What is needle felting?

What is needle felting?

Turning natural fibers into felt is really easy!  All you need is a felting needle, foam pad and wool.  Let's start!

Needle felting is the process of poking a barbed needle with a sharp point into wool that is typically resting on a foam pad. The foam pad keeps some space between you and the needle as you poke it into the wool. A handle to hold the needle is highly recommended for ease of use. Simple!

Wool fiber has scales that protude from the shaft so when the needle pokes down into the wool, it causes the scales to interlock, and that is the felting process at work. As you continue to poke at the wool those scales keep locking together until you cannot pull them apart. You have made felt!

It really is a delicate process that many people put too much arm and shoulder into.  Only the first couple of centimeters of the needle are barbed so that simple wrist action is all that is needed.  To speed up the felting process in the beginning for larger projects, I like to use multi-needle tools.  I have a needle handle that holds up to 12 needles at one time.  As I near the end of my project, I may need only a few or even one needle for the finer details such as an eye.  

Felting needles come in different sizes.  The higher the number, such as a 40, the finer the needle.  I use a 36 or 38 to begin my project and for finer detail, I use a 40.  There are also diffferent shapes to the needle.  Spiral needles have a twist to them that speeds up felting.  Basic felting needles are triangular, or call tri-points.

Painting with wool  is creating a 2-dimensional picture by placing a base wool down on a resist (can be that foam we talked about), and slightly felting it.  Then you can start placing dyed wool over this pre-felt you just made and poking that into your base wool.  

For a 3-dimensional felting project, you again start with a base wool and slightly needle felt it into a shape. Then you wrap dyed wool around it, continuing to shape it.  You can also create vases, hats and more using a resist that you felt around and remove it after you are done.

Needle felting is so easy that anyone can do it!  Of course care must be taken with the sharp needles.  I have felted hats, lamp shade covers, vases, birds houses, giant felted beach scenes, eggs and more.  If you need a little help and instruction, our needle felting kits are just the thing.  But just starting with a foam pad, needle with holder and some wool will get you started too. 

I am happy to answer questions at info@greatlakesfibers.com if you have questions.

Happy Felting :-)



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