What is Needle Felting?

The Wool

Wool fibre is surrounded by flat, overlapping scales. When wool fresh from the sheep is washed and carded, the fibres are mixed in their orientation and the scale edges are all pointing in different directions. When wool is subjected to agitation such as felting – the edges on the scales come in contact with each other, and do not allow the wool fibre to slide back, “locking” the fibre into position. It is not just one or two fibres that are locking together, but literally hundreds of fibres that come in contact with each other and lock into this position – causing the wool to felt. Wet felting involves rubbing wool together with soap and water to interlock the fibres, while needle felting uses a barbed needle to physically push the fibres between each other. One stab at a time…

felting needles

The Process

Needle felting is begun by rolling up a small amount of wool and stabbing it with the needle.  When the wool is stabbed with the felting needle it pulls the wool into itself.  By stabbing the wool with the needle over and over while turning the wool it continues to pull wool into itself and the wool, with its tiny scales, locks together.  Continued stabbing and turning results in a firm round shape.  Once there is a basic shape to start with wool is added where it is needed to form a sculpture.

For a 2D picture, the artist literally paints with wool, using many different colours and even blending them together to create the required shades.

%d bloggers like this: