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Needle felted bat (Brown long eared bat)

Seeing as I manage the National bat helpline (UK) as my day job it was about time I made a bat! Thankfully I was asked to make this little brown long eared bat (BLE) (Plecotus auritus) – although when I say little she is very big compared to real BLEs which have a body length of around 5cm.

She was a challenge as not only did I have to work out how to make folded wings and a tail membrane but BLEs have such massive ears as you can see. She is made of corriedale and merino wool and has wire inside her forearms, legs and ears.

BLEs can live up to 30 years, eat thousands of insects each night, have only one baby a year and these fantastic huge ears help them to listen for prey as they glean them from leaves.

This one is definitely alert and looking for a cuddle but usually at rest their ears curl back a bit like ram’s horns to show only the tragus (the pointy inner ear lobe). Hope you like her and agree that bats are amazing! 🙂
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02-Needle felted bat (7)   18-Needle felted bat (45) 22-Needle felted bat (50)

My first Youtube tutorial !

‘Would you like to learn some basic techniques for needle felting tiny toes/feet/hands? Here I demonstrate one of my techniques for making toes by wrapping wool over wire. I also prepare them ready to attach onto an animal called a solenodon (a strange shrew-like creature with a long tail and venomous bite). This quick 11 min tutorial is easy to follow step by step.’

As you know I often take photos of my needle felted creations as I go along and have posted various tips and tutorials on my blog so you too can follow the same steps. However I have been wanting to do a video for ages so finally it is here!

Whilst making the feet for the solenodon I used my Samsung s4 mini (hung from some string on a bendy lamp stand!) to video my hands as I shaped the wire and wrapped the wool over it. I used windows movie maker to edit it and added narratives and music. Not so impressed by the volume as my voice is not so loud if watching from a tablet or phone but I hope you can hear it ok.

Feedback welcome please for my first attempt. 🙂

Needle felted solenodon

Needle felted solenodon

Ever heard of a solenodon?

I had never heard of one until I came across this strange but interesting creature a few months ago when researching what to make my colleague for his birthday. I discovered that he had spent several years working on a conservation project for this intriguing animal in the Dominican Republic.

As soon as I saw the solenodon’s shrew-like snout, shaggy dense coat, long clumsy legs and thick scaly tail, I couldn’t wait to get started. As this was a secret birthday buddy present though I had to keep quiet..

I started with a wire armature covered with pipe cleaners, then wrapped core wool (corriedale batts) over the wire to give him some shape.

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Then came the layers of luxurious merino wool for his cream fur with dark brown flecks over the top. I also made tiny toes from thinner wire with merino wool wrapped over it. He has a lovely pinkish nose, ears, feet and tail and little black eyes to finish.

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Not sure if many people have heard of this animal let alone needle felted one!!

Creating an animal you know is so much easier – with this one I had to keep looking at the photos frequently to ensure I captured its build and character correctly. It was a lot of fun !!

My colleague loved his surprise! yay!!  🙂

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Needle felted Solenodon 2 Needle felted Solenodon 3

The real solenodon has a venomous bite – thankfully this one doesn’t!

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Happy Mother’s day

I absolutely adore my mum. She is always there for me and whatever I say in a card or buy for her on mother’s day would not even come close to showing her just how much she means to me.

Life has been extra challenging these last few weeks and she has lovingly sent me a text message every morning without fail full of encouraging words to inspire me and reassure me for the rest of my day.

Although I have been full of cold this week and tired I wanted to make something beautiful for her as a glimpse of my appreciation for all that she is.

I managed to create an orchid from a combination of crochet and needlefelt. 🙂 – something a bit different from my usual felted sculptures.

Real flowers often don’t last long and even orchids which can flower each year don’t always flourish. Wool flowers however will last so much longer and will still be there in years to come.

I followed and adapted a free pattern I found on line for the flowers, added a bit of felt to them and wired them to my own felted stem (with buds) and leaves.

I watched her open her package this morning on the ipad. It was a privaledge to see her smile.

I love you so much mum 🙂 xxx

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Italian Greyhound becomes Bee-dog!

