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Topic: Making tiny details (beaks/ears/tails)  (Read 1257 times)
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kbarlowdesign
« on: November 08, 2013 05:25:55 PM »

Hello!

I'm just learning dry needle felting but I love it already! I seem to prefer making tiny creatures, usually owls, birds, penguins, etc. (about 3cm / 1in tall)

I've been having trouble figuring out how to felt the really tiny details like beaks, ears, tiny feet, that sort of thing. I've been rolling the roving with my fingers to try to get the general shape, but when the beaks are just a few mm long, it's tough to really get the fibres to tangle/keep shape. Even wings can be tough, or thin elements.

Any ideas are welcome! Thanks!
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Harlan
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« Reply #1 on: November 09, 2013 05:52:09 AM »

What fiber are you using?

A finer fiber is easier to needle felt into smaller details. Merino would be a good choice.
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How long is the staple of your fiber?

A shorter staple length is helpful when making small objects. If necessary, you can tear your fiber into shorter lengths to make it easier to needle felt.
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What form is your fiber in? Are you using natural locks or fiber that has been drum carded to stretch and align the fiber to run parallel to one another?

If you're using drum carded fiber (I call that rope), tearing the fiber into smaller pieces and carding it with wire dog brushes can also be helpful. The idea is to break up that parallel alignment of the fiber. Messy fiber is half way to felted fiber.
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What needles are you using?

When working with small quantities of fiber, a finer needle (such as a #42) would be the best choice.
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Where are the barbs on your finest needle?

Knowing where the first barb is on your needles is helpful.
On a good needle the first barb should be positioned close to the point of the needle.  The closer that first barb is to the point, the more "work" it will do in a small object. You also won't need to thrust the needle in as far into the fiber.
You want to hold your needle so that barb will be closest to the surface of your fiber.
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Rolling small quantities of fiber between your finger and a *slightly* dampened palm is more effective than just rolling the fibers in a dry hand.


Hope some of those tips will be helpful! =^..^=
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« Reply #2 on: November 09, 2013 06:43:01 PM »

Yay! Harlan to the rescue! Great answers, Harlan!
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kbarlowdesign
« Reply #3 on: November 09, 2013 08:10:59 PM »

Amazing questions! I'll answer the best I can!

What fiber are you using?

I've got a variety, mostly Corriedale, merino, and something unknown a bit silkier
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How long is the staple of your fiber?

I tend to rip off an inch or so, then fold it over a few times, maybe I should be tearing into smaller pieces so it's not folded over (and therefore more parallel threads)

-----------
what form is your fiber in? Are you using natural locks or fiber that has been drum carded to stretch and align the fiber to run parallel to one another?

Not 100% sure on the nomenclature, but it looks like this.
Point taken on messy vs parallel, I try rubbing it between my fingers to tangle it more, but I'll pay special attention next time for too many parallel fibres.

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What needles are you using?

I've been working with whatever comes in the clover pen tool, but just picked up a 42 today, hopefully it will help!

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Where are the barbs on your finest needle?

I don't have the needle in front of me, I'll make sure to find where it is. I'm wondering if I've been going "through" the piece too far too, so finding the barb should help that too.

-----------
Rolling small quantities of fiber between your finger and a *slightly* dampened palm is more effective than just rolling the fibers in a dry hand.

Funny you should mention that! Sometimes I'll cup the object in my hand and breathe on it as if I'm checking my breath for a meeting (after coffee)... If that makes sense! And it seems to help tangle a bit more.

Thanks again so much, these tips are incredibly helpful!!
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Harlan
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« Reply #4 on: November 10, 2013 04:20:12 AM »

Glad to be of some help.

I wouldn't tear the fiber into extremely short lengths - you need at least some length to be able to tangle. 1/2" probably will still work.

The picture of the fiber - that is what I call "rope". Those fibers have been drum carded to stretch the fiber and to have the fibers run parallel to one another - excellent for spinning, not so ideal for needle felting, but a very handy form for the fiber. Almost all the fiber I use in my work comes in "rope balls".

Rather than folding your fibers over, mess them up. I like to use 2 wire dog brushes to card fibers - if you use them just enough, you mess up the fibers nicely. If you card with them for too long, you end up just realigning the fibers again.
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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
http://www.craftartedu.com
Intimate Forest - my oil paintings
http://www.intimateforest.com
kbarlowdesign
« Reply #5 on: November 10, 2013 01:48:49 PM »

Fantastic!! Thanks so much! Just picked up a ton of wool today, can't wait to try some of these tricks out!

I'd also heard of some people using diluted white glue to help "keep shape" of small details, what do you think about that as a technique?
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Harlan
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« Reply #6 on: November 11, 2013 05:04:36 AM »

white glue huh? I haven't heard of anyone doing that and my gut reaction is "no". I don't think it is necessary and that there are other/better solutions. I have used a spot of glue to hold glass eyes in place, but that glue will never be seen or touched.

I think it would make better archival sense to just properly wet felt very small detail parts such as beaks. There are natural limitations to how small we can easily make objects with felting needles - size of the needles and placement of the barbs. Wet felting can create objects of good integrity that are even smaller because wet felting also employs shrinkage as part of its mechanism.

I have seen many fiber artist use polymer clay for small details such as claws and noses - I think that makes more sense than using something like white glue.
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
http://www.craftartedu.com
Intimate Forest - my oil paintings
http://www.intimateforest.com
kbarlowdesign
« Reply #7 on: November 11, 2013 04:11:48 PM »

Wet felting the tiny details! Great idea!

Thanks so much for all your help!
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kbarlowdesign
« Reply #8 on: November 23, 2013 10:39:16 AM »

Used the wet felting beads tutorial to try to make some tiny beaks. The black wool was really stringy (will try again ripping it into smaller pieces but I think the type of wool is part of the issue). I have some yellow Corriedale and it seemed to shape better, but we'll see when they dry!

I used hot water and liquid dish detergent, dunked the wool, shaped it under water a bit, then finished shaping out of water (rolling between fingers), then put on a towel to dry. Did I do anything wrong? It doesn't seem that tight... Maybe I need to roll more with my fingers, or the water should be hotter?
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Harlan
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« Reply #9 on: November 24, 2013 03:55:30 AM »

You might need to agitate it longer. Hot water helps to open the scales on the fiber. Soap just makes the process of agitating a bit easier. Agitation is what really helps the fibers to felt together. Smaller lengths of fiber and finer fiber might be better for forming small shapes. Alternating between hot and cold water can also help the felting process.
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
http://www.craftartedu.com
Intimate Forest - my oil paintings
http://www.intimateforest.com
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