RSS Feed

Tag Archives: felting tutorial

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? 

20131104-212922.jpg

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.

Felted owl (24)

  • 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.

Felted owl (25) Felted owl (26)

Felted owl (27) Felted owl (28)

  • 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)

Felted owl (53)  Felted owl (37)

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

Felted owl (55)  Felted owl (54)

  • 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.

Felted owl (60)  Felted owl (61)

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).

Felted owl (50)

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.

Felted owl (57)

  • 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.

Felted owl (83) Felted owl (84) Felted owl (85)

Felted owl (86)   Felted owl (98)

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

Felted owl (88)  Felted owl (90)

Felted owl (92)     Felted owl (97)

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

Felted owl (96)

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…

owl (6) owl (7)

owl (8)

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? 🙂 )

owl (9)  owl (10)

Then do the other foot in the same way.

owl (12)  owl (11)

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

owl (54)

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!

owl (13) owl (22)

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..

owl (18)  owl (16)

owl (23)  owl (24)

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)

owl (48) owl (30)

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

owl (31)

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.

owl (32)

owl (46)

owl (33) owl (35)

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

owl (45) owl (44)

owl (43) owl (42)

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

owl (41) owl (36)

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

01-IMG_4226 04-IMG_4229

05-IMG_4230 07-IMG_4232

22-IMG_4248 26-IMG_4261

27-IMG_4262  10-IMG_4235

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?

For more tutorials like this please visit my Tutorials, tips and ideas page.

Don’t ever miss out on my latest tutorials! Insert your email address and click the ‘Follow’ button on the right hand panel to receive notifications of when the next post is up..:-)

Don’t have time to make one but would love a one of a kind needle felted animal by Fit to be loved for yourself or for that special someone? Visit my Etsy shop today to see my latest creations. Or like my facebook page to see what I am making next.

Advertisements

Felted birdie

Thinking of making a simple needle felted bird? not sure where to start or need some ideas of how to finish your creation with some extra detail?

Last week I had the pleasure of making a little needle felted bird for my sister as a birthday present. She asked me for a simple teal bird to go with her newly decorated room once it is finished but as soon as I started I couldn’t help but let my imagination take over.

I absolutely love my sister so I expressed this by forming heart shaped wings that have beautiful button and thread embellishments. I also tried to make his facial features come to life by giving him adorable eyes and a little tuft of wool on his head(much like a woodpecker or crested tit) 🙂

Last night I got to see my sister’s face as she opened up her parcel through the wonder of  ‘facetime’ on our ipads. So pleased she likes him!! I hope you like him too..

So where did I start? As you can see I twisted some cotton felt covered pipe cleaners to make a birdie shape…

Felted bird (11)

Felted bird (12)

 

 

 

 

 

 

I then wrapped lengths of core wool over the structure and needle felted until I got the right shape. (Be careful not to stab the wire in the centre of the pipe cleaners by felting along the edge of the pipe cleaner only).

Felted bird (13)Felted bird (14)Felted bird (15)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Felted bird (16)

 

 

 

 

 

 

I then used softer merino wools for the teal and blue birdie colours – light and dark shades of teal and denim blue (the beige you see under the label is for another project coming soon).

Felted bird (10)

I carefully wrapped and felted the denim blue colour wool over his legs and feet. I did the same with his beak later on. (See here for other ideas on how to felt tiny animal feet and toes).

Felted bird (17) Felted bird (18)

I chose the lighter teal wool for the underneath, face, wings and flecks of colour on the tail. I used the darker teal for the back, top of head with tuft, eye stripe and tail. I felted simple eyes in black with a white dot placed to mimic where the light would reflect and added a thin strip of white around the eyes. (see how to felt animal eyes here).

Felted bird (19) Felted bird (20)

I made the tail and wings separately before felting them on to the body (see here for how to add body parts). I chose some pearly flower shaped button which I sewed onto the wings and stitched a pattern along the length of each wing with a teal and a glittery white embroidery thread. I didn’t fully felt the wings to a perfect shape at this stage as I completed this once attached to the body..

