Soooo I'm thinking I'm gonna reinvent my bearmaking wheel and try some needlefelting. I don't think I'm gonna do a whole muzzle but I might try a nose for a change of pace from my usual satin-stiched oval.
Anybody here needlefelt noses? And, if so, do you have any particular tips to offer? Such as:
Do you needlefelt a rough shape first, THEN attach and secure?
Is it possible to overwork a nose and weaken the mohair beneath?
Do you completely clear the mohair beneath where you attach the nose?
Also... on a separate note...
I'm thinking it might be fun to make some tiny armatured "friends." I've felted one or two small pieces but never with an armature. Anybody here have any tips to share on NFing over an armature without stabbing myself or breaking all my needles?
Taking baby steps here, but interested in trying some new things...
Thanks for anything you can offer -- including, by the way, links (no need to rewrite everything you know here if I can read it elsewhere); books to recommend; and classes to take (although that's my least favorite route because I'm the impatient type and want to know things NOW!)
I have only done two felted noses(not counting the felted muzzles) Here is the first one I tried. I trimmed the mohair then pre-felted a basic nose shape. I didn't pre-felt it too much as I wanted a great deal of the fibers to poke into the mohair and beyond and adhere to the muzzle. The nostril area was pre-felted before adding but most of the nose was done right on the bear with loose wool.
I am not overly wild about how this one turned out but it is a starting point for me.
I hope others will post there comments and photos on this subject too. Teddy bears are life-long learning for all of us.
My realistic bears are 2" - 4" tall/wide/long so the noses end up average about 1/4" wide.
Pandas, grizzlies, black and polars - all have different angles for the nostril flanges to open. The easiest are Pandas as a slightly modified triangle.
The hardest are Polar, as the opening is facing straight forward, going downward and then hooking under the lower corners ending up in a sort of flying wing tip at the outer corners against the skin.
Those ends use literally 7 fibers twisted and needled in - - not too deeply though or they all end up inside and you have to add more.
Different breeds work better; I have better luck with the very fine like Targhee, Finn, Polworth, Cormo, etc than the medium Corriedales, Rambouillet, Romneys.
I usually begin the shapes on the foam, needle them into the fiber nose/muzzle and then do all of the shaping and finishing on the face.
Interesting topic! Thx! Sometimes, the things we take for granted.....
On very skinny, narrow pieces at those needing wire for support, I find it easier to needle them first w/o the wire inside and then and attach them. Then I thread a thin doll needle with floral wire (doubled) and thread it up through this fragile part. Bend the end over at the insertion point and pull it up enough to bury it.
At the top, depress the fiber around it a bit, grab it with a needle nosed pliers and bend the tip over to make a rounded end here too. While still holding it in the pliers, clip it off, remove the tools and allow the fiber to raise a bit to surround it.
You have the choice of pulling up the surrounding fiber with a broken needle shaft to cover the end or you can needle a Patch© over the depressed spot to cover it.
I use wire in a lot of my creations because I like to have a little bit of poseability (I don't think that's a word, but it should be,lol). I want my little bears to be able to look UP at you. With string jointing they can only look side to side, so I wire the head and torso so the neck can be moved up and down, or side to side. I string joint the legs and arms, but I wire the arms. I like them to be able to reach out and move their hands. So I use wire for posing choice NOT for strength. I get the impression a lot of folks think wiring is simply for strength - this is not what I use it for as I felt very firmly and wire is not needed for strength. (Can you tell this is a little peeve of mine, :redface: ) I do understand there are times when wire IS needed for strength for instance the flower with the bear on it in my avatar. I used wire for strenth there in the stem as it needed to support the weight of the bear climbing on it.
Needling over wire does have some issues and is actually harder. For me not because of breaking needles. I have actually never broke a needle while needling over wire. This is hard to explain it would be easier to draw. If you picture the wire going from the head to the torso, you have to make sure that your needling EVENLY for where you want the neck to be. I have to be careful when needling the head so that the neck does not end up coming out of the back of the head, lol. The direction you are poking is where the fibers will be directed to and where bulk will be added. So keep that in mind so you don't end up shifting the wire placement. It just takes practice working with wires.
Shelli~ I love your creativity and look forward to seeing your needle felted creations!
Let me ask a few more questions for clarification...
Do any of you ever need/create an all-wire "skeleton" first that has every limb and the head attached to a torso portion? Or, when using wire, do you just insert snippets and pieces of wire where needed, like in the arms and legs, or at the neck?
