I do a lot of different commission work in needle felting, it’s usually a doll or a mask or a beloved pet. I’ve made puppets for educational aides in the past but recently I was asked to do a bust of a multi-ethnic young girl; the customer wanted the doll’s mouth to be able to open and close and her tongue to be movable. The customer is a speech therapist who thinks that demonstrating how to move and place your tongue will help her young patients to better follow her instructions. I tried to stay away from the ventriloquist-look as much as possible because I think ventriloquist dolls are scary looking. The very unique thing about this therapy doll is that you can place the tongue in different areas in the mouth to show children more easily how to make specific sounds:)
From the commentary I’ve received concerning this bust, the speech therapist is onto something!
Bęc Smith I’m a speech pathologist and think this is so cool!
Playing with your Food, is one of the needle felting projects that I’ve been working on for several months with the Craftsy website and it’s finally up and ready for registration! I’ve designed and wrote tutorials for needle felted foods, toys for children. The workshop contains step-by-step instructions and photos of how to make several different types of foods and deserts, things that I thought kids would identify with. The cool thing about this workshop is if a student has questions along the way, they can send me their questions and I’ll answer them and help them with their project.
I designed the projects at a beginner’s level and a needle felting basics section is also included. The basics of needle felting (the way I do it) are outlined and explained also with step-by-step photos and instructions.
As an imaginative toy for children, food is one of my favorites to sew and/or needle felt. Small children can use fruits and vegetables or their favorite foods to learn names, colors, shapes and counting. Older children can use the food you needle felt for them to “play market” or to “play restaurant.” With a little set-up help from an adult (providing paper bags, a basket, play plates, an apron, a pad of paper for taking restaurant orders, a table cloth or making a menu) playing market or restaurant can provide very creative situations for your children where their pretend games can also be a platform for them to learn social skills and math, using their needle felted food as tools.
Safety: Please remember that not all needle felted foods, as natural and unbreakable as they are, are appropriate for children of all ages if they contain small pieces. If you have children that put things in their mouths and you make these needle felted foods, with a sewing needle and thread sew the small parts onto the tart and cupcake or omit the small pieces (blue berries, strawberries and cherry) completely.
Note: These needle felted items will be available on my Etsy site at the end of the summer:)
My youngest daughter’s school, l’école Marc Chagall in Tel Aviv hosted an art fair and I was one of the guest artists to come in and teach several classes with the students. Parent and community artists came to the school to teach students their specialty medium; sculpture, oil painting, life drawing, photography, the art of video, intro. to classic movies, sculpting with clay, collage, painting with wool, pastel drawing, oil pastel drawing, fruit and veggie scultpures and drawing with words and music were all taught. All the student work was displayed at the end of the “studio period” in a wonderful art exhibit, hosted by the principal Phillipe Zarka.
The students were not familiar with working with wool, needle felting or painting with wool, so they were introduced to a new art medium and had the opportunity to practice their English all at the same time! I had the students “paint with wool” because I thought this technique would be easier than 3-D needle felting more suitable for a larger age-range of students. Painting with wool involves a piece of flat wool as a canvas, a felting needle and colored, coarse wool, such as shetland or New Zealand fast felting batts. I ordered my materials from this website (where I found great wool, a large variety of needles and great prices: http://www.esse.co.il/en
The first step to painting with wool was making wool canvases that the children would “paint” on. I laid out white, wool, tufts all in one direction, then a second layer on top of the first layer with the tufts of wool laid out in the opposite direction (laid out as you would in wet felting). I then needle felted the wool flat with a large handle with 10 needles. I turned the large wool canvas over and needle felted the other side, I did this several times. I applied a third layer of wool tufts and needle felted again. (You can also wet-felt a large wool canvas if you prefer) When the wool canvas was strong and “fabric-like”, I cut it into many squares for the children to “paint on”.
Once the wool is cut into squares, it is ready for the children to apply colored pieces of wool, felted into the wool with a felting needle. I taught the older grades (4th, 5th and 6th grades) as I felt they could deal with the sharp needles the best. I explained how to handle the needles and how not to break them. In all 3 classes only 2 people stuck themselves with needles, one of which was a teacher and only 1 needle was broken out of 50 students! Everyone enjoyed this craft and I look forward to teaching more students and a larger variety of grades at next years art fair.
By the way, for you needle felters out there, this is a great activity to do with your own children with your wool scraps.
Each child was supplied by a sponge (felting surface), a wool canvas, a felting needle and handfuls of many colors of wool. I showed the children how to outline with a strip of wool and I pointed out the graphic paintings compared to the watercolor looking paintings.
The cat and the fiddle
The cow jumped over the moon
The little dog laughed to see such sport
And the dish ran away with the spoon
(Hey Diddle Diddle, a traditional English nursery rhyme, published in 1765, author unknown)
Nursery rhymes help children learn to speak (they use alliteration, onomatopoeia, similes, rhymes to help memory and basic sentence structure ), nursery rhymes help teach children counting skills (for example: One, two button my shoe), teach life lessons (Little Bo Peep lost her sheep because she was snoozing on the job) and nursery rhyhmes entertain. Many rhymes were based on tawdry and grotesque historical events inappropriate for children (for example: Ring Around the Rosie is about the plague) and were thus re-written by the Victorians to better represent the times and make them more suitable for children. For me, fairy tales and nursery rhymes just bring back nice childhood memories.
Would you ever have guessed in a million years that the cow jumping over the moon was supposed to represent Hathor worship (the Egyptian cow goddess) or the Jewish Flight from Egypt or stories about Queen Elizabeth I and her royal court. Nothing is as it seems in a nursery rhyme, often the earliest oral versions of the stories were lost and non-sense evolved, but this fact has not kept people from analyzing them. I was relieved to read that the cow jumping over the moon in Hey Diddle Diddle was probably just a nonsensical tale, with no deeper psychological musings!
I’m thinking about pets today, how fun they are, how much they make us laugh, how much responsibility they are and how sad it is when they die. My daughter’s pet rat died today, he was 3 years old, that’s as old as rats get. He lived a very pampered life, she cared for him like a child; talking to him, feeding him, hanging out with him, caring for him when he became sick. We bought her the rat 3 years ago when she needed a friend (her best friend had just moved away). Bibbel (the rat’s name) was a sweet rat and he knew Elli, he was calmer with her and he came to her when she called him, he was sort of like a little dog (if you use your imagination). In the 3 years that she had Bibbel, I’ve watched her care for this animal and I’ve learned a lot about her loving nature and I believe that she has learned the same thing about herself. This evening has been about remembering “the good times”, about consoling her and trying to find the right things to say to her. Good-bye Bibbel.