I made this cutie pie as a leaving gift for a work colleague. He is modelled on a real Italian Greyhound called Philip.

He is needle felted over a wire armature complete with a little fluffy heart shaped chest, pink paw pads and those sad puppy eyes that make you just want to take him home:-)

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I soon learnt that my colleague also loved bee-dogs! Never heard of one of those before. There are whole websites about them!

So letting my imagine run wild I just couldn’t resist giving little Philip dog his very own bee antennae and stripey cape so he too can transform into a bee-dog!

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22-Needle felted dog (38)

Most bizarre creation yet but very fun! 🙂

Needle felted guinea pig (number 3)

May I introduce you all to my third needle felted guinea pig. I made her in loving memory of a beautiful piggie of a lady in Warrington. I completely enjoyed felting her especially as she has the cutest face and wonderful markings!  She has now gone to live at her furever home and will receive lots of cuddles. She is also my first creation to have one of my new ‘Fit to be loved’ heart tags sewn on. 🙂

Here are few photos of her when she was a work in progress. If you would like more ideas on how to make a guinea pig of your own please see my photo tutorials; felting a guineapig and felting long fur.

Needle felted WIP guineapig (17) Needle felted WIP guineapig (18)

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Needle felted WIP guineapig (28)

And here she is all fluffed up and posing for the camera 🙂

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Needlefelted guinea pig (16)  Needlefelted guinea pig (23)

Needlefelted guinea pig (24)

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Heart Tags

I was very excited this week to receive these little acrylic hearts with ‘Fit to be loved’ engraved on them. I bought them on etsy from Stacy Hotchkiss of ‘Running with scissors‘. Very impressed with the little organza bag presentation. I love the extra detail of adding the heart attached to the ribbon so I can see what was inside. 🙂 

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I have been thinking for a while now of how to make my needle felted animals  identifiable as being created by me. If I were a painter I would sign my painting with my name. Not quite so easy with a fibre sculpture.

I did look at metal tags but these being transparent are not so conspicuous and don’t take away from whatever colour wool I use.   

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I liked the hearts as they really suit the name ‘Fit to be loved’. They each have a tiny hole so they can be sewn onto my creations.

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I just love love love them! Can’t wait to use my first one. 🙂

I would well recommend Running with Scissors. Great product and a friendly helpful service.

2014 review for fit to be loved

How exciting! The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for my blog.

Thank you to everyone for following me and encouraging me on my journey. Without you all I wouldn’t be where I am today. I wish you all a blessed and exciting new year!!

Click here to see the complete report.

Miniature donkey

Miniature donkey

I can now reveal my latest creation, a miniature donkey!

I was sent some photos of an absolutely gorgeous real miniature donkey and asked to needle felt her as a surprise Christmas present for her loving owner. It was an absolute pleasure to create her as I looked at those cute eyes and wonderful fluffy coat.

As she is a hoofed animal I quickly realised that to stand up she would need some stability so I wrapped core Corriedale wool over a wire armature. She soon started to take shape!!

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I made her as a young fluffy donkey with long fur rather than when she was a bit older after a summer moult but this meant I really had to think about how to get the right colour and texture for her fur. I ended up buying 4 wool colours and mixing them carefully by hand with other brown and cream colours I had to get the right shade.

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Once I started adding the long fur I had to be so careful not to let the strands fuzz up when laying the animal down to reach all sides. I therefore had to start on the legs and tummy and do the back and face last so the fur was looking its best in these areas and I didn’t end up squashing her ears.

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Thankfully donkey fur is slightly matted so I didn’t have to worry too much about it having to look silky smooth! I just love doing faces so this was hard for me to have to wait til the end but it was definitely worth it 🙂

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Fox and squirrel ready for adoption!

Fox and squirrel ready for adoption!

Looking for Christmas present ideas? 

How about a one of a kind wool art sculpture from Fit to be loved?

I have just put two red beauties; the red fox and red squirrel up for adoption in my Etsy shop!!