Do you wrap any wire with yarn first, and/or with batting or roving, and THEN cover with a final layer of outer wool?
Patricia, thanks for your kindness! I think you're incredibly talented and am really enjoying your work. And did I see somewhere that you received a nomination this year?
Bobbie, as always, hugs and kisses your way; you're indispensable in the needle felting world.
Judi, Nancy... you BOTH make great felted noses, and now I have some nice models to work from. Thank you!
I've needle felted quite a few of noses. I trim the mohair closely first. I shape up the nose on the foam, then needle felt it directly on to the bear. I needle felt it quite a bit once it's the muzzle so it's nice and firm and rally stuck in there, but it sort of flattens out. So, I keep adding until I'm satisfied with the thickness of the nose. I've needle felted a few muzzles, but other than the one I made for Judi's class, I didn't needle felt the entire muzzle. I just applied the felting on top of the bear's muzzle with the same method I use for the nose. Lately I've been embroidering over the felted nose so I get a nice size nose.
needle felted muzzle
needle felted nose
embroidered over needle felted nose
Thanks, Patty! That embroidered one is especially cute. I can see how your method might be preferable to embroidering over a felt template because it's so solid and rounded intrinsically, without any chance the edges will lift, and without needing glue or stiching/tacking on, etc. There's something "reassuring" about needlefelting; it's just so ON THERE once it's "on there." Ya know? Very solid stuff, which is why, now that I've played with it a bit, I'm trying to find ways to incorporate it in a unique way in the details of my bears, as part of kinda reengineering what I'm doing.
I know you guys know what I mean.
Hi, all of my Fairy Doogles have needle-felted noses, I start the shape in my hand the size I want then move to the foam, felt it there until it has a nicer shape then start felting on the bear. I have started felting eyelids on my bears also, it really gives them more expression for sure!
The one I'm working on now is more extreme, he has upper and lower felted lids, will post later.
Patricia your felted animals are absolutely stunning.
Mikki should comment here too. I believe her animals are wired.
Patty your photos are adorable. What a great way to do the noses, stitching over a felted base. Sounds like a wonderful technique. Stitching a nose is....such a trial...to say the least.
Shelli, you'll do great..no, fantastic! :dance: :dance: :dance: Can't wait to see your work.
Let me introduce myself, my name is Sheryl and I just signed up last week to your forum and I must say how amazed I am at all of your wonderful Bears, Cats, Dogs, etc...
I have been working in polymer clay for the past last 15 years and have sculpted dogs for the past 6 years. I just started needlefelting (self taught) last October and have combined my dogs into that as well. My first big needle felted dog is a Papillon named Joey. He is 91/2" high that I did with a armature wire. I wrapped pipe cleaners around the whole wire so the wool holds better and will not slide while I am working. I am not sure that this is a new idea but is working great for me. I also made a second dog Cody a golden retriever which is a little bigger.
I am now in the process of working on a faux fur lab. I am hoping I can get him done this weekend. I still have a lot to learn about needlefelting and the mohair and faux fur.
I started felting noses a few years ago..... and because I don't do nostrils I found the felted nose to just look like a blob on the bear's face. They were carefully shaped, firmly felted noses but blobs none the less. Perhaps it was due in part to the bears being 16-20 inches! At any rate... two I schlepped off to a couple of shows and they didn't sell. So, that was when I came up with the bright idea of embroidering over the felted nose. I hadn't heard of anyone else doing it so thought I was a genius!! :crackup: Now I never use felt templates! The bears sold at the very next show... could just be coincidence... I'll never know!
So, although I end up embroidering over the felted nose, the steps are the same.... prefelt into basic shape/size on foam first... leave it loose, especially around the perimiter. Then needle onto muzzle. I LOVE felting noses because you can add wool, build it up, keep tweeking unitl you have it just the way you like it!
My question is on the stuffing in the muzzle area: I stuff the nose with wool - not polyfil. And I stuff it really hard so there is no change in muzzle shape as I felt. I just sort of thought that the felted nose might 'felt' better into wool than polyfil. Perhaps it really doesn't matter? Thoughts, anyone??
Daphne that is a great idea, using wool to stuff the nose first. I have always used a squishy polyfil and crammed and jammed it until it was firm. I have found that other types of firm stuffing( the kind that firms up quickly while stuffing) are hard to felt into. I love your idea.
Sheryl, your dogs are amazing! Welcome to TT!
