Posted by: gourmetfelted | January 1, 2009

Needle Felting Directions~A Tutorial~Needle Felted Sheep with Armature for Posing~by Teddy Bear Review Fiber Artist GERRY of Gourmet Felted

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Let’s make a Needle Felted Sheep that can pose! Photo shows sheep laying down.

This is a picture of a sheep made with my needle felted sheep kit. **Your sheep can be ALL WHITE or ALL BLACK or WHITE with BLACK or FANCIFUL COLORS if you like. It comes with wire, felting needles, amber glass eyes, core wool and curly wool ** It has 2 free bonus features with it. Green wool for grass and a cute rusty bell on raffia to hang from your sheep’s neck.  Mini hay bale is not included in this kit. Please see more details in my Etsy shop. http://www.GourmetFelted.etsy.com

STEP ONE: GATHER TOGETHER EVERYTHING THAT YOU NEED FOR YOUR PROJECT.

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Get your foam/sponge/towel/pillow to felt on and felting needles and the special core wool from the kit. You need the coarse wool for the base in black or white. The cute tiny curly wool is applied last for the little curls on the sheep.  You will also need a pair of wire cutters and some small pliers to make the armature.

** I use semi soft layered white polyethelene foam to felt on.  I recycle the packing foam blocks when I get items in the mail in boxes. Not the hard styrofoam that breaks into tiny bits!

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STEP TWO: CUT YOUR WIRE

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CUT TWO PIECES OF WIRE THAT ARE 6 INCHES LONG. TWIST THEM TOGETHER IN THE CENTER

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CUT ANOTHER PIECE THAT IS 5 1/2 INCHES LONG. MAKE A LOOP ON ONE END.

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WRAP AROUND THE BODY LEAVING THE LOOP UP FOR A HEAD.

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Bend the body in the shape of an animal. I curl all loose ends on the wire and feel for safety. That way, you don’t get poked by the sharp wire ends. This is especially important if you sell your sculptures. I use 20 gauge steel wire that is galvanized so it doesn’t rust.

** IT’S NOT A GOOD IDEA TO USE PIPE CLEANERS

AS THEY BREAK AFTER BEING BENT A FEW TIMES AND THEY ALSO RUST. Do you really want orange rust to stain your nice white sheep?

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STEP THREE: WRAPPING THE WIRE

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**IF YOU HAVE NEVER FELTED BEFORE, YOU MAY WANT TO MAKE THE SNOW/GRASS FIRST TO GET THE FEEL OF THE FELTING NEEDLE. Scroll down to the FELTING SNOW section and start there. You need a sponge or towel to work on that is thick enough that the needle doesn’t go through and hit the table under it…or your leg! OUCH!

FELTING>Be sure that you use ALL of the barbs on your felting needle. Don’t use just the tip or you will only felt the outer layer of your sculpture and then it will collapse if it is squeezed. There are several barbs along more than 1/2 inch of the tip on the #36 coarse needle. Use the 1/2 inch tip to felt. Then your sculpture will be firmly felted and be more durable.

WOOL when felted ends up about 1/4 of the size that it starts as!!

Wrap your black OR white wool around the wire, section by section. I always start with the body.Don’t use too much. You will be adding layers of wool and felting it in between the layers.

**Be sure that your sheep is scrawny looking.  Remember this core with be covered with a layer of curls which will “plump” up your sheep!

BLACK SHEEP: Wrap wire with black wool . When your base is firm add the Black curls.

WHITE SHEEP: Wrap wire with white wool. When your base is firm add the White curls.

GRAY SHEEP: Wrap wire with gray wool. When your base is firm add the gray curls.

SPOTTED SHEEP: Wrap wire with white wool. When your base is firm add the White curls and the Black curls. Don’t add the black curls over the white curls. Leave areas open for the black curls so the coat will be even.

BE CREATIVE with your sheep. Use this method to make a sheep of any breed.  If you do a search for sheep there about 200 breeds to choose from. http://www.sheep101.info/breeds.html

Have fun!!

TO PREVENT BREAKING NEEDLES: Be careful when you are poking around the wire. * IF YOUR NEEDLE GETS STUCK IN THE WIRE….STOP….THEN GENTLY WIGGLE SLIGHTLY TO WORK IT OUT WITHOUT BREAKING.The needles are breakable and can snap from hitting a hard surface. When inserting the needle, pull it out at the same angle as it went in. If you push sideways on the needle went it is in the wool or in the foam it can snap and break.

If you have my needle felting kit use the longer felting needle which is the #36 coarse. ALWAYS start every felting project with this needle. Finer detailing can be added with the #38 medium star needle which is also in my kit. ALWAYS BE AWARE OF THE TIP OF YOUR NEEDLE. IT IS EXTREMELY SHARP AND EASILY DRAWS BLOOD. We all get poked with it sometimes. OUCH!! Don’t give up.  **Hydrogen peroxide removes blood off of wool easily. Put a little on a Qtip and dab it. It will get easier after a while. Use thimbles if you like when you first start.

