My needle felted painting process

Some people have asked me about my process for needle felting. Remember that I am completely self-taught. But I have always loved and worked with art.

I fill out the background first


The first thing I do is decide on my subject, and find a photo that I want to work from. Next I fill out the background, just like you do with a painting, poking the wool into a piece of felt. I use wool-based felt, though I’ve seen some people say they use synthetic, or a wool blanket, or even cotton. But felt feels sturdier to me and easier to poke the wool into.

I use a rough drawing for the shape and size then add the first layer


Then I make a rough drawing outline on paper of the shape of the foreground object, in my case an animal, about the size that I want it to be, and cut it out. I started doing this after my needle felt of the deer because it was becoming too big for my canvas area.

I match the outline to the wool to get it the right size, then start shaping it more.


I make the rough shape of the animal with a base of wool. I use my needle to poke it straight through and get it to stay, but I also poke sideways and a little bit diagonally to get it into the shape I want it to be. And I keep comparing it to my paper cut out so that I don’t make it too big.

I add on more layers


For raised areas I roll the wool into ovals or balls or teardrops, whatever fits the shape better, and poke it in. I keep building it up.

I add more details and colour, and I still keep reshaping

When I have what feels like the right shape, I add in layers of colour, and then add in details like eyes or the ears.

I look at the composition, add what is needed, and last touches


Then I look at my overall composition and add what I need to feel right visually to me. I already have an idea of that before I start, but I always let myself play around with it. I make it the way I want it to look, not how the photo looks. The photo is just for reference.
That’s my process. I hope you find it interesting or helpful!

Crafting, creating art or writing, can be relaxing, help with mental health issues, and at the same time you can create a nice gift or something that pleases your eye. I hope you try needle felting if it appeals to you, too.

About Cheryl Rainfield

I write the books I needed and couldn't find as a teen. I write teen fiction--paranormal fantasy and gritty realistic fiction. I'm the author of SCARS (WestSide Books, 2010) #1 ALA QuickPicks, and Governor General Literary Award Finalist, HUNTED (WestSide Books, Oct 2011), STAINED (Harcourt, 2013), The Last Dragon (HIP Books, Sept 2009), and Walking Both Sides (HIP Books, 2011). I also enjoy drawing, surfing the web, connecting with people I like, doing crafts, and being with my dog.
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