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Needle Felting

front-of-spanish-translator-packIn March, I spent a week needle-felting with Paula Scaffidi in the Hill Country. I had taken a one day class in Houston but I hadn’t really worked with my machine. I wanted to know if this was really a technique I wanted to incorporate in my work. Someone suggested I could sell my machine if I didn’t like it. I’m not sure exactly what I said but I think I frightened her because it sounded to me like she wanted me to sell one of my children.


Needle-felting by machine is an interesting concept but it takes awhile to wrap your mind around a new way of thinking.


The machine itself looks like a sewing machine. But there is no thread or bobbin. Periodically I would think ‘I hope I can finish this little segment before I run out of bobbin thread’.


In many ways this is like appliqué work—but without the tiny stitches or the freezer paper-glue sticks or needle-turn or fabric adhesives. Or perhaps more like water-color painting except your brush never gets dirty. And you don’t have to wait for it to dry.


We learned a lot of different texture techniques, ways to work with assorted fibers, and I filled my notebook with lots of samples. We also were urged to work from our photographs and integrate a color palette into appealing shapes and textures. The challenge will be to incorporate this technique in a way that does not feel forced.


I’ve done a bit of experimenting since then attempting to combine stitching with felting. Today’s project was a small case for my Spanish dictionary. I used Sulky thread over the rayon mix fabric lightly feathered with swirls of wool roving. The variegated thread seemed to work nicely and I still have some embellishing left to do on the flap. Somehow making something practical takes the fear out of making something successful artistically while I learn the practicalities of the machine and grow accustomed to it’s aesthetics.


 In case you might be wondering, that ring on the side is from an India Ink bottle I spilled when I was about 4 or so. This desk is made from cherry and was a gift from my father to his mother. I inherited it as I had stained it one lazy Sunday afternoon. No doubt I was doing something artistic at the time.

One Comment Post a comment
  1. Leslie #

    I like this little piece of needle felting. What are it’s dimensions? I also liked the story of the ink stain. I did the same thing to a desk of my mum’s as a kid

    November 8, 2008

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