Playing and Teaching with Needle Felted Masks

Let's play

You know, I like my pieces of art to be useful; save for the specific holiday pieces that will be stored away till next year. I made these animal masks for Halloween, but they’ll be very useful all year round for imaginative play. I’m going to hang them in the playroom and let the girls and their friends play dress up with them and at the same time I think they’ll make interesting decorations. The masks are very strong and they’ll hold up well in the hands of a bunch of kids. 

Needle felted pig mask

I’ve recently started to teach English to a little four and a half year old French girl and my toys and masks have become very useful in teaching her new words. The toys and masks engage her, she wants to play with them and they give me the perfect opportunity to teach her new words and ideas. I think that an activity helps her to remember new words as we use the words over and over again. I also draw with her (she doesn’t read or write yet), so I draw pictures of the words we’re learning (usually one of the toys I’ve made) and then she draws what I’ve drawn and then we play with the toy in the picture. Her reward for studying 20-30 minutes is playtime at the end of the lesson. 

Needle felted sheep mask

We made a game out of the masks. After Matilde found my masks sitting on a table, she put them on and started trotting around the room with a cow mask on her face. I asked her what the animal said (moo) and then I told her the name of the animal (cow). We did this for all six masks. I laid all six masks in a row on the table and told her to choose the correct mask according to the sound or word that I said. Moo, cow,  baaa or sheep, she needed to choose the correct mask for the word or sound that I made. This has been a very successful game, as now she know the words and sounds for cow, horse, sheep, dog, cat and rooster! Next we’ll learn what theses animals do, like run, stand, eat, sleep, walk, etc.

Needle felted cat mask
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5 thoughts on “Playing and Teaching with Needle Felted Masks”

  1. Hi there, I just stumbled across your website when searching about felting wool. These masks are amazing!
    I was just wondering if you could help me at all…I wanted to make a rabbit mask from wool roving similar to yours and would really appreciate some advice. Did you needle felt them, or wet felt? Also, did you use any internal support, like wire, would you recommend that for long ears? And finally, how long approx did one mask take to make?
    Thank you so much! I hope very much to hear from you soon 🙂

  2. Hi Sophia,
    Thanks, I’m glad you like my masks! My masks are needle felted-no internal supports, but I would use plastic sewing boning sticks in long ears. One mask took about 3 or 4 hours. Here is a quick how-to:

    1.The mask is 3 layers, 1 layer of wool (flat batt style wool works best)-felt it flat with a big felting handle holding 8 or more needles.

    Layer 2 is acrilon or core wool spread over the first layer of wool-this gives it it’s firmness and keeps it from being floppy and

    Layer 3 is another layer of wool, felted flat.

    2. I made a “mold” of acrion (ball it up and wrap it with sewing thread to keep it’s shape). I made the mold about the size of a human head.

    3. I put the 3 layers on the mold and felted it around the mold. This gives the mask it’s rounded shape. Pull the mask off every now and then so it doesn’t stick to the mold.

    4. I place the mask on my face and mark the eye areas with chalk, cut out the eyes, felt around the eyes so the wool isn’t raw.

    5. Add animal colors, ears, snout etc.

    Good luck with your mask!

    Laura

  3. Hi Sophia,
    Thanks, I’m glad you like my masks! My masks are needle felted-no internal supports, but I would use plastic sewing boning sticks in long ears. One mask took about 3 or 4 hours. Here is a quick how-to:
    1.The mask is 3 layers, 1 layer of wool (flat batt style wool works best)-felt it flat with a big felting handle holding 8 or more needles.
    Layer 2 is acrilon or core wool spread over the first layer of wool-this gives it it’s firmness and keeps it from being floppy and
    Layer 3 is another layer of wool, felted flat.

    2. I made a “mold” of acrion (ball it up and wrap it with sewing thread to keep it’s shape). I made the mold about the size of a human head.

    3. I put the 3 layers on the mold and felted it around the mold. This gives the mask it’s rounded shape. Pull the mask off every now and then so it doesn’t stick to the mold.

    4. I place the mask on my face and mark the eye areas with chalk, cut out the eyes, felt around the eyes so the wool isn’t raw.

    5. Add animal colors, ears, snout etc.

    Good luck with your mask!

    Laura

  4. You’ve done beautiful work! Thanks for sharing your technique. I’m going to make myself a raven mask for Halloween.

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