Dry Felting

February 4th, 2011 § 0 comments

Wet- and dry-felted wool ballsAlso called needle felting, dry felting can be used to embellish your felted work.  Needle felting is used to fuse another layer of fiber onto the felted fabric.  It is slightly magical.  Little in the way of equipment is required to needle felt by hand, though it requires a bit more concentration than wet felting.  In addition to focus, you will also need one of your dry wool balls that you’ve previously felted.  Also, you will need to purchase a felting needle (get a few extra just in case).  I purchased mine online from Paradise Fibers, a family-owned and operated farm in Spokane, WA.  A felting needle is long, barbed and extremely sharp.  Be careful, particularly if you are working with a young design team such as mine.  You will also need a felting pad.  This will allow the needle to go through the fiber and beyond without damaging the needle or the surface below.  You can purchase a fancy schmancy pad, but many experienced needle felters simply use polystyrene blocks, upholstery foam or compressed foam.  I use the head of an old floor brush—this works perfectly.  You will also need thin wool roving in various colors, wool yarn, or cut out pieces of wool felt.  I use remnant wool pencil roving (it is similar to yarn, but not as tough) for most of my dry felting embellishments.

Once you have gathered your supplies, you’re ready to take the plunge.  Start simply by adding stripes or dots to your wool ball (later, you can add an elaborate design).  No matter the design you’ve chosen, you should work in smallish sections.  Place your wool ball on the felting pad before you position the fiber where you’d like it.  The best approach for needle felting is a straight up and down motion with the needle.  This makes it less likely you’ll break the needle.  Start at one end of your design and work your way around.  When is it done?  The longer you puncture the fibers with the needle, the more fused your original work will be with the fancy new wool layer.  Really, doneness is a matter of personal preference.  Keep going until you think it’s time to stop.  Once you start needle felting on a project, it can be a challenge to quit.  There are all sorts of directions you can go with this, in fact you’ll find your brain just whirling.  You’ll be tempted to add shapes, stripes and flashy jazzy stuff just because you can.

And so, at this point you are ready to branch out on your own.  Using the dry and wet felting techniques and a bit of magic potion, you and your design team are well on your way to felting just about anything—flowers, tooth pillows, tea cozies, winter car tires, a good night sleep, etc.

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