Felted bird (21) Felted bird (22)

Once on the body I then used the denim blue wool to emphasise the shape of the heart wings by felting around the edge..

Here is the finished little teal birdie ready to send to my sister..:-)

Felted bird (32) Felted bird (27) Felted bird (25) Felted bird (24) Felted bird (23) Felted bird (9)

Felted bird (26)Felted bird (8) Felted bird (5)  Felted bird (3) Felted bird (2) Felted bird (1)

Felted bird (7)

……and of course no creation can go to is new owner without a bit of ‘fit to be loved’ wrapping..

Felted bird (31)

Don’t miss out on another post from Fit to be loved, click ‘follow’ on the right hand side of my find out more page.

How to add head and limbs onto needle felted animals

“How do I felt body parts onto my needle felted animal? How can I make them stay secure and not easily pull off?”

Today I want to show you some more basics of needle felting animals. In my other tutorials you will see how to make various animal parts e.g a badger head, bunny ears as well as the various stages of felting a full guinea pig, bunny etc. However one of my followers commented that it would be good to do a tutorial showing how to felt the head and limbs onto your animal. It is not so easy to demonstrate with photos but I have done my best by using the shots I took along the way when sculpting Chestnut; the little red squirrel I made.

There are many ways of felting one piece to another so you may have already found the best way for you. The method I will show you is just one way and was the easiest for my squirrel at the time. 🙂

Please note that the following tutorial will assume you know a little bit about needle felting already. See basics here.

Adding the head

01-Needle felted squirrel (5)

At this point I have felted the head more or less to completion. The body has its shape but no fur yet…

I have sometimes only got as far as the shape of the head when joining it to the body but I quite often find that it’s the head of an animal that gives its unique soulful character (especially once it has eyes).02-Needle felted squirrel (8)

I often don’t decide on exactly how the body will look until I have the head sorted. Being delighted by the cute nature of the face (as is what happened with Chestnut) often inspires me to continue on with the rest of the body. 

1) To join two felted objects together leave enough loose fibre on at least one of the objects where the join will be so that it can be felted into the other.

14-Needle felted squirrel (27)

It is a lot harder and perhaps impossible to join them if the wool is felted too firmly and the fibres cannot mix and bind with the fibres on the other object when you stab with your needle. 

As you can see, the neck at the top of Chestnut’s torso has been left loose and soft. The base of the head is soft to medium felted rather than firm to allow plenty of further stabbing..

2) Fluff the fibres up a bit before putting the head into the position you would like it to be. 

15-Needle felted squirrel (28)

3) Stab at the wool from a 45 degree angle under the chin of the animal. In effect what you are doing is poking the loose wool from the neck into the head. Insert the needle as deep as it can go and on all sides of the neck. This helps to anchor the head to the body. Remember (particularly at this stage when the head will just fall off the body if you try any other way) to lay your animal on a felting pad/brush and stab away from your fingers!

17-Needle felted squirrel (30)19-Needle felted squirrel (32)

To join body parts I use a medium width barbed needle (I find these are stronger than the finer ones for this purpose but do try out various ones to see what you are comfortable with and what works best for the wool and size of animal you are felting). If possible use one with many barbs along the length to help bind the fibres and as the needle will be inserted quite deep.

4) Once it feels like the wool fibres have attached so much so that the head no longer topples away, you can try felting at other angles at various depths. Here I laid Chestnut’s head over the edge of the felting pad as it made it easier to get the angle I wanted and also prevented me from squishing her carefully felted nose 🙂

21-Needle felted squirrel (34)23-Needle felted squirrel (36)20-Needle felted squirrel (33)

22-Needle felted squirrel (35)

5) Carefully stab a few times from the top of the head to ensure it is firmly secure. NB this is easier if the head has no fur yet but if you have (like I have) you just have to take care not to leave stab marks in the face (as you are using a slightly thicker needle).

