What is Needle Felting?
Needle felting is the process of interlocking wool fibres by stabbing it with a barbed needle. The barbs catch the scales on the fibre and cause them to tangle and bind together. To create a 3D sculpture it can take hours of work and literally thousands of stabs from start to finish. The needles used for needle felting were not designed for hand crafting - they are designed for industry. At the turn of the 20th century, machines with beds of these barbed needles were invented to tangle fibres into felt fabric. These machines are still being used today to create industrial felt out of a wide variety of fibres.
All of the models begin life as a pipe cleaner, which is used to shape the back and the legs. The main body of the animal is created with toy filling which is moulded into the required shapes with lots of "stabbing" to bind the fibres together. More toy filling is added to build up the shape, creating larger or more rounded shapes. More "stabbing" can ensure areas are more defined or create grooves or hollows for eyes or mouths.
The colour and detail is added using different colours of wool. The majority of the wool I use is Norwegian Pels (Pelssau (Pels) is a breed that originated from Gotland sheep and was crossbred with the native Norwegian Spæl sheep.) Some of the models are made of alpacha wool.
Features are added with small beads for eyes, and small amounts of different coloured wool to add the fine features.