Are you interested in needle felting and confused about the tools and materials to begin with? You’re in the right place! I will let you know my favorite tools and materials for all of my needle felting projects that I share on my Youtube channel. Keep reading to find out!
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Some asked me if there’s any alternative for the felting needle. The answer is NO. This needle has barbs that allow the wool fibers to be locked after repetitive pokes. There are many different kinds of felting needles but I will only discuss in details about the ones that I always use. Let me divide the felting needles into two types, which are thick and thin.
1.1 Thin (top) and thick (below) felting needles
1.2 felting needles
Thick felting needle has a main function to shape the wools in the beginning of felting process. The smaller the gauge number, the thicker the felting needle. I usually use 36 or 38 gauge felting needle that I categorize it as thick ones. The thickness allows the wool fibers to hook easier, stronger and faster. It will take ages if you start shaping your wool with thin felting needle.
Thin felting needle is used for detailing and working on small areas. It can also used for creating a smoother surface if you found large pores on the surface of your sculpture. What you need to do is to only poke the surface until it becomes smooth. The size I use for the thin felting needle is 40 gauge. Thin felting needle is not as durable as a thick one, it’s better to prepare more needles just in case it breaks or worn out.
Some artists consider felting mat to be very important like me but some also enjoy felting without it. However, for safety reasons, it’s always better to use it. I have used several felting mats but I found the foam mat is the best.
1.3 EPE white foam
EPE foam is used mostly in my projects. It’s always nice to work with this mat because of the pillowy feel you get when you poke it with a felting needle. It minimizes your wool to stick on the surface. This foam is also cheap and easy to find. However, it also has its own shortcoming, after two or three projects, the foam will be worn out. The more you felt on it, the flatter the mat becomes. No pillowy or even a stringy feel anymore. All you can do is to throw it out and replace it with a new one.
Out of many different kinds of wool out there, I use roving wools, which looks like a long rope with the same length of fibers. It comes with many different colors that allow you to create anything you want. While for the base, I use core wools and sometimes polyester wadding to felt easier and faster because it has shorter fibers. It is best for adding bulk as well. After making the base, you can top coat it with colored roving wools. Sometimes, I use roving wools as the base as well.
1.4 Roving wools
1.5 Core wools
Other than straight roving wools, I usually use curly roving wools to add effects of animals like Poodle, Alpaca, and other curly-haired animals. I have used the curly roving wools and curly locks, both works amazing.
1.6 Curly wools
1.7 Aluminum craft wire
I mostly use alumunium craft wire to make an armature or bendable arms and legs for my sculptures. The size of this wire is 20 gauge or 0.8 mm. This wire is quite strong and easy to cut and twist, which is why I choose it. I have also used pipe cleaners to make my armature. It works amazing because the little bristles around it could grab the wool better than regular wire. Some of my subscribers on Youtube also find it better than regular wire. Both are fine! Choose what’s the best for you 🙂
1.8 Eyes (5mm and 3mm)
I used several kinds of eyes for my project, which are black, cat and handmade eyes. Black eyes are used mostly to make dogs, human, and some creatures. It comes with many sizes. For small sculptures (under 10 cm), I use 3 to 5 mm of black plastic eyes. While for the bigger sculptures, I use 12 to 15 mm of black plastic eyes.
While for the cats, I used the same size like stated above but different kind of eyes. Cat eyes have unique pupils and a sharp look.
I also made my own doll eyes from shrink plastic and UV resin. Shrink plastic is kind of plastic that shrinks when heated in the oven or with a heat gun. So, I color, shrink and coat it with UV resin to achieve a glossy look. It’s a nice way to create custom made eyes as you want it. You can check this out to see how I made eyes for my sculpture.
For all of my projects especially dogs, I made the nose using Premo polymer clay. Making it by yourself is better than buying it because you can customize the color, size and even the shape of the nose.
1.9 Polymer clay nose
You can use any type of scissors for needle felting projects. However, I prefer a curved tip scissor than a regular scissor. This scissor has a pointy and curved tip that is very useful to make holes to insert the eyes.
2.0 Curved tip scissor
For attaching the eyes, I use any white glue such as Fox (any brand is fine!). While for attaching the embellishments on the sculpture or attaching any part on the wool sculpture, I use the all-purpose adhesive by UHU or E6000. It also works amazing to attach your sculpture on the wood chop or any stand.
2.1 Soft pastels
I use chalk or soft pastels to create blushed cheeks, shade some color on the body and even do the eye makeup. The pastels allow the sculpture to have more natural colors.