I’m still enjoying learning the art of 2D needle felting and have had a stab – no pun intended – at doing a portrait of my boy Stan.
This probably wasn’t the best photo to choose to copy as he was much younger then and the light is making his black coat look as if it has purple and blue in it – and that bow tie!!
As I am completely in love with this new activity I thought I’d talk you through what 2D needle felting involves in case you’re interested and you’ve never come across it before.
Firstly, I did a few free online tutorials with felting artist Sophie Wheatley – remember the hamster I did? Sophie felts a picture from beginning to end and you can follow along live or watch later. (a link to her website at the end in case you feel it’s something that would appeal to you).
I immeditely knew I was going to love the craft and, as I love dogs just a bit too, I thought I would join her paid course for the dog portraits which is probably the best money I’ve ever spent on a crafting course of any description.
With Sophie’s method, you don’t have to be able to draw – which is good because I can’t. Instead, you choose a really good, in focus photo where there’s not too much shine or shadow and the features are clear.
Then you transfer the photo on to your background fabric. 100% wool felt sheets are good because they help the felting process begin but you can use whatever fabric you can get a felting needle through. I used linen for Stan’s first portrait.
I don’t use the method Sophie uses to transfer the photo although most of the students seem to. I use a lightbox and trace the outline and as many markings as I can in pencil.
I turn the traced image over and, again using the lightbox to highlight the lines, I go over the drawing with a transferable pen.
Then, I turn the paper over again so that the transferable pen lines are against the backing fabric and iron it, making sure all the lines are transferred.
Then you really look closely at the original photograph on your screen, zooming in on the detail and see what colours you have in there.
Sophie recommends using carded wool batts rather than roving (wool tops) as the batts are already slightly matted and will felt down much quicker.
I have quite a few neutral colours as both my dogs are black with varying degrees of white but I also needed tans and creams and browns. Luckily, you only need small pieces of wool as you don’t actually use much at all.
Felting needles come in different gauges but, basically, they have barbs on the end which you repeatedly poke down into the wool and this is what causes the fibres to come together and become ‘felted’.
Generally, it’s good to start with the eyes because they immediately give the portrait some life and encourage you to move on.
I have a tendency to make the eyes too big and this right eye was removed at a later stage and re-done. This is possible if you don’t felt the wool down too firmly at first. you can always go over it all at the end to firm it up.
I sent a photo of the first finished ‘draft’ to my daughter on WhatsApp and she sent me back a link to ‘The Scream’ by Edvard Munch.
Everyone’s a critic 🙄
So both eyes came out at that point and got re-done.
Anyway, I’m pleased enough with my finished portrait of Stan to put him in a hoop (for now) but I still have a lot to learn and will do some more practice before I try one of Flo and another one of Stan with the grey hairs he has now.
If you fancy having a go, Sophie has some free tutorials on her site ‘All Things Felt and Beautiful’ which was where I learnt to do the hamster and, just last weekend, this lemur – which I’m quite proud of actually.
I’m glad I started learning this before the current lockdown situation otherwise I might have found it hard to get the materials. It’s been the perfect distraction – the time flies while you’re doing it. I did think the other day that I’d like to try Tunisian crochet but although I could get instructions and patterns on PDF files, I haven’t got any of the special hooks so that will have to wait.
I hope you’ve found this quick run down on 2D needle felting of interest but, I thought, if i’m going to talk about it in future posts, you might want to know what it involves even if you’re not going to try it yourself.
Have you started anything new during the current situation to take your mind off things or have you taken the opportunity to finish current projects or can’t you concentrate on anything at all for long at the moment?