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This core body would be white in an all white sheep. Usually I do the head next. You can tell how large to make the head after the body is made. If it’s the wrong size, remember that you’re working with wool, and you can just trim some off! Sometimes you just have to cut the head off and start over. Mistakes are fixable!!

MAKING MUZZLE> Roll up a little wool into a fat tube and fold in the middle. Felt all around the folded end to make a muzzle shape. Do not felt the other end as you need the loose fibers to be able to attach the muzzle on. After the muzzle is firmly felted, position it where it looks right and then felt it on using all the loose fibers all around the muzzle end. Jab through the muzzle also,  to be sure that it is in securely. Keep felting the base until you can’t pull it off. If the muzzle looks too long, just trim the end with scissors.

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Then I do the legs.  ***Try to wrap the leg wire with the smallest amount of wool possible. If you put too much wool, you can spend an hour felting them in trying to get them thinner. Gently felt each area before you move on to the next.  Be careful of the wire that you don’t break the needle on it. Put wool under body from the chest, between the front legs, over tummy and through the back legs.  Put some wool over the shoulders and blend in all of the areas. You will be adding a little more wool to the tummy area, than on the back. Be sure to firmly felt the body and head as it has to be tight enough to hold in the curly wool. It doesn’t have to be rock hard, but if you push your finger on the body, it should not make a dent. You need to felt all over the wool to make it firmer. You can scissor off some of the wool if it is too thick in an area.

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STEP FOUR: ADD CURLS!!fun!!

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Add one curl at a time. I felt it in lightly on the creases between the curls. You don’t want to flatten the curls.

Go all over the body little by little. It seems that felting one curl at a time would take a long time, but a curl covers a bigger area

than you would think. It’s really fun when you get going! Don’t felt too much of the curl or you will flatten it..

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Here is the little body of the sheep with the curls mostly on. Now we need some ears.

Here are some examples of sheep in other colors and breeds. This little white one was made by someone who never needle felted before!!

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STEP FIVE:MAKING EARS

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Roll up some black OR white wool into a tube shape that looks about the length of two ears…about 2inches. Felt one end, BUT NOT THE CENTER.

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I hold down the felted end with a needle and felt the other end. Leave the center UNFELTED.

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Cut it in the center and you have two ears! Use the loose UNFELTED end that was the center to felt to attach on to the head. Trim ears to shape if necessary before felting on. Fill in around the ears with the curly wool.

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Add the eyes and a little curly wool for a tail.

ADDING THE EYES> The amber glass eyes are on a wire with an eye on each end. Cut the eye off of the end LEAVING about 1/3 of an inch of wire to insert in the head. I mark the eye location with straight pins that have a black ball on the end. Be sure that they are level and the same distance for the center of the face. Take the #36 coarse needle and make a hole where you want to inset the eye. Glue in. DO NOT USE INSTANT GLUE!! It can discolor the eyes and ruin the paint. Use a slow dying glue like white glue.

These are amber glass eyes from my needle felting sheep kit. Also Maggie is modeling her cute raffia collar with her little shiny copper bell. If you’d like, you could add a Y to the front of her muzzle to make a nose and then add an upside down V to make the mouth. It barely shows on the black wool.

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This tutorial makes a cute little sheep that is about 3 inches tall at the top of the head, and 3 inches long.  This sheep is just the right size to go with your needle felted dogs.

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Here is Maggie the little sheep eating some hay. Hay not included in kit!

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And here is Maggie laying down. Because of the wire inside, her head , neck and legs all move.

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SPARKLE WOOL FOR SNOW UNFELTED.

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~BEGINNERS CAN START HERE TO PRACTICE FELTING FIRST~

FELTING SNOW/GRASS: Roll up some of the sparkle wool and fold in the ends. Felt it together all over. Trim off the stray wool if desired or leave it for a halo affect. Make it into any shape. This is the sparkle wool after it is felted into little piles of snow. When the weather is warm, I substitute the white sparkle wool for green grass wool!

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Congratulations! You did it. You made your first sheep that is able to pose!

STEP SIX: TAKE A BOW!

HAPPY FELTING

If you would like to try my Needle Felted Sheep Kit the link is

http://www.etsy.com/shop/gfelted

Just click on KITS on left side.

It really is a great value when you consider all the cute things that it comes with.

If you do purchase a kit please remember to tell me your color choice of wool. You can embellish your sheep and add your own touches.  Make a primitive sheep and use sticks for legs.  Make a cute border collie to go with the sheep!

