A short while ago I was asked by someone in a felting forum if there were any tips I might be able to pass on to someone new to the felting process. I had to read the message a few times because the sudden swelling of my head was starting to impair my vision, and I already wear glasses as it is.
Obviously one of the main purposes of my site is to provide guides to felting, and many of my tips are/will be found on subject specific pages. Here, however, are some more general tips, in no particular order:
- If you have to cut away at your work for any reason, remember to patch the ‘wound’ up with some fibre or your work will shed tiny fibre dust from the wound forever-more.
- Using core wool makes life easier, but core wool can be used for purposes other than core creation (texture, hair, long fur, top colour etc).
- Spend the extra time making your core as firm and smooth as you can – all wool felts easier onto a firm core (and if your core is squishy you will often find the act of adding a top layer of fibre will distort the shape as you are essentially continuing to felt it. Similarly, you may find that any colour added will sink into the core if the surface tension isn’t hard enough.)
- Underestimate the size of everything you plan to make – you can always increase the size if you have to, but once you’ve made something too big that’s it. Nearly every single project I’ve been unhappy with has been down to making an element (like a cheek) too big and trying to adjust the scale to compensate. Messes it up every time.
- Few people find working with armatures easy – you are not alone.
- Felting takes A LOT longer than YouTube tutorials suggest. We all know they have to be edited for speed/ time, but rest assured that many of these tutors must be seriously underfelting their work for the sake of making a helpful tutorial.
- Carded fibres are easiest to work with when adding top colour but are completely unsuitable for hair/ long fur.
- Join a felting group if you can (there are plenty on Facebook) – they are invaluable.
- Merino is really tough to felt with, and virtually impossible to make a decent core from.
- There is no cheating in art – if you want to glue an eye on, glue it on. If you want to use polymer clay, use polymer clay. Just make it neat, make it help and make it your way, and if anyone accuses you of ‘cheating’ extend both middle fingers and ask them which one they’d prefer to swivvel on (or y’know, something less aggressive).
- If you’re felting in the evening, the second time you stab yourself is the time to put down the project for the night.
- Finger guards take a little time getting used to but are worth it. However, they are not failsafes – needles can and do still pierce them, but slow the stab down enough for you to move in time.
- Getting a very neat, fuzz-free surface requires work (and won’t be achievable with certain fibres.) And before you dissolve into a sticky, snotty, wailing ball of frustration at not being able to replicate the god-like neatness of the Japanese and Russian felts that are all over Pinterest (you know the ones) it’s worth remembering that this neatness may have been achieved by using scissors (for trimming), wet felting, hairspray or a special fast-felting fibre, the name of which escapes me. Food photographers use white paint to make milk look more like milk; felt photographers may also be employing techniques to make their final object more photograph friendly. Or they might just be that good. Either way, I’m as jealous as hell.