Of these species I own one – Dango. As his name suggests he’s themed after the popular Japanese treat by the same name. For nearly 3 years he has been an incredibly important character for me. Purely out of the happiness I feel from his design. Given how sought after he is and how much I could stand to profit if I were to voucher him away it seems silly to hold on – but for some reason I can’t seem to part with the strange creature.
Dango has been the subject of a great many doodles, and one of my most loved Needle Felting projects.
He has become a staple in our home despite being a little difficult to explain to those who might look at him and not understand the species. Done simply as a personal project meant to clear my mind and get my motivation back on track in between commissions, but ended up sparking a whole host of different projects in the future! His easy design and perfectly palm sized form brought interest and I ended up creating a few more Cccats for people with a very similar formula.
Cccats in general come in a variety of sizes and styles. Bean and Dango match (shown above) but another displays Chinese Dragon style anatomy.
Desired to be a good deal larger than the others and taller, Branch broke more of the mold.
At the end of the day however the style of Cccats remains recognizable as the same species. No matter how different the outside, the base remains the same. Spherical head, long neck, tall stature, and thin waist. Along with ‘crowns’ or a few sticks of various design coming from the back of their heads.
A more recent addition to my repertoire of Cccats was Jacq. I had not done a Cccat in quite some time before jumping into this commission but turns out it’s like riding a bike.
With Dango I took photos along the way so that I could share them with others looking to get into the craft, or just people who were curious to see it. The photos I took did a better job of explaining my thought process which helped a great deal!
Recently, there has been talk in the fibre art community that there’s an imbalance between how their digital and needlefelt work is received by their audiences.
There is a change depending on what you upload, because you have different audiences for different styles of artwork. If you put a lot of thought and work into one, naturally your audience is going to be larger! Therefore you’ll get a larger reaction.
Little 50×50 pixel icons that I did on the cheap for years! So much so that majority of my online galleries are these. Once I started needle felting, I saw some overlap in the audience but the love for the pixels didn’t fade. I just got new watchers who only came to see the felts – because perhaps they just liked physical crafts more than digital art. Digital art has always been broken down to a whole range of different sections and communities.
And there’s nothing wrong with that. Understanding that people are unique and have different interests is as important as understanding that you have different styles that represent who you are as an artist. It’s unfair to demand an audience disperse their attention to things they may not be interested in. I question why it’s taken so personally when it’s still love for your work and talents.
In the end it’s important to stand alongside your art, no matter the medium. Keeping up with works that excite and entice you while engaging others is a wonderful balance – no matter which audience within your audience you engage.
– This is one of the two big pieces of foam I work on. It’s super handy to have as opposed to a small base (#13) as it just gives you more room to hold everything and maneuver around. A chunk of foam is easy to get a hold of, Walmart for one has them for seat filler or even memory foam chunks. You want a foam that isn’t going to collect all your fibres and hold onto them should you punch through. Something harder and smooth – but no so hard that it could damage your needle when you hit it. Just a nice dense foam. It’s also great for pinning all your work down if you have thieving little asscats around ;3c
2: Wooden Punch
– This is pretty standard and will come in just about every single starter kit. It’s the original and the old fashion – but it works damn well. Unless you want the Clover Pen for a fancier feel (and for some it’s easier on the hand), this is the next best option. It’s super quick to switch out your needles with this as well!
Not all needles will be colour coded! So make sure to ask or look for a label describing the shape and gauge. I know they’re in a different order in the picture, but I’ll order them here according to which I START felting with to the one I end off with.
💙 Blue – 36 Gauge 4 sided Cross Star. The best one to start with. This is the needle I used to do up my base before adding top colours. It grabs a lot of wool and joins everything together quickly and firmly, which is essential when you want to get your shapes in. For this reason it’ll also come in handy later when you need to add separate pieces on since it will make thick threads in between them (keep the thing from falling off later)
❤️ Red – 36 Gauge Standard Triangular. This is the next step up from the Cross Star. It’s still good for starting, but won’t grab quite as much as blue. So it’s good for going around adding colours and making defining edges.
🧡 Orange – 38 Gauge 3 sided Spiral. The barbs here twist around, so it’s great for getting the wool firmed up. The spiral shape though means there will be less visible holes in your work. So this is the one that’s great for getting that top coat on without making those annoying chunks and divots.
💛 Yellow – 40 Gauge Standard Triangular. This is the finest needle in the arsenal. It won’t leave large holes, nor will it push much down, so it’s best for tiny little details at the very end of your work. So things like spots, stripes, eyes, mouths, and other tiny markings you may need to add on.
♡ White – 40 Gauge Reverse Barb. First off, DO NOT STAB YOURSELF WITH THIS ONE XD It’ll hurt going in, and hurt worse coming out (speaking from experience omg). This needle is for finishing “fluffy” details. The reversed needles will pull out the wool fibres instead of pushing them inwards. So only break this bad boy out if you want some fuzz.
