What is Needle Felting?
Needle felting or dry felting as you may hear it being called is the art of stabbing fibre with a single or several slim barbed needles. Usually wool is used but other fibres can be used too. Wool has scales, Its the stabbing or punching of the barbed needle into the fibre that causes the scales to entangle together. As the fibre entangles and matts further it starts to produce felt. This can be produced on huge industrial machines with thousands of needles making a non woven cloth or with one single needle by hand.
I tend to work with 1 needle unless I am needing to make a large flat piece of art. You are able to create solid 3d sculptures by shaping the wool as you stab it. As it gets firmer you can create fine details in it and this still amazes me today. This building of the sculpture is usually made with what we call a core wool as it is usually cheaper, easier to build up a sculpture and quicker to felt. It is often made from several breeds and has a shorter fibre so compacts quicker. I have started to process my own core wool for my own use but do buy in bulk for workshops etc. It does not always have to be white, you can use other natural colours.
You would then add your top coat which could be anything from wool locks, wool batts, tops or roving. This could be wool in its natural colour or you can now get wool dyed and blended in all colours of the rainbow.
There are few supplies that you need really to get you started. You need needles and some kind of fibre and a surface to work on such as a sponge, wool mat, rice bag or even an old cushion. This is to protect your needles and table or knees!
Find out about the different kinds of fibre and needles on the following pages.