Have you ever wondered what wool to use for your needle felted pictures or portraits? Or maybe you’d like to know more about fabrics or felting needles? Well look no further, friend. The following is a list of my favorite (and what I consider the best) supplies. These are the materials I use every day for my fiber art, in my workshops, and they’re the materials that will make learning and practicing your painting with wool techniques much easier!
I use short-fiber, carded batts whenever possible. The chopped fibers make creating small details a breeze, and blending colors with shorter fibers turns out beautifully. Try these:
Note: I also use merino top, corriedale, and pretty much any other wool fiber if the color is necessary. I make the wool work if I need to. I’ll make a future post about how to incorporate longer fibers (like roving and top) more easily.
NEEDLE FELTING FOAM
I have the most experience and success using felting foam pads under my work. Often, I get a large size and cut it down to half or smaller, and I work the entire surface of both sides. Make sure your foam is at least 1.5 inches thick to allow enough room for your felting needle to enter and exit the pad safely. Here are a couple options:
There is a large range of sizes and styles of felting needles, but I usually stick to one—size 38 Star. (In case you’re a new felter, the number refers to the gauge of the needle, and the star refers to the shape of the needle tip. You’ll also see triangle, spiral/twist, reverse, etc.) A 38 size needle is a middle-of-the-road gauge (needles come in size 32-42), so it holds up well to all the stabbing you’ll need to do. It doesn’t leave large holes behind, but if you do want to minimize needle marks in your finished piece, grab some 40 or 42 triangles, too.
Many different fabrics can be used as backgrounds for your wool paintings. My advice? Test it! See how it holds up to the felting needle and how easily the wool interacts with the fabric. In my opinion, 1mm thick pure wool felt is the easiest to use, especially for beginners. But if you want to experiment with other fabrics because you like the way they look, please do!
If you’re familiar with my method of image transfer (found in my e-course and my book), you know that I use a gel pen to mark on fabrics. I always turn to the same kind, plus my students use these in felting workshops.
These supplies will get you on the right track in your painting with wool adventures! I’ll continue at a later date with more of my oft-used studio tools and supplies. Stay tuned! In the meantime, let me know if you have any questions.