Some of you may recognise the little red squirrel ‘Chestnut’ as she stars in my ‘adding head and limbs tutorial’ and I have posted about her before. The red fox has been nicknamed by a few friends of mine as the ‘Fantastic Mr Fox’ as he is so strikingly red and looks like a real gent in character, ready to go on an adventure.

I absolutely adore them both but they are looking for their forever homes.

05-IMG_4096Have you ever seen a real red squirrel? Aren’t they adorable! Though they can be shy and hard to find. Thankfully I managed to get to see some at a British wildlife centre recently but unless you live in certain places of the UK and abroad you may never be privileged to see one in the wild. But you can now have your very own miniature in your own home..

Chestnut is a one of a kind sculpture, made through the art of needle felting. It has taken many hours to give her that unmissable joyful character! Her core is made of natural undyed Corriedale wool from New Zealand, her tail hands and feet are wrapped and needle felted over wire. You can see she holds a nut ready to take a nibble..

Her beautiful red coat is made of soft Merino wool (non-mulesed) from South Africa (Cape). Colours were blended and varying layers of wool were needled into place to create her natural fur texture. Her nose and eyes are made of wool too, so no glass or plastic beads.

Why not give her a new home this Christmas and keep her warm and snug?

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The inquisitive foxes we sometimes see in our garden were the inspiration for making him. Although some find foxes to be a pest, it never ceases to amaze me at how we have such a beautiful wild animal of their size in the UK! I even had the priviledge to nurse a 5 day old cub once!

This striking red fox has been lovingly hand-made from 100% wool over wire.

He is one of a kind, and it has taken many hours of needle felting to give him his noble character!
His core is made of natural undyed Corriedale wool from New Zealand, wrapped and needle felted over wire. This natural wool was also used for his chest and tummy fur.  The wire gives him stability and his head, legs and tail can be carefully repositioned to other standing poses.

His nose and eyes are made of wool too, so no glass or plastic beads.

His foxy red coat is made of soft Merino wool (non-mulesed) from South Africa (Cape). Colours used were rust, cinnamon, mink and raven. Colours were blended and varying layers of wool were needled into place to create his natural fur texture.
Dark brown Corriedale wool was felted over his legs and back of ears, used for detail on his face and also blended on his coat for shadow.

Could you or someone you know give him a loving home this Christmas? He doesn’t bite and costs nothing to feed 🙂

Please contact me if you have any questions about either of them.

Amanda x

Needle felted ferret!!

Needle felted ferret!!

After 7 weeks I finally stepped back into my office in London today. Pneumonia and pleurisy was not at all nice to have and definitely took away my energy (even to the point of not being able to needle felt at one point! )but I managed it in. Yay!!

I have so been blessed by my parents (who looked after me for 2 weeks at theirs in Lincolnshire) as well as my friends who have made me feel very loved indeed with texts and cards and gifts ! I have also been able to rest and slow down! I am now home with my lovely hubby again and getting back to normality gradually..

Today was not just about accomplishing the commute and seeing my colleagues who I have so missed, but I have been working on a surprise secret birthday buddy gift for my CEO who celebrated her big 40 at the weekend and today she got to see her new ferret. Of course she knew it was me as she knows I needle felt but never mind. 🙂 I just loved the look on her face. I have planned this since January when I found out I was her birthday buddy!

She did at first jump with a delighted shock when she opened the wrapping as I had found a picture of her beloved pet ferret on facebook and copied the colours and pose as best I could.   So worth the hours spent when I can make someone smile 🙂

I started with the head with core wool, very similar to when I made my badger, adding layers of soft merino colours on top.

01-Ferret (14) 02-Ferret (121) 03-Ferret (1) 04-Ferret (15)

05-Ferret (16) 10-Ferret (3) 11-Ferret (4) 12-Ferret (5)

Ferrets are beautiful creatures and very unique with having such a long body and neck. This one has just been asleep and woken up so is still curled up tightly but face looking at you with those adorable big eyes and twitchy nose and whiskers asking for a cuddle. I made the eyes bigger than in real life as .. well I couldn’t help myself- a bit of a fit to be loved interpretation 🙂

You can see more pictures in my facebook Ferret album, but here are a few of the finished ferret. Hope you like them  xx

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How to make a rice bag for needle felting

How to make a rice bag for needle felting

“How do I make a rice bag to use as a needle felting base?”

