Needle felting is a great way to express yourself and to spend your free time in a creative way. For me, the process is extremely easy, casual and relaxing in the winter, when I prefer to stay warm at home and work in small short-time projects. Also, felted figures are an easy way to earn extra monthly income if you decide to sell them on Etsy, Instagram or in a similar place. The prices of such figures are between $50 and $100 and there are shops with a lot of sales and prices over $130 per figure. The making of small animals about 8cm(3inch) high takes about 10-15 hours. I decided to write this article to share my impressions and to help those who are hesitant to start, because they think they may not be able to cope or that it will be difficult for them.
All you need to start felting figurines is a felt wool and a felt needle. In addition to felt wool, you can also order felt sheets that are several millimeters thick. Some artists make whole figures using felting sheets by sewing the edges and filling them with cotton or any other stuffing. I also started this way in the beginning, until I discovered the other technique. Felt sheets will be useful if you are making some mini bags for the figures or you want to add some small shapes such as details of wings, mouse ears, paws or to recreate an illustration by cutting out shapes according to the outlines. Felt sheets are also suitable for small shoes, beaks, penguin legs and others. You can do without them, but it’s good to keep it in mind.
If you want to give a slightly more professional finish to your pieces (which will raise the final price if you plan to sell them) you can buy eyes, noses and paws for the animals. Their prices are pretty low, and they are guaranteed to give a more professional finish to your creations, which will be visible in photos. For example, light can also reflect in the eyes. The price of the most standard noses, eyes or paws is about a dollar for a 20-30 pieces and it’s with free shipping. Search in eBay.com or AliExpress.com for Plastic Eyes or Plastic Nose and you will find hundreds of offers with different sizes, colors, shapes, etc. It is not difficult to make them yourself – you need a polymer clay. Many people also make spectacular jewelry with it. As far as I know the most popular brand is FIMO.
After making the element with it, you can attach it to the felted figure with glue or put it inside if you have modeled the element around a wire. Such small details will add a lot, making the finished piece even more outstanding. You can make the glass eye effect with epoxy resin. Browse YouTube for examples and techniques – look for eyes resin epoxy. If you decide to make a kitten, you can find glass eyes just like a kitten in different colors on AliExpress. An online store in the US with over 250 types of eyes, noses and paws is etsy.com/shop/GlassEyesOnLine
Most artists add eyes to the figures with glue. There are also glass eyes with wire loops that can be added by thread. You pass the thread into the hole and pierce the needle through the head. Don’t worry about the place where the thread is visible , because it will be covered with felting wool and felted over. Another thing you may need is a sponge to use it as a base to work the wool with the needle, so you won’t prick your fingers when making thin elements. I don’t use one, because it is much more pleasant and mobile for me to sit comfortably anywhere, just with the needle and wool and create an animal. To felt thin elements, you can also press them on both sides with folded cardboard to protect your fingers.