Needle felting is a process which uses barbed needles to interlock loose wool fibers to form a more condensed 2D art or material or 3D sculpture. The most common thing said during a Needle Felting Workshop is "Just Keep Stabbing!" with the warnings found on most instructions for Needle Felting: "The Needles are Sharp!" & "Needle Felting is addictive!"
The constant stabbing motion is all powered by the hand & wrist, because of the addictive quality, time can slip away (it takes a long time to felt something). To ensure good health during and after felting, remember to get up, walk around & stretch to regain circulation, check in with you personal needs like hunger, thirst, or the need to sleep. If your shoulder is feeling tension ask yourself if you are powering your stabbing with your whole arm - adjust back to using your hand and wrist more pleasing effects and overall physical comfort.
What is Dry Felting? Unlike WET felting, there is no water or soap involved, and is more often called Needle Felting for the use of those sharp needles is very key to the process. If you were to get a needle felted project wet, it would change completely to the touch, and how it looks. If you need to clean a dry felted article - pluck the dirt out with the tip of your needle. The second most popular way to clean is the "spank the dirt out" process. Simply turn your article upside down and slap your hand on the backside to encourage dirt or dust to become dislodged.
Lets Talk about Stabbing. Felting needles are used to entangle the fibers. Regular sewing needles will not have the same effect. As the felting needle is moved up and down, the barbs on the needles catch the scales of the wool and entangle them into place. Look at the needle you are using (there are thousands of needles to choose from) and adjust the amount of the needle that impacts the wool depending on the effect you are trying to achieve.
Important safety notes: It only takes one jab to punch your finger. It can be surprising and hurt for a second. It's necessary to keep your eye on the needle at all times when it's moving! No exceptions to this rule. This is great for people looking to improve their sense of fine tuned attention to details. It has been my experience over the years, the hand, with practice, becomes accustomed to aiming so as to not make contact with an unsuspecting finger on the supporting hand, however, if fatigue or distraction comes into play, the "ouch" is friendly reminder.
Use a "safety sponge under your work, to absorb the impact and to save your table, or lap from being stabbed. The sponge can also help you "hear" how hard you are stabbing, for needle felting mostly involves gentle motions, if you can hear your stabbing, you may want to be check to see if your item has "stuck" to your sponge, and then reduce the speed and strength behind the needling motion. Moving your item constantly will help you "feel" any lumps and bumps or inconsistent thickness to your project, with practice you will start to fine tune your "sense of touch".
Comparing needle felting to other mediums used in creating art: it is easier than most for there is a unique ancient feeling as finger-prints start to feel individual fibres of wool, twist and capture fine threads as though we have always known how. One can create beautiful works without having any belief in their own creative ability, for the technical applications lure you into a place where there is no wrong way, unless of course you break a needle. The most common way of breaking a needle involves stabbing in one direction and changing direction while still in the creation before pulling the needle out. This is easy to adjust during the process.
Often it can be said, that needle felting creates a meditative state, causes joy and happiness, with most people exclaiming how fun the process is, and how delightful the end results are. The process can be therapy, distracting from distress, allowing for time to pass in a pleasing way. Mostly felting feels good, feel encouraged, and remember... Just keep stabbing.