I have been using a blue foam pad since I started needle felting (as featured in most of my tutorials) which has been really great to use but I am finding that tiny bits of blue do come off of it now onto the piece I am working on and fibres tend to stick to it and the whole thing is looking a little fluffy, holey and worse for wear. After looking at alternatives for a needle felting base on the internet I came across a rice bag. Many claim it to be hard wearing and perfect for 3d sculptures. I didn’t want to pay the earth by ordering one on line and so for my birthday my mum kindly sewed one together for me from an old cotton bag. I added the rice this morning and finished it off. It is approx. 14 by 9 inches in size. So here’s how you can make one too; 1) Take an old rectangular cotton/burlap bag – I have several of these at home and usually use them for my shopping. You could pick one up from a charity shop, or buy one from a cheap store /supermarket.  If anything like this one it’s probably best to give it a good iron before you start sewing 🙂 Best to use a plain one or one with a nice pattern you would like to show off. This one had a boring motif so this was hidden from sight once sewn. The weave should not be too tight but wide enough to allow the barbed needle through. You may need to test what you feel happy with. image 2) Fold the bag in half, unpick the handles and remove. You could leave handles if you wish to hang it up. By folding the bag in half it will be double layered so it will be long lasting. The size of the bag should just be right but with this one my mum picked the thread from the top side too to allow an extra inch width.   3)Sew the edges by hand or by machine, stitches should be close enough to prevent any rice grains from coming out of the bag. Ensure the corners are well sewn by double stitching to reinforce. Simple back stitch is fine. Leave one end open for adding your rice. Turn inside out so stitching is on the inside with a neat edge.  4) Measure approx 1.75 kg of rice. I used cheap long grain rice. Pour into the bag using a funnel or jug (you can do this straight from the bag but mine tend to spilt and rice goes everywhere). You can choose more or less rice depending on personal preference. This amount comes to almost three quarters of the bag when holding the bag upright like a sack. If you fill it too much it will be very heavy and not lay right for a flat felting surface. Too few grains and the surface will dip.          5) Before sewing up completely, lay your bag out as you would use it to check you have the right amount of rice. You should have at least a good inch depth for the needle to go through. Then sew up as neat as you can.       And there you have a rice bag!!! Simple!!! 🙂    I have to say I am loving it already. It feels different to my old faithful foam pad but I am quite liking the sturdy feeling of it and it looks like good quality and long lasting. I may not carry this one around as it is fairly heavy and I have soon found my needles don’t stay put for too long if I stick them in the bag like I used to with my foam pad, but then I sometimes break my needles from being lazy and not putting them back where they belong so that may be a good thing. Hope this inspires you to have a go and make a quick simple bag for yourself… Hmmm looks like my headless cat is pawing at it and enjoying the new feel too 🙂 

Little by little (a custom needle felted guinea pig)

Little by little  (a custom needle felted guinea pig)

Do you ever feel like you just don’t have the time to needle felt? Feel envious of those amazing artists who produce several sculptures a week whilst you work hard at your full time job and dream you could be stabbing some wool but then feel too tired when you finally get home?

Well you are not alone! …I really haven’t had much time at all recently. In fact I have felt so frustrated about it and have had to remind myself that I am not in a competition but this is my hobby and my style and my time.

This month I have proved to myself that you can still take just a tiniest bit of time out to have a little stab here and there even with a full time job …and guess what ? little by little you start to make some progress and when those deep brown eyes from that newly needle felted animal are staring back at you, you soon realise you have managed to create something quite wonderful and all that effort and time passing by has been worthwhile!! 🙂

Of course seeing that end result is very satisfying but it’s time to enjoy the journey too (no matter how long it takes) !!

So, the dark eyes staring back at me? Well they would be from the little guinea pig I just finished for a very doting guinea pig lover in Warrington in memory of her precious loved guinea pig.

