There seems to be a plethora of poodle-type dogs around these days.
Now, I love the word ‘plethora.’ I first learned it aged 8 when watching The Three Amigos! – one of my all time favourite films, and one that I can’t believe only has a 6.5 rating on IMDB. Peasants.
Anyway, there’s a scene where ruthless and strangely charismatic baddie El Guapo asks his henchman Jefe asks if he is going to get a plethora of presents for his upcoming birthday, to which Jefe, uncertain of the word’s meaning, takes a gamble and mumbles “yes… you have a plethora.”
Of course, El Guapo knows Jefe is bluffing and calls him on it. I won’t quote the entirety of the scene (but I could! And if you don’t believe me – fight me!) but suffice to say the word plethora was used enough times to engrave it deep into the parts of my memory that only persistent factoids dare to tread.
Dammit if I wasn’t the only 8 year old in my class who knew what a plethora was!
But yes, there sure is a plethora of poodle type puppers around these days (and I’m opting for plethora after realising using the word ‘plague’ was likely to offend). There are many in my family alone, and judging by recent felting trends this has spilled out into the real world (I’m fairly confident when I say that my family do not occupy the real world).
So how on earth do you make one? I mean their fur… it’s all…poodly.
There are ways and means of doing all things, and experimentation is fun. But still, sometimes guidance is needed. As you may have seen on my reviews for Hamanaka Aclaine and Hamanaka Wata Wata fibres, I purchase regularly from SweetPeaDolls, and whilst browsing their Etsy store I came across their Hamanaka Real Felt Wool. Now I had heard a little about this, and knew that it was supposedly great for doing poodle-type fur.
Great! But… how?
Now, before we get into the review proper, I just want to show you this dog. Well, its head. Look, I was pressed for time – I’m not a psychopath.
Now, that is literally, honestly the end result of my first attempt at using this wool, and dammit I impress myself sometimes. I’ll be honest – it took me a few tries before I got the hang of using the wool, but once I did it was astonishingly easy to use.
The fibre itself
As with the Aclaine and Wata Wata, this wool comes in a nice and neat little bag, tied with its customary chocolate brown pipe cleaner.
The picture seems to be giving this wool a warmer tone than is has – it is actually a very nice, pale silver grey. There is also a black thread running through the fibre. Okay…
When you take a closer look at the fibres you can see that the thread running through the wool is a) wrapping the wool so that the crinkle of the wool stays in place and is b) actually two threads. Who knew?
So, how do we actually use this wool, I hear you ask. It’s certainly a question I asked myself. Then I asked Tiffany and Ali at SweetPeaDolls, because I was really really stumped. Now, I don’t know if you guys have ever bought from SweetPeaDolls (I recommend them wholeheartedly) but if you have you will probably know that if you have any questions about their products they will really help you out.
Now, this review is going to be a little different compared to my typical reviews, where I compare like against like, as there isn’t really anything to compare to Hamanaka Real Felt Wool. Instead, this is going to be part review, part guide.
Now, there’s this tutorial on YouTube that I really recommend. This is what I followed when testing the fibres. This review/ guide isn’t designed to replace the tutorial, so I would advise that you watch it if you want to make the dog head that I did. One thing I will say is that you will want the head to be relatively springy and not too firm when you have finished the core, as you will actually want the Real Felt fibres to sink into it when you add them.
- Hamanaka Wata Wata (for the core)
- Hamanaka Aclaine (to cover the core)
- Hamanaka Real Felt Wool (obviously)
- Felting needles
- 6mm black beads (for the eyes)
- A polymer clay nose (can be ordered from me here)
First of all we need to create the core shape of the head with eyes and nose affixed. To be honest, at this point I started to have major doubts with knobs on, because this doesn’t exactly look like it’s building up to realism-levels.
Still, that’s the least of my problems because I have no idea what to do next.
Of course, it’s fairly obvious that this wool needs to be cut into small sections, and I manage that without any great problem. Apparently this was as far as i could figure out by myself, as my next step was this:
This turned out to be wrong on two levels. Firstly, the wool isn’t supposed to be applied and felted along its length – more on that in a moment. Secondly, I’ve still got the threads in.
See those black threads I was talking about? Yeah, those are supposed to come out.
They pull out extremely easily once you get a grip on them (and remember, there are two threads). However, you need to be careful when getting hold of them because they are very fine and you don’t want to be pulling any of the actual fibre out with it.
Even without the threads, you’re still not supposed to felt down along its length.
To apply the fibre correctly
Lay an inch-long length of the fibre (with the threads removed) against your core shape. The direction you lay it will be dependant on the creature you’re making, but as a general rule you’ll want it to go in the same direction as the fur would flow on the actual animal itself.
In the image below you can see how I have it against my dog’s head, and I have also added some dotted lines. This will be where you felt – across the spine of the fibre.
Now, stab firmly into the centre of the spine. I would recommend using a 36 needle here. You want that fibre to really sink into the head.
As you see below from a different angle, once you start stabbing the wool into the head the two ends close up towards each other, like a book.
Once the centre of the fibre has been securely felted in, felt the underside of the wool along the line where you felted it in, to ‘close’ the two pieces together (what really creates the effect of poodle fur are the two cut ends of the fibre, so we want those to settle next to each other and not spaced apart.)
Felting the underside of the fibre fro a different angle.
Don’t hate on me but… you just carry on like that, until you get to this:
It sounds like a wind up, but really that is all there is to it. OK, so there are a few things you might need to do when it comes to breed-specific details, like fur length (this wool is fine to trim as the felted part is already budded into the core), and muzzles/ ears will need a little extra work, but the technique you use is based on the same principle and is astoundingly easy to adapt.
Hamanaka Real Felt Wool can be purchased from SweetPeaDolls, Hamanaka Ambassadors in the UK, and is available in Black, White, Grey and numerous shades of brown.