More Needle Felting… YAY!

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.

This is the machine Carroll Lee and Cathie use. It was not expensive, as the mechanics are simple. It does not carry thread or bobbin, and is very light-weight



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 needle housing in this particular model machine holds from 1 to 12 needles. It comes with a clear plastic guard around the needles, but this picture shows the guard removed for better vision while working. If you try the tool without the guard, do so at your own risk.


The 6-needle hand tool is wonderful for medium-size portions of a project. This tool may be used with one to 6 needles.

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This tool is comfortable to use. The clear plastic guard is spring-loaded and moved up and down while punching fiber into the base.


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You can see the needles are protected by a spring-loaded guard. The plastic guard is pulled back to expose the needles for you to see in this picture. The Clover Company, maker of this tool recommends using the plastic guard for safety, as those barbed needles really hurt when in your finger!

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.

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This fine-work tool is also comfortable to use and helps to capture fibers within smaller spaced. It also comes with a plastic safety guard, so if you try the tool without the guard, heed the advice above.


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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.

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Carroll Lee ordered 99 needles on line, 33 of each size. They do break, so it’s good to have spares on hand.
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Although the single needle is not as comfortable as the other tools, it gives the opportunity to work in greater detail, such as the eyes on the whale, fine lines, and dots. The safety issue is highly perceptible, but there is no safety guard for using a single needle, so be careful! 


 “Humpback n Moonlight” was needle felted with both the felting machine, the 3-needle tool, and single needle.



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.