Needle felting for beginners – Equipment
If you're learning the art of needle felting you can probably get away with having just wool, needles and a cushion or pillow to work on. Needle felting is a relatively simple craft in the early stages. But as you become more adept at it you'll find that there are all sorts of equipment that make the craft easier.
I've put together a list of my go to tools and equipment that I've amassed over the years, and I explain what I use them for.
EYES, ROUND HEADED PINS, BEADS, MARKER PENS
EYES and ROUND HEADED PINS serve the same purpose. I use glass eyes for some of my larger birds, while round headed pins can be used for various small birds and animals. You can also use BEADS that don't have holes in them. It's always difficult to find black pins so I use a black permanent MARKER PEN to colour the pins.
CIRCLE TEMPLATE, AWL, NAIL SCISSORS
If you make your own eyes from wool a CIRCLE TEMPLATE is great for making sure the size of the eye balls are the same. It also can be used for placing over the felted eye ball and felting a perfectly round colour iris.
An AWL or NAIL SCISSORS can be used to make a hole your felted piece so you can add an eye, this gives the appearance of the eye being embedded into the head.
STUB WIRE, FLORAL TAPE
STUB WIRE covered with FLORAL TAPE are the basis for the armatures I use for my animals and birds. Armatures make them pose-able, and once cut, helps me to keep to the size of the piece I'm making.
I also use wire and tape for my bird legs and feet. The floral tape helps wool to 'stick' to the wire when first you wrap the wool around it.
Note, stretch the tape when wrapping it to the wire, this releases the stickiness and also gives a higher yield for your roll of tape.
I always try to match the colour tape with the colour of the wool, ie black tape for foxes legs, white tape at the end for foxes tail. This is just in case the wire is near to wool surface.
PIPE CLEANERS, WIRE CUTTERS, NEEDLE NOSED PLIERS
PIPE CLEANERS are an alternative to using stub wire, they are much more bendable than my usual 18-22 gauge wire, which is fine for a more gentle pose-ability.
WIRE CUTTERS and NEEDLE NOSED PLIERS are essential for cutting and bending wires, especially in my world of tiny bird feet and claws.
NEEDLE HOLDER, TUBES FOR WRAPPING WOOL
A NEEDLE HOLDER while not absolutely necessary is good for felting larger pieces. Using 2 or 3 needles at the same time cuts down on the time it takes to felt your project. As you gain experience with felting you'll recognise when to use a needle holder. I use it for flatter parts of my sculptures and larger pieces, but I always finish with a finer, single needle since a smooth surface is my ultimate goal.
I use TUBES FOR WRAPPING WOOL to make ears for hares and rabbit. I wrap the wool and slide it off, then I felt it into the shape I need. It just makes life easier when you want to form the basis for a shape, and it helps with making pairs of things more uniform.
TACKY GLUE, GLUE STICKS
Finally, TACKY GLUE and GLUE STICKS are a must for my animals and birds. Tacky glue is great for making sure eyes stay in place, and glue sticks are perfect for finishing off the tiniest wrapped fingers and bird feet, giving them a super smooth finish. This is great for anything that is wrapped and not felted.
If you're looking for ready made Bird Legs for your projects I've always got some in stock. Buy them in sets and save. They're great for all types of felted birds.
And, do you have any essential tools for your needle felting projects, if so I'd love to hear from you!