Blog

Posts tagged needle felting
The Best Basic Supplies for Painting with Wool
 

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!

Dani-20.jpg

WOOL

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:

MC-1 Fast Felting Batts from Living Felt

Short-Fiber Merino Batts form Living Felt

Maori Carded Batts from Dyeing House Gallery

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:

Earth Harmony Needle Felting Foam from Living Felt

Needle Felting Work Surface from The Woolery

FELTING NEEDLES

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.

Felting Needles from Living Felt

Felting Needles from Weir Crafts

FABRIC BACKGROUNDS

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!

Wool Felt by the yard from Weir Crafts

Wool Felt Sheets from Living Felt

Linen by the yard from Debbie’s Porch Etsy Shop

PENS

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.

Black Pens for lighter fabrics

White Pen for dark fabrics

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.

 
Needle Felted Holiday Gift Pouch DIY
Hey friends! I've got a quick and easy tutorial today to help you personalize your gifting this holiday season. You can use this technique to add any design--I chose a snowflake for mine.

Here's what you'll need:
-Cotton drawstring bag
-Felting needle
-Small foam pad (make sure it fits inside your pouch)
-Small amount of wool (I've chosen the brightest blue shown for my snowflake)
-Pencil
-Ruler or straight edge
 Use your straight edge and pencil to make your main branches of the snowflake.  You can also just eyeball your felting and skip this step if you're confident in your line-making skills.
 Once all your lines are drawn, slide your felting pad into the pouch. 
 Make sure your design is centered over the felting pad.

 We'll be working with small amounts of wool at a time.  Pull off little chunks as you go.

 I like to "measure" my wool pieces by holding them next to the line I'm about to felt.  Keep in mind that it's easier to add wool than tear off extra or take it away.

Anchor the end of the wool piece with a few pokes of your felting needle and follow the length of the snowflake line. 

Tip: If you felt down a piece of wool but decide that you'd like to move (or remove) it, you can easily pull it back out--no worries.
 Once all your branches are felted, it's time to add the smaller branches.  Add a "v" shape to the end of each branch.
 Next add a larger "v" on each branch closer to the center.

 When making the adjacent lines, connect them where they meet in the middle.

 Continue to connect each "v" all around the snowflake, creating a beautiful diamond pattern in the center.

 Now is the time to tuck in stray fibers and clean up any super fuzzy lines.

 Carefully lift your snowflake design from the foam pad and remove the pad from the pouch.
You're finished! You can gently iron your design or leave it a bit fluffy.

Now stuff your gift pouch full of goodies and share some joy! Let me know if you give this diy a try, and have fun!

Join Me for a Great September Project!
I have some news! You may remember my post last month about collaborating with The Crafter's Box.  Welllll, I'm happy to announce that I will be their Featured Maker for September!  And now I can spill the beans about my project!

In September, we will be needle felting a trendy-but-classic monstera leaf design on a beautiful linen pillow case.  This is the perfect piece to update or add to your home decor!


If you want to participate, you'll get a box filled with everything you'll need to try your hand at needle felting and make this gorgeous pillow case, plus access to a video tutorial that walks you through the whole project.  We'll even have a live Q & A at the end of September! I've carefully sourced all the supplies, supporting small businesses and makers whenever possible. (Seriously, the only thing not provided by a small business is my favorite gel pen that is also included.)

If you want to join me and get this project, the window for subscribing is now through Aug 20.  You can join for just one month or sign on to receive three months of projects (and save a bit, too).  Keep in mind there is a limited number of boxes, so don't wait!

Take a look what we'll be making, and let me know if you have any questions.  If you're ready to join now, just click here. 


 


The Coolest Collaboration
A few months ago, I was approached by an amazing company with a great opportunity.  Though they are relatively new--not even a year old yet--but I had already been a fan for a while and was definitely impressed with the the folks involved and the service they offered. So when that initial email came, I didn't hesitate to say yes!

Let me introduce you to The Crafter's Box!  They curate a monthly box, which contains all the supplies and specialty tools that you need to create a beautiful, high-quality, "grown-up" project.  Each month also comes with a professionally produced video tutorial, PLUS you'll have the chance to participate in a live maker chat to ask any questions you may have about the project.

