When people see me felting in public places or at a friends dinner table in the afternoon – I am asked so many times… WHAT ARE YOU DOING? IT Looks like your STABBING that… WHAT ARE YOU DOING? sometimes the person will ask a few times while looking at my hands felting away without actually hearing my answer the first time… at that point I usually offer them their own to try – that is fun when they take it in hand and start stabbing the needles in to the wool and a while later they admit it is hard to stop. They know what felting is then.
What I am referring to called “needle felting” or “dry felting”, I also use “wet felting” techniques but not in public places usually or when NOT making the gnomes (the kitchen or a studio with sinks are much more preferred) – that wet element can be messy – a process I prefer when making mats and bowls, purses, wall hangings …..
Needle felting is a popular fiber arts craft that creates felt without the use of water. Special needles that are used in industrial felting machines are used by the artist as a sculpting tool. While erroneously referred to as “barbed” needles, they in fact have notches along the shaft of the needle that grab the top layer of fibers and tangle them with the inner layers of fibers as the needle enters the wool. Since these notches face down towards the tip of the needle, they do not pull the fibers out as the needle exits the wool. Once tangled and compressed using the needle, the felt can be strong and used for creating jewelry or sculpture. Finer details can be achieved with this method using a hand-held tool with either a single needle or a small group of needles (2-5), so it is popular technique for producing 2D and 3D felted work.