If you want to create something cute with your hands, then needle felting is for you. It looks complicated but is actually quite simple, as long as you've got a grasp of the basic process. In needle felting, you stab a piece of wool with a specific kind of felting needle, and the repeated stabbing movement agitates the wool fibres to lock in a kind of bond, creating the felt. Needle felting allows for the sculpting of very precise shapes and figures, making it possible to create detailed and even lifelike sculptures.
How Does It Work
To understand needle felting, you need to understand the process of felting in general. In felting, the fibers of wool are agitated so that they become tangled, and this creates a tight structure known as felt. The most common way to produce felt is by the application of specific liquids to wool that enable the fibers to bond. In needle felting, you're instead bonding the fibers with your needle. This allows for much more precision in your sculpting.
What You Need
For needle felting you need wool, a cushion pad and the felting needle. There are a number of different types of wool that can be used, but the most common one is roving wool. You also need a cushion pad. When you're stabbing the wool with the needle, you have to cushion it against something so that the needle can sink into it without breaking. If you're felting with the wool in your hand, you need the cushion to prevent the needle from stabbing your skin!
Finally, you need the needle. The needle used for felting is a specific kind of notched needle. It has a number of notches that latch onto the fibers and bond them when you pull the needle up. The felting needle is exceptionally sharp so be careful with it!
How To Needle Felt
An easy way to get started is to use cookie cutters to felt fun shapes. To do this, rip off a piece of roving wool and tuck it into a cookie cutter. Once the cutter is full, place the cutter against the cushion pad. Start stabbing the wool with the felting needle. Stab it evenly at all parts, making sure that it felts evenly. When the wool has felted properly, remove it from the cutter, turn it around and put it back there. Then repeat the stabbing process on the other side so that it felts accordingly too.
The Sky Is The Limit
After learning the basic process of needle felting, you'll find it to actually be really easy. You can proceed to felt complex shapes and even three dimensional objects. The best thing about felting is that the fuzzy texture of felt naturally gives an authentic feel to the products. For example, felted animals tend to be extremely lifelike! Search for tutorials online and try ideas of your own; in felting only your imagination is the limit.