A little crafty update

Ok so once again it has been a while since my last blog post but I’m determined to not give up on my little corner of the internet and keep showing you the bits and pieces i’ve been making and doing, if you don’t mind?

Recently most of my spare time has been spent on making things for our Etsy shop, we have had our shop for just over a year now and sales have definitely picked up, particularly over Christmas. We have also created a Facebook page as I have been told that lots of people get many more sales through Facebook than they do Etsy, our page is only a couple of months old so I am yet to see any sales. It is fun to keep friends and family updated with what we’ve been making via our page though!

We also did our first craft fairs in November and December which were brilliant, we made money each time – I was very relieved as I’ve heard so many horror stories about poor crafters sat at fairs all day not making a penny. I really loved the crafting community aspect of the fairs, I met some really lovely people. One lady even liked our items enough to offer us some space in her beautiful shop, since then we have had a few pieces for sale there too. It really is all about making connections!

So that’s what has been happening with our little business but what have I been making?

One of our most popular items at fairs and on Etsy are these faux taxidermy needle felted animal heads. I started with making deer heads and have since branched out and have tried hares, giraffes, bears, badgers and foxes. I am super excited to continue the range and am thinking of doing a zebra next! Let me know if you can think of any other animals I should try!

56789

Making these needle felt animal heads is so rewarding as they don’t take as long as a whole animal but they still make quite an impact, I think people like that they can be hung on the wall too.

This week I am working on one of these needle felted woodland animal nursery garlands. They are popular on Etsy so we have decided to give a safari animal themed one a go too.

1011

The other thing I’ve been making a lot of is needle felted mushrooms, I love the way these look  and they are pretty fun to make too. As you can see most of what I have been doing lately is needle felting as it seems to sell quite well, I am also seeing a lot of improvement in my work as I keep practising which is really nice and very motivational.

12

In amongst the needle felting I have been doing other crafts of course, at Christmas I found myself making loads of crochet hats and gingerbread men, and lots of Christmas ornaments and bunting. I was also given the supplies needed to try two new crafts for Christmas, dressmaking and traditional teddy bear making. I know I really don’t need to add any more crafts to my frankly ridiculously long list of hobbies but I just can’t help myself, I want to try it all!

I’d love to know what crafts you’ve been doing lately?

And what would you like to see more of on this blog, needle felting? tutorials? sewing? small craft business related stuff? Let me know!

Advertisements

Finally Framed – Needle Felted Animal Portraits

fox badger 1

Well my two weeks off work are over, it went too quickly as it always does but I do feel I used the time well. One thing I did not do during my time off was blogging, that is not surprising to me as I never feel like even turning on my laptop during my free time. Due to the nature of my job I get some quiet moments whilst waiting for students to turn up etc. where I can blog and edit photos at work. So apologies for the two weeks of quiet on this blog, I promise I will get around to sharing all the creative things I’ve been doing recently over the next couple of weeks.

One project I am very glad to have finished during my time off is my needle felted animal portraits. I shared them in my last post so you may have seen them before, but they were unfinished as they were waiting for the perfect little frames. I had spent a few hours roaming my local charity shops and junk shops looking for tiny old picture frames that would suit these novelty portraits of a fox and a badger wearing human clothes. Unfortunately these frames of the perfect size turned out to be another of those items that you find all the time when you don’t need them but as soon as you do, they are nowhere to be found.

1

Luckily a friend came to the rescue, giving me two wooden frames of the perfect size. They didn’t have the old look I was hoping for and they seemed a little plain for my dapper looking dressed up animals so I painted them a golden colour and then rubbed gold gilding wax over the top to give the frames a kind of gold leaf effect. I am very pleased with how the frames have turned out, they work well with the texture of the felted animal portraits and best of all they cost me nothing due to the kindness of my friend.

badgerfox

I have listed these two on my Etsy shop but to be honest with you, I would not mind at all if they didn’t sell and I had to keep hold of them! I’d like to try making a few more and creating a series of animal portraits, what animal do you think I should try next?

fox badger 2

 

 

Needle Felted Succulent DIY

1

Just a quick post today to show you how I made this cute little needle felted succulent. This little guy is also available to buy from my Etsy site. Take a look at our Etsy shop here. I plan to try making a few other types of needle felted houseplants, more succulent varieties and some cactus would definitely be fun!

8

For this project I used some wool roving I was given by a friend, it is coarser than the corriedale or merino tops that I usually use so it felted really quickly but it was a funny mix of blue-ish greens so all the leaves came out a slightly different colour!

Anyway, here’s how to do it:

Start by rolling some wool roving into a rough ball-like shape. The amount of wool you use will decide the ultimate size of your leaf, you will get the hang of using the right amount of wool for your desired size after some practice.

