The Art of Needle Felting and Chimpanzee Tutorial
For Salvadore Monki (after the famous photo of Salvadore Dali), I took Monki’s photo with a needle felted moustache. I photo-shopped his eyes to look like the expressive eyes of Dali in the photo and changed the image from color to black and white. The cropping and the moustache here were key!
My final piece of chimp art is the Chimpanzee Scream. I created the background with pastels (to look like the famous painting by Edvard Munch, The Scream). I positioned my chimp in the lower right hand corner and took his picture. Voila!
I had a lot of fun recreating these Chimpanzee pieces of art, a little something more to highlight my needle felted work!
So now for the tutorial, have fun!
*Core wool or poly fiber-fill (pillow stuffing) to make base shapes
*Black wool (for body, head, arms and legs)
*Peach wool (for face, ears and hands)
*Pink wool (for inside of mouth)
*Brown pastel (to color nostrils and ears)
*Pink pastel (inside of mouth)
*Flesh colored pastel (to color the chimp’s lips)
*Doll eyes (I used blinking eyes, regular doll eyes can also be used-see doll eye vendors at the end of this tutorial)
*2 pipe cleaners (lips): each 5.5 inches/14cm each piece)
*Felting needles: fine, medium and heavy gauges
*Needle felting handles (for 4 needles and for 3 needles)
*Sponge for needle felting surface
*Scissors (to cut eye sockets)
*Wire cutters (to cut pipe cleaners)
*Fabric glue (to glue in eyes)
*Peach sewing thread (to wrap the base shapes and sew on the lips)
*Sewing needle (to sew on the lips)
*Embroidery needle (to embroider the finger and toe lines on hands and feet)
*Black embroidery thread (to connect the arms and legs to the body)
*Brown embroidery thread (to embroider finger and toes)
*Doll needle (to attach the body pieces together)
NOTE: I use pastels to lightly color some areas. The areas will fade, but the pastel stains the wool so the base color stays. I use pastels to color some areas rather than felt them with wool when I want a more subtle color or effect, for example the chimp’s lips). You can felt the inside of the mouth pink or use pastels, which ever effect you like best.
Head-black: 14″ diameter/36cm diameter
Snout-peach: 10″ diameter/25.5cm diameter
2 ears: (flat felted): 2″ x 2″ / 5cm x 5cm
2 arms: (upper arm, lower arm x2) 7″ long x 5″ diameter for each piece/18cm x 13cm
2 legs: (upper leg, lower leg x2) 7″ long x 5″ diameter for each piece/18cm x 13cm
Body: 8″ long x 13″ dia./20cm long x 33cm dia.-should be an oval that is larger on one end
2 hands: (flat felted) 4″ wide x 5″ long/10cm wide x 13cm long
2 feet: (flat felted) 4″ wide x 5″ long/10cm wide x 13cm long
PDF Pattern pieces for the ears, hands and feet: Hands, Feet and Ears Pattern
NOTE: Each base shape needs to be shaped from core wool or poly fiber-fil and wrapped with sewing thread to keep the shape. Ears, hands and feet should be flat felted. Each shape should be covered and then felted with it’s corresponding wool color then sewn together.
NOTE: When attaching the arms, legs and head to the body, sew 4 to 5 times through each piece to attach it. Wrap each joint with the embroidery thread before knotting it off.
Base Shapes: With sewing thread, wrap the base shapes for the head, snout, body, arms and legs. Cover all the shapes (except the snout) with black wool and needle felt till firm and smooth. Cover half of the snout with flesh colored wool, needle felt till firm and smooth.
Ears, hands and feet: Flat felt the ears, hands and feet. For the ears, hands and feet, for each shape, lay out 3 layers of wool , place each layer in the opposite direction. Position the layers into the patterns shapes provided. Using the felting handle for 4 needles felt the shapes flat, turn the shapes over often to keep them from sticking to the sponge. With a single needle, felt around the shapes to smooth them. Needle felt a small amount of black wool onto the tops of the hands and feet and embroider fingers and toes onto each.
Snout (mouth and lips): Cut the snout ball in half, place the peach part onto the head of the monkey. (save the other half of the snout for a future project) With a sewing needle and thread, sew the snout onto the head. Cover the stitches with black wool and felt over the sewing stitches to hide them. Cut the snout in half horizontally to make a mouth. Felt the inside of the mouth with pink wool. Wrap 2 pipe cleaners with flesh colored wool, felt it onto the pipe cleaners, then roll the wool covered pipe cleaners between your hands to keep the wool from coming off. Wrap the lips around the mouth and sew them on with flesh colored thead. Cover the lips with a thin layer of flesh colored wool and with a single felting needle felt over the lips to cover the sewing stitches. The pipe cleaner lips allow you to shape the monkey’s mouth.
Ears: Place the ears onto the side of the head, facing toward the face and sew them on. Flip them out and use a brown pastel to make a C-shaped line on each ear.
Nose: With a single needle, sculpt nostrils in the center of the monkey face.
Eyes: With scissors, cut slits into the head (pull out a small amount of stuffing/wool) where the eyes will be placed. Put the eyes into the head to make sure they fit snuggly. Make sure the eyes are both “looking” in the same direction. When you are satisfied with the placement of the eyes, take one out and insert fabric glue into the eye socket, replace the eye. Do the same for both eyes. Position and adjust the gaze of the eyes while the glue is still wet. Place black wool on the top and the bottom of the eyes, gently felt down with a single needle to cover the remains of the eye socket.
Body: The body shape is an oval, covered with black wool and needle felted till smooth and firm. Sculpt the bottom of the chimp body wider and slightly larger so the doll with sit better.
Arms and Hands: With black embroidery thread and a doll needle, sew the two arm pieces together, then sew the hand onto the end. Do this for both arms. Be sure to sew the arms and hands on in opposite directions so that the thumbs are on the inside once sewn onto the body.
Legs and Feet: With black embroidery thread and a doll needle, sew the two leg pieces together, then sew the foot onto the end. Do this for both legs. Be sure to sew the legs and feet on in opposite directions so that the thumbs are on the inside once sewn onto the body.
With black embroidery thread and a doll needle, sew the head onto the body; sew back and forth 4 or 5 times till the head doesn’t wobble. Wrap black wool around the neck and needle felt till smooth and firm.
With black embroidery thread, sew the arms and legs onto the body.
Link for Eyes: