Tips on using felt to create these adorable works of art

Felt art bird in nest.
One of the many fabulous felt creations by The Lady Moth. Image: Supplied.

Felt is back… and how. Forget the fuzzy felt shapes your kids played with in the ’70s, as cute as they were. I’m talking about a creating fabulous works of art.

Felt is such a versatile textile material. Besides being lovely and soft it can be shaped in so many amazing ways.

Starts at 60 chatted to one talented artist based in the UK, Zenia, known as The Lady Moth, to find out the secrets behind her amazing creations. Growing up in South of Poland, she said she was inspired by nature. While her creations are not meant to be realistic she loves to give them a bit of character and expression. 

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Zenia uses two techniques in felt making; needle felting and wet felting. 
“For the first one I use a special barbed needle and animal wool, stabbing the material for as long as it is required to compact and interlock the fibres,” Zenia explained. “With this technique I can build a 3D sculpture or a 2D picture.”

“When wet felting I use animal wool (sometimes with addition of silk and bamboo fibres), soap, water and agitation to combine, interlock and shrink the fibres. This technique allows me to create fabric in required colours, patterns and textures.”

She uses wet felting to create fine parts for her adorable needle felted animals, but she has also created jewellery and several scarves as well. 

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“My main collection includes sculptures, brooches and seasonal wreaths. I use animal wool and other natural fibres, such as silk or bamboo. Wreaths are hand woven by myself from locally grown willow.”

“Both wet and needle felting are very time consuming processes, especially when much attention is put into detail, as I do when creating my artworks. It can take me several hours to finish one needle felted sculpture – stabbing compacts the fibres and hardens the surface and makes the piece more robust. Some people prefer to leave their creations at soft and fluffy stage, but I like mine well felted – that allows me to include more fine detail as well. Making a well felted sculpture requires a lot of time and patience.”

Watch this video to see a whole range of her creations. Amazing, right!

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Zenia suggested that beginners should start with something simple. “Buying a kit with wool, needles and instructions is a good idea.”

She buys my wool and tools from several online providers based in UK, but the items would be available in any good sewing, craft and hobby stores.
“I use carded wool as well as fine merino wool roving, silk and bamboo – it all depends on what I am making. I love experimenting and discovering new effects, textures, colour combinations.”

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Zenia, who has been felting since 2013, doesn’t use patterns, so each piece is unique. “All my artworks are designed by myself and protected under copyright. I tend to create designs in my mind, rather than drawing them, I often use my imagination to update and perfect the design.”
“My hares and foxes have elongated ears, owls have meaningful glances and blue tits are unusually plump. I love playing with form, colour and texture. Most of my stylized animals have “uplifting qualities”: chubby birds, sleeping foxes and dormice curled up in their nests. I enjoy seeing people’s reaction to my creations – they are usually very positive and encouraging.”

Zenia started teaching workshops in Cambridge, UK and also sells her creations on Etsy. She loves that she still is learning herself, and continues to be enchanted with its magical process and endless possibilities. “I always seem to have more ideas than time.”

Have you tried working with felt?