This sweetie pie has taken me a while but I got there in the end!…. phew…. Hope you like her.:-)

Guinea pig (8) Guinea pig (11) Guinea pig (13) Guinea pig (16) Guinea pig (17) Guinea pig (25) Guinea pig (26) Guinea pig (27) Guinea pig (28) Guinea pig (29) Guinea pig (33) Guinea pig (36) Guinea pig (37) Guinea pig (39) Guinea pig (40) Guinea pig (41) Guinea pig (42) Guinea pig (43)

Needle felted Mole

Needle felted Mole

The past few weekends I have been making my latest British mammal, a mole!! He is a one of kind commission and will be going to his forever home very soon.

He has corriedale and alpaca wool for his core, then layers of velvety textured fur made from luscious chocolate merino wool mixed with brown corriedale wool. To get this effect I attached the wool in strands (see my tutorial here on needle felting long fur) but then cut it really short to give that mole fur look. I can’t help but feel how soft he is. 🙂 I chose pinks and creams for his nose, mouth and feet. He has wire in his toes and tail for that bit of pose-ability. He has tiny black felted eyes and his whiskers are made of horse hair..

I hope you like him. I gave him that ‘Fit to be loved’ cheeky smile!

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Needle felting a Tawny Owl – photo tutorial

Needle felting a Tawny Owl – photo tutorial

Thinking of needle felting an owl and need some ideas on where to start? Not sure how to make a feather effect from wool? 

This was one of my most challenging project , but also extremely enjoyable and rewarding! Owls are beautiful birds with so much character and you can really express this in your sculpture, so I encourage you to get stabbing and have a go!

So why did I choose to make an owl? Well to be honest an owl was on my to do list for ages as I am a big fan of owls but it just so happened that the Manager at ‘Found’ (my favourite charity shop in Harrow which supports the needs of the local community) asked me if I could make an owl to overlook their new library. Of course I flew at the chance!!

But why a tawny owl? I noticed a number of gorgeous needle felted barn owls out there (which I will likely make at some point) but hardly any tawny owls and for me the tawny is an iconic woodland owl from the story books (remember the owls in Winnie the Pooh and The animals of Farthing wood?) This owl looks very wise but has the cutest expression, plump rounded body when its feathers are fluffed up and I just love the medley of browns and creams in its colouring! Such an owl would be perfect at the library!

Wow from photos of real tawny owls they look so detailed – where do I begin? Yes it can look daunting when you first look at the feathered detail. Even if you felted a single feather every day for the next year you would probably never finish it so the idea is to show detail with lots of layers but still keep it fairly simple. It will take some hours and this is probably not a project for you to start with if you have no felting experience at all but if you do want a challenge then go for it!

By making one section at a time – starting from the core wool base shape and then adding facial features, then tummy feathers, wings, then tail, then head feathers and talons to finish- you too can sculpt an owl of your very own.

As with most of my creations I took some photos along the way to show you the various stages and a few techniques to give you that inspiration you need. Please do contact me if you are unsure of how I did something! Also you may find my other tutorials useful.

What will I need? 

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Felted owl (100)

  • Somewhere to work- most of the time this is indoors for me but on the odd occasion I manage to work outside in my garden 🙂 just make sure your back is supported!
  • Foam pad or felting brush (so not to stab yourself and to provide a firm base to work on)
  • Barbed needles of various sizes; thicker for initial shaping and finer for detail
  • A needle holder; this is optional but for making basic shapes it saves time to use 2 or 3 needles at the same time. In the pictures you will see I used the 3 needle holder pen by Clover.
  • Wool to felt with; I used natural corriedale wool to make the core of my owl as I find it felts quickly and ends up nice and firm. I then used merino wools over the top for feathers as they are soft and come in some lovely colours. I buy my wools at a very good price from World of Wool.
  • Small pair of scissors to cut lengths of wool for feather making, plus also to trim any loose strands to finish off.
  • Pipe cleaners (I used two 30cm length cotton coated) on which to wrap wool over for the talons
  • A small pair of pliers to twist wire ‘claws’ into shape
  • Photos or art work of tawny owls, some time, some love and lots of imagination!!