Happy Felting!

by GERRY

 

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Responses

  1. What a GREAT tutorial, Gerry!!! What a great way to start the New Year!
    Speaking of….Happy New Year to All!

    Thanks again, Gerry….. Great pictures & information…. Your kit is darling with the hay bale & bell…. Love those curls…Now I understand!!!! Guess I need to make a purchase :-)

  2. Hi Lynne, Thanks so much. How is the cairn sculpture coming along? I just added some more details to this tutorial. It takes a couple of hours to work on a tutorial text and it’s hard to remember everything. I do love the little bales of hay and the curls too!!

  3. Thanks very much! very helpful tutorial, just what I looked for :-))) Happy New Year!

  4. Hi Anna,
    Welcome to my blog! Thanks so much. I did put a lot into this tutorial. Glad to help. Feel free to ask any questions!
    HAPPY FELTING!!

  5. yeah, great fun ))

  6. Only recently discovered needlefelting and even more recently your site. What an inspiring place to visit – love the sheep – just so cute!

  7. Hi Dawn,
    Welcome to my blog! I’m glad that you found me. I do want to help and inspire people to have fun needle felting. Thank you for your kind words on my sheep. Feel free to ask any questions that you may have. I do have a “Your needle felting Questions answered “post.
    HAPPY FELTING!

  8. Very cute! Thanks for the great tutorial!

  9. Hi Lisa,
    Thank you so much for your appreciation. It takes hours to make a tutorial. Hope you make a cute sheep with it.
    HAPPY FELTING

  10. Gerry,

    You have an amazing talent and I found your blog through a “Border Collie” google alert. So I blogged about your really cute border collie and sheep art and linked back to your blog, flickr, and etsy pages.

    Keep up the beautiful work.

    Cheers.

  11. Hi Christopher,
    Welcome to my blog! Thank you so much for your kind words on my sculptures!! I really appreciate the exposure and your blog story. Are those your puppies in your arms on your blog yours? They are really cute! Do you raise Borders?

  12. You are an amazing needle felter and I am going to share this turtorial with my readers. Thanks so much!

  13. This tutorial goes with my needle felting sheep kit that can be purchased from my Etsy shop.

  14. thank you so much for the tutorial. Darling little
    sheep and very helpful.

    • I really appreciate you telling me! Thanks so much for your note of appreciation. You really made my day!

  15. You seem to do all kinds of nice things for fellow felters. I’ve just spent the last few hours reading your page from top to bottom and feel so much more enlightened. I am just amazed at how kind and helpful you are to everyone. It is a great pleasure to see the positive reinforcement you spread to all. Your kindness comes straight back to you in your exceptional creations — your dogs are my favorites!

  16. Hi Alice,
    Thanks you so much for your kind words on my blog and dogs! I tried to make my blog very easy to read by putting as much as I could on one page. There is much more than is on the first page. Did you see at the bottom of the page there are all of my categories? They are also listed under the last comment in each post. Ones that are good for beginners are:
    GETTING STARTED NEEDLE FELTING
    NEEDLE FELTED TIP OF THE WEEK
    HOW TO FELT
    BEST FELTING FIBERS
    NEEDLE FELTED QUESTIONS ANSWERED
    and much more!
    There is only so much that fits on one page! Have fun!

  17. Thanks so much for sharing – excellent tutorial!!!

  18. Hi Darlene,
    Welcome to my blog! THANK YOU SO MUCH for the thank you! Sometimes I feel like I’m talking to myself as few people bother to leave a comment. Your thank you is VERY appreciated!! You made my day!!THANK YOU!!!

    HAPPY FELTING!!
    Gerry

  19. Not only an artist but a really good teacher and fun to be with, you got it all sis

    • You are too funny! Thank you so much for sending me pics of your sheep! You are now part of my blog!!
      HAPPY FELTING!

  20. Hey, great blog…but I don’t understand how to add your site in my rss reader. Can you Help me, please :)

    -Robert Shumake

    • Sorry, I have no clue either!!LOL!
      ~Gerry

  21. 17.

    I have started my sheep. I got the wire body part right. Then I did a little felting on a piece of the green wool; made a little ball. Now I want to start the sheep. I printed out the tutorial but I’m a little confused when you say “wrap” the wool around the body. Am I supposed to be wrapping a piece around one section and then using the needle to secure it? How much of a piece? I am just starting out with this so I may be asking a lot of questions; some that may be stupid.
    * Edit Comment

    By: Julie on February 10, 2010
    at 3:26 pm

    Reply

    18.

    Hi Julie,
    RULE NUMBER ONE:
    ALWAYS remember…there is no such thing as a stupid question. Every question answered can bring more knowledge and that’s a good thing. Maybe someone else has the same question, so you help them also by asking….so it is good to ask questions!!
    Yes, you take a piece of wool that is about 4 inches long by one inch wide and not too thick, and wrap it around the body snugly. Then you take the #36 coarse needle and secure it by felting ALL over the wool until it doesn’t move on the wire. It is best to add layers and felt it on and add another layer and felt it on rather than adding one huge blob layer. It is harder to felt it like that.

