Needle Felting Tutorial: Needle felting large sculpture

– [Steve] In this video, we’re gonna talk a little
bit about needle felting a large-scale sculpture. This piece has been covered
in what’s called roving wool, using the needle felting process. So I’m just gonna kinda
walk through how I did this. It’s also a little bit
of a product review video because I tested out all of the different needle stabbing devices that I could find. So the basics of needle felting is that you start out with
this little ball of wool and you stab it over and over again with this special needle. The needle has little
barbs on the end here, so as you’re stabbing it, the wool’s getting tangled up in itself and it kind of compacts in on itself to create a little bit more dense ball. So you keep adding more wool and stabbing that into the first ball and you can just start to kind of create whatever shape you want. And with a lot of stabbing, you can create a really dense ball of felt and start to add details. And then with a lot of practice, you can start to make stuff like this. So I had to modify this whole process to make it work on these
five-foot tall sculptures. The first thing I did is look at all the different needle stabbing tools to see if there was
something that was faster and more efficient. So there’s a variety of
different types of needles you can buy. 36, 38, 40, 42, I’m not
sure what they all do, but they all have specific things, some of them have barbs that
face at different angles, so when you pull ’em out, they give you kind of a fuzzy texture. I know that the 40 is
one that is often used to finish a piece because it
leaves the smallest holes. I use, for all of the big
sculptures, I just use the 38s. It’s kind of a commonly-used, default needle for needle felting. So, the first thing I did is look at all the different hand tools
that held multiple needles. There’s this one here that holds three. This one here that holds eight. This one here that holds 12. And this one here, it holds 20. So after trying all of these, the three-pin was hands-down my favorite. I actually ended up using the three-pin and occasionally the single
pin for all of the sculptures. The main thing is that the
three-pin was really able to kinda move around the
entire contour of the shape and really the end result
is that the texture on it was very uniform and organic-looking. As soon as I started to go up in size, I just noticed that the
texture that it was leaving was just not as uniform. Especially with the larger ones, it just wasn’t creating a
very consistent pattern. It helps, I think, to go into the surface
at a perpendicular angle. So with that many pins, when you’re dealing with an
organic shape with curves, it’s just hard to put
that theory into practice. Then there’s this thing
called the addi Quick. It’s got a motor, it’s
got an on-off switch. (whirs) It’s got one single needle. I found that this works
great on smaller pieces, especially if you have detail. Sculpting this little
spiral pattern in here with this tool goes very fast. I didn’t end up using this tool though, because I didn’t really have
any fine detail in my work. (whirs) Then there’s this thing
here called Simplicity. It’s got a little on-off switch, and basically when you push this down, (whirs) it’s got a system of eight needles that goes back and forth,
kind of like a sewing machine. This did not work at all for me, and I think it’s more
specifically designed for this process called applique where you are felting flat objects on a flat piece of felt. (whirs) But whenever you’re dealing with an object that has kind of, curves, it just does not work, but it looks cool. (whirs) So I’m using New Zealand Corriedale wool. Corriedale is the name of the sheep. After the sheep are shorn, the wool is washed, then dried, then dyed. So there’s a lot of US
vendors you could find on the internet and on Etsy. This is my favorite one
right here, Super nice lady, always helped
me to find what I needed. Most of the US vendors sell
small packages of wool, like this size or this size, and I think that’s just
because most of the people are working on a much smaller scale. I was always ordering in bulk
these two-pound bundles here. The US vendors never really
have this size in stock, they always had to special order it from their European people, so it did take a little
bit of time to get that. So the wool also comes
in different gauges, anywhere from a 27 up to a 32. I’m not exactly sure how that all works, but this here is a 27-gauge, this is a 30-gauge, I think it has to do with the coarseness and also how the wool is combed. If you spread this wool apart, you’ll see that it kind
of goes in a crosshatch, it’s combed in different directions. This is definitely a lot more silky. This is a 30-gauge, when you spread it apart you can see that it’s all
combed in one direction. For me, I like the 30 to
the 32-gauge a lot better and it really just boils down to what the final texture looked like. This silkier one left a texture that was a little bit more wispy and you could kind of see the direction, the cord of the felt in the final texture. And I think the thinner felts
are better for like knitting, knitting scarves, and the heavier ones are
better for needle felting. So, now on to the sculpture. This piece was carved out
of a piece of blue EPS foam. This video is actually
part four in a series where I talk about how I made this piece, so if you’re interested
in learning about the foam or how it got to be this big, you could check out
parts one through three. I started by pulling a
strand off the bundle, and then I pulled a
bunch of little strands off of that strand. Then I kinda pulled everything
apart a little bit more, and squished it into
this cotton ball shape. Then I put it down on the foam and I stabbed it in a few
key spots just to secure it. Then I stabbed it a bunch of times in a consistent and even pattern, until it had the same texture that all of the felt around it had. If you aren’t super
methodical and consistent with the way that you lay down the wool and stab it into the felt, you could get a very uneven texture. So regardless of what
system you come up with, I think the important thing is just to really remain consistent. This process of pulling it apart in a bunch of different directions and then bunching it up into
a little cotton ball shape really prevents it from
looking cordy and strandy. If you lay the felt
down without doing this, you can really see the
direction of the fibers. That was something I
definitely didn’t want, so I really tried to bunch
it up into little balls where the strands were not
all going in one direction. (rapid clicking) So another thing I would
do is leave the edges a little bit unstabbed, so it’s a little bit frayed
or a little bit fuzzy. This just helps the new piece blend in to the pieces that are already there. And then I think one of
the most important things is to stab the new piece into the foam in a uniform pattern, and what I mean by this is
don’t just focus on one spot and then move to the next spot, and then move to the next spot. Kind of bring the entire ball of felt down at the same level. (rapid clicking) So you can see here that
there is a little bit of a circular pattern from
the cotton ball shape, but it kind of blends in
and it’s a uniform pattern so it doesn’t really bother me, I actually like how it looks. So I put a second layer of felt on, because after the first layer you can still see some
of the blue foam here. The second layer will hide all of this and just bulk everything up and I think it just looks a lot better, it’s kind of like putting
two coats of paint on. And you can see the edges
here of the second layer that I’ve started. The first layer can be a little bit looser and I don’t need to obsess
about making it look perfect because it will be covered
up by the second layer. So, the second layer can
actually take twice as long as the first just because I’m
being a lot more meticulous. And you can also see on this layer that the edges are a lot fluffier just to help out with the blending. So here’s just one more
walkthrough on the final layer. Pull a bunch of little
pieces off the main cord. Pull all of those pieces
apart in different directions and squish it up into a cotton
ball/hamburger patty shape. Put the piece down on the sculpture, making sure to overlap the
edges from the previous pieces, and in a uniform pattern,
stab the felt into the piece, making sure to leave the edges
of the new felt unstabbed. Here’s a little time lapse
of one of the polka dots. Each one of these dots took
me about 30 minutes to make. I probably put about 100
total hours of felting for the entire piece, and used about two and
a half pounds of felt on the five-foot piece. One last thing to show here, on the edges around the
face and the antlers, I did use the single needle. Sometimes with a little needle, you could just get into
those hard-to-reach spots or those tight little corners. And that is the end of the
final video in this series. I hope you enjoyed it. If you did, I would greatly appreciate it if you liked it or shared it,
or even left a comment below. All of that stuff helps
YouTube’s algorithm share it to a wider public. So thanks again, and I
will see you next time. (“Wolf” by Chinese Man)


