Koalas. Penguins. Giraffes. Donkeys. What do these critters have in common (besides the fact that they are made of flesh and blood)? They can be (and have been) needle felted! Many of our customers come in with pictures in their heads of a veritable zoo waiting to be brought into the world. So what is the first step that we would recommend?
First of all, try to find a reference photo! One of the great things about creating felt animals is that you can decide how realistic to be, and starting your project with a form and shape in mind is invaluable.
Many of you want to add glass eyes for additional realism, and they come in three types: posts that you glue on, beads that you sew, and wires that you work into the armature. We recommend drawing the eye placement before attaching the eyes so they are even. You can also use straight pins to experiment with before committing. If you are adding eyes with posts, make your whole form first and then poke a hole where you want the eye to be using an awl or needle. Wait to apply glue until you have already inserted it half-way, and then push it all the way in. You can use transparent super glue, but avoid putting the glue directly on the eye, as it will cause it to fog up. (Information from this paragraph was found at http://www.chushka.com/felt
If you want to felt the eye instead, remember that an eye has a pupil, an iris, and a light reflection and definitely find a reference photo– every eye is different! Try rolling some wool in your hand before needle felting it on so that it has some dimension and poke around the edge to give it definition.
Generally, we recommend C-1 wool for needle felting, but Trish also likes using combed top for fuzzier animals (use a blue needle!), and Jennifer Field (a recent teacher here) prefers short fiber merino. Try using wire to make bird feet and fishing line or other natural hair to make whiskers! Ears can be made using machine needled prefelt, or make your own prefelt and leave one edge loose to attach it to the head.
There you have it! Make a million animals and show them to us!