Needle Felting Inspired by Nature

Janine Gardner discovered needle felting about 5 years ago. Back then her main interest was creating polymer clay figures (dolls), and she found an online tutorial about needle felting around a wire armature for a pose-able figure.

She says, “Although the sharp needles were intimidating at first, I tried it out and immediately fell in love with the idea of sculpting with wool.”

It seems like a whole world of creative possibilities opens up once you try it…I’m still discovering more and more ways to use wool in new designs. I love that you can make tiny little ‘paintings’, larger sculpted 3D scenes, or huge beautiful bowls, vessels and clothing, all using the same wool fibers.

The beauty of nature is the biggest drive behind just about everything that Janine makes.

It’s almost like I feel compelled to constantly re-create what I love about the woods. I grew up around wooded areas and went exploring a LOT…the sights, sounds and smells of the forest are my favorite thing in the world. I like to sometimes come up with my own ‘species’ of mushrooms and birds as well, and try to make them look like they could actually exist.”

Janine still loves polymer clay, and makes lots of miniature mushrooms and bird eggs for use in mixed-media projects. Most recently she’s been sculpting tiny bird beaks for an upcoming felted bird collector series. She uses acrylic paints on the sculpted pieces, experimenting with different washes and techniques in what she calls,
a seemingly never-ending (but fun!) journey to make things look realistic.

Janine offers these inspiring words:

No matter what, always keep practicing, and just enjoy how the wool feels and smells (yes, smells…I love it)! And one thing I’ve learned that’s helped me tremendously while needle felting…try to use a light touch and keep things on the softer side when doing sculptures, at least until the last stages. It makes it so much easier to correct mistakes and re-shape or add colors if your piece isn’t already too dense.”

Janine’s work is lovely in person! We have one of her miniature tree/river scapes in our studio.

You can see more of Janine’s work in her Etsy Shop: Foxtail Creek Studio

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