…and there we go, head on …looking more squirrel-like although much like a shawn sheep at the moment with lack of fur 🙂

25-Needle felted squirrel (38) 24-Needle felted squirrel (37)27-Needle felted squirrel (40)

Adding limbs

This is achieved in much the same way as joining the head in that you need to stab deeply in all directions to ensure all the fibres bind to each other.

For Chestnut I started with the hind legs so that it would be easier to see how her forelegs would be positioned once she was sat upright. Note the thigh part of the leg for my squirrel has already been sculpted as part of her body shape which ends up in a sitting pose. So when I refer to adding the hind leg, it is in fact the section below her thigh bone. 

1) Needle felt each leg onto the body by stabbing the wool at the fluffed up end of the leg into the body.

28-Needle felted squirrel (41)       30-Needle felted squirrel (44)

For Chestnut I had formed her feet using wool wrapped and felted over wire (see my tutorial on tiny feet and toes here) so I had to take extra care not to break my needle by hitting the wire when stabbing.

31-Needle felted squirrel (45)        29-Needle felted squirrel (42)

2) Continue at all angles for both legs until firmly and securely in position.

12-Needle felted squirrel (21) 07-Needle felted squirrel (16)

08-Needle felted squirrel (17)  09-Needle felted squirrel (18)

Once in place I added more wool round the joins as fur and then decided to felt some of Chestnut’s back-fur too. Aw she is looking very happy and mischievous already!

33-Needle felted squirrel (48)34-Needle felted squirrel (49)32-Needle felted squirrel (46)

3) Then do the same for the forelegs.

48-Needle felted squirrel (.1) 06-Needle felted squirrel (15)   05-Needle felted squirrel (14)

04-Needle felted squirrel (13)  03-Needle felted squirrel (12)

As the shoulder part needs to be attached along the side of the torso it is not sufficient to merely stab from the outer side at the shoulder blade to keep the limb in place.

To felt at an angle under the ‘armpit’ and also to ensure the leg cannot pull away at the join, stuff some extra(fluffed up) wool into the join and stab it securely into place (not too deep to push the lighter coloured wool through to the other side of the shoulder).

36-Needle felted squirrel (51) 35-Needle felted squirrel (50)

Tip: To get the correct positioning and symmetry when adding the second foreleg(as quite often you will want to play around with this until you get it right) you may find it easier to stab the second leg into place only a tiny bit at first; enough to hold the leg in place but not so much that you can’t alter the position if you need to. You can then step away to view your animal from a distance, then adjust until happy with it.

49-Needle felted squirrel (.2) 37-Needle felted squirrel (52)

38-Needle felted squirrel (53) 40-Needle felted squirrel (55)

….then secure into place.

42-Needle felted squirrel (57)  39-Needle felted squirrel (54) 41-Needle felted squirrel (56)

Once all limbs are joined onto your animal you can then felt over the joins with fur. You wouldn’t even know your animal started out as separate appendages.

45-Needle felted squirrel (61)44-Needle felted squirrel (59)43-Needle felted squirrel (58)

Here is Chestnut as she looks now! 🙂

46-Needle felted squirrel (62) 47-Needle felted squirrel (63)

Beside quiet waters (landscape felting ideas)

Felting is relaxing and fun especially when shared!!

Last week I travelled back to where I grew up; Grantham in South Lincolnshire, to spend a week with my family and catch up with old friends.

I had a relaxing time away from my office job, walked the quaint streets of Stamford and visited the home of the Bakewell pudding in the Peak District. And… you may have guessed  –  (as I am quite addicted to my felting)-  that I also took some of my wools with me to get on with my latest creation.

I also had the opportunity to spend one of my days showing my mum some basic needle felting techniques. Felting is not just for times alone just you, the wool and needles and your imagination but is so much fun to do with others – especially for friendship craft days, and in my case family time! for me and my mum, together sharing quality time. 🙂

Haha, my dad peered in from time to time and watched and enjoyed the artistic flair (claiming I got it all from him). They are both artistic!    I think we all can be in so many different ways!

My week was sooooo relaxing and quiet away from the hustle and bustle of the city and work. Home cooked food and love and hugs and then some felting (of course)- all I could wish for in a holiday.