  • wendy leung

    This series was very interesting, hope you do more like it.
    Also I'm curious what the weight of the final product is.

  • s. fisher williams

    Loved watching this process.
    Are you familiar with Stephanie Metz's work?

  • Masako Miki

    this video was so fun to watch!

  • acharnes

    These turned out awesome! A lot of time went into them and it shows, are they for an exhibit?

  • Peter Piccone

    You seem to be able to adapt to whatever kind of techniques are needed for your art. Very cool.

  • Scotti Wilson


  • thissettlefashion

    You’re sculptures turned out amazing! You’ve also provided such a thorough lay down on needle felting. I really enjoyed how you approached this medium with enthusiasm. I feel motivated to tackle a new material with that sense of discovery and experimentation.

  • Lea Seidman

    I see that there’s one really bent needle in the super-duper holder.

  • Masoomeh P

    Thanks for all useful information you share with us. It always has something new for me 🙏🌹

  • CamilleSol

    This is the first time I have seen one of your videos and I loved how you explained everything! Im suscribed 😍

  • mund liew

    love your design on the sculpture and would like to see more other designs …and great stuff you got sitting on your table back there.

  • Kessa Smith

    I get my wool from Sarafina Fiber art and Livingfelt. (U.S.) Core wools are used to make the insides of your projects. Tops, the silky ones are to put over your core . Makes it so pretty. You scared the crap out of me with those automatic needles! Lol

  • Terri G

    Great tutorial! I learned lots! Thanks!

  • Kazooples

    I got arthritis just thinking about felting something this big

  • Michael

    WOW. Just wow.


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