You can vote for me in this years Craft & Design Selected Maker Awards!
Craft & Design Selected Maker 2016
Needle felting is a lovely craft to learn on a cold January evening!
Yesterday brought the first frost of the year to Newcastle but I was warm and cosy working with a lovely bunch of people, introducing them to the fabulous art of needle felting.
We were working with Merino wool fibres in a whole rainbow of colours to make needle felted brooches. It’s a quick project – easy to achieve a good result in a couple of hours. People learn the basic principles of needle felting and go home with a unique brooch!
It’s amazing to think that this craft is relatively new – the needles that we use, either individually or in sets of 3 or 5 in hand tools, were originally used in their hundreds on industrial machines to make sheets of felt. The felt might be for munition cases, piano keys or fuzzy felt!
Its important to learn how to handle the fibres we use as well as the felting needle. Merino is lovely to work with and comes in a whole array of colours. The long strong fibres felt quickly and easily, forming a firm base that can be further embellished with beads, stitches and chiffons.
Felting needles come in different gauges for different tasks, although on this introductory course I tend to stick with size 36s which are sturdy enough to quickly mesh the fibres together and also useful for adding some detail and definition.
For a short beginners’ workshop like this, I like to use cookie cutters, it’s a quick way to get a good shape, speeds up design decisions and saves fingers from (most) of the risk of stab wounds! So I have a good collection of metal cutters hearts, flowers, stars and animals in various sizes. Participants choose the cutter and their colours, so everyone ends up with a unique brooch.
The other essential piece of equipment is a foam block, to protect furniture and limbs from those sharp needles! I use upholstery foam of about 5cm depth cut to size at 15cm square. This makes a good size base for a cookie cutter and a foam block will last through several sessions before it gets too damaged. (I must find a good way of recycling the damaged ones…cut them up for stuffing/ moisture retainers in plant pots??)
So with all the essentials, bags of enthusiasm, hot drinks and delicious biscuits (Thanks Ben!) we had a great time and I think all participants are planning to experiment further with this craft…
George Weil is a good source of fibres and other felting equipment. I also use Heidi Feathers for needles. Pinterest is a great place to look for ideas and inspiration too!
If you’d like to have a go get in touch! I bring along all the equipment and materials.
Thanks to all who took part and to SW for organising!
Here’s some comments from the evening:
“I very much enjoyed the evening – learning something new in excellent company was lovely! I’m looking forward to doing some more.
Donna is a great teacher.” JD
“Had a super evening and learnt something new. Not often you can learn a new skill and produce something in 2 hours! ” AL