Needle Felted Wall Hanging Class with Denise Marshall

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:

Needle felted hedgehogs and toadstools

Needle felted hedgehogs and toadstools

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:

Needle felted wall hanging by Denise Marshall

Needle felted wall hanging by Denise Marshall

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:

Felted background canvas

Felted background canvas

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):

Barbed needles for needle felting

Barbed needles for needle felting

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.

Felting foam block

Felting foam block

The first thing we worked on was our tree.

Needle felting the tree 1

Starting my tree

I thought my tree looked pathetic, so Denise suggested I add more and longer branches.

Needle felting the tree 2

Tree with 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.

Adding depth and texture

Adding depth and texture to my tree

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.

Needle felting the grass

Adding the grass

Grass all done

Grass all done

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.

Addition of silk sari yarn

Addition of silk sari yarn

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.

Poppies with stems

Poppies with stems

Red poppies

Red poppies

I then added some blue flowers in a mix of darker and lighter shades.

Field of red poppies and blue flowers

Field of red poppies and blue flowers

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.

My completed tree

My completed tree

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.

Completed field of flowers

Completed field of 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.

Filling in the thin spots on my canvas

Filling in the thin spots on my canvas

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.

Tabs with twig for displaying

Tabs with twig for displaying

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:

Wall hanging displayed on wall

Wall hanging displayed on wall

My completed needle felted wall art:

Completed needle felted wall hanging

Completed needle felted wall hanging

Here’s one of the other student’s, who opted to make her trees birch:

Needle felted wall hanging with birch trees

Needle felted wall hanging with birch trees

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.

Needle felted wall hanging with dramatic tree

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Serena Y Lee

Serena worked in the biotech industry for 18 years before leaving to pursue her life purpose – to live in freedom with creativity and simplicity. Her love for baking, creativity, and story-telling compelled her to start blogging to share her ideas with a wider audience.

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