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Posts Tagged ‘easter’

  1. Needle Felting

    April 26, 2011 by Daniora

    I believe that the first time I ever saw anything needle felted was on an episode of the Martha Stewart show.  It looked so simple and fun, and I was completely taken in by the old “here’s one I prepared earlier” trick.  This is definitely something I’ve wanted to try for a while.

    Things are never as easy as they seem on tv.  As far as this craft goes, however, it’s not all that far off.  It’s certainly going to take a bit of practice to get things right, but I think that my first attempts have turned out better than expected.

    The art of needle felting involves taking bits of unspun wool roving, making it into shapes, and repeatedly stabbing it with a special needle.  The needle has little barbs along the edges that help tangle the fibers together into one felted piece. I shudder to think what would happen if you stabbed yourself with said needle. In order to build a 3d felted object, you make multiple pieces and join them together (with more stabbing) and add details with tiny bits of roving.  It’s really very entertaining and the repeated stabbing is quite relaxing.

    For this first attempt I had a book in hand, but I’ll admit that I didn’t really read the instructions.  I mostly looked at the pictures for guidance.  Secondly, we had a bit of a hard time finding the supplies at any of our local stores.  There are certainly plenty of online retailers who will set you up with everything you need to begin needle felting, but for those of us seeking instant gratification, things are a bit trickier.  I did try my local yarn and fiber store.  While they had plenty of wonderful things, they did not have the supplies I was looking for.  We eventually found everything we needed at a Joann Fabrics.

    Needle felting supplies

    Supplies in hand, I set up shop at the table and started working on what would eventually turn out to be a sheep. Actually, I started out hoping to make a rabbit, but after I completed the body portion I realized that it looked nothing like a rabbit. It did, however, look somewhat like the body of a sheep.  I went along with it. Keeping the roving in the shape you want is really tricky in the beginning.  It’s very soft and silky and can get out of hand quickly.  The other problem I had was tucking in the ends of the pieces of roving. They kept sticking out at crazy angles and were tricky to catch with the needle.

    Beginning the needle felting process

    Beginning the needle felting process.

    This looks nothing like a rabbit.

    This looks nothing like a rabbit.

    Looking more like a sheep.

    Looking more and more like a sheep.









    Getting the legs right was the hardest part.  You’re working with a pretty small amount of roving, trying to make it as stable as possible while also trying desperately not to stab your fingers with the needle.  In the end, I wound up making two long pieces that were pretty firm in the middle and cutting it in half.  The other tricky part is making sure that you don’t over felt before you join pieces together.  There has to be some loose fibers on one section that you can felt into the other. Once I got all the main pieces together, I added the smaller parts like ears and a tail.  For a finishing touch, I sewed seed beads on for eyes and added a small bell with a ribbon.  I have to say, I’m really pleased with the finished product.

    The finished wool lamb.

    The finished wool lamb.

    As I said, I’m really excited to have gotten such a good result on a first try. I’m looking forward to playing with this stuff a bit more.  If you want to check out some pretty awesome and non-traditional needle felted projects, check out this page on Deviant art.  Crazy good. (And thanks to Jo for the link!)


  2. Ukrainian Easter Eggs

    April 13, 2011 by Daniora

    Each year when Easter approaches, I get it into my head that I am going to make Ukrainian eggs (otherwise known as pysanky).

    A collection of Ukranian EggsFor those not in the know, Ukrainian eggs are made by meticulously covering the part of the design on an egg that you wish to remain white with beeswax, then dipping it in dye (usually yellow is first).  Then parts of the design that are to remain yellow are masked off with wax and the egg is dipped in the next color.  This continues with progressively darker dye colors until the final dip in black dye. After all the colors have been dyed, the wax is melted off over a candle to reveal the completed design.

    There is a tremendously steep learning curve here, not only because of the technique of using the kistka to apply the wax is a little tricky, but also because you have to have planned your design out completely before you even start.  This is the part I’ve never been good at.  I’m always very eager to get started, but I never have a plan.

    Wikipedia has a really good description of traditional pysanky motifs and color meanings.  It’s a pretty good place to start when designing eggs of your own.  Flickr also has a very large group devoted to Ukrainian eggs with some really beautiful examples. If you want to give this a try for yourself, there are plenty of places where you can pick up supplies. PysankyUSA has an exhaustive selection of tools and supplies, along with kits so you can get started right away. In terms of instruction, I really like The woman who writes it clearly has a passion for the art form.  She’s got links to where you can buy supplies, helpful hints, and even where some workshops are being held.

    Because of the amount of work that goes into creating one of these eggs, you’ll want to blow out the insides so that they can be kept from year to year.  I’ve seen artists do this after the design is completed which seems absolutely crazy to me. I would hate to put in all that work only to have the egg crack while trying to empty it out.  You can also purchase already blown eggs of all sizes, from quail to ostrich.  The only tricky part about working with already blown eggs is that you’ll have to cover the holes with wax to prevent them from filling up with dye.

    Egg Design WorksheetWhether you’re going to try your hand at making these beautiful Ukrainian eggs or if you’ll be decorating some other way, I’ve made up a little egg design sheet so you can plan your eggs ahead.  Maybe, just maybe, this will be the year when the stars align and I actually put wax to egg to try this out for myself.