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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.:-)

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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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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).

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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).

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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).

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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).

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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..

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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..:-)

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

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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 make an Easter bunny!

Want to know how to needle felt a bunny this Easter?  How about bunny ears? … need some ideas to get started?

Hi everyone!

Now before you get too excited, sorry no I haven’t made a new bunny, but what I did want to do was bring together some pictures and links to the best of my previous bunny posts into one place for you all to enjoy this Easter! as well as offer a little Easter themed inspiration…

The other day I visited Vauxhall city farm in London (which I sometimes visit on my lunch break from managing the National Bat Helpline) and took a few snaps of a rather large bunny (I think he is part Flemish Giant)  but he looks like a wild bunny with all that browney-grey fur and as you can see he is well camouflaged too.

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It got me thinking and I am sure you will agree that bunnies are a great sign of spring and new life at Easter and like the Vauxhall one they are extremely cute and well worth taking the time to admire. I do of course also love to eat chocolate bunnies (yum) and can’t wait to finish my Lent no chocolate diet to get my teeth into one!

So how about making a bunny this Easter?

The first time I bought some wool and attempted needle felting I ended up making this little cream bunny from corriedale wool.

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Then soon after I was commissioned to make a gorgeous grey bunny for a colleague who wanted to surprise his wife for her birthday. His core is corriedale and grey and pinky fur is of merino wool.

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I loved making these bunnies. Both are laying on their backs as I think this is the sweetest lovable pose and reminds me of the bunnies (Benjamin, Snuggles and Peeps) I had the privilege to care for as a child. Unfortunately I have now developed an allergy for rabbit fur so making wool rabbits mean I still get to cuddle them without sneezing profusely.:-)

To make a bunny like these yourself this Easter why not click here to try out my needle felted bunny tutorial.

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….and for more detail on making those lovely long ears click here.

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I gave my bunnies a carrot to hold but what about keeping with the Easter theme and placing your bunny in a basket holding some needle felted eggs like the one below ?

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or Easter flowers?

You could wrap wool round wire and needle felt the wool in place to create stems and add simple flower heads like the one I made in this tutorial.

Or why not try a sitting Easter hare??

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See here for more inspiration

Happy Easter everyone!!!!! 🙂 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to needle felt animal eyes

“So, I just about know how to needle felt a cute fluffy animal but how do I even start to needle felt its eyes? How can I make the eyes look 3D, shiny and realistic and not too cartoon-like?’, I could use glass or plastic eyes but would love to use wool so that my sculpture is totally needle felted- so what do I do?”

This photo tutorial will hopefully show you the basics of needle felting animal eyes and give you some ideas along the way too.

Adding the eyes to any needle felted piece is actually one of my favourite parts. It brings the animal to life and gives it its soulful character. Getting the eyes just right shouldn’t be a stress! it can take some practice but it can be so rewarding adding that final detail to your newly created animal…

Here are some of the eyes I have needle felted so far to give you some ideas.

1-eye collage

Can you work out what animals they are?

So here is how you can get started…

Step 1: Look at photos of eyes and get to know basic eye anatomy

Of course eyes are different for every species so the first thing to do is to take a look at photos of real animals to see how big the eyes are in proportion to the animal’s head, decide on colour, the shape, note where the light reflects etc. You don’t want to make the wrong sort of eyes for your animal (eg a cat’s eye on a mouse for example). I usually just do a web search and bookmark the pictures or pin them on pinterest to refer to whilst I needle felt.

Remember doing biology? well you don’t need to know full anatomy of the eye but knowing your basic parts does help. Here is an eye of a needle felted hare I made;

eye anatomy

You will find that most animals will have a pupil which can change in size depending on mood/ light exposure. For some it will be round or it can be different in shape e.g. a slit for cats and reptiles, square for a goat, even w-shaped in a cuttlefish!! Some have a distinctly coloured iris, some have eye lids some don’t- birds’ eyes face forward rather than sit on the side of the head… aren’t animals remarkable!

