Two years ago when I was vacationing in Connecticut, I saw a small painting that had been created using wool roving. This was my first experience with needle felting. I was so inspired that I bought all of the supplies needed to begin.
The History of Needle Felting
After doing some research, I discovered that needle felting was a new form of fiber art that has only been around since the 1980s. Special needles that have notches or barbs along the shaft are used to felt the wool roving. When the needles are pushed through the wool, these notches cause the wool to tangle or mat together, turning it into felt. This art form all started when some fiber artists took felting needles from industrial felting machines and began working the wool by hand to make pictures and sculptures. Prior to this, felting needles were only used in a factory setting. The felting needle was first developed in England around 1866 to be used in large presses that produced bolts of wool felt.
My Mask Needle Felting Process
After I made several small pieces and did some experimenting, I wanted to see if I could make something on a much larger scale. That’s when I had the idea to make a witch mask for Halloween, using Lion Brand yarns. I started by felting the basic shape of a human face using a head form as a mold. Olive Alpine Wool for her skin gave her the classic green complexion that we all love our witches to have. After I had the basic shape established, I sculpted the features of her face, lips and eyes. The hair is a combination of: Martha Stewart Crafts™ Alpaca Blend, Vanna’s Choice, Vanna’s Glamour, Wool Ease Thick & Quick, Alpine Wool, and Fishermen’s Wool. I untwisted the strands of yarn to make the hair look more natural. After she was all finished, I named her Olive the Crone.
Felting the Witch Hat
A proper witch needs a proper hat, so I used a combination of wet felting, resist felting and needle felting to make the witch’s hat. With wet felting, you need to have wool, hot water, liquid soap, and some form of agitation; the agitation turns the roving felt. I started by making a conical shaped resist, or mold, out of some old cardboard boxes. I covered the mold with wool roving, and then added soap and hot water. Then I rolled the mold up in bubble wrap (bubbles facing the wool) and agitated the wool by rolling the resist on a smooth mat for about 20 – 30 min, similar to rolling dough with a pin. For the hat’s rim, I created another resist shaped like a large doughnut and repeated the process. When I had both pieces felted and dry, I sewed them together. Once the piece was complete, I needle felted a layer of Black Pepper Alpine Wool over the entire hat. I finished by adding a layer of LB Collection Silk Mohair in the Midnight color to give the hat a luxurious feel.
Interested in Learning Felting Techniques for Your Projects?
There are many ways felting can be used to make projects, you are only limited by your imagination. The Lion Brand Yarn Studio offers classes for flat hand felting as well as sculptural needle felting, and I’m happy to announce that I will be teaching a workshop on 3D needle felting at the Studio this December. I look forward to helping you expand your creative yarn crafting skills! You can find more information about the class and how to book by clicking here; the new class schedule will be up on November 1st.
(click the images to see them larger)
|Close up of witch face: look at all those textures!||
Close up of hat, you can see the
Silk Mohair layer over the felt
|Felted lips with Chili Alpine Wool|