7

Start to stab your wool with your needle felting needle repeatedly, turning the wool over regularly so that it mats together evenly. Once the wool has started to mat together, begin to focus on a top and a bottom side, creating a flatter shape.

9

Create a pointed leaf shape by focusing your stabbing on the two top edges. Don’t forget to work the top and bottom evenly, as well as working on all edges from time to time to create a smooth, neat, well constructed leaf shape. When you are happy with your leaf, move onto another one! You will need to make leaves of all different sizes to create your succulent.

6

When you have made enough leaves (I made about 20) it is time to build your succulent. Sorry there are no photos of this stage, I got carried away and completely forgot to document this part. I’m also not sure that I built my succulent and attached it to the pot  in the most sensible way, you may well have a better idea than me of how to do it, but here’s what I did:

I turned a small amount of wool into a rough, flat base and beginning with my four biggest leaves, positioned them on top and attached them by stabbing them a few times. I repeated this step with each of my next leaves, working in fours and decreasing in size as I went along, attaching them at first to my wool base, and then also to the other leaves underneath. I added a small ball of wool roving to the middle of the succulent so that I had something to attach the smallest top leaves to.

When my succulent was attached together I put some toy filling in the small plant pot I was using (I used a metal one but a tiny terracotta pot would look cute too) and then covered it with some green craft felt, glueing the edges into the pot with super glue. This looked a little like a green cushion inside my pot. I then positioned my succulent on top of the felt with some super glue in the middle and stabbed the lowest leaves into the craft felt with my needle a few times to secure it into the pot and it was done!

23

Phew! That was a tricky one to describe, I hope it made some sense? Like I said, I’m sure you can figure out a much simpler way to attach the felted succulent to the tiny plant pot. My way was complete guesswork and hard to describe but I’m pleased to say my little succulent is firmly attached to his new silver pot home.

It was so much fun to combine two of my favourite things – felting and succulents! What do you think of my little needle felt creation? Would you give it a go? I’d love to see pictures if you do.

45

Needle Felt – The Basics

Needle felting is my new craft obsession, not that I needed yet another craft to get into! But learning something new is always great and this particular craft has very quickly become one of my favourites so I thought it was about time I shared some of the basic techniques in case you would like to give it a go yourself!

To begin needle felting you will need:

needle felt needles – these are needles with tiny barbs on them that catch the strands of felt and allow them to mat together, they are available from craft shops and online for less than £1. You can use a single needle or two or even three pushed through a cork as you can see here. The single needle is useful for fine detail and the double needles are quicker when working on larger areas.

P1240481A large sponge or needle felting mat – a sponge is a great surface to felt on as its texture keeps the wool in place and you stab through the sponge rather than stabbing yourself or the table! However after a while the sponge will start to break up due to being stabbed repeatedly which is where the needle felting mat comes in handy.

P1240480Some wool fibres in whatever colour you choose – there are lots of different types of wool fibres available and different types are best for different projects, ask for advice in your local craft shop or some quick online research should help you pick what is best for you.

P1240482Once you have these three things you are ready to start needle felting, one of the best things about this craft is that you need very little materials to give it a go! Needle felting is essentially the act of turning fluffy wool fibres into a solid object through a process of stabbing it with the barbed needles until all the fibres mat together and the shape compacts and hardens. The way you go about this depends on the shape you are making. Today I thought I’d show you how to make an oblong shape and a circle, these basic techniques will allow you to start making any number of felt animals and will help you to get your head around the way it works. As you can see from the pictures, I needle felt on my lap as I find this easiest. It is important to sit up straight and relax your shoulders as the repetitive motion of stabbing the felt can cause tension in your body.

To make an oblong shape:

Pull a handful of strands from your wool (the more you start with the larger your finished shape will become but it takes some practice to be able to guess how much you will need, don’t worry if you get it wrong at first you can always add more wool later to increase the size)

P1240483Start at one end of the wool fibres and tightly roll into a sausage shape, tucking in any wispy bits on the sides to make a compact cylinder shape

P1240484Place your rolled fibres on your large sponge or needle felt mat (I was given this mat for Christmas but I often stick with using the sponge I started out with, it is totally up to you if you want to spend the extra money) Now it is time to start stabbing! Using your single needle begin to stab the wool in a line along the tube shape, once you have reached the other end roll your tube over a bit and stab another line. You should start to see and feel the fibres matting together, the shape should slowly reduce in size and become harder and harder. You will notice that the areas you stab more compact more and areas you miss stay soft and fluffy, this is how you shape your creation.

P1240485

P1240486 Keep stabbing and rolling your piece of wool over and over again. If you find yourself stabbing your fingers don’t worry everyone does this! Just remember to work carefully and take a break if you feel yourself getting frustrated or careless. You will also need to occasionally turn your piece of felt on one of its ends and stab the other end a bit to make sure that the whole thing is firm. P1240487 These images show the shape as it is worked on more and more and becomes harder and more defined. The image below shows a finished oblong shape, as you can see the shape is compacted and defined and there are less fluffy fibres sticking out.

