September 14, 2007

Needlefelting

Last night was the first night of this fall's class--I'm teaching needle-felting. I always start the first class with creating a picture totally from colored sheep wool.

For years I've done felting using the typical wet process. Now I prefer needle-felting, though I still will use both processes in the same piece. Like wet felting a background, which would be like an artist's paper or canvas. Then too, if I'm sculpting a large piece, I'll often wet felt pieces, like for clothing. The needles used are about 3" long and barbed in the bottom 1/2", which push the wool fibers into each other. The more you needle an area, the denser the wool will become. And because of the sharp needles, a foam pad is needed to needle into (instead of my legs! which I've done, and then too fingers are often jabbed--so I take Band-Aids to class).

Sometimes I've added embroidery to pictures for more detail. Other textiles/fibers can often be incorporated too as long as the wool fibers can somehow hold them in place--like yarn, lace and ribbon. I've also used needle-felting to mend my wool slippers, or to add embellishments to something (like to cover a hole in a sweater).

Creating a small picture can be done in one class session. People often take some wool home to fine tune their pictures and bring them back to the next class. We next create a sculpted figure which we do in three class sessions.

This picture of a doll is one I've done for display at the yarn store, Recycled Lamb, where I'm teaching these classes. She is totally of sheep wool, though I often start the head over a small oval foam piece so it's a quick start in class and not as much wool is needed. Sometimes I'll create a wire framework too, both for bending the piece and/or stability. I did her quick. Normally I take more time on the arms and leg--having more realistic curves and form.

Everyone loves needle-felting once they try it! I need to take my camera to class because everyone's creations are so varied and fun! The dynamics of each class differs too and is fun--some are quiet while they work, while some have been quite talkative and one was a raucous class!

Some will make pretty realistic people, others will make more of an elf figure. One lady made a 'lady of the night' with a Barbie-doll figure. I've made a Gandalf and a fairy. I'll usually have them hang, or sit. My largest sculpture is from a picture of me in high school--standing on my head (it's on display right now). I like sculpting best, over just making pictures, though some of my pictures do have sculpted relief.
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