So I wanted to show you some pictures of my mum’s very first landscape piece. My mum is a painter and loves going to her art class each week and produces some beautiful water colour paintings. She loves using colour and really appreciates nature just like me which is illustrated in her work!

So here we go, she needed no help from me after I showed her a few basic hints. I think it is really great. My mum used soft luxurious merino wool from World of wool.

I have named it ‘Beside quiet waters’ as it reminds me of David’s Psalm 23 in the bible and really sums up my week with them. Thanks mum for our time together!

01-Beside quiet waters (2) 03-Beside quiet waters (4)  05-Beside quiet waters (6) 08-Beside quiet waters (9)04-Beside quiet waters (5)02-Beside quiet waters (3)

Mum then painted the sky onto her canvas and stuck the felted piece onto it…. beautiful!!

10-Beside quiet waters (11)

Of course on leaving to come back to London I left some wools and some needles with mum.. can’t wait to see what she makes next…

How to needle felt long animal fur

How to needle felt long animal fur

Ever wondered how to get those luscious layers of long fluffy fur on your needle felted animal? more importantly how can you get them to look natural and stay put!?

Whilst making a badger I took some photos of him along the way to show you. It is fairly simple to do but does take quite a long time although once done it does give you a real sense of satisfaction and the fur really does feel soft and fur-like. Of course the end result texture does depend on the type of animal you are felting and the type of wool you wish to use.

For the needle felted badger I used corriedale wool for the core and then merino wool with a few strands of some of the corriedale mixed in for the top coat. Merino wool is easy to felt and is very soft to the touch. If you would like to you could use other luxurious fibres such as alapaca, angora or even rabbit fur.. (I wouldn’t chose the latter though if allergic to rabbits like I am)

If you are new to this amazing art form then before you get started – check out my tutorial ‘what is needle felting’ for basic needle felting techniques.

What tools will you need? ; – very simple you just need barbed needles, foam pad/needle felting brush base and small scissors (you can also use a small sewing needle to fluff up fur at the end).

How to needle felt long animal fur (30)

NB I didn’t want to completely flatten my fur down but allow it to stand out with some volume so only used one needle at a time rather than a multi-needle tool and changed the width of needle depending on detail and thickness of wool being needled. I tended to use the thinnest as this was far easier.

As you can see I have completed my badger except for his back fur and tail at this point. For how to make a badger head please see my tutorial here.

How to needle felt long animal fur (2)

How to needle felt long animal fur (30)

I love the fur on a badger’s back, it is greyish in colour but with flecks of black, brown and cream. For this badger I used grey and black merino wool and natural undyed corriedale wool

How to needle felt long animal fur (3)

Now you could use carding brushes or dog brushes to blend the colours of wool but I wanted to keep the fibres all going in one direction as much as possible at this point and with block strands of full colour in black / cream/grey so not fully blended.

To achieve this lay lengths of each colour on top of each other and then using your thumb and first finger of each hand at each end of the wool lengths, pull your hands apart pulling the wool away from each other. Lay each layer again on top of each other (fibres all in same direction) and keep going until all the wool is blended as much as you want it to be.

How to needle felt long animal fur (28)

How to needle felt long animal fur (6)

How to needle felt long animal fur (4)

How to needle felt long animal fur (5)

How to needle felt long animal fur (8)

How to needle felt long animal fur (7)

Then take narrow strands of the mixed wool the width of one or two fingers

How to needle felt long animal fur (1)

… and cut these into small pieces, roughly the same length. The length will vary as we felt as some areas will have longer fur than others…

How to needle felt long animal fur (10)

They don’t need to be perfect as no badger will have its own hairdresser with a perfect hair cut. 🙂

How to needle felt long animal fur (11)

I will now demonstrate what you will do with each piece..

Take a piece and slightly pull in the centre in a bow-like shape

How to needle felt long animal fur (2)

To layer the fur we need to felt from the back end of the animal layer over layer until reaching the head… so place the first piece at the very bottom of the badger’s rump.

