Monday, October 6, 2014

How to Needle Felt Backbones

Now that the Imari tiger has a tail, it's time to work on his back. This goes faster than the tail because it's not a narrow area. You can use the needle felting tools with multiple needles without fear of overshooting the area--with one exception.  Let's look at the bare canvas again.

Back Without Stripes or Backbone
The tiger is seen from above,  If you look at the body you see that we are looking down on the tiger's back.  There are stripes running along either side of his backbone.  In order to give the backbone a little dent, you have to work the body in two sections.  One is narrow and one is broad, so I worked the narrow side first with a single felting needle.  Once it looked good, I worked the other side of the backbone, this time using my needle felting pen that has two needles instead of just one.  It looks something like this although mine's another brand.  You can take off the top and add or remove the needle felting needles so you can use one, two or three at a time.

I ended up with two sections of body that almost touched. It's a little tricky to make sure that you have the same amount of wool roving on both sides of the backbone, but once I was certain that the sides were pretty similar, I added a thin layer of wool roving on top of the join, working it down the middle of the join, then poking either side of the backbone join to mat the wool roving on top of the layers already felted.  Then I went up and down the backbone with a single needle, denting the backbone to create a spine,  Then I stem stitched my stripes on either side of my spine dent.

Needle felting animals on needlepoint canvas means you often have areas that touch each other but are different.  Look at Ruth Schmuff's squirrel tail and how it meets the squirrel's hind quarters.

Wendy Harwood's squirrel has a head separate from the neck and shoulders.  Wendy also used shading to differentiate the head from the rest of the animal.

Brown Roving on Bottom, Rust Roving on Top
Which brings me to my last point today--using different colors of wool roving to create depth and shading on your animal.  Although I haven't mentioned it until now, my tiger was created from a bottom layer of brown wool roving and a top layer of rust wool roving.  That's why you see a brown shadow along the edge of the tail.  Once I finished the back of the tiger I pinched off some brown wool roving, rolled it between my fingers into a long line, and needle felted that along the back of the tiger's head to create a shadow line.  I could have done the tiger stripes this way but I thought stem stitches would be both faster and easier.

The next part of the tiger will be his face and ears.  As you see in the first photo above, I did his right jaw first.  Next time I'll explain how I worked the tiger's eyes, nose, whiskers, mouth, forehead, cheeks and ears.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow
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© Copyright September 29, 2014 Jane M. Wood. All rights reserved.

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