Step 2: Go for it

For demonstration purposes I will show you the stages that took place when making eyes for a mouse and then a badger. Eyes can be added early on or at the end, it’s completely up to you. I sometimes like to do mine near the end and when finished I can’t help but smile! 🙂

Some ‘Fit to be loved’ eye felting tips

  • use a fine barbed needle for detail
  • use warm hands to roll the tiny eye ball to keep rounded/oval rather than stabbing too much as this will just flatten it
  • it is easier to layer eyes parts on top of each other rather than try to make the exact shape (see what I mean below)
  • do each stage for each eye at the same time to get the eyes the same
  • measure using string/thread/fingers to check eyes are of equal size and symmetrically positioned
  • to attach eye to the head stab mainly around the edge of the eye in various directions rather than across the middle to keep the eye plump and prevent it from going too flat

Mouse eyes (-basic level)

  • roll in warm hands 2 equal sized rugby ball shaped balls of black wool to form the basic eye shape. Lightly needle felt in different directions then place on the mouse head viewing from the top to check the positioning is symmetrical. The eyes on this mouse are simple to view as they contrast well in colour with the rest of its face fur.

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  • firmly felt the wool into place by stabbing around the edge of the shape to keep the eye plump and not completely flat

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  • use a smaller amount of wool for each of the eye irises (using a grey/green colour) and again stab them into place, being careful not to flatten the eye too much…

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  • add a tiny ball of the black to the top of the iris to form the pupil. The position of the pupil will determine the way the mouse looks at you; for this little mouse the pupil at the top gives the impression that he is looking up. Ensure the pupils match in size and position on each eye (you don’t want him to look cross-eyed unless that is the expression you are after..)

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  • adding the pupil in this way i.e. layering one circular shape over another is far easier and less tedious than attempting to shape the iris in a half moon shape and also gives the eye a fuller shape..

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  • take a thin strip of cream-coloured wool to form the edge of the mouse’s eyelids (top and bottom) which nicely frame the eyes. View the eyes from the top to ensure they are in the correct position and of correct thickness

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  • this is also a good time to manipulate the wool on the eyes as well as around the eyes with your fingers to make the shape of the eyes fit the face as best it can. For example you could pull in the bottom corners of the eyes and narrow the bridge of the nose slightly if you choose to do so or if one eye sticks out more than the other you can carefully push it in slightly.

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  • as a finishing touch and to bring the eyes to life and make them look 3D and shiny, add a tiny dot of white to give the illusion that light is reflecting across the eye surface. The exact position of this is not so crucial as getting them in the same mirrored position for each eye…

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Here is the finished mouse saying ‘I love you’ with it’s cute yellow felted flower…

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Badger eyes (- intermediate level)

The badger’s eyes are slightly harder to create. The reason being is that the badger’s dark eyes are hard to see on a fairly dark face so needing more careful measuring to ensure both eyes look the same. The eyes are mainly dark so need more help in making the surface look like it is shiny and reflecting the light. I also add colour to the bottom corner of each eye to form what is known as the ‘lacrimal caruncle’ that you sometimes see in mammals such as a badger (to make it look even more life like)

  • roll 2 small balls of black wool in warm hands and needle felt lightly in all directions

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  • add the balls to the badger head, felting slightly to keep in place but don’t felt firmly until you have checked they are positioned correctly

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  • whilst they are roughly in place view the eyes from above to check the position. As the background fur is very dark too, you may find this hard to do so you may wish to feel the eyes too to check this..as you can see the left eye was slightly higher at this stage so I moved the eye down slightly to match..

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  • once happy with the positioning, felt around the edge of each shape, not across its middle, to ensure the eye does not become too flat.

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  • take a thin length of grey wool for the top and bottom eyelid edges for each eye, these will nicely frame the eyes.

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  • needle felt these into place and then view both eyes from the top to ensure they are in the correct position and of correct thickness

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  • add a tiny amount of brown wool into the inner eye corners (the ‘lacrimal caruncle’) – this was the same colour as the brown detail on the badger nose

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  • the eyes of the badger are very dark so as well as having a tiny white spot to give the illusion of a shiny eye as with the mouse, I wanted to add some grey to the sides of each black eye for extra 3D light reflecting effect.