How to needle felt long animal fur (12)

Felt using your barbed needle along the centre parting of the wool piece in various directions, the depth should go down to the first few barbs but the aim is to felt shallow but in many directions for the wool to stay put.

How to needle felt long animal fur (13)

How to needle felt long animal fur (14)

You can also felted slightly below the centre line onto the bottom half of the piece to ensure it is in place.

How to needle felt long animal fur (15)

Now carefully pull down the top section

How to needle felt long animal fur (17)

How to needle felt long animal fur (19)

How to needle felt long animal fur (16)

… and ensure there are no stray edges by encouraging the wool in from both sides..

How to needle felt long animal fur (20)

Now felt along the top folded edge until it is firmly in place.

How to needle felt long animal fur (9)

Felting along the centre and then on the top edge in this way helps the wool to stay in place. Give a tiny tug to check it doesn’t easily pull out. NB a really good tug will likely pull fur out hence why these cute little animals are not meant to be toys to be pulled around…they should take cuddles and some handling though so ensure you felt well.

Again ensure you felt in many directions and then continue on to the next piece…layering the wool to create a fur look..

How to needle felt long animal fur (5)

How to needle felt long animal fur (10)

When moving up to the next layer, position the wool just above the last layer – you don’t want gaps in between of core wool showing so don’t leave too big a gap…

How to needle felt long animal fur (7)

How to needle felt long animal fur (3)

Don’t worry about the fur being too long or tufts sticking out, as you can give the end of the fur a trim as you go (time to use your hairdressing skills :-))

How to needle felt long animal fur (12)

By the way this doesn’t need too much skill and I am definitely no hairdresser, just trim in various directions for a more natural fluffy look.

How to needle felt long animal fur (13)

Any bits you trim off can be used for other felting projects or even for any areas you wish to fill in later at the edges so don’t waste them just put aside in a neat pile for later..

How to needle felt long animal fur (14)

Optional; For the back end of the badger I wanted this to be extra fluffy with the fur standing up slightly on end so to achieve this, run fingers through the strands of wool to fluff up and stab the wool all over between the strands, not to felt down but to fluff up…(

How to needle felt long animal fur (15)

As you can see we have a way to go but we are on our way !!

How to needle felt long animal fur (18)

Aw look at him waiting so patiently to be finished 🙂

How to needle felt long animal fur (17)

You may find it easier to turn his body as you go – work with whatever position you find comfortable and whatever means less squishing of his cute little nose into the felting mat..

How to needle felt long animal fur (19)

As you reach the main length of his body you may now decide to cut the lengths of wool a bit longer

How to needle felt long animal fur (20)

For a more realistic look vary the colours so that you sometimes get more black or cream in the strand you felt…mix it up a bit..

How to needle felt long animal fur (21)

How to needle felt long animal fur (28)

Keep going…

How to needle felt long animal fur (27)

How to needle felt long animal fur (26)

How to needle felt long animal fur (25)

How to needle felt long animal fur (24)

Almost there… take a breather – have a hot chocolate !!

How to needle felt long animal fur (23)

How to needle felt long animal fur (23)

How to needle felt long animal fur (22)

Specifically for the badger- when reaching the neck line, overlay some strands of black wool at the base of the ears …

How to needle felt long animal fur (24)

Then finish off with some more of the cream at the base of his head..

How to needle felt long animal fur (25)How to needle felt long animal fur (26)

You can use a normal sewing needle now if you wish to carefully fluff up the fur where it may have flattened slightly..

And there you have a gorgeous badger! fully furred waiting to be cuddled and fit to be loved!!

How to needle felt long animal fur (1)

I added his tail after this which also had several layers of wool as fur…

Here he is all completed !! so playful !!

Needle felted badger latest

 

 Long Animal Fur video!

Find it easier to learn by watching how it is done?  

Long animal fur videoMy full length ‘Long animal fur’ video tutorial can be downloaded or watched live- stream as many times as you like for only £3.75.

<<<Click the donkey picture to watch the 1 minute preview clip. 

