Weaving wool into exquisite fabrics is a common industrial process. But what is needle felting? This is just an artistic extension of the process involved in making liners and other thick felted fabrics with commercial felting machines. In this case, individuals use a single, barbed needle to pursue the craft of needle felting. This needle is an exact replica of needles used in sophisticated felting machines to churn out three-dimensional felting sculptures.
Wool fibers are usually tangled. By inserting a barbed needle into this tangled wool, three-dimensional felt sculptures can be created in different shapes and sizes. Use your imagination to create different designs, all by dry felting into the wool. Scales are formed into woolen fibers. By poking barbed needles into these woolen fibers, you have the chance to align their scales until they form thick, condensed felt materials. The barbs in the needle align these scales in definite positions allowing you to create the perfect woolen design.
Where Did It All Begin?
So, needle felting has been around for multiple decades but it really became prominent to use around the 1950’s. The process of needle felting was finessed for industrial works, with people creating parts for musical instruments and also materials used in the process of building. This was when companies started to use industrial felt that would usually felt wool and materials such as polyester or nylon together. Sometimes the high end felt would be placed between certain car parts to lessen the vibration between panels. This also prevented any dirt from accumulating around the joints of a car.
As for musical instruments, felt has been used in the manufacturing of drum cymbal stands, and also has been used to wrap mallets used for both the bass drum and the timpani. Felt can also be found in a piano, attached to the hammers that are wrapped in felt. Felt is also placed under the keys of the piano and also is used in many ukuleles and accordions. It has this way to trap sound and to softly hit a drum.
Needle felting, you will be surprised to learn, is also used a lot in the construction of a home. Felt is used to protect the home from weather (in the form of roofing felt) and also has the power to absorb a lot of moisture, which is why it is placed a lot on the layout of a floor.
Nowadays, felt is used all over the world and it can also be used as a fantastic pastime to stretch your artistic abilities. When you are first starting out felting, one of the main questions is “What Kind of Wool Should I Use For Felting?” Below we are going to be looking at the various types of wools and what each one has to offer, so you can refer it to as a guide before starting your next artistic project.
Felting Needle Sizes and Designs
For you to create different designs in wool, you need needles of different sizes. The ideal way to select the right size is to decide on the hole size left behind after punching the wool with the needle. For example, you can differentiate between popular needle sizes #36, #38, and #40 by checking the holes created by these needles. Size 40 will have a finer hole as compared to #36. These triangular-pointed needles have three-sided pointed ends with barbs or notches on all three sides.
For course felt designs, #36 is the preferred needle size. This may be appropriate for specific designs you create. You could also try out #38 to plug in the large hole created by the #36 needle. This is useful to create varied designs or to attach felted wool to another surface. To create recognizable designs including landscapes and objects, use the #40 needle. It is the ideal triangular needle to deal with finer details. For example, these #40 needles achieve delicate designs over petals of flowers.
Another popular needle is the four-sided star point needle with notches on all four sides. This needle is also used for fine felting wool. After you have gained experience with these popular needles, try out hand needle felting tools capable of holding up to 25 needles. Develop the capacity to complete large projects with high accuracy. Complete automation is also possible by using needle-felting machines with capacities to complete large consignments or orders.
Pursuing The Art Of Sculptural Needling
Needle felting found its way into sculptural designs when innovative fiber artists began creating three-dimensional shapes from wool. This popular crafting technique is now pursued by people across the world. You’ll find cheap and expensive felting tools with 3 to 25 needle holders, felting ideas, fibers in different packets, and a selection of wool at craft and hobby stores.
Think of bringing to life definite shapes with wool, and you’ll find the perfect colored wool for your project. Tap into online stores over the Internet to gather ideas about projects. You can also learn the art of needle felting from instructional books, videos, and online workshops. Once you have a good understanding of needle felting concepts, try out a simple project using online resources or gather essential supplies from your local hobby store.
Mastering the Art of Needle Felting
Repetitive jabbing motions into a bundle of wool can help you create intricate shapes in different sizes. Enough thought has been given to designing L-shaped steel felting needles with different barbed configurations and gauges. Manufacturers use color codes to differentiate between the different felting needles. Specific sets are made for beginners, while needle felting experts have access to the exact needle sets used in industry to manufacture bulk wool items.
Knowing what is needle felting is just the first step to mastering this addictive craft. Once you begin using different needles to create specific shapes, you will soon realize the process is simple and easy to master. It does not require weaving skills; however, if you have a keen artistic sense, you will be able to create articles that come alive in bright colors and perfect shapes.
For instance, you can actually speed up the process of creating different shapes by using double-pointed needles. Switch over to a single needle to finish your project. Get familiar with star-shaped felting needles to work on surface details of intricate designs or to complete your project with a delicate finish.
Useful Needle Felting Tips
With so many needle combinations and techniques used in needle felting, it makes sense to follow techniques that are successful and help you complete high-quality work in less time.
- The art of needle felting is addictive and needs focus. This craft is the ideal hobby to improve concentration, as you will need to keep your eyes on the punching needle at all times. These needles have sharp edges and can penetrate the human skin.
- Hold the needle at the top so you can punch the wool to greater depths.
- Apply the necessary pressure without supporting the needle of the side. With some practice, you’ll arrive at the right pressure without breaking the punching movements.
- Needle felting is a dry process. You do not have treat the wool or make it wet before needling the wool.
- Use a 2-inch thick foam sheet to keep the wool in place. A standard 8” x 6″ piece will ensure you pass the wool in the vertical direction stopped only by the protective foam sheet. Ensure you rotate the wool placed over the foam to prevent it from bonding with the foam.
- Always place your needles in the right color-coded pack. It will help you complete specific projects with the right needle size and type.
Needle felting is growing in popularity, and every attempt you make to try out new designs and needles takes you one step closer to creating innovative, new designs out of wool. So now that you know what is needle felting, turn yourself into a master craftsman simply by opting to try out a few needle felting exercises every day. The learning process is simple.