1) Building the core; head and abdomen

As with most projects where I don’t use a wire armature, the owl will start off as basic shapes made from core wool;

  • Start off by needle felting two basic shapes to a medium firm consistency using your thicker needles(use the clover pen tool if you find it easier); you will need one round ball (with a flat side for the face) and an oval shape (as in above photo) for the abdomen. Join these two shapes together. If needle felting is new to you, you may wish to look at my other tutorials for some felting basics and attaching body parts.
  • Sculpt a typical owl heart shape face by adding small pieces of wool and concentrate your stabbing to hollow out two disc shaped cheeks within which the eyes will go. Emphasise the brow line and the centre where its beak will go and form a ridge around the cheeks.
  • Add more wool to the abdomen to enhance its cute rounded owl chest.

Felted owl (1)

2) Facial features

Refer to the photos and annotated picture below…

Felted owl (4)  Felted owl (5)

2-face anatomy

  • For the beak; roll a small piece of merino wool in your palms and felt firmly on your foam pad/brush leaving one end softer (soft end is to attach the beak to the face) and the other end felted to a point (owls have a curved beak). Attach the beak to the face.(NB read this whole tutorial before starting – you will see what I mean later on)
  • Next add two blobs of dark wool as a guide to where the eyes will be located (the eyes will be finished off once the rest of the face is finished.
  • Add some dark brown wool to follow the ridge around the cheeks.
  • Layer some beautiful warm and light browns to form the owl’s cheeks; each piece radiates out from the eyes. the same colours are also used for the forehead but with some darker wool overlaying it.
  • For the bristles on the inside of the eye, around the beak and up to the brow; use tiny cut pieces of cream/white wool fixed well at the base.
  • Felt the eyes (see tutorial about eyes here); in the photos above you can see the right eye is complete and the left is under construction 🙂 I made a dark brown iris with black pupil and white dot to mimic where light would reflect. The eyes are lined with a cream wool and I stabbed an area above the eye to shape the eye lids. 

3) Building up the tummy feathers

For the basics of how to add longer lengths of wool to your sculpture I suggest you first take a look at my tutorial on how to felt long fur here, as although there will be some variation in making feathers, I will be using the same techniques throughout to ensure the wool is firmly secure.

  • With your scissors cut strips of wool in preparation – I used a variety  of creams and browns.

Felted owl (8)

  • Start from the bottom and work your way up in layers, fixing each piece securely.

Felted owl (9)  Felted owl (10)  Felted owl (13)

  • The difference between an animal fur look (like with my badger, fox or squirrel) and a feathery look for your owl is that for the feathery look each piece should be defined and not overly blended into the neighbouring pieces. To achieve this the base of each section fixed to the core should be narrower,  don’t line the pieces up in a straight line but stagger them randomly and for some sections cut the ends at an angle or in a ‘V’ shape!
  • The main overall look is cream for the bottom half and rich warm browns (matching the cheeks) for the top half. Then add some more cream at the top near the neck.

Felted owl (12)  Felted owl (14)

Felted owl (17)

  • Add some thin strips of dark brown for extra flecks to finish this section off.

Felted owl (18)      Felted owl (19)

” OH the beak has changed!!” Yes I decided that a lighter and slightly longer beak would look better! One of the wonders of needle felting is that you can change things part way through- careful though as chopping off parts is not the best thing!

I also added some white to define the forehead.

4) Wing feathers

I chose to felt the wings for my owl in a fixed closed position with feathers laying close to the body rather than the wings being spread open. So I looked at lots of pictures of wing anatomy to see which feathers would show and how they should be positioned. I have included an annotated picture of my owl from the side to illustrate the various wing parts we will tackle next. To make layering easier we will start with the primary, then do the secondary, and finish off with an overlay of feathery wing coverts.

1-anatomy

It is up to you how many of the feathers you make; I made 4 primary and 5 secondary feathers for each wing.

a) Primary feathers 

  • Flat felt each piece into shape. I used the clover pen tool for faster felting. To keep straight edges I traced an outline onto the wool with two needles in my clover pen and then folded the wool over to the middle and felted well on both sides. Make sure you felt at an angle along the edges to keep them smooth and well shaped. My tutorial on making bunny ears (second part of step 6) may help get this technique right.