The technique involved in needle felting is pretty tricky to explain! But once you get started you will quickly realise the way it works and why it is done that way. It really is the kind of craft you learn through hands on experience and the gradual compacting and hardening on the wool fibres needs to be felt to be understood! Some felters go for a more compact, harder finish and others feel their piece is finished when it is still at a softer stage, this is personal preference but remember if people are handling the object you will want it to be relatively sturdy.
P1240488To make a ball shape:

Take a handful of fibres and start pulling at them and mixing them up so that the strands end up running in lots of different directions. The best way to describe this is ‘messing up’ the fibres

P1240489Roll the wool around between your palms until you form a rough ball shape, it really doesn’t matter at this point if it is not circular as you will perfect the shape using the needles.P1240490Place the wool on your sponge or mat and begin to stab with the needle, you will feel the fibres begin to catch on each other and the shape begin to take form. P1240491Keep stabbing and rolling your ball so that it is worked on evenly all over. At this point you could use the double needles as this will speed up the process a little.

P1240492If your ball begins to form lumps or looks uneven just focus some more time on the lumpy area, it will disappear with enough stabbing!

P1240493Once you have an even, round ball which is firm to the touch you are done! Now you know how to make these two basic shapes you can easily move on to making whole felt animals using the oblong for a body and the ball for a head. I will write a post very soon on how to shape a felt animal out of these two basic shapes and how to add colour and detail. But for now there are a few things you could do using only these shapes such as making small egg shapes for easter decorations or gifts. Alternatively you could make lots of coloured felt balls and make a felt ball garland which is something I have always wanted to do!

P1240494

Wow that was a long post! I hope I haven’t bored you and I really hope you give needle felting a go, it is certainly addictive and very creative! I will do another post with the next stages of needle felting soon so keep reading!

 

Thoughts on a Needle Felting Course

P1240435

Hi! Todays post is not going to be a ‘how to’ like most of my others, I just want to talk to you about a course I went on recently where I learnt to needle felt. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you will know that I have been trying out a few different felting techniques recently, the one I hadn’t tried yet was needle felting so me and my mum signed up for a course in needle felting penguins one saturday just before christmas.

I’ve got to say, I was a bit sceptical about craft courses to begin with. My process when it comes to learning a new craft is to do a little internet research/talk to friends and then just give it a go! This process can be really rewarding and is definitely cheaper than paying for a course. However I was very keen to learn needle felting and I thought that giving a course a go would be really interesting. I also thought that it might be nice to bring up the subject of craft courses with all of you here on the blog.

The course turned out to be brilliant, it was held at the Spinning Weal in Clevedon near Bristol and the lady teaching us was a talented needle felter and a great tutor. The course was five hours long and we came away with our needle felted penguin, all the materials needed to make more and a brand new skill. I was nervous about spending five hours doing one craft as I usually like to move onto something else after an hour or two to avoid boredom but in the end it did not feel like five hours at all.

Having a talented crafter teaching us a new skill was great but the other part of the course that I enjoyed was speaking to the other four ladies there about why they wanted to learn this and what other things they like to make. There was an interesting range of experience with craft in the room and although I was the youngest person there I definitely did not feel out of place at all. The other benefit of learning in a small group was sharing triumphs and mistakes as we went along, when I could not get my penguins beak to look anything like a beak the other people there were supportive and offered help and we all had a laugh at his silly huge beak! Learning alongside others really helped me avoid the “Oh f***k it I give up!” moment too which is a real bonus.

P1240433

Watching everybody’s penguins take shape turned out to be very interesting, they all turned out beautifully different. Comparing them at the end you could really see that perhaps one person was great at shaping whereas another person seemed to have got the colours spot on etc. My penguin is certainly not perfect but I am pretty proud of him and after the course I managed to make a few christmas tree decorations too. I plan to continue with needle felting, it is the kind of craft you can do on your lap while watching trashy TV which is my favourite kind of craft to be honest and with some practice a small penguin should soon take less than five hours to make! Like other felting techniques you don’t need much equipment and the felt itself can be found cheaply from craft stores and online.

I will be doing a blog post about how to needle felt animals very soon but until then I just wanted to share with you how I have been converted when it comes to courses in craft. If you live nearby here is a link to the Spinning Weals website and all their courses http://www.spinningweal.co.uk/courses/

if you don’t live nearby then I highly recommend giving a course in a new craft a go, I think you will be surprised how much you get out of it! What are your feelings on craft courses? How about craft groups? I have always wondered if meeting as a group to craft together would be worthwhile? I’d love to know your thoughts!

P1240437