Monday, October 28, 2013

Top 12 Favorite Needle Felting Fibers

Every time a package of wool or other fibers arrives at my door, it's like Christmas. I love digging my hands into a bag of roving and experiencing the texture. One of my favorite day trips is to The Fold, wool shop, where I can indulge all of my senses in the array of fibers.
Although, most natural fibers can be needle felted, some are better than others. Some are also better for certain tasks, whether doll hair or the fur of a squirrel. It took me a lot of trial and error to discover which fibers to use for which creations. So I'll share a little of what I've learned.

So here is my list of favorite fibers:

Angora -- Difficult to felt, but it adds bunny spirit and feel to some of my luxury bunnies.

Cashmere -- Cashmere is not easy to felt, however it's velvety texture is second to none. I usually blend it with another fiber. My needle felted bunny's underside is one of the places I use cashmere.

Yak -- Similar to cashmere in texture, yak comes in dark colors that add luxury to some of my needle felted animals.

Llama -- Another luxury fiber, easy to felt and adds softness to some of my wool animals.

Camel -- Difficult to felt, but oh so lovely. Similar to cashmere. I sometimes mix in some baby camel with other fibers for my puppies.

Tussah silk -- Tussah silk adds shine and texture to my Waldorf angels' wings. I also use it to accent their dresses and gold-dyed for angel halos.

Corriedale-- A basic wool that is great for the core of my creatures and dolls.

Colonial -- Another wonderful basic core wool and all around multipurpose felting wool.

Shetland -- Can be used for cores, but it is so soft sometimes I would feel guilty putting it inside. Very nice, multipurpose. Some of my creatures are a mix of shetland and alpaca.

BFL -- I love BFL, it has an incredible sheen. I use BFL for the dresses on some of my needle felted dolls. I also love it for wavy hair. When it is wet it curls up.

Merino-- By far one of my most useful fibers. Merino is often the wool that finishes the dressses of my angels and fairies. I also use merino wool for angel wings. Merino is very soft and fine. I also use dark merino wool for some of my woodland creatures.

Alpaca -- My favorite fiber because it is the best of both worlds, easy to felt and luxurious. My woodland creatures wear coats of alpaca. It comes in a variety of natural hues, so often I don't even need to dye it. Suri alpaca also makes wonderful doll hair.

Here are some books that may help you understand wool:

The Field Guide to Fleece: 100 Sheep Breeds & How to Use Their Fibers

The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook: More Than 200 Fibers, from Animal to Spun Yarn

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Photos are So Important for Etsy Artists

I spend many hours creating my needle felted animals. It starts with research, either observing live animals or perusing through hundreds of photographs and studying the curve of the head, the shape of the eye. Next, I must find the right hue of fiber. Sometimes, as with my grey-brown bunnies and squirrels, I can use a combination of natural hued alpaca and other natural fibers. Other times, I must dye the fibers combining different colors to get until the perfect hue is achieved. Finally, the actual sculpting, and wiring of the poseable animals, can take days.

When the animal is complete to my satisfaction, my new friend is ready for a modeling session. Etsy artists know that photos are of the utmost importance if you want to be noticed. I photograph my creatures in a variety of settings, both outside and inside. Beware the windy day!

Sunny days aren't good either, they wash out the colors. If I need to take photos on a sunny day, I find a shady spot. And then there's winter. While a snowy background is perfect for my polar bears, it's not the best for a cottontail bunny.

With my smallest creatures, I like to include a photo of the animal in my hand so people can envision the size.

I generally shoot about 30 photos, then pick out my favorites, crop them and adjust the lighting. I often decide I need another pose and take another 10-20 photos. Some creatures are more photogenic than others, just like people. Sometimes I feel my photos don't see my creatures like I do.

I also like to create special photos for my Facebook page, Claudia Marie Felt, like this one with my wool squirrel and raccoon celebrating 500 likes.

My needle felted fawn, looking like Bambi, is one of my favorite photos.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Miniature Needle Felted Animals

One day I decided my needle felted deer was in need of some woodland friends. I like to put a branch in a small jar filled with salt for a woodland scene. So I created a little wool squirrel and, soon after, a tiny wool cottontail bunny to go with the deer and tree. 

The miniature wool woodland family keeps growing as I have added a chipmunk and a raccoon. 
My tiny animals are made mostly of natural, alpaca fiber which is very soft.

Making tiny needle-felted animals is very enjoyable and a different challenge than my larger creations as I try to create as much as detail as possible in a very small space. The chipmunks and squirrels even have wire frames which allow their arms and tail to be posed. 

Needle felted miniature donkey

This needle felted donkey was a custom order and I love him so much that I would like to make some tiny horses and a unicorn. His mane and tail is made of super soft llama fiber. 

Tiny needle felted racoon

Miniature needle felted bunny

I hope you enjoy my littles as much as I do!

Miniature needle felted robin bird

Tiny needle felted wool bluebird
Tiny needle felted bluebird

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Inspired by Watercolors

I like the impressionistic style of painting and I like the watercolors colors flow and dance together. The paintings children create in Waldorf classrooms are so peaceful and beautiful. I like to use this loose style of "painting" the dresses on my needle felted dolls.

Apple blossoms start out dark pink and then lighten to white.

I think her dress looks very much like a Waldorf painting.

She was one of my first fairies. I had dyed wool and as the colors were laying to dry, I noticed how they were the colors of the sunset and was inspired to create her. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Needle Felted Dryads, Tree Fairies

I love all my creations, but I feel my dryads are some of my most creative. The womanly shape that we can sometimes see in a tree. I was a little inspired by Narnia.

Dryads come from the Greek word drys, meaning Oak, so dryads were originally oak trees. I think this dryad was inspired by the oak.

Dryads, shy creatures, became the word for all tree nymphs.

I love the browns of winter against a bright blue sky, snow on the branches, and then one bright spot of red, the cardinal. I think this dryad may be an oak as well.

This forest dryad was totally inspired by my muse. I started working thinking of a purple, floral fairy. But something else took hold and this deep in the dark green pine forest dryad was born.

I hope you enjoy my work.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Needle Felted for Easter/Spring

I love creating animals. Here are some that are associated with Easter and Spring.
To create my animals, I study photos of the creature from different angles. I also like to take the opportunity to study the animals live, when I can. This bunny is luxurious, with a coat of cashmere, yak and alpaca. 

Alpaca fiber creates a very fluffy chicken. I dyed white alpaca with turmeric. 

This lop-eared bunny is made with real Angora bunny fur mixed with alpaca. 

I like to make my creatures realistic, with a touch of anthropomorphism.