I’ve mentioned before about the lack of art instruction during my school years. While I don’t guess that has hindered my development as a human being, I know I would have enjoyed taking some art classes back in the day. I wouldn’t call myself an artist but I do have a creative bent and enjoy dabbling in different mediums. My favorites, I think, are the fiber arts: knitting, crocheting, embroidery, quilting, spinning… actual sewing not-so-much, but a little. (Side note: My mother is an accomplished seamstress and made sure all 3 of her girls didn’t leave home without knowing how to follow a pattern and make a garment. So I can sew, I just don’t enjoy it as much as some of the other needle arts.)
Today I’m going to review the new-to-me craft of needle felting with the Lake Reflections needle felting kit from Felted Sky. They call it painting with wool and I can see why.
Obligatory disclosure: I received this kit from Timberdoodle for my review. As always, opinions are my own.
This kit is recommended for ages 10 and up. Felting needles are super sharp. I did draw blood more than once. Granted, it is a needle prick so nothing a quick finger in the mouth won’t fix, but definitely not something you want to hand to young children. Timberdoodle includes it in their 10th grade curriculum kit as an art project. Teens and adults who enjoy fiber arts will love it!
Timberdoodle sells the Lake Reflections Needle Felting Kit Deluxe with Foam Mat. What that means is that you get the kit PLUS a felter’s foam mat PLUS a set of 2 leather finger guards. The box says the mat is not included, but that just means it’s not in the box.
Inside the box you’ll find a piece of wool “prefelt” that will be your background, 10 bundles of colored wool to “paint” with, a tube of 3 felting needles, an instruction booklet, and a wood frame for displaying your painting when it is finished.
Did I mention how sharp the needles are? These needles don’t have eyes. They are simply used for poking at fibers. There’s a knack to holding them properly which is worth learning because it helps prevent breakage. Once a needle breaks it’s no good, which is why 3 are included. And yes, I was down to the last one by the time I finished the project.
I didn’t realize at first that the little bundles of colored wool are actually 3 different kinds of felting wool. The raven, gray owl, and dove colors are roving. That means they are long strands, almost like a very fat piece of yarn. You can see how they are kind of just twisted and folded together to form the bundle.
The powdered sugar, fawn, mocha, apple green, and forest colors are batting. The piece formed a squarish hank once it was unrolled, like quilt batting.
Don’t you just love the color names?
The meadow and hemlock bundles are textured batting. They are looser pieces of batting formed by jumbled fibers of different shades of green. I absolutely loved working with those pieces.
The instruction booklet includes step-by-step directions with photos. Better yet, it includes a link to a full-length video which walks you through the entire process. It’s not just an overview video. The instructor explains every step in real time.
The first step was to fold the background batting in half to create a line to follow, then pull out a thin strand of the black… excuse me… raven roving and poke it down with the needle all the way across. This created the separation line between land and water.
As with most projects, the finished picture looks a little overwhelming, but taking it one step at a time makes it totally doable. The next step was to add a thin layer of gray dove to the sky and water areas, poking it down securely before moving on.
Wool wants to cling to itself and poking the colors in as you arrange them to form the picture makes them stay where you put them. The nice thing? It’s very forgiving. It’s easy to pull up and do over if you aren’t satisfied with where you’ve put a piece, or it can just be nudged into place with the needle.
One of the best tips on the video was, “It always takes more poking than you think it should,” which I found to be very true. That’s not a bad thing, though. The repetitive poking was very therapeutic.
Some of the details require just the minutest bits of wool. That was the part I enjoyed the most, I think, adding in the tiny details with the barest wisps and my trusty sharp needle.
This was a quick and easy project that I was able to finish in just a few evenings. It is truly much easier than it looks. I loved how the instructions were very clear yet were flexible enough to allow personal creativity.
I absolutely loved the colors the kit came with but when it was finished I felt like the sky and water needed just a hint of blue. I happened to have some colored pieces of wool that came with a different project and I found a pale blue that was just right. It only required a few wisps but I was pleased with how it brightened the picture a bit.
I’m glad the kit came with a frame so it’s ready to display. The frame is unfinished wood. I plan to paint it white eventually but for now I’m just enjoying looking at my finished “painting.”
I won’t go so far as to say this is my all-time favorite art kit, but it’s very close to the top. I would definitely give it 5 out of 5 stars.
Next I want to try creating a wool painting from a photo. I wonder if I can. I had some of each color left over from this kit, and the foam mat is reusable. I’d just need to get another piece of prefelted batting for the background and a frame. Oh, yes, and more needles.
Also, it seems there are other types of needle felting projects: sculpting, coloring, decorating. Oh, my! Like I need another hobby!
Have you ever tried needle felting?