Monday, 15 October 2012

CraftyMutt's Guide to Learning Needle Felting

Needle felting is a fun and versatile craft, it's easy to make a lot of different shapes, and you can work in 2D on many surfaces or even make 3D sculptures! Starting out might be hard, so here's a guide to how CraftyMutt went about it :D (note: there are almost certainly better ways to do anything than the CraftyMutt way)

Step 1: Impulse Buying
You can't possibly start needle felting without inspiration, and what better inspiration than seeing a bag of super cheap needle felting wool bits in all sorts of pretty colours?!
At this point the sensible half of your brain kicks in. You can't just buy felting wool on sale, you don't even have any felting equipment to felt it with. That was a very silly idea.
Better also buy some needles to actually felt it and a felting foam pad so you don't stab yourself too much or make holes in the table.

Step 2: Apply OCD
You've got a whole load of pretty bits of fluff and no idea what to do with them. Great! The best way to appreciate pretty bits of fluff is to sort them by colour, softness, squishiness, size and prettiness. Appreciate all the pretty colours until you figure out what you're actually going to do with this stuff.

Step 3: Inspect Pointy Objects
You've checked out the wool, better make sure you know what else you've bought. Get out those pointy things! They're pretty pointy looking.

Oh wait, there's a warning on the box about how pointy these are. Should probably put them back until you know what you're doing. Maybe go watch some internet tutorials and videos of people felting stuff.

Step 4: Apply Pointy Objects to Fluff
Well, that's what they all seem to do in the videos and it works for them. Go for it.
 Instantly get distracted by the pointy thing sticking out of a fuzzy thing, wonder if you could make it look like a hedgehog by putting more needles in. Realise you probably shouldn't be doing this with the needles and go back to work.
At this stage you should be stabbing yourself in the finger every five minutes or so. Take a break and find a plaster with a smiley face on (or just a regular plaster will do if you can't find a happy one) if you stab yourself too much, and try not to do it again.

Step 5: Suddenly a Dragon
Just sort of keep poking stuff and adding bits and make it look like how you want. Feel a bit guilty after it starts to take shape that you're repeatedly poking a baby dragon with a pointy stick. He's pretty simple, all one colour, but he's sleepy and cute an very small (sits in the palm of your hand with space to spare)
 Decide that one colour items are too plain and hard to see what they are because they're so small, so instantly start on something with lots of colours and too much complexity for your second attempt at needle felting.

Step 6: Use ALL The Colours
Try to felt something that uses as many colours as possible, and has lots of awkward small details. After a whole lot of time, errors, edits, additions and stabbing yourself in the finger accidentally you should eventually end up with something that looks a bit like what you were aiming for!

 Oh, and don't forget to break your first needle right in the middle of the fattest piece of your work where you can't possibly get it back! It's only... pretty dangerous. You really can't get to it, you tried pretty hard to get it out and to stab yourself with it and didn't manage it, so it shouldn't hurt anybody. Better warn anyone who goes near it though just in case...
 Realise that on the scale you've used you can't felt in most of the face details, so draw it on with a fine permanent pen. Don't worry, this is what permanent pens were invented for! Also embroidery, but you've already got one needle stuck in him, so maybe be a bit over cautious about trying to stab any more thin pointy things through the middle of him where they might get lost.

Step 7: What's Missing
Now you've made most of your project. But You've long since run out of laptop battery to look at reference images since you didn't bring your cable with you. Forget the obvious missing thing (poofy blue head poof, oops!)
 What that felted Teemo really needs is a teeny blowpipe! That's pretty much as important as his hat poof, which you'll eventually remember and post a real completed photo a few days later. Dig out those toothpicks you never though you'd need but looked crafty enough to keep, they'll be perfect!
 Teeny Teemo's teeny blowpipe is teeny and adorable.
Give him his blowpipe, now he's properly lethal (ignoring his accidental hidden blade) and carefully balance him mostly upright using his map-bags and blowpipe to help prop him up. Realise a few hours later that his signature hat poof is what was missing and decide to fix it tomorrow, because all your co-ordination ran off for today.

Maybe next time you'll pick something more sensible to felt, not break your needle trying to make tiny details on an overly small project and not need to cheat and draw the face on! (Or rather not, being sensibly ambitious is not the CraftyMutt way!)

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