First, it is necessary to clarify that the techniques we have been playing with is a DRY wool felting method. There are other types of art done with wool roving that many artists are doing; one is wet felting in which and artist creates beautiful pieces of woolen cloth and sometimes uses that to create wearable art. Another technique is done dry, and the artist creates three-dimensional works of art. The Painted Hills Fiber Artists employ a technique which punches wool roving into a base layer with barbed needles to mesh and interlock the fibers.
A couple of the PHFA’s love experimenting with our needle felting machines. It has come to light that the machine is not the only tool necessary for a successful project. We have added the 6-needle hand tool, 3-needle pen-style tool, and individual needles.
Our study shows the felting machine, sometimes referred to as an embellishing machine, is fabulous for creating quick backgrounds. It has the capability of using one to 12 needles, adjusted to specific needs. The machine but more control is necessary for fine details. However, available on the market are different tools which allow different kinds of control.
The 6-needle hand tool is wonderful for medium-size portions of a project. This tool may be used with one to 6 needles.
The pen-shaped tool holds 3 needles. It is wonderful for fine work in small spaces. It can accommodate one to 3 needles, depending on how fine the work being done requires.
The single, hand needles come in 3 sizes, ranging from larger (for heavier fibers) to fine (fine, detailed work). Artists can use a single needle for extreme control in creating tiny bits, like fine lines or dots.
Here is a piece, entitled “Janet’s Garden” which was made using the 6-needle tool and a single needle. The finished size is 8″ x 10″.
Since one of the first questions of most viewers is, “How long did this take you to make?”, let me fill you in. Carroll Lee needle felted the whale piece in an afternoon while she and her grandson were playing with the wool roving. The quilting is minimal, and only took an hour to finish the layering, quilting and edge-finish detail. This was a very quick project.
Conversely, this is not the case with “Janet’s Garden”. There is much more detail, requiring a lot of single-needle work. Although both pieces are the same size (not including the wool border of the whale), Carroll Lee worked on the garden for about 3 weeks, or approximately 70 hours in actual working time.
We are still having fun experimenting with the wool and wool roving. Cathie is using materials besides wool roving to create her images, such as other fabrics and hand-dyed cheese cloth. She applies these other materials using the needles, both machine and hand needles.
Fun. Fun. Fun. We hope you will step out of any comfort level and try this technique.