When I was student teaching, preparing to become an art teacher, my lead teacher was showing me her abundance of crazy art supplies. She was haphazardly pulling out boxes and bags, excitedly peering into each one and imagining what her students could do with the contents. She climbed on top of a desk and was handing me boxes and bags from the very top shelf, things that hadn’t been touched in years.
The last box was dainty and worn, it practically collapsed in on itself at my touch. It looked like it had been sitting there for centuries.
Clearly, magic must be inside.
I blew the dust off and gingerly lifted the battered remains of the lid. Inside, several little tufts of brightly colored wool stood in stark contrast to the dingy, tattered paper of the box. An embroidered satin bag held three old and rusted, but very sharp needles.
We spent the next two hours exploring the art of needle felting. Of turning those little tufts of wool into beautiful pieces of art by continuously jabbing them with a sharp jagged needle. I was amazed at how fast it changed, a simple wool ball could become something new in a matter of seconds.
It was like magic
The next few weeks were spent needle felting anything and everything I could think of. I started out flat, poking the fuzzy fiber into a piece of felt to create beautiful landscapes. Quickly bored with flat, I moved onto needle felting in the round.
The needles jabbed and stabbed at the fibers to fashion stars and hearts, beads and bangles. As my skills improved my imagination took me to new levels, creating a family of gnomes and a Santa Claus for Mom.
Then one day life got too busy. I got caught up in teaching and finishing my master’s degree. The needle felting tools moved from their prominent place on my desk back into the busted box, where they were forgotten for years.
I haven’t a clue where the urge came from to pick it back up, but just last week I knew I HAD to make a teeny effigy of my favorite chicken, Dee Dee.
Tools and Materials for Needle Felting:
I’m amazed at how few materials go into a project such as this. I only used four colors of wool roving for this project, white for the body, red for the comb & wattles, purple and blue variegated for the stripes, and yellow for the beak & legs.
The Needle Felting Tool was purchased off Amazon, it was only $8 and such a life saver, or shall I say, finger saver. Holding a single felting needle for hours is tough on the hands, but this ergonomic needle tool was comfortable, and it can hold up to three needles at a time, which really sped up the process.
Of course I had to use my Chicken Tape Measure, mostly just because I love using it and will find any excuse to whip it out. I used this baby to measure pieces to make sure they were symmetrical and in the correct proportion.
Not pictured: The piece of scrap foam I laid the roving on so the needle had somewhere to go when it jabbed through the other side.
Also not pictured: The many bandaids I went through before I started using the foam. Needle felting can be a very zen and meditative practice, but not when you forget the foam and jab a sharp needle into your finger every few minutes.
Need Felted Chicken In progress:
It took me about a week to finish this project. I worked on it leisurely, picking it up when I had a few minutes to spare here and there. As you can see, I worked on it at my desk. That’s one of the wonderful things about picking up needle felting as a hobby, it doesn’t take up much space at all and can be done practically anywhere. You could even take your projects on long car trips, or work on them during your lunch breaks. It’s easy to fit in to your day.
I started felting Dee Dee with plain white roving. This was done mainly because I have lots to spare, and because Dee Dee is a black and white bird, the colors matched up nicely.
I took some liberties with her coloring and facial features, because hey, I can.
Artistic license for the win!
Dee Dee is finished! A Needle Felted Chicken has been created!
I’m really happy with the way she came out. I positioned her feet so she can stand on her own, which also gave her a little bit of that famous chicken attitude.
I couldn’t wait to get some creative shots of the little chicken and even braved the ten degree weather outside to get some pictures in the snow.
I ended up taking over 200 photos for this post, even though only a few were used.
Every time I took a photo of this little chicken, it looked blurry, so I would take another, and another. I cleaned and switched out lenses. I read everything in the Nikon book about focusing. I googled to find reasons a camera won’t focus. I changed the lighting, taking photos outside, and inside, by windows, and with lamps.
Every time the photos looked blurry. Finally I said screw it, I’m going to edit and post them and just deal with it. When I zoomed in on one of the photos to edit, I realized that it was in perfect focus. In fact all 200 photos were in perfect focus, they just looked blurry because the subject itself is fuzzy.
Thank God for digital cameras.