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Mushrooms and Felted Wool

Designs inspired by the Minnesota woods

By: Lisa Jordan

It seems like magic, being able to make a sculpture out of fiber without using glue. Soft fibers can be coaxed into firmly formed sculptural shapes or painterly scenes just with the application of a single needle, some patience, and the occasional Band-Aid.

Although it is gaining popularity, needle felting is still a relatively unknown art. Most people are familiar with wool as a knitted sweater, a skein of yarn, or a sheet of felt, but fewer are familiar with the material before it’s processed into those forms. Unspun wool can be soft or slightly scratchy, curly or straight, with a long or short staple, and in shades of white, black, brown, or gray. Wool is covered in tiny scales, and with just a few jabs of the felting needle, those scales begin to hold together, forming felt. This makes the medium appealing to beginners, as they can see results quickly. Enough jabs and the soft fiber is coaxed into a shape that is capable of standing on its own, without the use of adhesives or support. It’s fun to finish a sculptural piece and compare it to the lofty fiber it once was. It seems impossible that the two are the same.

This article is from the September/October 2015 issue. For more information on our issue, check out our issue page.

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