Needle Felting Gnomes

Needle felted gnome couple

I‘ve become acquainted with gnomes, popular in Waldorf-Steiner education circles and with people who have high esteem for all things natural. The gnome stories (originating in Norway) tell of the good deeds of the benevolent gnomes, the keepers of animals and nature. The folklore of gnomes teach many skills, similar to those of a farmer or pioneer, living off the land, dependent and respectful of the nature around them.  

Needle felted gnome, family man

As I read the book Gnomes by Rien Poortuliet and Wil Huygen, I was amazed at the detail in which life skills were described. The gnome lore talks about so many of the skills that Waldorf-Steiner schools teach their students, skills that are today rather rare in the western world, like basket weaving. I admire that someone wants to teach children artful crafts that no one needs to do anymore, like bake bread or make your own toys out of things you find around the house. Even more so, I’m impressed with the parents who still find these things important and see value in them. You’ll never find a gnome child playing with a Wi or listening to their i-pod, they’ll be playing imaginative games and making their own music on an instrument and their parents will be there with them delighting in the merriment. The beauty of the Waldorf-Steiner methods teach a child how to use their imagination, thus how to think.   

Needle felted Lady Gnome

 The mother gnome takes on a very traditional role in gnome lore, I didn’t see any tiny, pink brief cases or mini designer suits hanging off a hook in the illustrations of their homes. When I was a little girl, my family lived a very gnome-like life, but we were all much taller! Maybe gnomes are so popular with those of us who value doing and making things ourselves because we’ve been bombarded with popular culture, plastic throw way everything, mindless musical lyrics and a sense of ho-hum with the things around us.  

Needle felted belt buckle detail

 I remember a furniture store in Chicago where all the pieces were made by hand by artisans, I often went into that shop just to be around the furniture (I couldn’t afford to buy a candle stick in that shop). I could see the hand crafted details in the furniture, the natural wood was rubbed with bee’s wax that gave it a rich, mat finish. I could see the time and skill and genius that went into making the pieces in that shop and I admired the abilities of the crafts-people. But maybe that’s just me, because I’ve seen many people who will buy what ever is on sale, no matter the piece. I know that in every gnome household, the furniture looks just like the pieces that I admired long ago on Clark street in Chicago.  

The needle felted gnome family

  Today there seems to be a backlash against consumerism and the throw away culture of the western world as seen in the resurgence of handmade crafts (Etsy) and the green movement. I think all generations have nostalgia for the past and admiring the make believe world of gnomes give us the sense that we may be moving back toward something more meaningful and useful in our lives.

Needle felted Jack-o-lantern Tutorial

What would Halloween be without jack-o-lanterns! Who doesn’t love cutting out the scary face and scooping out the mushy slime of the pumpkin! This needle felted jack-o-lantern tutorial gives you another method to make your jack-o-lantern, a little less messy than the original!  

Materials: felting needles, sponge for felting surface
Wool:I suggest using coarse wool like shetland, New Zealand or Burgschaft
orange (pumpkin)
cream or white (interior of pumpkin)
a thick stick (pumpkin stem)
scissors
poly fiber fill or core wool (base shape)
spool of thread
glue
piece of soap (for drawing the face)
  

Continue reading “Needle felted Jack-o-lantern Tutorial”

Witchy-Poo, Needle felting doll tutorial

The coven

This tutorial shows how to make a needle felted witch using a cone as the base shape. Use these dolls as a Halloween center piece or offer Witchy-Poo and friends to your children for creative, spooky fun.

Materials: felting needles, sponge for felting surface
wool: black (body, hat, arms) I prefer felting a course wool like shetland or New Zealand, here I used black merino because that’s what I had; Merino is a wool I like to use for hair. The witch’s hair in this tutorial is felted from a very course New Zealand wool for that wild and crazy look, but the hair of the witch in the back is grey merino.
peach (face, hands)
purple (decorative band on hat)
 grey (hair)
 red (mouth)
core wool or fiber-fill (base shape)
thread (for wrapping core wool or fiber fill to make base shape)
black felt (hat brim)
 

Continue reading “Witchy-Poo, Needle felting doll tutorial”

Peace Felt 2010

Peace Man

I just finished my piece for the Peace Felt 2010 event. The “V” hand signal and the white dove with an olive branch in it’s beak were the first two peace symbols that came to my mind after I decided to join the Peace Felt group. I put the two symbols together for a stronger impact. My piece was made with a combination of wet and needle felting techniques.

Peace Dove detail

Peace or the lack of peace is something I think about almost every day here in Israel. I read about attempts at peace negotiations on the front page of the newspapers, I see how a lack of peace effects the economy here and I see how the lack of peace effects the social atmosphere around me.

back/wrong side of peace symbol

Not only does Israel have peace issues to deal with but many refugees from war torn countries come to Israel seeking asylum. I see people looking for peace, looking for peaceful lives and peace of mind in ways many people take for granted. I’m not sure what my little felt sculpture can do to help make peace but perhaps it can be a small reminder of how important it is and that we should all strive for peace and try to influence our own governments to attain it.

Peace symbol for Peace Felt 2010

Alice & the flamingo

Alice and the flamingo dolls

This Alice in Wonderland piece is two dolls (Alice and the flamingo) put together. The Alice dolls were pretty much like a lot of other dolls that I’ve felted, except that she has hand-painted (beads) eyes and I used colored pencils to color parts of her face.

hand painted eyes

One of my goals for this set of Alice in Wonderland dolls was to felt expression into the faces of the dolls. I needed to hand paint the eyes of all my Alice in Wonderland dolls to give them the exact expression that I wanted. Alice needed to be looking at the flamingo, the direction of her eyes are looking sharply to the left. I wanted to color parts of Alice’s face (also parts of the Queen’s face) but I wanted the coloring to be subtle so I used high quality colored pencils to color parts of the lips, under the eyes (of the Queen), the cheeks and lines in the face. The eyelids were felted over the painted beads (eyes) after they were set into the eye sockets; I embroidered the edges of the eyelids to better define them. The Alice doll is made of up of 6 pieces (the head, body, 2 arms and 2 legs) The arms and legs are jointed by sewing them onto the body with embroidery thread. Alice’s hair was made separately, then felted onto the head, so it would have a 3-D, puffy look and not appear flat on the head. I made the traditional blue dress and white apron for Alice because I love the original costume. Alice’s legs are felted white (as stockings) and her black MaryJane shoes are felted onto her feet.

Needle felted Alice in Wonderland doll

The flamingo had to be made after the Alice doll was finished in able to achieve the proper proportions of the flamingo to Alice. The body of the flamingo fits into Alice’s arms, his neck loops around and the head comes face to face with Alice. The flamingo’s neck stays in this position because there is a heavy gaged wire inside the neck allowing you to bend the neck so it comes to exactly the right spot to stare at Alice.

flamingo detail

My favorite part of the flamingo are his legs. His legs are boning sticks (for sewing), wrapped in black wool yarn. The flamingo feet are pieces of black felt. How many people can say that they’ve made a pair of flamingo knees?!”  I sewed the flamingo into Alice’s arms. Stay tuned for more Alice in wonderland dolls….

Needle felted Alice and flamingo dolls