After understanding about the tools and materials for needle felting, l would love to share the tips and tricks for your needle felting projects to level-up your knowledge and to become a better artist. If you keep trying but keep getting discouraged, these tips and tricks hopefully will help you. Without further do, let’s keep reading! 😉
Understand the shape of your sculpture
You have to know your sculpture well. For example, if you’re going to make a dog, please do have some references about the dog’s anatomy. I encourage you to search for the references. The ideas of the right size, the color, the shape and every detailed property from the references will lead you to make a better sculpture. Another important thing is you will know the right proportion of the body parts.
Even if you are not going to make a realistic look of an animal or human, but you still have to know the shape of your sculpture to lead you right. I mostly make cute animals for my needle felting projects. Cute illustrations from Pinterest give me lots of inspirations about the sculpture I am going to make. It’s not to copy them but to give you ideas about the right shape of your sculpture!
Use the right felting needles
You probably think any felting needle will successfully do its job to felt your wools. No, you are wrong :)! There are two types of felting needles to complete the whole project. They are thin and thick felting needles, which have different functions. I’ve mentioned the differences between both needles. Now, I will tell you in details how I use both types on my projects.
Thick felting needle is best used for:
- Shaping your wool at the beginning process with or without armature (e.g. body, head, muzzle, tail, arms, legs)
Adding long fur on some parts of your sculpture like body, legs, arms, tail
Creating flat pieces of felt like ears, tongue
Attaching 2 pieces (e.g. head and body, arms or legs to the body, muzzle on the face, tail on the back, ears on the head)
Adding bulk to your sculpture
Thin felting needle is best used for:
- Creating lines or any shape with very minimum use of wools (e.g lines for mouth, nose, spots, dots, eyebrows, eyeliner, sclera or white part of the eye.
Adding any color of roving wools on the basic color of your sculpture (this is serious! Don’t use thick felting needle to do this)
Adding long fur on some parts of your sculpture like face, muzzle, floppy ears
Layering in between two attached parts with wools
Pulling the wools on your sculpture to make a hairy look
Roll and poke the wool tightly at the very beginning
Whatever shapes you’re going to make, please make sure you roll your wool and poke it tightly. It is simple but often forgotten. For me, it’s the most crucial thing about needle felting. If you don’t roll to shape your wool tightly, it is hard to make it solid and hard. This makes it impossible for you to attach another part on it, creating a very bad finish.
Poke until it becomes firm!
It is very important to keep your shape nice and firm. You can test the firmness by pinching it or if you found lots of loose fibers coming out from the surface, it simply means you have to poke more. I know that this is time consuming but it is worth the effort. If you don’t start your base firm, it will create a bigger problem later.
Use a wire armature
Some enjoy making a sculpture without armature while some don’t. I mostly use armatures for legs, arms and tails. Some asked me why not the whole body? well, it’s just my personal preference. I always mess up making legs, arms and tails without the wire inside while it’s pretty easy to make the rest like head and body (in case of making an animal sculpture). However, to save your time, it is indeed better to create an armature for the whole body. This also will help you to achieve the even size and proportional shape of your sculpture.
Layer in between two parts with wools
To achieve a nice finish of your sculpture, you have to understand well how to attach two parts rightly (the head to the body, the arms or legs to the body, the tails to the bottom part, the ears to the head, the muzzle to the face, etc). Before you step into this point, make sure to poke the base until it becomes firm. Otherwise, it’s impossible to perform this.
After you successfully attach one piece to another, don’t forget to always layer in between both parts with wools. It’s simply like blending them together. The first reason why you need to do it is because you need strength to let both parts attached to one another. Second, it is because layering with wools creates a better and more natural look on your sculpture.