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  • it is very important to ensure that what you do with one eye is mirrored with the other so checking from all angles is crucial.

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  • and add the white dot…

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Yes these eyes can take a while to get just right but oh how cute do these badgers look when finished!!

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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.

How to needle felt a badger head; photo tutorial

How to needle felt a badger head; photo tutorial

Our beautiful badgers of Britain are getting a lot of coverage in the media at the moment. I could go on about how so unfair the cull is (which is my personal view). However this blog is not at this time to tell you my thoughts on this as a lover of nature and a conservationist but to celebrate this amazing creature and show you how you can start to create your own little badger from a few pieces of wool (some undyed and dark brown corriedale and some merino in grey, brown and black). All you need is some wool, a foam pad, a few barbed felting needles, some love and some time!

My decision to make a badger for my next needle felting project came as a result of me asking friends on Facebook and Twitter to vote for their choice of British animal for me to make. There were lots of fun ideas (including woodlice and caddis fly larvae) but the badger came top!

I started on 1st September and it just so happened that this week has been the start of the cull in certain parts of the country.

No matter what you think of the cull I am sure if you have arrived at this page you are fascinated by the uniqueness of the badger with its playful, inquisitive nature and amazing stripey face which of course makes this needle felting project extremely enjoyable especially when you have felted in the badger’s big alluring eyes which give him so much character and bring him to life!

I have taken pictures along the way so you can see how I went from ball of wool to badger head.

Why just a head tutorial? My completed badger will be revealed soon. I find the head is a good place to start and can be fixed to the body shape or positions of your choice -your badger could lay on its back or stand or sit. Will it hold something? You could just keep to a head as a brooch or wall plaque. It’s up to you!

The following assumes you know some felting basics. You may also prefer to do certain facial features in a different order so this is just a guide. I use 2 to 3 needles at the same time to quickly felt larger surfaces and use only one slimmer needle for details and attaching parts.

Start with core wool to make an oval shape. I use undyed corriedale wool.

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Add a second triangle shaped piece to the top of the oval length ways. This will form the forehead and nose area. Keep edges of the triangle rounded.

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Needle in the shape and add small tufts to help blend harsh edges. Aim for a skull shape. Needle more in the nose section to form a good slope.

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Add two slim oval shapes for cheeks and blend edges well.

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While felted medium soft, use hands to mould head into shape, narrowing the nose area to a nice rounded point. Bend nose up slightly at the end. Then needle away to keep the shape in place.

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Add a small oval to form a nose, and one to become a chin then using one needle start adding some badger detail. Make a slight indent where each eye will go.

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Shape the badger’s nose and mouth, adding more wool to define roundness of top lip where needed.

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Add a smile!

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Badgers vary in colour but I chose a mixture of black and brown (seen on left of photo)for my badger’s dark facial colours (result of my mix is on the right).

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Add the dark colour (shallow needle in various directions) to make the badger’s stripes.

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Keep comparing each side to check they are more or less equal. Leave slits where eyes will go.

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Add some dark brown with black nostril detail.

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Add some colourful mouth features.

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Form some round ears and add colour.

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Then fix his ears in place…. aww now he is really looking like a little badger! Take a breather and just admire!

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You could now add his eyes and he would be a juvenile badger with short badger fur and cute face….

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But to make a fuller more adult face… You will need to layer some wool as fur… It is time consuming but well worth it as you’ll see…

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So then to add to his character, give him some nice big badger eyes. Well hello cutie!!! I used a blob of black wool rolled into a ball for each eye. Then added tiny strands of grey around the eye to define it. A blob of white at top of eye to give reflection illusion like a real eye and grey blobs elongated at right and left of each eye ball to make the eye appear more rounded and reflecting light.

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Tiny bit of brown at the inner eye corner and on the nose as a final bit of detail. I also added tiny wool strands in brown around his nose and mouth to give that natural ‘just rummaged through the undergrowth’ look!

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Have a go! I certainly had fun making this little badger. See the finished badger here and sign up to receive emails of when new posts are up so you don’t miss out on any upcoming tips and tutorials.

Check out my other tutorials and view other Fit to be loved felted creations at my Etsy shop.

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