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Topic: Review of REVERSE/INVERTED Barbed Felting Needles  (Read 3942 times)
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Harlan
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« on: May 31, 2012 08:33:37 AM »

Recently a number of my needle felting friends started talking about reverse/inverted barbed felting needles. The idea behind these needles is that they pull fiber OUT of an object rather than push it in and the general impression I had been given was these needles might be useful for creating fur.
 
Sources for these needles always seemed to be in far away places and my friends were waiting weeks for theirs to arrive. I managed to find a source here in the U.S.A. so decided that I would buy a set and see what I thought. It took less than a week for my needles to arrive so I set about setting up some tests to see what these needles could do.
 
In appearance, these needles are roughly the size of a #38 with only three blades (not the four blades of a typical #38star needle). On the top, the "L" portion, of the needle there is a small notch which makes it easy to identify these needles as being reverse barb rather than having to haul out your magnifying glass and examine the barbs. There were 2 barbs per blade. The first barb was suitably close to the tip, but the remaining barbs were placed along the full length of the tip.
 
In preparation to test the needles I firmly felted a block of core fiber which I surface covered with black Merino. This would provide suitable contrast to see the fibers pulled out by the reverse needles. Because my core fiber is different in fiber content than some of the commonly used fibers I also made blocks of Merino (pink) covered with black Merino and a block of Corriedale (dark green) covered with white core fiber.
 
I color coded the sides of my blocks so as I experimented and took notes I could clearly identify what experiment I did on any particular side.
 
On my core fiber block I worked in only a straight up and down needling method. My first test was roughly the same amount of pokes that I might do if I were furring that space with regular needles. The result was sparse. Good for a peach fuzz effect, but not sufficient for fur. The fibers did not resist a simple tug test very well.
 
My second test was a great many more pokes with the needle. This did result in more fibers being pulled to the surface, but still insufficient to look like fur.
 
My third test on the core fiber block was similar to the second test, but I trimmed one area and left another untrimmed.
 
The fourth test side of the core block was used as a "control". On this side I furred three small sections using core fiber, then Merino fiber and Silk fibers using regular needles. The fur covers the surface well, and withstood a simple tug test. I do have to add that when I fur with regular needles I do so at an angle, not straight up and down as I used the reverse needles on the other sides of the core block. I will return to this subject the angle of the needle a little later.
 
Next I created a block of pink Merino fiber and repeated the up and down poke experiments with the reverse needles. The results were similar to those of the core block. Sparse fiber being pulled out, insufficient to create the look of fur and weak against a simple tug test.
 
Last I created a block of Corriedale fiber. This is not a fiber I use often, but is very popular among needle felters so I felt it should be included in the tests. Unlike the previous tests, on the Corriedale block I poked at an angle (not straight up and down). The fiber pulled to the surface was still sparse and insufficient for creating fur, but it withstood a tug test better than the tests on the previous two blocks.
 
Using the reverse/inverted barbed needles at an angle produces results more resistant to a tug test.
 
It takes a lot more effort (pokes) with these reverse barbed needles to produce poorer results than if an object is furred with regular needles. Pulling fiber OUT of an object reduces its firmness - probably not significantly depending on how many pokes you do.
 
These needles might be useful for a transition between a non-furred area and an area furred with regular needles. The may also be useful for creating a fine peachfuzz appearance. I read somewhere that the fiber pulled out with these needles is given a slight curl. That may be true, but I see no way that the user can control the amount of curl produced. They may be useful for reducing the firmness of an object that has been felted too firmly, but I haven't actually tested that.
 
I personally am not very impressed with these needles. I don't see them as really useful tools. I didn't witness any results that couldn't be reproduced more easily and with better control and integrity with regular felting needles. I may do more experiments with these needles and if I learn anything new or change my opinion, I will let you know.

« Last Edit: November 06, 2012 07:39:25 AM by Harlan » THIS ROCKS   Logged

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yingying
« Reply #1 on: May 31, 2012 10:10:09 AM »

Thanks for the review! It's very thorough and well structured  Smiley

The idea of reverse felting is interesting, but I can't think of any project that will need that effect. Maybe a molded bread?  Grin
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« Reply #2 on: May 31, 2012 12:37:26 PM »

Thank you for this review Harlan!  It's incredibly thorough and really informative! 
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Harlan
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« Reply #3 on: May 31, 2012 01:17:21 PM »

Thanks!!  Cheesy

I enjoyed putting this information together. Needle felting as a craft/art is still relatively young. The needles that we use are designed for industrial non-woven fabric production and not specifically for our craft/art form. So it's interesting when I come upon a new type of needle and can see what it may have to offer the artist.
THIS ROCKS   Logged

You're unique! Just like everyone else!!
Prittens and other needle felted creatures
http://www.flickr.com/photos/prittens/
CraftArtEDU - exception classes from exceptional instructors
Intimate Forest - my oil paintings
http://www.intimateforest.com
http://www.craftedu.com
woolalchemy
« Reply #4 on: March 19, 2013 01:34:53 PM »

I appreciate the sciency way you presented this but wanted to share a different perspective . The reverse needle is my new best friend . I actually went back and reverse felted most of my older animals and think it added a lot to the effect I was going for .

You can see some of it on my blog.....

http://eyesoftime.blogspot.com/

Perhaps one of the differences in our results was different type of fiber as I have much better result using very thick layers of alpaca and mohair over a very firmly felted wool animal . I also make really large animals and use a four needle tool to do much of the felting and reverse furring . I think perhaps the morino "furring" is less stable when reverse felting because it breaks more then the alpaca or mohair ?

The down side for me is that it does take a little longer then rooting hair in as there are three steps....create firm sculpture, firmly felt thick layer of mohair or alpaca into sculpture, reverse felt and brush . I never got the hang of felting fur sections in that were firm enough for brushing .

So, I can see that really small animals or only using one needle would make this a pretty useless tool but for me it's added a new dimension to my animals  .

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Harlan
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« Reply #5 on: March 20, 2013 07:08:27 AM »

Thanks for your input on the reverse barbed needles! I'm glad to learn that they are useful for you!

I doubt that the merino breaks more when using these needles, but your point about using them with a coarser fiber is a good one! Merino is so fine that would be difficult to get the same results as one can get with regular rooting. Coarser fiber would be far more visible so the results would also be more impressive as seen in the photos of your work on your blog! (thanks for sharing the link  Cheesy )

THIS ROCKS   Logged

You're unique! Just like everyone else!!
Prittens and other needle felted creatures
http://www.flickr.com/photos/prittens/
CraftArtEDU - exception classes from exceptional instructors
Intimate Forest - my oil paintings
http://www.intimateforest.com
http://www.craftedu.com
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