4: Multi punch
This is a damn gift. A treasure even. This magical thing holds up to 5 needles and punches them all evenly into the wool. It’s great when you need to get a base colour down and want it done evenly and fast, and even better for when you need a flat piece! Just stick a bunch of wool down on your foam and hammer away. Because the needles are evenly dispersed there’s less fighting for even surfaces ouob
Seems pretty self explanatory, but Akat, why not just use scissors wtf. Well friendo lemme tell you – these are handier. Not only are they smaller so you get that close detail when needed, but they stay sharper and those sharp pointy edges make it easy to stab into a felt when you need to cut out an eye hole. They also make super clean cuts as opposed to the pinching potential of pesky scissors. Really though you only want to use these on already FELTED wool or when you’re making fur. Don’t cut the wool from the bale when you plan to felt it, it will only make things hell for you.
6: Fabric Fusion Glue
This is just simple Fabric Glue. I’ve found that it holds onto the felt better than regular white or super glue, and doesn’t get too chunky like hot glue. It dries fairly fast but you definitely have enough time to properly position whatever it is you’re sticking (I usually use it for #7 just for some added security). Don’t use too much though! It will gum up the wool and make it impossible to stab through.
7: Plastic Eyes / Noses
These are not only adorable but super handy when you just need some cute little beady eyes! They come in a wide variety of sizes and even colours if you want. Just cut a hole in the felt where you want the eyes, give the shaft of the eye a little coating of glue and jab it in there. Hold it for a few seconds to let it set and once it has, make sure to felt around as close to it as possible. Just for a little extra strength. Same goes for noses!
8: Florists Wire
While I don’t recommend the green paper covered stuff, I DO recommend florists wire in general. It’s thin, flexible, and strong. So it can be used on it’s own per limb or twisted/braided to make a stronger line (usually what I do for spines). It’s also thin enough that there’s less of a worry (but still some worry lol) of stabbing it with your needle. You will likely stab it with your needle, but instead of breaking the needle it’ll likely glance off.
9: Carded Wool
Onto the wool! This carded stuff is at time difficult to find, especially in brighter colours, but it’s fantastic for if you want a stiff felt that comes together easily. Because it’s so rough, everything felts immediately together and you can have a shape in no time. I use this the least as I have the least amount of it (and only in natural colours) but if I had the chance for more I’d probably use it. Except for when doing fur, because it’s almost got a frizzy texture it doesn’t break into strands very well.
10: Corriedale wool
Corriedale is the next best thing to Carded. It’s soft like Merino, but also has a lot more texture to it. It’s almost like the love child between the two. It’s MUCH easier to get your hands on than carded as well. Usually it comes in larger quantities, but thats perfectly fine as you don’t have to conserve colours while you work. It pulls apart easily enough and can be used for making soft fur!
11: Merino Wool
The big guns. Merino is insanely soft, bright, and easy to come by. Most places on Amazon, Ebay, and Etsy sell Merino. It’ll generally be the cheapest and come in the most colours as well. It’s perfect for making fur and super soft fluff, but at the same time is VERY wispy. This will make getting it all down without flyaways a bit more difficult. It can be done, the result will be fantastic – but it’s a touch more work. Getting it all down is where I highly recommend multi-punch tools (#4). All in all though I use this more than anything, purely because it’s so readily available. Either I order from my Etsy supplier, or I can get it Amazon Primed to me in a day or so. Good stuff ouob
12: Polyfil fibres
I won’t lie. Using this is hella cheap X’D but I am super cheap so welp. Basically, this handy for making a rough base of your felt in order to save on your top wool. It removes the need to use a ton of wool to build your shape while still giving you something to add the tops to! It can be felted with a lower gauge needle (see blue or red above) and will actually stiffen up a lot more than wool. Which makes it very good for parts that need to support the rest of the body if you don’t want to use a wire armature. And again, it’s pretty dirt cheap and even just an 8″x8″ pillow full will last you 8months. Always think of the form though, because adding wool on top will grow the size! So if you want a little piece thats all colour, just bite the bullet and use solid wool to avoid unwanted bulk.
13: Tiny foam
This tiny foam base is tiny, but very handy for when you want to do small details or travel. Because it’s specifically made for felting, it doesn’t grab onto the wool as much as other foam does and lets you make flat parts much easier. While it’s nearly impossible to work on larger projects, it’s great little addition.
14: Wire Cutters
Final little thing is a nice pair of wire cutters. While the wire I use can be cut with scissors, it’s so much nicer having these. You get a nice clean point and there’s no additional bending. Unless you need to bend them, then you can do so super easily!
Starting out with a new hobby or attempting a new skill is hard enough. Doing that without any learning, training, or general direction is much harder. It takes far more self generated motivation, drive to learn more, and of course – that ability to force your way through failure and focus on turning it into growth.
When I started out Needle Felting, I did it on a whim. There was no real plan, no real understanding of how it worked aside from ‘Stab’, and make the thing. I wasn’t any good at sculpting, had no patience for sewing – so this could be the next best thing right? Possibly. I only had a very small bit of wool and no real direction, so in reality I started out just going for it.