    After the back is done, you can do the legs. Take a piece of wool about 3 inches long and 1/3 inch wide than THINLY wrap the wire on the legs. Be sure that you curled the tips of the legs into little C’s so you don’t get poked by the wire. The biggest mistake with felted sculptures are the legs being WAY too thick. It is hard to get the legs thin enough, so don’t give up. ALWAYS know where the tip of the needle is. You can be concentrating on the wool so much and then OUCH!!! those needles are super sharp!!
    TIP: peroxide on a Qtip dabbed on the wool removes any blood!!
    Don’t give up. After a while, you get the feel of it and don’t poke your fingers. Some people use thimbles which I still use went doing the feet so I don’t get poked.
    PLEASE feel free to ask any questions! Thanks again for purchasing my needle felted sheep kit!
    HAPPY FELTING!
    ~Gerry
    * Edit Comment

    By: gourmetfelted on February 10, 2010
    at 3:45 pm

    Reply

  22. [...] 2, 2009 by annajour inspired by http://gourmetfelted.wordpress.com/2009/01/01/needle-felted-sheep-tutorialtip-of-the-weekwith-armatu… [...]

    • Hi Annajour,
      I am so glad that my blog inspired you in needle felting! Have fun!
      ~Gerry

  23. Great tutorial! I love your animals…they’re really cute.

  24. Hi Glenda,
    Welcome to my blog! Thank you so much for your kind words! Glad that you enjoyed the tutorial. I also give private needle felting lessons!
    ~Gerry

  25. Hi Gerry,
    I finally finished my dogs,and thank you again for all the wool and your help.
    I would like to post them here but do not know how.

    • So glad that my wool worked out well for you. I do occasionally post sculptures. Send pics to
      gfelted@verizon.net
      Happy Felting!
      ~Gerry

  26. Dear Gerry:
    I love doing the sheep, the tutorial was very helpful and informative!
    Now I finish my first pom and I couldn’t be happier with the results! Your core wool is amazing, and having a little of beginner’s luck, my pom turn out good, as you can see on the pic that I send you.
    Thank you so much for all your help in teaching this new hobby!
    Your website is great and very useful!
    Keep up the great work (which by the way is amazing!).
    You are truly an artist!
    Regards,
    Patricia

  27. Hi Patricia,
    So glad that you liked using my sheep kit and tutorial. Your pom is amazing especially for a first feltie! Isn’t it fun the things we can create with animal fiber!!LOL! I’m glad to have been an inspiration! Thank you for your kind words on my art work!
    Happy Felting!
    ~Gerry

  28. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge & expertise with all of us. Your tutorial looks so easy to follow up until I get to the head. Do we just wrap (and needle) around and around the entire head wire (not thru the circle) and then maybe figure eights until it is the right size? I think it was the comment that if it was too big just cut it off that confused me – made me think you were cutting it off at the wire “neck”.

    I have my wire and my dog image printed to size….. tomorrow the wire cutters. I wish I had found your blog sooner. My poor squirrel has the wimpiest limbs around.

    • Hi Ann,
      Thank you for your reply.
      It is best to felt thin layers at a time. Wrap some then felt. Wrap some then felt. It seems faster to wrap it all to size, but I find it harder to get it locked in well. If you felt thinner layers then you can shape and sculpt as you go. I felt in all directions so it probably goes into the wire circle at some points.

      I did mean to chop off the head at the wire neck. This is necessary sometimes if you start a sculpture with the head and it ends up too large or too small and no matter what you do you can’t fix it. Many times it is easier to start over than try to fix something that just doesn’t work.
      Can you add to the wimpy limbs?
      Happy felting!
      ~Gerry

  29. I am having difficulties covering the bottom of the leg. I keep adding more wool but it eventually shows through. I do have the wire curled up. Any tips for this?

    • Hi Ellen,
      Welcome to my blog! Thank you for your question!
      I usually use colored core wool on the legs. I use a color close to the final color so it will match. I may put a very thin layer of top coat over the core wool. Wrap very thin layers tightly on the legs and felt it to hold it. It is better to add thin layers little by little. Pull on the wool as you wrap so it will latch onto itself better. I wrap the wire that is curled up in a tiny curl to make the paw. If the curl is too large then you can make it smaller with pliers. I hope that helps.
      Happy Felting!
      ~Gerry

  30. […] Artist GERRY of “Gourmet Felted” is showing us how to make this adorable “Needle Felted Sheep” along with instructions on making the armature.  Gerry has detailed pictures so you can see just […]


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