Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Felted robins tutorial

Tweet tweet! I'm not tweeting electronically just yet, but here are some of the felted variety. Robins are gorgeous birds! Their round red bellies are so easily recognisable and a lovely touch of colour during the relatively monochromatic winter months.
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These felted robins have become something of a winter tradition of mine. I love them! Since they feel more like a winter decoration than a christmas themed one, I bring them out of hiding some time in October/November, and keep them up until all the snow has come and gone, long into the new year.
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Several robins have flown away to my family members as little gifts the last two years. Even my brother spontaneously declared that he loved them and would like a little flock of robins for his appartment. Well, I couldn't deny him his wish, could I? ;) Away they went, all of them, and I started gathering a new flock for myself.
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This time I thought I'd make a little tutorial for you. I originally made mine from a material set from Panduro Hobby, but all the nescessary materials are available in hobby stores. Needle felting is incredibly easy, just hold the wool and stab repeatedly with the felting needle. The needle has notches that pull the wool fibers in and when you pull it back out they leave the wool fibres behind. Just one thing though. Be very very careful with your fingers, that needle is incredibly sharp!! Go on, ask me how I know. ;)
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ETA: I've been asked for more details on how the technique works. To start the robin you hold the red wool on top of the styrofoam ball. Stab the felting needle through the wool into the ball - this will bring wool fibres into the ball and make the wool stick to it. Keep poking the needle through the wool and into the ball until all the wool is well entangled around the whole styrofoam ball, and starts to resemble regular felt. You'll see the transformation from fluffy wool fibres to the dense red layer happen right before your eyes. No glue is needed! The wool sticks to both the styrofoam and itself. In fact, the styrofoam ball isn't actually necessary because the wool felts to itself, but it gives you a shape to start with, and therefor saves a LOT of time and wool. It probably takes a couple of hundred stabs on this first step, so have a little patience. When I got the routine in, it didn't take me more than fifteen minutes or so to complete the entire bird.
When you get to step 3, you simply gather some gray wool and hold it over the now red ball and repeat the process. Stab through the gray wool into the red wool and styrofoam ball and watch the gray wool entangle itself. Use the needle to guide it into the desired shape. After a while you'll actually see an effect from each stab. To make the tail you use the felting needle on just the grey wool for a while, poking through it into thin air, and it will entangle into itself forming a firm clump of wool protruding out from the body.
I hope this clarifies the process!
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So here it goes!
1: Grab your styrofoam ball, mine are ca 3 cm in diameter.
2: Cover styrofoam ball with red carded wool and felt with felting needle.
3: Cover half of the red ball with grey carded wool and felt. Be sure to let some of the felt protrude from the body to make a tail.
4: Make a ball of black carded wool and felt to body in the opposite end from tail.
5: Felt a tiny amount of grey carded wool to both sides of head, to make eyes.
6: Cut a small square of orange felt and attatch to head along the diagonal with felting needle. Attatch black sewing thread to back of head. Done!
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I'm linking up to the Strut Your Stuff link party.
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ETA: I've been featured on Five on Friday at Singing with Birds! Thank you for my 15minutes of fame. :) And thanks to all of you lovely ladies - and gents - leaving comments! I read and enjoy every single one! :D
Also, if you have any questions, just leave a comment and I'll answer as soon as possible right there in the comment section.

23 comments:

  1. are you kidding me? these are so cute and hanging them from strings in a group arrangement is so cute. LOVE them!

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  2. these are adorable - I wish I knew how to needle felt so I could make them. Maybe I'll have to learn.

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  3. Oh!those chubby little birds make my heart sing! : )

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  4. Congratulations, your birdies made this week's Top 5 Hits. Come check it out, grab a button if you'd like and thanks for sharing such a fabulous project!

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  5. Those are the cutest little robins ever!

