Happy 4th, everyone! I hope you all get to relax a bit today with family and friends :0)
I recently had the great pleasure of taking my very first needle felting class with Denise Marshall at Castle in the Air. I had taken only one other needle felting class before, a sculpture class with Caron Dunn. We made this:
When I first learned needle felting, I was surprised at how relatively easy it was to pick up. I’ve admired needle felted wall art for quite a number of years now and was happy to see that Castle was offering a class in their summer schedule with Denise. Our project was to create a wall hanging with an outdoor scene of a tree in a field of flowers:
Prior to our class, Denise had made the felted background canvases for us. She had us choose one for our “painting”. I chose this one:
Denise then went on to explain to us how she created the backgrounds using this cool product called Artfelt, which makes the entire process a lot easier than the traditional method. I won’t go into it here, as Denise will be teaching a class that will incorporate the process of making our own at a later date.
Anyway, the rest of the class basically involved us taking various bits of dyed wool roving and using our felting needle to add it to our canvas, by stabbing the needle up and down on the wool into the canvas. We used a single needle like these, (as opposed to a multi-needle felting tool):
The needle has tiny barbs on one end which grab the fibers of wool roving and interlock them with each other. The needle acts like a paint brush, while the wool roving is like paint. (Denise also showed us a reverse felting needle that lifts the fibers out instead of pushing them in).
We rested our canvas on a block of felting foam, which creates a soft working surface for our needle felting.
The first thing we worked on was our tree.
I thought my tree looked pathetic, so Denise suggested I add more and longer branches.
Once I got the basic shape down, I started adding other colors to my tree to give it more depth and texture.
Next, we worked on the grass in our field of flowers. We created wavy patterns with the wool as we felted it onto our canvas by curling it with our fingers as we went along. I used different shades of green to give my grass greater visual interest.
For textural and a colorful contrast, we added a strand of silk sari yarn. Some students felted theirs on, while others, including myself, decided to sew it on. Needle felting a cord or thick piece of yarn is tough on the felting needle. One student broke several needles in the process.
Next, Denise showed us how to make stems for our flowers out of dark green wool. We rolled the pieces of wool before felting them on. Then we created our red poppy flowers.
I then added some blue flowers in a mix of darker and lighter shades.
Now it was time to add the leaves on our tree. I used a mix of curly and straight wool in different shades of green.
I did not finish my wall hanging until I got home. I ended up adding more color to my tree, to both the trunk and the foliage.
I’m really happy with the way my tree turned out. Adding the additional colors to the bark really made my tree pop against the background.
I also added more flowers.
While I like my flowers, I kind of feel they’re a bit scattered every which way, instead of being nicely clustered like in Denise’s class sample.
Denise’s sample also included a bumble bee, but I decided to leave it out on mine.
There were a few thin spots on my canvas where the wool was sparse. I filled in a few of these spots around my tree by felting on more light blue wool to blend in with the blues of the background that Denise had initially created.
To display our painting on the wall, Denise had us sew two thick pieces of green felt on the back along the top to serve as tabs. We then slid a piece of twig through the tabs.
Denise made hangers for us by weaving three pieces of green ribbon together, which we looped onto our twig. Here is my painting hanging on the wall:
My completed needle felted wall art:
Here’s one of the other student’s, who opted to make her trees birch:
Love the little red toadstools near the bottom.
I love the tree on this student’s painting. It’s so dramatic that no leaves were necessary.
I also love how she clustered her flowers.
I loved this class! I love needle felting on canvas much more than doing three dimensional shapes. It’s much faster and more forgiving because if you don’t like something, you can just rip it out and redo it. If the shape of something isn’t quite right, you can just felt it some more to get it into the right shape. Plus, you can always add more wool to fix imperfections. I found it interesting that even for someone like me who can’t really draw or paint, I can needle felt what I can’t draw and it will still look good. That’s the beauty of needle felting. Things take shape and form much more easily than with other media. There’s something about committing an image to paint that intimidates me, that you don’t get with needle felting.
Thank you, Denise, for teaching this class! I look forward to taking more classes from this talented artist.
Have you ever tried your hand at needle felting? Do you prefer working on canvas or working in 3D? Please share in the comments.