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New crafting obsession takes flight

Recently I decided I need a new hobby. This was an odd impulse; I don’t really have time or space for more projects.

Yet, there I was trying to think of a craft to satisfy my itchy fingers. Crafters may know the feeling — a restlessness that feels like it could be calmed by trying a new medium.

Most of the art forms I could think to satisfy the itch were too intense (hot glass work, or fine woodworking) to delve into on my own, and I couldn’t find any local classes.

Then one night, scrolling through social media, I saw an online needle felting course advertised … I like fiber arts. The class would make a 3D chickadee … I like birds.

Not as grand as other mediums I longed to try, it did sound fun. On impulse I bought a ticket for the course and ordered the essential supplies.

The wool, needles, wire and glue came, but I didn’t open them. A few weeks remained until the class started, and I didn’t think I had the self-control to handle the supplies and not just give it a go. Also, see previous statement about not really having time.

When the course started, the teacher went live each day in a private Facebook group, and showed a couple of steps for making the little bird. Most days that week I watched the videos live, and later, actually doing the project, I went back for reference.

I started my first bird while socializing with other members at the Arthurdale fiber arts guild meeting.
If you aren’t familiar with needle felting, it is the process of using a specialized needle (often barbed) to stab wool over and over until the fibers are matted and tangled enough to hold the desired shape.

The process can be done on a flat piece of felt or other fabric to create a 2D piece, or the wool can be shaped into 3D pieces.

I learned that making a 3D piece starts with making the basic shape with core wool. This is poorer quality, coarse, felting quickly and cheaper than top coat wool.

The next step was making the legs. The instructor showed how to twist and shape four wires together into legs, and then wrap them with wisps of black felt coated in glue. The legs stay connected to each other, and the excess wire is tucked into the belly of the core bird form with wool felted to keep the legs in place.

I enjoyed making the top coat of the bird. To give it a fluffy and feathery look the instructor showed how to felt small sections of wool leaving the ends free. These ends are later trimmed so the bird doesn’t look shaggy.

The wing and tail feathers came together with a combination of wool, glue and wire. Following the class instructions, I added watercolor to the feathers to make the centers black while leaving the edges white. I assembled the feathers into the wings and tails, and felted them into place. I made the beak and eyes out of homemade air-dry clay, painted black.

Overall I’m pretty happy with my first and second tries making needle felted chickadees. I need practice (especially on proportions; the heads of my little birds are a bit large for their bodies), but I enjoyed the process so I’ve already ordered more colors of wool to try making some other types of birds.

I’d like to say this will be my last crafting hobby, but I know that’s not true.

ALDONA BIRD is a journalist using experience gained working on organic farms in Europe to help her explore possibilities of local productivity and sustainable living in Preston County. Email