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  6. Hi, Can you explain more about how to attach the felt to the ball at the beginning? ANd then how you attach the grey wool to the red wool? I really want to try these, but don't understand. You are not using glue, right? I love these! Thanks!

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  7. Thank you SO much for your additional explanation! So far, I've gotten thru step 2, and it's gone perfectly. I cannot find any grey wool! Where do you shop for your supplies? Also, do you use a 3 prong needle or one prong? Thanks for your guidance. So far, my red ball looks very nice. :)

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  8. cute, cute and more cute. Thank you for sharing your talents with us. I am visiting from "singing with birds"

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  9. Hi everybody, I think I'll have to answer some questions here in the comments, my original post is getting a bit long and chaotic... But it's so nice to hear that others are making these! That's an important part of blogging I think - sharing ideas and finding inspiration to try something yourself! :)

    I bought my materials as a kit from Panduro Hobby the first time, and later, in an ordinary book/music/hobby store here in Norway (Bok&Media). Try a Google search for "grey carded wool" and you'll get a few hits for online stores.

    I use a single felting needle (one prong). When working on such a small ornament I think I'd hit my fingers more often than the robin if I used three... ;) (And let me tell you, that HURTS!) Three at once would make felting the larger areas faster, but it doesn't work on little details and I like the control a single needle brings anyway.

    Thank you again for your interest! If any of you make your own robins, I would love to see a photo sometime!

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  10. Thanks for the additional info! You are SO helpful! And, yes, that was me under anonymous. I completed my robin last night per your instructions, and it turned out cute. Now I want to make differing sizes, a momma and baby size. Mine are not nearly as good as yours, but I will practice some more. :) Thank you again!

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  11. Just adorable! Makes me look forward to spring (as if the 4" of snow on the ground isn't enough!) Thanks for sharing ... I'll be linking.

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  12. I've never made anything felted. Ever. And I rarely post comments to all the blogs I subscribe to...but this robin is the cutest. thing. ever! Well done!

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  13. What a great idea! I just started needle felting about 6 months ago and I fell in love with this craft. Now, I can try my hand at making your adorable birds! Thank you for sharing... :D

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  14. I've never felted before, but these are darn irristable! I've got to try it! Thanks so much for posting!

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  15. I put these cuties on Craft Gossip Felting:
    http://felting.craftgossip.com/2011/04/18/felted-robin-free-tutorial/

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  16. Eva,

    Thank you for sharing this project. I love to needle felt! I haven't tried it on a styrofoam ball. The ball didn't break the needles?

    Happy felting!
    Terry

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  17. Terry: The needle is still in perfect condition, no damage to the point or even the tiny little notches that pull the wool in. In fact, it was the styrofoam ball that took the most damage: I accidentally overfelted one bird, and the styrofoam sort of collapsed and lost all structural integrity. Sturdy things, those needles. ;)

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    1. Thank you, Eva, for your reply. I am definitely going to try using a styrofoam ball. I needle felt a lot of snowmen, and I go through a lot of roving to do so. The styrofoam ball should be a big help.

      I love your blog!

      Terry

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  18. This is just the gentle push I needed to get started with needle felting. I adore these Robins so I really have no excuse now. Thank you for sharing and for inspiring me.

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  19. *singing "When the red, red robin comes bob, bob, bobbin' along......"

    I love these. I think I'll make one for each of my munchkins as keepsakes for them and me. I used to sing them to sleep singing or humming the song then taught each of them the song as they grew older.

    Thank you for posting this.

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  20. *singing "When the red, red robin comes bob, bob, bobbin' along......"

    I love these. I think I'll make one for each of my munchkins as keepsakes for them and me. I used to sing them to sleep singing or humming the song then taught each of them the song as they grew older.

    Thank you for posting this.

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Thank you for taking time to comment! I read and enjoy every single one! :)
Because of a sudden surge of spam lately, I've decided to disable anonymous comments, in hope of eliminating the problem. Thank you for your patience. :)