This was the first ever needle felt I had ever done. The majority of it is Polyfill since I didn’t want to practice with the small amount of wool I had. It was rough, incredibly rough – but it was recognizable! That was enough for a little spark to continue on.
From this little felt I learnt not only to not jab myself with that needle, but also how much pressure was required, how each size affected the wool differently, how I could continuously poke and prod at certain places to get them to indent and form a shape. Which, lead to a head, ears, body and small tail. A tiny little approximation of my boy Smudge.
To Continue Forward
From this point I had that little bit of a spark to try again, with something new and to learn more. I found a few videos of the processes other felters went through and moved onto another project and another.
The only thing that really stood in my way was that nagging feeling in the back of my head that this would be another project I dropped for not functioning how I wanted it to. This had happened before with so many new hobbies as it does for everyone, but this was a little different.
When you catch onto something quicker it’s like everything clicks. I had that drive to do more and gain more – I just had to figure out how to properly direct it to actually improve.
My Steps Towards Development
Basic Shapes: I started figuring out the basic shapes. I know this is so overplayed by just about anyone that starts to get into any form of art, but it worked well. Figuring out the shapes of heads, limbs, bodies – all these would come together no matter what type of creature I worked on.
Plan It Out: Then came the planning. Now, with a lot of things I do I never really focused on the planning aspect; which is a mistake. Planning helped a good ton more than just winging it (surprise surprise). I went from sort of figuring out the shapes to:
Sketching out the separate shapes
Putting together an armature to stay within the proportions
Sticking to the specific Sketch.
Keep it Simple: Bad habits die hard, and I’ve certainly deviated off these steps. Especially given my constant predisposition for taking on more than I should and over complicating things, simplifying things became step three. Sticking with what I knew and figuring that out before I went and tried anything crazy
4. Don’t Stress: With most things it was easy to get discouraged, and I definitely did – but the thing about needle felting is that you can literally chop the head off whatever you were working on if you didn’t like it and start anew! Once I had that figured, it suddenly became a lot easier to feel some confidence come through.
5. Don’t Stop: Keep trying. Keep working on new things, working on old things, and practicing. Even if something hits a block and it can’t be finished; seeing it as a waste is a waste.
Anything done is practice, and any practice is valuable!
Some people are said to be born with a talent or fixation towards some hobby. There are those who’s parents unconsciously push them into one thing, and others who just grab and go the first thing that catches their attention.
For me, it was something of a combination between the two. I’ve always been that “artsy” kid. You know the one, turned every class into art class with sketched over homework, enjoyed cartoons a bit too long after the age range, was always volunteered for creative projects. For a lot of artists, those early school years were the beginnings of what could be called a hobby, but to them – was a lifestyle.
There’s certainly something to be said for the artist life and how it takes hold of you. Whether you’re painting, knitting, drawing, sculpting, or otherwise; it never seems to just exist on the edge of your attention. It’s a constant flowing thought and a constantly revolving door of ideas. But there’s usually something that gets you there. One little decision that takes an idle action and turns it into that fully bloomed life.
It All Started With A Sale
Scrolling around Prime Day like the online window shopper I had become, I spotted a little starter kit. Having never heard of it before aside from perhaps once or twice scrolling through Pintrest – I was intrigued. Why on Earth was Prime suggesting this to me? It must have something to do with the things I do right?
Turns out, it wasn’t anything close to the digital artwork I had been doing. But nonetheless, I was curious. I had always wanted to try my hand at plush making, but couldn’t afford a sewing machine. Always wanted to get back into sculpting, but couldn’t seem to nuance to anything I liked. I had tried cross stitching, but the slow progress for even just a small result drove me mad. This Needle Felting kit seemed to be the perfect combination of them all. I could take my character concepts and bring them to life in a sculpting manor, with that soft sewn feel as a plush or stitch – but in a totally different way.
For $10 and free shipping – how could I say no?
As someone with what seems like a million hobbies, it wasn’t a big deal to try something new. However what made it a big deal was how easily I found my hands getting into a rhythm. Sure there was a lot of stabbing and my first felt wasn’t anything to scream about, but without any tutorials and just feeling it out as I went – it was a quick start.
The First Felt
This little creature, affectionately named Fawn, was something of my own creation. Not quite a deer, not quite a fox, some amalgamation of the two mixed purely because it was cute. I had some close colours and she seemed easy enough so within a few hours I had done up a cute little chibi or bean of her. July 15, 2017.
Even though it wasn’t the one to one representation I was hoping for, I was hooked. Immediately and definitively – I needed to do more.
Working up and forward, I continued my stabbing for months until I felt confident enough to not only do it for others; but to try it for myself again. October 2, 2017 and the improvement was explosive!
A Hobby Gone Wild
From that point on any time felting was dedicated towards improving, which turned into taking commissions and improving my name. It’s gone from simple beans to anatomical creatures with posable limbs and expressions – the road has been a long one and it’s still going.