My first Blog post!!!
With a new season it feels like the perfect time to start my blog on the process of felt making and the work I love. This first post is all about felting needles. 1 of my most loved tools of the trade. Small is stature but strong in itself. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.
When it comes to felting needles there is a plethora of choice. Some needles work best in certain situations while others work as an all rounder needle. I have a few needles that are always on my work surface. While I am not going to explain in detail all of the needles I use here are my most used and treasured.
The first needle I pick up when starting a new project is the ‘36 Triangle‘ they are better suited for preliminary work and the ‘heavy lifting’, shall we say, that comes with starting a new piece. This needle has slightly bigger barbs to gather lots of fibres at once and tangle them together in this magical process. As the piece felts you will feel it becoming more dense. When you start to find it difficult to insert the needle it is time to move onto a finer gauge needle. As with wire, the higher the gauge number the finer the felting needle is.
My favorite brand of all round hard working needle is the ‘38 gauge star‘. This needle is all-purpose with extra notches that make them felt faster (more fibers matted per stroke). Although felting needles come in a wide array of shapes and gauges, I use ’38g star’ for all sorts of work, including felt miniatures.
My favourite needle for fine details and finishing my piece is the ‘40 gauge Spiral or Twisted‘. I also use a 40g Triangle and 42g Triangle frequently but the 40g Spiral is my ace of needles. It works in such a versatile way leaving a smooth finish and barely a trace of being inserted into the fibre. It can also be used to gather those pesky little fly away fibres to give a professional touch. AH-MAZ-ING without a doubt.
To help you work even faster there is ‘needle holders‘ that combine several needles for faster felting. These can be especially useful at earlier felting stages to create the base shape. You can find them all over eBay and Etsy in a variety of forms. My favourite holder is made by some engineers in Victoria, Australia. As I love them so much I spoke with Christine and she now allows me to sell them in my online store. Alternatively you can make your own holders by tying several needles together with a string or a thread, or using a glue gun or a rubber band.
I usually start felting using a bunch of six needles, then switch to three, and only then to one. The longer you work on a sculpture, the harder it gets, so at some point felting with three or even two needles becomes difficult.Mini toys and parts like limbs may be easier to do with a single needle right from the start.
To avoid breaking your needle while felting, don’t bend the needle side to side, but push in a straight line (not necessarily perpendicular to the shape surface, but with no lateral motion). Needles break when you drive them in and then move sideways, even slightly. As forgiving as wool is, it’s not fun to cut your hard work in half to find the broken needle or worse throw your hard work in the rubbish.
The notches on a needle wear off over time reducing the felting effect, so at some point you’ll need to replace your needle with a new one (or a set of needles with a new set). It’s a good idea to have a few needles/sets at any given time and swap them now and then, since felting with the same needle for a long time gets it very hot and the notches disappear even faster.
I hope you enjoyed my first post. See you in a week. 🙂