So, you may be wondering, "Dani, did you help curate a project?"
Why, yes I did.
"Is it needle felting?" 
It sure is!
"What is your project?!?"
Welllll....I can't reveal all the secrets just yet, but I do have some fun things to share!  Last week I traveled to San Diego to participate in The Crafter's Box second ever Maker Retreat.  I got to meet all the other makers and artists for the next "batch" of boxes.  We hung out poolside, were pampered with amazing food and experiences, enjoyed each other's company, but we were also there to work.  We each filmed our tutorials, styled vignettes for photo shoots of ourselves and our projects. Below are a few snapshots I took during my two days in California. It was magical.



I got to meet ladies I've admired for a while, and I made so many new friends! I'm so impressed with the support The Crafter's Box offers its collaborating makers and artists. But also I'm in love with the whole idea of a monthly box that offers beautiful crafts with expert makers.  If you are a maker, or if you love gorgeous, handmade projects, I encourage you to check it out

And one last thing....here's a peek at what's in store for you if you receive my project...






What could it be??  Patience, friends. ;)
Workshop Tour Update!
Hey pals!  I'd like to share a little update with you about my workshop tour!  I'm having so much fun hopping from town to town and teaching my needle felting technique.  I'm getting to hang out with the coolest people, spending a couple of hours crafting with them.  I mean, how neat is that?

Each of the stops are places we've never been, so every couple of days is a quick introduction to a new city.  Last week, we visited Nashville & Knoxville, Tennessee and Asheville, NC.

In Nashville, our workshop was at Hey, Rooster General Store, owned by the sweetest gal, Courtney Webb.  She's got some really amazing food, home and bath/body products, as well as some great art and prints from very talented artists in her shop.  Give her a visit if you're in the area!



In Knoxville, The Hive served as our classroom.  This space hosts "community gatherings, private parties, photo shoots and houses creative entrepreneurs." It's a beautiful space in a cool town.  These classes were a delight! Also, we used Airbnb to rent a huge downstairs area in a local couple's home.  It was beautiful and very charming.  Our hosts even stocked our fridge with snacks and breakfast foods!




Asheville's workshop was at The Drygoods Shop, owned by Leigh Anne Hilbert. It's a shared studio space, classroom and storefront.  It's a very lovely place with lovely people! My class was so fun, and the ladies I met and taught here were amazing. Asheville the town is fun and quirky and serves up some really good food.  We had the yummiest coffee, doughnuts, Indian street food , local beer and cider.  There were so many other places recommended to us, but we just didn't have enough time to visit them all!

On our way from Knoxville to Asheville we went through the Smoky Mountains and spent the day in the National Park. It was ridiculously beautiful.  Every bend in the road evoked some sort of gasp or sigh.  We drove the Blue Ridge Parkway and came back a couple days later for more hiking. Turns out, I love mountains and apparently need to visit all the mountains everrrrrr. 





I visited the class space for my Raleigh workshop today, and I'm really excited to share it with you next week, along with updates on upcoming Charleston and Savannah workshops!  Talk soon, friends!
Art Class Visit and Mini Workshop
On Thursday, I visited my friend Jessica's middle school art class and gave them a quick lesson on needle felting.  I had a great time, and the students loved it as well.  My friend said they were talking about it and showing other teachers what they made during our mini-workshop. I showed them how to create little monsters and critters, and I was so impressed with their creativity!  They picked up the technique quickly, and only a couple needed a bandage for their poked fingers.

Getting back in a classroom setting with younger students felt great.  Mostly I teach adults now, but a year ago I was still working as a zoo educator teaching Pre-K to elementary kiddos. I was worried that I might be nervous, and I was for the first few minutes.  But that quickly subsided and teaching in a classroom felt great, just like it used to feel.

I'm totally game to visit more classrooms and give a lesson or two.  If you're a teacher (or you know one) in Southern Missouri or Northern Arkansas, get in touch if you'd like to set something up.

 

Introducing....Will It Felt?
I want to expand my felting range, so I've decided to start (yet another) project! I'll be experimenting with different surfaces for needle felting.  Normally, I work on a high quality wool felt, so I'll be comparing these new surfaces to my experience with felt.  I hope to have a little collection of blog posts that might serve as a good resource for others who would also like to experiment.

My specialty in needle felting is trying to attain maximum details in my pieces. So, for each fabric or surface, I'll be picking subjects that have a good amount of detail to portray.  For ease of comparison, I'll also be creating a toadstool piece for each fabric.  My toadstool pieces have a good range of techniques, from blending and layering to broad coverage and tiny details, so I feel like they will help me determine the answers to my criteria questions.


Here's my criteria for Will It Felt:

Durability: Probably most importantly, I want to determine how the fabric holds up to the felting process.  I don't want a piece to fall apart after I've worked so hard on it.