Hi, just thought I'd add my 2 cents worth too, I've been felting my bears for a while now, I sometimes felt just the noses but mainly the whole face is what I tend to do most. I have found that wool is a must for stuffing the head in order for the felting to attach properly. I have found needle felting an extension of my childhood passion of clay sculping and find it really hard to make a "normal" bear now!!!
I greatly admire all your work ladies and it's great that we can share all our different techniques, with just the noses, I make a rough shape first and then felt the details onto the bear's nose, I never thought of adding wool as you go, will have to give that a go too!!!
Do any of you suffer from RSI type pain in your hands and forearms after a long sitting of felting? I'm a bit worried, as I do, and I've only just turned 39!!
I found it a must for me to fill the heads with wool. It seems to stuff firmer for me.
I have needle felted a number of noses onto larger size bears but have ended up doing satin stitch over the top.
I would love to make noses Like Kim's but I don't like the effect when I do them. I think that is because there are more elements to go into a good felted nose than just the nose itself. I hope what I am saying is understood. I think I mean to say that the whole head is a packaged deal. A wonderful felted nose on one bear may not be so wonderful on another bear. something like that anyway.
I haven't armatured my felted bears, so Bobbies technique sounds brilliant. I always worried about breaking needles or as Patricia explained, I was worried I would get it out of proportion.(I just adore that bear on the flower Patricia)and Cheryl your wonderful dogs look amazingly fragile.
Kim..... at 34 I had tendon release surgery in my hands.... I had trigger fingers due to repetitive motion. At 37 I'm almost always experiencing pain and/or numbness and tingling in my hands... pain in forearms and upper arms. It's ALLLLL tendon stuff as a result of the strain I put on them from the hand work. You might also notice pain when you push just below your colar bone, out toward your shoulder a bit in the soft tissue area. I see a chiropractor and when I go regularly and especially after many days of long hours working on bears (shoulders hunched forward, head down, hunched over and looking like Egor for hours on end!!) the adjustments, reallignment of my spine, message of tendons to release the 'knots' and faithful icing to relieve the inflamation caused by the repetitive movement and (friction for lack of a better word) that the tendons endure... All of it helps tremendously. He also works my arms and hands and has kept me from having to have carpal tunnel surgery.
Taking breaks..... doing specific stretching exercises to target the tendons and muscles that are over worked... icing your hands and forearms for 15 minutes after working and/or when you go to bed really helps.
If you don't want to see a chiropractor an orthopedic doctor or a physical therapist could help also with exercises at least.
It's got nothing to do with age and everything to do with repetitive motion!! :hug:
Thats a relief to know that it is treatable and can be maintained, must admit, bear making is not good for the posture, and being only 5 foot tall (or short) doesn't help!!!!
I am actually going to a physical therapist next week to work on my whole arms, free up the muscles a bit, will get some specific exercises to help too, thanks for the advise, it is much appreciated :hug: :hug: :hug:
I've used armatures in just a few of my needle felted beasties, and I usually only place the wire inside parts that need it for either support of posing. For example, I made a carousel horse and felt the legs needs the support so I gave them wire armatures, but the rest of the body was fine with just firmly felted wool. Another example was a small dragon I made where I wanted the tail to be pose-able, so I gave it a wire armature, too. I usually wrap my wire with thin strips of craft felt, to give the wool something to grip. I do have to be careful about how I felt over the wire, because I've broken more than my share of needles. But then I tend to be clumsy and break needles ANYWAY, so maybe it's just me.
I love all the tips and advice in this thread, and the needle felted noses are all awesome. I can see I've got a lot left to learn. :)
Lovely to read all your posts, as I am a self taught felter and I sometimes wonder if I would have been taught different techniques had I taken a course. I use wire if I want a limb posable but I find firmly felted wool is strong enough most of the time. I use either craft wire the way rkr4cds does it for thinner limbs or Pipe cleaners for thicker parts, The thing I find hardest is sewing the heads on and retaining movement as well as strength. may try a wire thanks Patricia I can see what you mean about needling in the right direction to keep the wire central. All the noses I have seen on this thread look great to me. Juliet
Deborah and I usually make all the body parts separately and then string joint. We use fabric coated floral wire in the parts we want to have poseability. Felting over the wire is possible but we've found it difficult to keep the wire centered in the limb and to felt as firmly as we like. Breaking needles has not been a problem. The alternative and our favorite way is to make the limb; then use an awl to bore down into the wool. The wire then slips down into the limb. The we go back and do any contouring that might be necessary. This little panda was done with this method. He is five-way string jointed and the arms have wire so they can be bent however you like.
Hope this helps.