Halloween is pretty much my favorite holiday, it’s creative and fun and it inspires me; this year I’ve needle felted several Halloween puppets. Most of these puppets were time intensive and they have lots of details; I want to share some of my techniques and thoughts about needle felting faces in this post. Not all portraits have to be photo-realistic, cartoon techniques and-caricatures are also good ways to make needle felted portraits. My needle felted portraits tend to be realistic. NOTE: This is an advanced project but it can be simplified. This puppet is not a toy because of the hair and eyes which can be choking hazards for children. If you wish to make a puppet as a toy, needle felt the eyes (don’t use glass or plastic eyes or fake eye lashes) and felt the hair firmly so it can’t be pulled out.
These puppets can be used for puppet shows and they can also be conversational pieces of sculpture for your home or business.
Moments before the alligator attack, Kitty and I were sitting in the kitchen minding our own business….
….and BAM, the needle felted alligator puppet jumped off the table and attacked Kitty!
…oh, I was just daydreaming! I started making some puppets the other day, I intended to make a dragon like this one:
….but at one point it started looking like an alligator, so I “followed the shapes”. The simple puppet I set out to make became more complicated, with fairly sharp fimo teeth and finger slots to put your hand so the alligators mouth can be opened and closed. This isn’t s step-by-step tutorial, but I did shoot a few of the creation stages, have a look!
I made the alligator’s top jaw first, his lower jaw second and the body sleeve last. I inserted glass doll eyes into the sides of his head. I connected the two jaws with a thick, flat piece of wool that acts as a hinge.
The tricky part of making the finger holes in the jaws is making them deep enough for your hands so you have real control over the motion of the jaws. I used a pair of scissors to cut deep holes in the top and bottom jaws, I pulled out as much wool as I could so that it was still snug when I put my hands inside the holes. I felted the holes as best as I could to make them smoother.
Here is the gator without any teeth, he looks pretty pitiful. I made the alligator teeth from off- white fimo (the photo shows an example of the teeth placement).
I shaped the alligator’s teeth so that they’re slightly rounded, those are shark’s teeth at the top of the photo, for a future project. I baked the teeth at a low temperature for about 7 minutes, then took them out to cool and harden.
With scissors, I cut deep slits in the jaws (following a photo of a real alligator with his mouth open) and glued each tooth in with fabric glue.
I needle felted a sheath to cover my arm; I wrapped the sheet of needle felted wool around the end of the alligator’s head and needle felted it on.
Now I have a fairly realistic alligator puppet with which I can use to help tell fairy tales or stories, use as a conversation piece at dinner parties or chase the cat around the house with!