Felted owl (21) Felted owl (22)

Felted owl (23)

  • Make each piece roughly the same width but gradually getting longer in length. You can see the longest and shortest together in this picture below. The ends should taper to a curve. The fibres at the other end should remain fluffy and loose to be fixed to your owl’s body later on.

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  • Ensure the pieces match the sizes of the pieces on the opposite wing. To help do this lay your piece on top of the wool and score around the edge with two needles in the clover pen.

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  • Remove the piece and you will see an outline. Again fold the edges over and felt until you get a rough replica..

Felted owl (29) Felted owl (30)

  • When attaching these feathers later on they will end up positioned a bit like a concertina fan; you can test how they will look together at this point (see right photo)

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  • On each feather felt alternate layers of the light and dark browns starting from the tip

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  • Define a central line along the length of each feather by turning the feather over and felting deeply along the centre so that the core wool goes through to the other side. Then needle it down flat.

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Felted owl (62)  Felted owl (56)

b) Secondary feathers 

  •  Make 5 pieces for each wing, each getting slightly wider and longer each time. These pieces should be shorter than the primary feathers (roughly half the length). This time make the ends more rounded rather than tapering to a point.

Felted owl (31) Felted owl (32)  Felted owl (52)

One edge will be felted to the next feather with smallest at the top (see left photo).

You can see that they look quite big compared to your owl at this stage. Once on the owl though they will felt into position (fluffy ends will felt into the body) and you will want the owl to be 3D not a flattened piece so the wings will protrude outwards.

Felted owl (51)

  • Felt some colour on to the edge that will be seen (I am demonstrating how this is done for the left wing). I used a base of the lighter brown and added band of darker brown. If you have time you can felt layers like you did with the primary feathers ((in hind sight I would have preferred to have done this as the finished effect looks more feather-like but decided to try out an alternative method).

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Felted owl (49)

  • Felt the pieces together by stabbing all the way along the edge.
  • Continue to add as much detail into the feathers as you like; I added a tiny strip of cream underneath the dark brown bands and a line down the centre of the top feather.

Felted owl (46)   Felted owl (47)

Here you can see the feathers all layed out for what will be the right wing.

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  • Trim the fluffy ends so they are of equal length, then turn over and pull down some of the strands so they stand out at the back of the feathers ready to felt to your owl.

Felted owl (45) Felted owl (44)

It doesn’t matter about how messy the back of the feathers ends up as you won’t see this side once fixed to the owl. 🙂

c) Attaching the primary and secondary feathers

  • Starting with the primary feathers, fix each feather at the base (longest at the outer edge nearest to tummy, sshortest toward what would be the back bone). Attach each feather over the previous as per the photo earlier that showed the feathers as a concertina fan.
  • Then attach the secondary feather section over the primary feathers where the shoulder blade would be.
  • For help with attaching body parts see my tutorial here.

Felted owl (38) Felted owl (40)

Felted owl (59) Felted owl (63)

  • Attach the right wing in the same way using the left as a guide to ensure you fix the feathers symmetrically (mirroring the opposite side)

d) Wing Coverts 

You could now felt even more individual feathers but to give the illusion of small feathers I simply added more tufts of wool much like with the tummy feathers.

  • Cut and fix small pieces starting from the bottom (just at the top of the secondary feathers) and working in layers towards the neck. The bottom row should overhang the secondary feathers. Try to keep the overall shape as a ‘V’. I also added a few random white tufts which you will see if you look at pictures of real tawny owls.
  • Add a fine strip of dark brown wool along the centre of each of brown wool pieces.

Felted owl (42)    Felted owl (64)

Felted owl (65)  Felted owl (67)

Felted owl (69)  Felted owl (71)

5) Tail

  • Felt a larger feather for the tail in much the same way as you layered the colours for the primary feathers. The tail should be roughly twice the width of the primary feathers but with a rounded end.
  • Optional –  add more light brown over the top of the banded pattern to make a slightly mottled effect.

