Thursday, April 30, 2015

How I Made Tiny Felt Food for Needle Felted Book Illustration

DIY Felt Food and Candy Ideas

I recently was at a book fair where a 5-year-old boy purchased Hansel & Gretel: A Fairy Tale with a Down Syndrome Twist.  I asked him which picture was his favorite. He told me he liked the candy houses because it looked like the candy was popping out of the page and he wanted to eat it. 

Fiber Art Book Illustration of Candy House
Easter Inspired Candy House in Hansel & Gretel: A Fairy Tale with a Down Syndrome Twist

It was gratifying to hear from a child that he connected with the 3-d illustrations. When Jewel Kats asked me to illustrate this book, I was immediately excited about the forest scenes, but I wasn't sure how to handle the candy houses. To be honest, I don't get particularly excited about candy, but I do like cakes, cookies, fruit. So with the gingerbread house, I added some window boxes with iced berries, chocolate chip cookie trim, and of course candy canes lining the entry. The other candy house (you have to read the story to find out why there are two) was created during Easter and you can see how that influenced the design, pastel M&Ms, lollipops and even Peeps on the lawn. 

Hansel Gretel Gingerbread House Book Illustration
Hansel eats a marshamallow off the Gingerbread House

Creating the sweets in both candy houses and for the feast scene was an exercise in trial and error. This is not a step-by-step tutorial, but I will share some tips and techniques I used. I hope you can be inspired and create some fun felt food.  

  • Fiber to Create Cake -- One of the most important tips for creating cupcakes, cakes, marshmallows, is to use a wool that is very springy and fluffy. I used Rambouillet. To be honest, I had picked up some Rambouillet from a fiber store and found that it wasn't useful for my needlefelt animals. However, it makes great cake dough. I used Rambouillet extensively in the pastel house and in the feast scene. 
  • Coffee is Great Cake Dye -- The Rambouillet was white, but if I soaked it in leftover coffee for a while, it turned the perfect beige shade. 
  • Felt Baked Goods -- The cinnamon roll in the feast scene was simply the Rambouillet and a cinnamon-colored wool rolled up together and held in place with a little needle felting. The cake slice was a bit more complicated. I layered rambouillet with a red wool in the middle, like a sandwich, and needle felted until it was dense, rolling a bit as well to keep it roundish. I finished with chocolate-colored alpaca as the icing and felted lightly, but firmly. When my cake was finished, I used very sharp scissors to cut a piece. 
  • BFL Silk Blend for Icing --The icing on the roofs and berries was created from a Blue-faced Leicester and silk blend. I wet the wool then tore off little pieces, which makes it curl. After placing it on the roof, I used hairspray to keep it in place. 
  • Waffle Irons make Waffle Cones -- I actually used a waffle iron to make the waffle cone and the waffle door. This didn't work out as well as I had hoped. I dyed some 100 percent wool felt the color of golden waffles. While it was still wet, I put it in the waffle iron. Do not put the waffle iron on! I pressed it in and let it sit in place for about a day. The indentations were not as deep as I had hoped, so I had to needle felt around the edges. 
  • Candy Canes and Lollipops -- At first I made the candy canes out of pieces of felt that I twisted and then inserted a wire. That didn't look so good. So then, I took a piece of copper wire, a thicker gauge, about 18, and wrapped it with white wool and then swirled the red wool. This made it easy to shape the cane. 

Needle Felt Book Illustrator Claudia Marie Lenart Felt Food
A felt food sweet table in Hansel & Gretel: A Fairy Tale with a Down Syndrome Twist
Needle felted food
BFL/Silk Icing over felted berries on Candy House

Fairy Tale Needle Felt Book Illustration
Marshmallows of Rambouillet wool on the tower

Have fun creating! I'd love to see what you come up with and you can share on Claudia Marie Felt on Facebook. 

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