Felting for Beginners; A Guide

For beginners who want to know the basics of felting, its origins, and the practice. This piece seeks to put your through. Felting is an ancient form of textile art that predates weaving and spinning techniques. It is the process of producing felts, textile or fabric by turning loose locks or wool roving through connecting the individual fiber. The conventional bright fabric we see around are made of synthetic fibers that are mass-produced in factories by large machines. Practitioners of felting are called Felt artists of Fiber artists. I recently came to know about a forum website called feltingwool.com that has plenty of resources and information about felting and felting products, I suggest you be a member of this forum.

Felting has its origins in Summarian and Christian legends of Saint Christopher and Saint Clement. Other legends and archaeological evidence of ancient felting persists in some cultures and museums.

There are basically two methods of felting; the wet felting and the dry or needle felting. However, in the 1990s Australian artist Polly Stirling invented the ‘Nuno technique’. It involves incorporating an open weave fabric like Chiffon to create a light-weight felt. The term ‘nuno’ has its origins from Japanese meaning ‘cloth’.

The wet felting is a simple technique with multiple steps involving heat, moisture, pressure, agitation, and change in pH level. It is the process of using water and some form of agitation to cause to open up and bind together. In this method, wool fibers are interlaced and compressed after being sodden in soap water and then rubbed until fabric has the same thickness. When water and pressure are applied, the scales open up and the fabrics interlock. When the felts dry, fabrics stay interlocked. For beginners in felting, this technique is too complex. The dry method is suitable for your level.

The dry or needle technique of felting is the technique most likely practicable for beginners in felting due to its simplicity. It is the method of making felts without water. It involves using special barbed needles to basically weave the individual fiber together until they form a matter piece of fabric. You can do this by hand using a single needle.

Practicing dry felting is not as difficult as you think even if you are a beginner. The requirements for starting include; a felting needle – this is different from the normal needle, it has barbs on them which agitate the walls making it stick together and form shapes, a foam pad several inches thick and wool. As you become experienced, you’ll find other supplies and tools that fit your needs. For beginner felt artists, finger protectors may be helpful to prevent stabbing their fingers while needle felting. No matter how slow and meticulous you are, it is almost certain you’ll poke yourself as a beginner.

The Steps to Needle Felting include;

1. Slowly pull the wool by gripping it further apart. Tear a piece that is at least half inch thicker than the shape desire.

2. Roll fibers into ball.

3. Start to poke fiber with the needle. Your needle should not disappear into the foam block.

4. Move objects around while poking with the needle to allow the fibers to felt evenly.

5. Keep adding layers of wool until it reaches the desired amount to give the object shape.

6. The fiber is felted once you see a smooth finish on the outside your shape. There should not be an excessive amount of coarse fibers sticking out.

As the American author said, ” To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong”. Beginner felt artists are most times inundated with the notion of being wrong. It isn’t so. Needle felting is an easy craft to get into and best for those who love fiber arts and making miniatures. However, this hobby can easily graduate into an addiction.

I wish you well as you embark on they journey of creating anything you wish with just wool and needle.

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