Fabric Displacement:  Does it warp? Do the fibers get all wonky?

Pokability:  Is it easy on the needles--does it feel like they'll break?

Availability and Price: Can the fabric be purchased easily? Is it expensive?

Will it Hoop?: I display many pieces in embroidery hoops.  I thought it would be fun to make this a test for each fabric.

Detail Work:  Is it capable of handling details? Do they disappear into the fabric?



So first up....

Burlap

Durability:  I wasn't sure what to expect with burlap.  But as it turns out, it held up very nicely. I was worried that the needles might break down the fibers.  They might eventually, but I needled it quite a lot, and everything seemed fine.

Fabric Displacement: Because of the looser weave, I expected a bit of displacement, but there was none.  I even tried felting on Burlap "ribbon" (seen below on the right), which is an even looser weave, but even that stayed put.

Pokability: Easy peasy, really. I have to think that continually poking into burlap would wear needles down quicker, though.

Availability and Price: Burlap is not hard to find, and I found it at the price range of $5-8 a yard and in many colors. Not bad compared to $35-$40 a yard for wool felt.

Will it Hoop?  Yup.  It wasn't too easy to stretch when in the hoop, so centering your work as perfectly as you can before you add the outer hoop is key.

 

Detail Work:  So, burlap can and cannot handle details. I'll explain.  If there is a layer or two of wool already felted onto the burlap, then details are no problem.  But I couldn't really get small details or crisp lines on the outer edges of the design.  Any lines that were adjacent to raw burlap just didn't have enough surface area to cling to, which should be expected in a weave with gaps.

Will It Felt?  It sure will! I recommend trying it--it's a fun surface and creates very pretty finished pieces.










I created a couple more pieces and experimented with a different way of hanging.  I like the raw edges of burlap, but of course they unravel really easily, so I secured them with a thin line of fabric glue on the backside. This is my first time hanging pieces from copper, and I really love this look.


Let me know if you try felting on burlap!  Comment here, tag me on social media or shoot me an email!  And if you have any other suggestions for criteria, or suggestions for experimental fabrics, let me know!

Next up: Linen!

A Quick Fall Themed Tutorial - Needle Felted Acorns


Hey guys! I sent a poll to my Art Letters mailing list asking what types of tutorials I should make.  Needle felting acorns was mentioned in the comments, so I jumped right in to making a quick video for you! 


You can do this with any size acorn, but the cap can't be too shallow, otherwise the wool won't stay in.  The acorn cap needs to resemble a deeper bowl. Let me know if you have any questions.

PS: If you have a suggestion for a tutorial or course--if there's something you'd really like to learn how to felt--leave a comment and tell me about it!

I'm Heading Your Way Chicago!
Hey all!  In about a month, Good Natured Art will be in Chicago for a Renegade Craft Fair on September 19+20, AND I'll be teaching a couple workshops on September 22 at The Niche Lab.

So I have just under four weeks to make as much felted art as possible for Renegade, which means I probably shouldn't be blogging, but hey, procrastination is fun too, right? Seriously though, I'm honored to have been chosen as a vendor for Renegade, plus the husband and I will be sneaking in a few vacation days into the mix while we're there.  We're staying in an apartment that I found via Airbnb that is super close to the craft fair location in Wicker Park.  We'd love any restaurant recommendations if you have any!

I'll be teaching another owl figurine workshop and an all NEW wool painting workshop.  These are so fun for me, and I get tons of great feedback from students.  Here's a few shots from a previous owl workshop this year:






They are affordable classes, you'll get to keep the supplies, and space is limited, so sign up soon!

On a related note,  I will soon be able to travel around more to teach even more workshops, so leave a comment below if you know of a space or shop to host one near you.  Let's all learn how to felt!!


52 Weeks of Felt Paintings - Week 2
This week I was in the mood to felt a little bird and came across the Kirtland's Warbler.  The good news is that this little bird's population is increasing thanks to local conservation efforts and habitat awareness! (High Fives!)  Before these efforts, the jack pine forests that birds relied on to breed were not being properly protected and maintained as optimal habitats for them. The pine trees that they nest in have to be a certain age and size to provide enough cover for the birds.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provides more information here. Also, you can check out the warbler's IUCN page.

Kirkland's Warbler Facts:
--Referred to as the "bird of fire" for its reliance on pine forests that remain healthy with wildfires
--Eat primarily insects and larvae
--Summer is spent in Michigan (though area is increasing to include other states)
--Overwinter in the Caribbean




Have a great week!