 You’ll learn even more techniques for adding long fur (as demonstrated on this adorable miniature donkey).

 

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?

For more tutorials like this please visit my Tutorials, tips and ideas page.

Don’t ever miss out on my latest tutorials! Insert your email address and click the ‘Follow’ button on the right hand panel to receive notifications of when the next post is up..:-)

Don’t have time to make one but would love a one of a kind needle felted animal by Fit to be loved for yourself or for that special someone? Visit my Etsy shop today to see my latest creations. Or like my facebook page to see what I am making next.

Needle felted guinea pig!

My good friend Emma recently turned 40 and she absolutely loves guinea pigs so it was very easy to decide what I should make her as a surprise present for her party..

So here he is … a cute bundle of guinea pig fluff!Needle felted guinea pig (38)

As usual I took a few pictures along the way to show you how I made him. With some time, some love, some wool and a barbed needle you too can make a felted guinea pig just like him!

If you haven’t tried needle felting before and would like to know what it is all about and see some basics first, feel free to jump to my ‘what is needle felting’ page first before trying the guinea pig..

Or if you don’t have the time but would love me to make one for you or as a present for a loved one, let me know what colour, fur length etc by sending me a bespoke order at my Etsy shop.

So, to get started you will need:

  • Foam pad or felting brush base (so not to stab your knees and to provide a firm base to work on)
  • Felting needles of various sizes; wider for initial shaping and finer for detail later on
  • A needle holder; this is optional but for making basic shapes it saves time to use 2 or 3 needles at the same time. I use the 3 needle holder pen by Clover.
  • Wool to felt with; I used natural corriedale wool to make the guinea pig’s core as I find it felts well and ends up nice and firm. I then used merino wool as the top coat as it’s soft and comes in some lovely animal fur colours. I buy my wools at a very good price from World of Wool.
  • Small scissors
  • Carding/dog brushes to blend wool (optional)

I hope the pictures will explain what I did at each phase so I haven’t gone into too much description for each picture. Feel free to ask me any questions if you are unsure of how to do anything.

Start with a basic egg shape by rolling tightly a nice length of the corriedale wool and then felting it into shape with medium firmness. This will become the torso.

Needle felted guinea pig (7).

Felt more at one end and use hands to carefully sculpt one end slightly narrower (to become the head end)Needle felted guinea pig (8)

Roll two equal sized pieces of woolNeedle felted guinea pig (16)Needle felted guinea pig (9)

Fold and felt them into doughnut shapesNeedle felted guinea pig (10)

Then felt them well onto the sides of the torso at the bottom end to become hind legs

Needle felted guinea pig (11)

Make sure they look even both sidesNeedle felted guinea pig (12)

Add and felt over some small tufts of wool to make the edges softer where the limbs join where neededNeedle felted guinea pig (13)

… especially around the rumpNeedle felted guinea pig (14)

Then turn over and do the same underneath for an even well blended finish.

Needle felted guinea pig (15)

Take two more pieces of wool but this timeNeedle felted guinea pig (16)

…fold to form two triangles

Needle felted guinea pig (17)

Felt onto the sides of the chest end and mould to form fore legsNeedle felted guinea pig (18)

Again check the legs are equal or you can position one slightly in front of the other to provide a more natural pose.Needle felted guinea pig (19)

Put the body to one side and roll another piece of wool and form a smaller egg shape. Felt medium firm again and then sculpt to make into a head shape. Score a nose and mouth using two needles at one time

Needle felted guinea pig (20)

The shape is fairly similar to a rabbit head shape…add any wool where needed to accentuate the jaw line and cheeksNeedle felted guinea pig (21)

Now attach the head firmly to the body. I felted a good piece of loosely felted wool to the bottom of the head first so when attaching there were lots of fibres to help attach it and this helped to form a neck.

Needle felted guinea pig (24)

Needle felted guinea pig (25)

Needle felted guinea pig (26)

You now have a guinea pig base!!

