging how much the wool will be compressed once it's been firmly felted. In the book every project lists the quantity of wool needed in each color, which I think would be helpful if you actually followed it.  Of course I ignored that, because that's what I do.  I made smaller versions because if I screwed up I didn't want to waste a bunch of wool. More wool also equals more poking.  The downside is if you go too small it's hard to fiddle with the smaller pieces and details.

These two buddies are perfect examples.  The dog's snout is about twice as long as it should be, so I had to add big feet to keep him from falling over.  And if I had made the shark the recommended size, I think I would have done a better job with the teeth. 

I finally tackled the elusive hamster.  The book shows how to make a guinea pig.  I made it a lot smaller, without the feet and added a tail, which resulted in the hamster on the far left.  The other two are later versions.  And then there was that one time they decided to vacation in Hell because their frog friends told them how much fun they had on their trip. [Scenic Hell was created at last year's craft party.]

Hamster Selfie in Hell.

Of course hamsters were so two years ago, now it's narwhals.
After the shark, a narwhal was super easy to make. 

And then she said, you should make a turtle...Which again not too difficult, now that I understood breaking it up into shapes.  Circle for the head and eyes.  Oval for the shell.  Cylinder for the legs and neck.  I realize that concept is Art 101, but it wasn't until now that it really clicked for me. 

Another thing I really like about the Wool Buddies are the eyes.  They have that crazy look, that I love, but they are also so easy to make.  I've made a few attempts at other eyes with mixed results. Starting out you can't go wrong with bulgy eyes and pinpoint pupils.  I also appreciated that many of the Wool Buddies had asymmetrical eyes.  I can't make eyes any other way, so it was nice to have an excuse to embraced that. 


I realize now my first hamster attempt failed because I went straight to complicated details, when I should've remembered KISS [Keep It Simple Stupid].  It also helps to go with the flow. This started out being a cat, then ended up looking like an owl.  But it didn't look enough like an owl to actually be one, so I had to go rogue and now it's whatever this thing is.  The point being if you don't confine yourself to reality, you can make anything work. 

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