Monday, January 7, 2008

Needle Felting Tips from Barby

I asked Barby Anderson (Needle Felting Artist) to share some tips with us newbies and here is what she shared:

Greetings from Barby!

Needle felting is a fun and marvelous art with little expense and few tools. The needles are only a couple of dollars and even the finest wool rarely goes over $3.00 an ounce. I started needle felting in 2006 and continue poking at luscious wool and fiber in my studio most days of the week as a full time job. Ahhh... to do what one loves is a magical thing!

The needle one uses for needle felting is a personal choice. I only use one needle in all of my work, a #38 star felting needle. You may use other sizes of needles too, however I find I love my #38 star best and it creates a nice fine end result to my creations. Felting needles are "barbed" and this is what felts the wool into a form or shape. A "star" needle has extra barbs on the needle, hence a faster method to needle. I prefer using this kind of needle on all of my work. This is not to say that you should not try different needles, you may like using a variety. I have used all sizes and types and always return to my trusty #38 star needle. Place your wool on a three inch foam pad for needling. This will also protect yout table surface.

I use "Harrisville" Wool for the core of my pieces and a fine wool blend overlay for the outer layer on my work. Needle felting is really quite easy. You just need a good needle, good compacting wool and if you are looking for soft elegance to your piece you would use a nice fine wool and fiber blend for an outer overlay such as angora and wool.

Deep needling develops a shape or form and is used in the beginning of your work or when attaching another felted piece to your shape or form. Shallow "bouncy" needling is wonderful for defining your piece, giving it the crisp edges and definition.

"Raw" wool may be used for the hair on a doll, such as curly locks. Wool and fiber batts may be used also. A "batt" can be made from just about any wool and many times has a fine fiber blended with the wool through a "drum carder." I have never used a carder and buy the wool batts prepared.

There are many types of wool one can use and they all bring different end results depending on the usage. Course wool is not my favorite to use for a doll face, however wonderful for the hair on a doll. I feel the most important thing for needle felting is your choice of core wool, the beginning of your piece. If the core wool can not be defined well and does not hold a good structure the whole piece will not take on the edges or shape you desire.

"Corriedale" wool is soft, long and "stringy" and makes fabulous hair on a doll or nice long lines for eyeliner on dolls, however I would have a hard time using "Corriedale" for core wool. Fine fibers like angora and wool blends create a soft "halo" and outer layer over my core piece. "Merino" wool is lush, soft and may also be used as a fine outer layer on your wool core.

A wonderful tip I figured out the HARD way is to curl your fingers inward like a chef cutting an onion while needling a small shape. Also in the beginning there is no need to needle quickly as that is how people poke themselves. Never watch TV while needling!

One of the MOST important messages I would like to share is that everyone should enjoy creating and "my way" is not the "only" way. Some people prefer their pieces soft and with a little "squish" to them and others prefer a "brick" consistency. I do a little of both in my work. I like softness and yet like the piece to hold together well. If I needle too much my piece takes on a "hardness" that I do not like as well, however you may love that look and after all it is YOUR creation. There is not a right way or a wrong way, just experiment and find what you like best. You are the artist and should have the creative license to do what you like!

I love to encourage people to try this amazing art as it is a divine experience touching the wool and fiber.It is my hope that this information may assist many "newbie" needle felters and I will enjoy seeing your wonderful creations in 2008.

Happy needle felting!
Barby Anderson

Grrrrreat Tips Barby!!! Thank-you so much!
If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. I will answer best I can and if I don't know the answer I will ask Barby. :-)

If you would like to see pictures of the Rose that I made using Barby's kit, check out my post under Labels on the right sidebar 'My Rose 12/27/2007'.


Linda said...

Hi, Linda:

Great tips from Barby. I want to try needle felting. It just looks like it would be so much fun. My problem is there are not enough hours in the day for me to try everything I'd like to! LOL LOL

Linda said...

Ha! Ha! If you discover a way to stretch the hours or add hours to the day, please be sure to let me know! :-)