Needle felting is the act of moving wool fibers with specially designed needles. Artists and craftspeople use this technique to create sculptures and embellish textiles—anything that you can imagine, really. Needle felting may be performed on a tiny scale, or as larger pieces as well.
Needle felting is an adaptation of traditional industrial feltmaking. The technique was developed by David & Eleanor Stanwood in the 1980s; they took needles from a wool factory and used them for handmade felt without the use of water or soap. The elusive technique was passed on to Ayala Talpai, who wrote books and taught others how to needle felt. Today, needle felting is still not as popular as wet felting. However, it has a strong following with people who love arts and crafts.
Finger gloves are small leather strips that cover just the index finger and thumb in order to protect fingers from injury. Finger Gloves can be useful for beginners, but contact with hard surfaces, like a potter's wheel or kiln can damage or break delicate felting needles.
Our felted cushions become firm and fluffy with just a few minutes of airing.
Bell-shaped needles used to felt wool
Needle felting involves the use of felting needles. A mat is a piece of material to be placed on top of the piece that you're working on, and protect it from getting punctured by the needle. The mat can be made out of many materials, but often is made from foam and sponge.
Over time the needle will become blunt, and so we recommend using a new needle every 1-3 minutes.
The felting needle is the most important tool for needle felting. The shape of the barbs along the entire needle shaft allows wool fibers to snap together and form felt. Felting needles come in a variety of sizes, and each size has a different gauge: 12-gauge needles have finer barbs and are ideal for detailed work, while 42-gauge needles have thick rolling lumps that work well for fast felt projects. As a general rule, higher gauge numbers indicate smaller needles so 20-gauge is smaller than 18-gauge.
The type of wool that's usually used for needle felting is called roving or batting - wool that has been cleaned and carded. When it's packaged this way, it can be spun or used for other fiber crafts. Different types of wool are suitable for needle felting, but sheep's wool is the most commonly used.
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Needle felting starts with laying a cushion down onto a flat surface. To create 3D objects, a small amount of wool is tightly rolled up into a bundle. The needle is then stabbed repeatedly over this small bundle of wool to lock the fibers together, eventually creating a firm texture known as felt. As more wool is added and stabbed into the felt, the object will expand until it achieves the desired shape. Needle felting can also be used to create 2D wool paintings. For this process, wool is applied to an already-existing piece of felt or fabric. A small amount of fiber is painstakingly crafted into the fabric to create the desired image.