What is Needle Felting?
You remember those old Pert shampoo commercials? Where they'd show you what your hair looks like before you use their extra-nourishing conditioner? It has all these little scales all over it that get magically smoothed out with the regular application of their product. Well, I have some good news and bad news. The bad news is that all animal hair--including the stuff that grows out of your head--has those little scales on it, regardless of how much conditioner you use. The good news is that's what allows needle felting to work!
Felting needles have special barbs on them, kind of like a fish hook. Those little barbs catch on the scales of each individual strand of hair and mat them together. This creates the dense balls of fluff that can eventually be sculpted into everything from dolls to dogs to dung beetles!
How did you get into it?
It all started with my dog, Radio. She's a special lady--a shepherd mix who also happens to be a tri-pawed. I've been knitting for many years and have always loved making, so when it came time for my husband and I to celebrate our weirdo secular version of Christmas, I knew I had to include her on our teeny, bookshelf sized tree. So I taught myself how, and through many jabs of my fingers, I had a mini-Radio that could sit proudly in the boughs of our tree, right next to the slam-dunking Santa Claus from Christmas '92.
Can it be made vegan?
I wish I could say yes, but I haven't yet found a way to make it work properly. Remember those scales I was mentioning that adorn the outside of all animal hair? Plant hair and synthetic fiber doesn't have those. There's nothing for the barbs of the needles to catch onto and mat. That being said, I'm committed to experimenting and hopefully finding a good non-animal hair that works!
And for those of you non-vegans who still worry about the well-being of our woolly friends, don't worry! The wool I use in all my projects is eco-friendly and ethically sourced from New Zealand sheep.
But I'm allergic to sheep wool!
Not to worry! I can definitely accommodate you. Alpaca wool for example is a lovely and soft alternative.
Any other questions? My inbox is always open!