If you suffer from holiday Craft-itis, needle felting may be just the relief you need.
With the holiday season fast approaching, craft addicts everywhere are panicking. Every year those of us who invest all our time (and life savings) into constructing handmade gifts approach the holidays with the same completely irrational goal: This is the year that I will make everything for the season. I admit that I am a victim of holiday Craft-itis. I dream of drying citrus fruit ornaments, knitting gifts for friends, constructing paper using last year’s Christmas cards, and baking perfect cookies and sweets.
Failure is inevitable. I may complete one of these projects, possibly two, but a fully handmade holiday would require years of crafting and I have only six weeks left. However, I have found a way to transform craft anxiety, frustration, and outright rage into lovely decorative gifts. The answer is needle felting!
Needle felting is somewhat new to the craft scene. Recently, I’ve noticed an explosion of needle felted dolls, toys, and ornaments on Etsy and I’ve taken up the craft vigorously in the past year. As a craft it appeals by its simplicity. All you need is wool roving (unspun, untreated wool in a variety of colours) and a set of very sharp barbed needles.
If you’ve ever accidentally put your favourite wool sweater in the dryer you know how felting works — agitation of the wool fibers causes the wool scales to flare open, tangle with neighbouring fibers, and form a dense mass of fabric.
The barbs create heat and friction, then voila! Felt. With a bit of practice you will be able to manipulate the wool into amazing felt sculptures.
Artist Stephanie Metz has an extraordinary portfolio of truly odd felt sculptures that defy belief. My own work includes less daring pieces like teddy bears and mice. These will most likely make more appropriate gifts than felt skulls and deformed animals but in terms of skill Stephanie Metz has few rivals.
Needle felting is the perfect holiday craft:
1. The materials are cheap and portable
2. It takes only a few hours to complete small projects like ornaments or figurines
3. If you need a cathartic release from holiday stress you get to stab stuff, repeatedly, with very sharp implements, thereby redirecting your pent-up craziness into creative works of art that kill two birds with one stone: you’ll be more relaxed and maybe, just maybe, you’ll create enough pieces to give to everyone on your gift list!
Unfortunately, the raw materials required for needle felting can be tricky to find, but there are a number of online options for ordering. In Canada a great source of needle felting supplies can be found at Maple Splendour.
Let the holiday crafting begin!
“Needle Felted Teddy Bear” © Andrea Paterson at Amaranth Road Studio
“Needle Felted Mouse with Heart” Andrea Paterson at Amaranth Road Studio