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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 🙂

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 !

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Needle felted dormouse

May I present to you ‘Hazel’ the sleeping hazel dormouse. She is snuggled up on her needle felted leaves in a wool nest I crocheted.

She is a mix of merino and corriedale wools with a wire in her tail and has horse hair for whiskers. Her tiny toes are all wool – I think they are the tiniest I have made yet and were very fiddly but certainly worth every minute of the process.

Hazel was such a joy to make while I have been recovering from a life changing operation. Curling up into a little ball just like she is doing in her cosy nest is something I have felt like doing a lot the past few weeks as I have needed so much sleep.

I hope you like her. I will be posting more about how I made the leaves soon too.

Needle felted bumble bee

needle felted bumble bee (33)

Here is my first attempt at a needle felted bumble bee. I gave it to my sister for her birthday last week. My sister’s name Melissa means ‘honey bee’ but she loves bumbley bees as they are so fluffy looking! I was brave enough to let it sit on my hand without any worries about being stung. Good job as it is much larger than life size!

 

I started off using black pipe cleaners as legs and antennae.  I twisted them together in the middle to form the base for the body. I trimmed the pipe cleaners with small angled nail scissors to accentuate the leg segments and added tan coloured wool..

I tightly wound yellow, black and white merino wool tops over the middle section to form the head, thorax and abdomen and added more and more of the merino on top to build up the height. I needle felted the body with a barbed needle to sculpt into a bee shape. To create a furry bumble bee look I then used a reverse felting needle to pull out the fibres and added a layer of rusty orange over the yellow to give the colour more depth. (Note I didn’t use a cream colour core wool for this piece to ensure that only the pure colours I wanted came through when I used the reverse needle not any underlay of core wool fibres).

I had to get really creative for the wings. I searched my stash of crafty bits and ended up cutting out wing shapes from a silvery coloured organza bag and then hand sewed the pattern on each wing by hand with white embroidery thread.

Here are a few photos of the work in progress of how I started.

I am so pleased that my sister adored him!!

******You can now order a bumble bee for yourself here******************

Mini Schubie the Sheltie Feltie

I am very excited to present to you my greatest needle felting challenge yet. He is modelled on a beautiful young Shetland sheepdog (Sheltie) called Schubert (Schubie)! The real dog is very much loved by his human mum and dad and his dad wanted a surprise gift for his wife (Schubert’s mum) for Christmas!
I rarely do commissions as I try to avoid the stress of it but having spent quite a bit of time admiring the real Schubert I had been wondering how it would be to needle felt a mini one and quite fancied a stab at it!  🙂

Schubert has so many tones to his luxurious fur so I spent quite a bit of time blending wool colours. He also has very long fur so I really put into practice my ‘adding long animal fur’ techniques.

I started off wrapping corriedale core wool over a wire armature. Then I added paw pads and then some detail on his face before starting on his belly fur and working from his tail end towards his neck with merino wool. I did his wispy feet hair and tail last. Please see the work in progress videos for more info.

In an attempt to keep him as authentically ‘Shetland’ as possible I managed to include some brown Shetland sheep wool in his coat and his whiskers are made of black Shetland pony tail hair all the way from Scotland.

As with all my creations it took many hours of needle felting and love. I am very pleased with the way he turned out and I hope you like him too 🐶🐕😆

Here are some photos and a short video. I hope to get some photos of him and the real Schubie together soon too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Needle felted butterfly – bringing back the extinct (and hope) with the art of needle felting

Needle felted butterfly – bringing back the extinct (and hope) with the art of needle felting

My latest needle felted project has been a challenge (nothing is ever simple with me!) but it has been so worthwhile to see the finished butterfly in its frame.

I have always loved butterflies and if you spend more than a minute with me you will notice that I have many items that are butterfly themed; stationery, cards, blouses, my wedding was adorned with feather butterflies and as you can see my Fit to be loved logo has a tiny orange butterfly.

I came across the Mazarine blue butterfly (scientific name Cyaniris semiargus which is pronounced sy-an-EYE-riss se-mee-AH-guss) over a year ago as it stood out to me not only for its beautiful markings and vibrant blue colours but also I was saddened to read that it was last recorded in the UK in 1904.

I envisioned what this beautiful creature may look like if I were to make it out of wool and to have it framed. It would be amazing to bring back an extinct butterfly with the art of needle felting!

I set myself this project and though I started a year ago with a few wing shapes and lots of imagination, life took a bit of a different turn.

Some of you who follow my Facebook posts may know that 2 years ago this week our worlds changed forever as our twin girls, Chloe and Grace, were born still at 24 weeks. Since then life has had its ups and downs as I have journeyed the hills and valleys of grief. Throwing myself into my long term full time job as a Manager of a charity helpline in South London as a way to distract from my thoughts has been a coping mechanism but this kind of life can only reach burn out. Also some of my passions including needle felting took back stage.

In April this year I realised I needed to make a change, to face my fears, start afresh, take a break. I also wanted to dare to follow my dreams of helping others on a new career path and so my husband and I decided to move out of London and I made a huge step of leaving my job. So here I am in Lincolnshire (back to my birth town of Grantham) after moving home 3 weeks ago. I have space to think, to breathe, to heal, to be, to create!

You will be pleased to know that my new career choice has enabled me to gain some free time to invest more in my needle felting.

I hope you like the Mazarine blue butterfly which I have finally been able to complete. It has been lovingly handmade with soft merino wool over wire and mounted in a deep box frame to keep it dust free.

Butterflies are often a symbol of hope and life. This one is certainly the start of something new in my life. A path of hope.

What passions could you bring back? What hobbies can you start or revive? Where is your life taking you? What are you hoping for?

     

   

Blessings always xx

Amanda

Poppy

Poppy

Just finished needle felting a beautiful black and white dog called Poppy.  I wanted to capture the smiley faced playful character of the real dog Poppy who loves to fetch a ball, go for a swim and have lots of fun on her walks, sometimes with legs splashed with mud!

I am not sure what breed she is but she looks like a spaniel/collie cross.

She was a delight to make. She is made from core wool over wire and then merino wool layered over the top. Her eyes, nose and even her tiny collar with a paw print disc is made from wool. Her layers of long fur were added with my usual technique (click here for tutorial).

Once needle felted I was able to pose her with head slightly tilted, front leg bent and tail ready to wag……

Don’t you think she looks happy to be finished? 🙂

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 ‘needle brushed’ leg fibres, then fluffy tummy and long textured back fur. You will also see how I create a middle parting on the donkey’s muzzle, add a long fluffy fringe and a beautiful flowing mane.’

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 – layering 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’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.

 

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