Felted owl (72)

Felted owl (73)

  • Attach the tail firmly to the owl, then add some light brown wool around the base so you can’t see any of the core wool showing.
  • You may find you need to squeeze the two wings into the centre to mould to the shape you need them to be in. .

Felted owl (74) Felted owl (75)

Felted owl (77) Felted owl (78) Felted owl (79)

6) Head Feathers

  • Alternating various shades of light browns, layer tiny pieces of wool from the back of the head up towards the face.
  •  Use the annotated picture as a guide- the feathers should follow the red lines which radiate from the back of the head to the cheek ridges. I found that it helped to felt the centre line first.    

1-head guide 1 2-Head feather guide 2

Felted owl (81)   Felted owl (82)

  • To give a feather look – twizzle the ends with your fingers as you go.

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  • Add thin flecks of dark brown wool randomly to finish as seen above (bottom right) and below.

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Felted owl (92)     Felted owl (97)

Take a moment to say ‘squee!!’ Well done you are almost there!

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Felted owl (95)

7) Talons

Owls have four toes on each foot and when standing on a flat surface three will usually be at the front and one at the back but when clinging onto a branch they have the amazing ability for one toe to move to the back. So you will need to decide on how your owl will sit. My owl is to be sat perched on some wood with its tail and primary feathers hanging down so I will position the toes with two at the front and two at the back for each foot.

There are many ways to make talons but I will show how to make simple talons from just two cotton coated pipe-cleaners (one for each foot) and wool. Bare wire (kept blunt – don’t worry) will form the claws.

Fold a pipe-cleaner in half then in half again in quarters. The bends will serve as a guide to where the next fold will take place.

owl (1)   owl (3)

Straighten out the piece slightly (you will still see the bends from where you folded) Starting at one end, fold the end up to your first quarter bend. Once folded twist the segment along its length.

owl (4) owl (5)

Then pull the remaining pipe-cleaner at the next bend towards your previous quarter. Think of it a bit like how you may make a flower with four petals.. twisting as you go…

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Continue with your other quarters, bending towards the middle…and twisting the middle too to make a crisscross shape (looks like a kiss?or perhaps an x chromosome? 🙂 )

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Then do the other foot in the same way.

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If you wanted 3 toes at the front you can easily make this shape at this stage too.

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You can keep the toes as they are or define the claws. To do this cut the bend on each toe so that the ends become two pieces. Then pluck away the pipe cleaner material to reveal bare wire. Mind your fingers as these can be sharp!

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Then using pliers, twist the two wires together and bend the end(so not sharp to touch)

owl (21) owl (19)

This will take a little while, but do this on all toes. Trim the cotton on the pipe-cleaners to make a nice shape. You can see they are now looking more like owl talons..

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For skinny toes you could leave these as they are but for this owl I wanted to pad them out a bit. 

Take a thin length of merino wool and wrap from the middle of each the foot out to each toe and back to the center again. You may need several of these lengths. Watch that your wool doesn’t get stuck over the claw. Each toe should taper to a thinner end near to the claw and be bulkier in the middle of the toe and towards the main foot. Achieve this by wrapping only once near to the claw and twice round for the rest of the toe. The tighter you wrap the less felting will be needed.

owl (26) owl (51) owl (49)

Secure the wool into place all over and sculpt into shape with a fine needle taking care not to break the needle by hitting the wire. Once felted, bend the foot into shape.

owl (28)   owl (50)   owl (29)

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Add a slightly darker shade of wool (I used a mink colour) to the underneath of the foot.

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Scrunch a small handful of wool and felt onto the top of each foot (this will be used to anchor the foot onto the owl’s body. Then thicken up the foot around this with some more wool to make the foot look fluffy.

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Use a thicker stronger needle to fix your feet to your owl. Felt deep into the owl at all angles until well secure.

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To finish off I added a few layers of wool feathers in the cream and mink round the feet 🙂

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After a bit of tidying up and a trip to the park…….:-)

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It was so lovely to see this little owl meet his new owner in his forever home at the charity shop library!!

Owl (3) Owl (6)

Did you find this tutorial helpful? What would you like to learn about next? Please leave comments. Why not post a photo of your own creations?

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