You might ask me the question: what have needle felted animals got to do with dollhouses and miniatures, Lizzy?
Well, just about everything. Because if you didn’t see any tiny needle felted animals before then you have missed out for sure!
Once in a while, on my Facebook group or in other places, people are showing off their breathtaking miniature dogs, mini cats, tiny birds, etc, and it amazes me every d**n time (pardon my English).
Today, I am going to teach you the technical basics of how to do the needle-felting of animals.
What Do You Need To Craft Needle Felted Animals?
Here’s a list of the materials you need to craft needle felt animals:
- Industrial type felting needles (a needle number eight goes faster depending on the surface), and a needle cape to safely store the needle.
- A base. There are many different types of bases that you can use, but a foam furniture foundation of about 5 cm is great.
You can go to a furniture store and ask to try out a piece of foam that suits you and that is consistent enough.
Some people also use fique bags filled with rice.
- This piece of foam is covered with Lenci cloth because otherwise, the foam would fall apart if you felt it.
- The wires: you can use any wire, but aluminum is fine. Make sure that you can manipulate it with your hands.
- Chisels, pliers , scissors for the finishing touch,
- little eyes and a thread to sew them
- a punch to make the holes for the eyes
- wool, Corriedale wool is the better choice
Decide on which animal you will make and study their appearance.
You need to have some kind of plan on which little animal you will create. Let’s for example look at a picture of a husky-dog, as it has lots of different colors.
But what’s important to know is that when you choose a specific breed of dog, each one has its own characteristics.
Take a closer look at the bone structure and muscles as well of the animal of your choice, because that is different for each species.
Remember that creating an animal that has 4 legs isn’t the same as making a human with 2 legs ;-).
Make sure to study closely their fur, ears, shoulder height, rib cage, the size of the body, etc.
You could choose to craft it very realistic (hyper-realistic), or make a caricature out of it, it is totally up to you!
By thoroughly studying the animal, you can find out what the basic structure and hardwires will need to look like before you start the actual felting (more below)
If you like to learn more about this part, then please take a look at the link below on the online course of Domestika.
The wool and the techniques of felting.
Wool, obviously, is something that you need to needle felt, and it is a material that has been used for a very long time.
Sheep seem “magical”; not only do they produce a lot of wool (they would collapse under their own weight if they weren’t shaved once a year), but a sheep also produces lanoline.
This latter is used in the industry as a cosmetic oil.
After the lanoline is removed and the rest of the dirt is removed, the wool is spun and then ready to craft with.
Merino wool is what is mostly used for embroidery and other crafts, but not the better choice for needle felting.
Other materials that are also used in the industry can be hemp, flax, and bamboo, but these are not as suitable for this type of craft, because they break easily.
If you would like to learn lots more about wool and all the types of wool, you are free to join this affordable course below, where everything is explained in detail.
- Step number 1:
Take the wool with the hand that has the least force (the left hand if you are right-handed, the opposite if you are left-handed).
With the other hand: form a “tweezer” with 2 fingers and start pulling on the tip of the wool. This way, you will get strands.
I need to tell you that when you pull on the wool with 2 hands, it will not come apart, and we do NOT want to use scissors!
- Step Number 2:
For this technique of felting, it seems that using Corriedale wool is the best choice.
After applying the technique in step 1 of pulling on the wool, you can then put one layer of wool on top of another, but in a different sense.
This means one layer is vertical and the next layer horizontal, thus creating a cross.
Hold on to the wool between two fingers of one hand so that it doesn’t move before you start using the felting needle.
You can now start to felt one half.
One thing that you need to keep in mind is that you need to always have to keep the needle straight and hold it by the round part. This way, it will never break.
You can now continue to felt the wool and in between, you can lift the piece of wool from the big piece of furniture foam below.
As you finish felting, you will notice that there will be some wool left on the edges. You can turn these leftovers back onto the piece.
You can tell if the felting is finished when there are no more thin pieces left and it looks uniform.
The Rest of the Felting Procedure In Short.
- Make the skeleton frame
- Start filling the skeleton with wool filler
- Felt the limbs of the animal
- form the body by wrapping the wool around the body and giving it form
- Give the body a face and character
Explaining in detail how to craft the full body of a felted animal would take this blog post way too far and long to write out everything.
So I would advise you to take a closer look at the course below and the wonderful teacher who has years of experience in the field.
The total course takes more than 3 hours and is very expanded on every single bit of the procedure.
Learn More About Needle Felting With The Help Of An Online Course
The Story of the teacher Katerine Gómez.
Katerine Gómez, who is an illustrator by profession, will teach you the basics of needle felting.
Since she was a child, she had a passion to craft things with her hands.
She went to the “National School of Caricature” where she studied illustrating and drawing, where she also started to work later on in her life as a graphic designer, editor, teacher, and illustrator.
Later on, she traveled to Switzerland as an Erasmus student for a semester at the University of Lucerne, but then returned to Colombia to completely focus on illustrating.
At a certain point in her life, a lot of bad things were happening, and that is where she decided to make a switch and leave the illustrating business.
This is where she wanted to start over and make dolls, what a story!
But the dolls she wanted to create, shouldn’t be stiff like barbie dolls, but soft and more bendable.
So she started to experiment with wired bodies and epoxy putty and other materials, to look for a way to have the models moveable.
But still, this wasn’t very satisfying because these models were yet too hard and stiff, so she looked further on the internet, where she discovered the world of needle felting on Etsy and others, and she got a “Eureka”-effect :-).
Where Did Katherine Gómez get her influences from?
The artist got influenced by television series called “The educational fringe“, which was on television in the afternoon in her country Colombia.
This series were presented by a man and some kind of big bear/dog called Gonta.
And together they created fantastic DIY things made from cardboard.
There were also a lot of Japanese and educational series on TV with puppets and marionettes, and she got addicted to watching them.
Another huge influence on Katherine was the German comic book writer called Janosch.
These comic books describe the adventures of a little tiger and a little bear. His books are now available on Kindle.
This is really in short what her influences are, if you would like to learn more, you can find out here. 😉
What will you learn in this course?
In this course, you will learn all you need to know about the needle felting technique and needle-felted animals.
You will make a final project representing a little dog 13 cm high and you will learn how to give it facial expressions that look real as much as possible.
The course will also show you all the materials that you need to create a small animal from your own imagination.
This article contains affiliate links from Amazon and Domestika.
My Final Conclusion.
I hope that I could help you out with this tutorial on needle-felted animals.
If you have any more questions, feel free to ask them below in the comment section.
Or join me on my social media channels or Facebook group.
I wish you happy crafting!