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Needle felted pipistrelle; Species Champion award

This week has been an exciting week. The needle felted pipistrelle bat I created was mounted and given as an award at the Palace of Westminster to MP Helen Hayes as she is the species champion for the common pipistrelle and won best parliamentary species champion at the Species Champions Annual awards ceremony. Well done to Helen for all her hard work!! It was presented by BBC Journalist Frank Gardner.

I am so happy that my artwork became something so special for an amazing project. The project is run by the Rethink Nature partnership, a group of seven wildlife organisations working together to make a difference to species conservation. (Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, Bat Conservation Trust, Buglife, Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Butterfly Conservation, Plantlife and the RSPB).

The little bat took many hours of sculpting through the art of needle felting. His body is made of core corriedale wool. His wings, legs and tail are wool wrapped over wire.  His beautiful brown coat is made of a blend of corriedale and merino wool. His eyes, nose, ears and tiny feet are made of wool too.

The common pipistrelle as its name suggests is the most common bat that you might see flying in your garden on a summer night! Yet like all our bats in the UK they need our help and protection to ensure their numbers don’t decline again. They are so important to our environment! I love bats but some people don’t and this is usually as they don’t know much about them and bats are so misunderstood.

When you look at a bat close up they are actually very tiny and many times smaller than the size of my needle felted one. In fact a real pipistrelle bat weighs about 5g and their forearm length is less than 35mm in length. One of these tiny creatures can eat around 3 thousand insects in one night – how amazing is that!? Due to destruction of their natural habitat many bats now need to roost in houses and churches and rely on people to preserve these roosts.

Each bat usually has only one pup each year and too often that little pup will become lost or get caught by a local cat and so many each year don’t survive. The Bat Conservation Trust has a fantastic helpline if you find a bat in need of help. You can also find out how to support their work ūüôā

Here are a few work in progress photos of my needle felted bat…

Having worked for 12 years at the Bat Conservation Trust I have quite a good knowledge of bats but it was still a challenge to get the anatomy right. Bats are so fascinating and detailed with their tail membranes and wing membranes! I wanted to give the illusion of fully formed wings that could spread out but tucked in as if it has landed. I hope I did it justice.

As with all my needle felted animals I used lots of photos of the real animal at every angle for reference. Thankfully no needles were broken but I did remake his face at one point and a good deal of patience and chocolate rewards were needed along the way!! This aside I really did enjoy making him and I was so overjoyed to see the smile on Helen Hayes’ face too when she received him as her award !

How to needle felt long animal fur; the video!

Would you like to watch techniques for creating a detailed and realistic long fur look on your needle felted animal?

You have likely seen my photo tutorial with basic techniques for adding long wool fibres onto a badger. Well here is a video for those who¬†learn best by watching¬†how it’s done. This is far more in depth with more techniques and tips along the way!

‘In this full length (1.5 hour) diary-style tutorial, I demonstrate how to add layers of wool to a miniature donkey. These techniques can be adapted for any long furred animal. Join me on my journey from preparation to finish; starting with carefully ‚Äėneedle brushed‚Äô leg fibres, then fluffy tummy and long textured back fur. You will also see how I create a middle parting on the donkey‚Äôs muzzle, add a long fluffy fringe and a beautiful flowing mane.‚Äô

Watch the preview below 

 

The full length video tutorial is available toBuy now

buy for just £3.75!

(Watch live multiple times or download it- it’s up to you!)

 

Difficulty ranking: Intermediate level or beginners looking for a challenge.

The result: Amazing detail; the look of a real animal with layers of fur.

Needle felted donkey (9)

Skills you will master:

  • Simple hand blending of wool roving for natural, textured colour tones
  • Preparing wool lengths and a test/sample piece
  • Knowing how firm to felt your core base
  • Two easy methods to firmly attach various lengths of wool fibre
  • The art of layering and trimming fibres
  • Specific skills for adding fur to various body parts including legs, tummy, back, ears, tail, face and mane
  • How to prevent over felting or flattening of long fibres
  • Finishing techniques for defining strands or fluffing them up

 

Chapter start times for easier video navigation.

0:00        Introduction

1:00        Overview; what techniques will I learn?

2:07        Where to start?

3:35        Preparing and blending wools

12:03     What tools do I need?

13:25      Shorter fur Рlayering on the legs (the basics of the two techniques)

28:28     Soft tummy fur (technique 1)

34:05      Continuing the tummy (and a few ways of blending colour)

38:10     How firm should the core wool be?

40:05     Lots of thick fur layers (across the torso) (technique 1)

45:00      Tips for preventing fluffing up and positioning animal whilst felting

46:14      Adding fur on rump (techniques 1 and 2)

49:45     Long fluffy back fur (technique 2)

57:40     Ears and tail (brief overview for ideas)

59:12     Fluffy textured muzzle and fringe (very long fur pieces) (technique 2 plus other tips)

1:12:50  Making a mane (another method)

1:19:25  Attaching the mane

1:25:50  Finishing off your animal; defining etc

1:30:20  Final donkey photos (what a cutie!)

Why not get your own copy today? 

More needle felting tutorials can be found over on my tutorials page 

Don‚Äôt ever miss out on my latest tutorials! Insert your email address and click the ‚ÄėFollow‚Äô 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 animal vote

Hi everyone.  I have set up a fun poll to help decide what to make next.

I have chosen 5 animals which I think will be quite a challenge to needle felt.

Which one would you like to see me make next? ūüôā

I will take photos as I go to show progress as usual on my facebook page and will blog about it once finished.

Whatever I make will be one of a kind and available in my Etsy shop.

So please vote here:

https://fans.vote/v/ACjrxdvd3l4

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!!

Needle felted donkey 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

Needle felted donkey 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Needle felted donkey 8

 

 

 

 

 

Needle felted donkey 9

 

 

 

 

 

 

Needle felted donkey 10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Needle felted donkey 11

 

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Needle felted donkey 13

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 ūüôā

Needle felted donkey 3

Needle felted donkey 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Needle felted donkey 6

Needle felted donkey 5

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. ūüôā

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 ūüôā

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 ūüôā

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! ūüôā

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

Happy Christmas everyone!

Happy Christmas everyone!

I  just wanted to say a very Merry Christmas to all my followers!

May this coming year be full of wonderful surprises for you and hopes truly becoming reality!

I have had a little go at making a Christmas poster from a photo of my original badger for you all.

Enjoy the festivities, have fun and watch out for a new year of more lovable creations from Fit to be loved! ūüôā

God bless you all

Amanda xx

 

Ps If you haven’t already added your email address to receive updates of new exciting posts please just click on the ‘follow’ button on the right hand side of my ‘find out more’ page.

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. ūüôā

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!

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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…

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