Now comes the fun (but tedious at times) of adding some wool colour in layers to give him his character.. I mixed some wool together to get the colours I liked, one part corriedale wool and two parts light chocolate brown merino wool. I used two dog brushes to blend the wool (so much cheaper than carding brushes and they work just the same!).

Needle felted guinea pig (27)

Start from the tail end (although guinea pigs don’t have tails)and work towards the head. Felt some wool in the same direction but some in other directions and with different lengths too to get a more natural look!

Needle felted guinea pig (28)

Needle felted guinea pig (29)

When you reach his head add two small doughnut shapes of coral coloured wool for his ears and felt them in well to fix to his head. I decided to give him a cream coloured face with cream tuft on top of his head but you choose whatever colour you fancy. For the head start at the very top with the fur layers and work down towards the chin.

Add more detail to the nose with the brown and a tiny bit of black for his mouth opening. To make him look like he has rummaged around in the hay felt a tiny fleck of brown under the cream fur on his muzzle . For any layers that are too long or for shaping the fur on the face, used nail scissors to carefully trim the wool.

Needle felted guinea pig (30)

(I went back and added a strip of the cream across his middle taking care to pull back the layers of brown already felted..)

Needle felted guinea pig (7)

Here you can see his eyes; brown overlaid with black and a few tiny white dots to give the illusion of light reflection.

Needle felted guinea pig (31)

You could leave him with no feet but I decided to give him some. Remember guinea pigs have 4 toes on each foot at the front and 3 at the back!

To achieve this use short lengths of pipe cleaners for his toes and wrap the coral coloured wool over each toe binding the pieces together at one end. Then wrap several layers of the wool over the end to form the ball of the foot. Wind more wool over the length of each foot and felt tightly to ensure all fibres are secure.. then felt them to the legs!!

Needle felted guinea pig (5)

Needle felted guinea pig (1)

Go over the entire surface of your guinea pig with a normal sewing needle if needed to liven up any flattened areas of fur!

Squeeeeeeeeeee!!

I hope you enjoyed the tutorial!! it was fun to make him and my friend Emma almost cried when she saw him at her party! 🙂

Watch out for more tutorials and creations and follow my blog to receive emails of when new posts are up so you don’t miss out.

Check out my other tutorials; how to make a bunny and how to make a badger head and view other Fit to be loved felted creations at my Etsy shop.

and please do get in touch if you have any ideas of what you would like me to make next!

Needle felting a bunny; Photo tutorial

Needle felting a bunny; Photo tutorial

Today I just want to share some photos with you to give you a taster of the various stages that went in to needle felting my latest bunny. I haven’t photographed everything but stopped at various times along the journey to take a shot. Please also see here for more detail of how I made his ears. It doesn’t matter too much about what order you add each limb or ears or facial features. It is fun to experiment with different ways of doing things. You will soon find out what works best for you.

I have found though that whenever you add the eyes your creation immediately gains personality and you also get a tiny break from all the time consuming needle action. I love doing the eyes and ears best.

imageBasic ball to start for bunny head. Core corriedale wool.

imageAdding cheeks and face shape

imageAdded torso.

imageAdditional layer in mink coloured merino wool to form base fur.

imageShoulders and thighs firmly felted

imageBlue and grey merino wool mixed then shallow felted to become bunny fur.

image

imageLeaving his tummy in mink.

image

Preparing feet

imageCute bunny paw detail

imageFeet firmly attached

imageMore Wool added to give shape and smooth contours

image

Nose and mouth coming to life

imageComparing with my original bunny to check size and proportions, angle of feet etc

image

Forming ears.  See more about making ears in a tutorial here.

image

image

image

imageEars fixed

image

imageEyes alert

image

Can’t resist a cuddle

imageFront paws and holding a carrot.

imageMy sister in law popped by, bunny made her smile 🙂

imageAdventure for bunny in the garden for nature’s backdrop!

To see more pictures of this cute bunny and to order one as a gift just like him for someone you love, please visit my Etsy shop.

To follow my blog and receive email updates about latest fit to be loved creations and tutorials, simply enter your email address on the top right panel of my ‘find out more’ page.

%d bloggers like this: