Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Poke Poke Poke - an adventure in needle felting

Needle felting -- either you know what it is or you look at the result and think "Oh ... stuffed animal" ... but have no clue how it came to be. A stuffed animal it is not. It makes (seemingly) no sense that taking a pile of raw wool (or roving) - this fluff that looks like cotton candy - and then poking it thousands upon thousands of times (and thousands and thousands more times) until it gets pushed and formed into a semi-solid shape... would become a rabbit or a lamb ... or any number of things.


The very thing that makes wool feel itchy to some of us - little micro 'barbs' (scales) on the fibers - are what makes this all possible. The poky needles used in the process also have barbs -- and poking the wool causes it to mat (entangle) together. As the driver of the needle it helps to have a vision in mind as to where the needle is poking and why -- what the desired shape will be, etc... I "see" what I want in 3D (in my mind) so it comes naturally for me to turn cotton candy fluff into an animal. I don't find it that different from putting paint where I want it to go when I am working with acrylic on canvas or wood.

I often begin with a big glob of the cotton candy stuff that I gentle curl into a ball of sorts (left alone it would unfurl and remain a wispy pile of fluff) - I, however, hold onto that loosely formed ball of fluff and begin poking it to smithereens (trying so hard NOT to poke myself - the needles are wicked wicked nasty sharp). I sometimes "poke" up in the air and I sometimes "poke" with the fluff against a foam cushion.

I am self taught and use my own designs with only one exception* ... I make up all my own animals (usually as I go). I start with an initial "ball" or oval shape and then decide what (or who) it will become. When I first tried this whole needle felting thing I looked at a pattern for a *duck -- (of course, a duck) and not one to follow instructions easily or obediently I altered it to fit my own ability and the duck became my own duck (though I won't call him an original like I do my other creations since his genealogy is traceable to a pattern).


Here I am attaching the gangly-long legs (which are bendable since there are pipe cleaners inside of them). The foam block shown here is my favorite kind. I have also used a grey utility foam - but it doesn't hold up as well the the abusive poking and pieces of foam can get tangled into the wool that have to be fished out - meh.

A reminder of where he came from - or as I like to say "pictured with his parents")

He is my very own. Two others were sold a few years ago -- and I do have plans to 'birth' more ducks soon. I am on a leaping-flying rabbit kick right now -- and a few lambs are in the works as well!

Simon (a teeny baby lamb)
Sweet Dreams (smaller winged baby bunny)
Looking for Alice (larger winged rabbit)
Tiny Dancer (smaller winged baby bunny)
Hershey (brown winged winged rabbit)

(click on their names to see them)





Look around my entire ETSY shop for original paintings, assemblage jewelry dolls, art cards, and more whimsy than you can hardly stand!

~...~

5 comments:

Roselle said...

I love the duck!! You make me want to get back into needle felting.

BLUEYEDUCKstudios said...

do do do!!!

I picked it up again because it is so portable!

blissful chick said...

omg, this is amAAAAzing! wonderful :)

Flying Mule Studio said...

I've always wondered how one neddle felted, makes me want to give it a try :) LOVE the duck btw!

Liz Revit said...

You make this look so easy! I'd love to try needle felting one of these days.

Have a great weekend.