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My life before and after Kay Petal!


Hello everyone, Some time ago I bought a book revealing the mysteries of felting. I decided to start ‘easy’ and make a simple cat. 🙂 After struggling with needles breaking one after the other, poking for hours – I might be exaggerating 🙂 – without fibers even having the slightest desire to felt (this is true though :-)) … ugly cat was born! I can’t say I liked him very much. After showing him to my best friend Dirk who couldn’t stop laughing, I was thinking of throwing him into the garbage can. But this idea was a step too far for Dirk. Even though he had been making fun of ugly cat, he couldn’t stand the idea so I proposed… to adopt him. And so he did! Pfew, was I happy letting ugly cat go! Bye bye kitty! 🙂
But the past months I caught myself still dreaming of felted creatures … so I watched some tutorials on youtube and looked for websites. I tried some things out, starting of with a simple project this time (it’s the truth!!) – a ball. 🙂 Same story, I got frustrated poking and breaking needles ending up with a ball looking like euh… looking like anything but a ball! And then finally the atmosphere changed… when I met Kay Petal. :-)))) Such amazing creatures, I fell in love on the spot and even more amazingly, free video tutorials in real time! What a wonderful gift. So I gave it another try. I took time to watch some of the tutorials (without pushing the fast forward button 🙂 and poked. I started over more then once when the result was not right but thanks to the videos it didn’t feel like struggling anymore, I was discovering and learning!
And this is when Wendy was born. I can’t stop loving her. Wendy told me that during the felting process she was a bit anxious though, scared of ending up like ugly cat … I must admit I do feel a bit guilty about ugly cat. I realize now that I should cherish them all, the ugly ones and the beautiful ones. They all make part of the path I am walking on. But this path is so much more fun and much more easy with Kay then without her!!! I am so grateful for sharing your experience with us Kay. Learning is such fun together with you! Thank you very much. With love from Belgium!

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Felting Classes in Southern Oregon

felting classes in southern oregon

Here are some recent felting projects from my weekly felting classes.  We have been wet felting and needle felting, both magical and fun.  Needle felting ornaments over wool balls (I had made ahead of time in the washing machine) was a blast!  Everyone made several original and fun needle felted creations to take home.  One of my regular students organized a wet felted slipper making party.  None of us had much experience making slippers but we all sure had fun!  We’ve had classes making seamless Nuno felted handbags, we’ve made wet felted wool paintings and needle felting all kinds of creations!

The creativity abounds at Felt Alive Studio!  See the current class schedule HERE!


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Wet Felted Wool Painting Class

felting class - painting with wool

The wet felted wool painting class was so much fun!  It was a creative afternoon filled with laughter as we explored techniques for layout, design and finishing – all of our results were a fun surprise!   See the current schedule for felting classes in my home studio in southern Oregon.




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Nuno Felting Class – Seamless Handbag

Nuno felting class - seamless handbag

Nuno Felting Class – Seamless Handbag

Yesterday I taught a  FUN Nuno Felting class!  It is wonderful to watch each of my students discover a new outlet for their creativity as I introduce them to the endless possibilities of felt making in weekly felting classes here in my home studio.  From traditional flat felt-making to sculptural needle felting, we explore many different techniques for making felt from wool and other fibers.   I’ve posted the current schedule here.

Yesterday, we gathered for a Nuno felted handbag workshop.   Each student designed their bags using wool roving I hand-dyed for the workshop and here are the results!!  Thanks Ladies – it was a blast!!!!!

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Learning to Felt

Needle Felting has been such an amazing creative journey for me.  This video was made back in 2009 – only a couple of years into my needle felting journey while I was still learning to felt.  Yet even today, I’m still discovering the magic and needle felting still makes me feel like I’m ‘Learning to Fly’



Thanks for watching!  If you are ready to learn the magic of needle felting, Felt Alive Video Workshops will get you started on your own journey and help you learn how to fly!

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This is Spinal Tap – Felt Alive Needle Felted Dolls

This is Spinal Tap figures caricature dolls needle felted by Kay Petal Felt Alive

This is Spinal Tap – England’s Loudest Band

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I’m so happy to introduce – This is Spinal Tap – Felt Alive needle felted dolls based on characters from the cult classic movie called – This is Spinal Tap a hysterical mockumentary about England’s loudest fictional band.   As Nigel would say – ‘these go to eleven.”

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how much wool do I need for needle felting????

Kettle Dyed Needle Felting Wool Curry

How much wool do I need for needle felting? It’s a question I get asked often.   Wool is typically sold by the ounce – and since I primarily use wool batting (rather than roving) I’ll talk about that.

An ounce of lofty wool batting will fill a 2 cup measuring container. Depending on how dense or firm you felt, this ounce of wool can stay nearly this size or can be felted down into the size of a walnut.  (this kind of size reduction takes many hours, can cause needle breakage as well as hand fatigue as the felt gets really dense.)

Stuffed into a measuring cup – an ounce of Felt Alive Wool Batting looks about like this:


how much wool do I need for needle felting


how much wool do I need for needle feltingFor my projects and my style of felting, a twelve inch doll typically weighs about 3-5 oz.  Since my dolls are solid needle felted wool (no wire armatures or sewn fabric clothing) that’s how much wool it takes to make a doll.    The bulk of my dolls are the core parts that I felt with my un-dyed core wool batting – I plan on using two ounces of core wool for each project and then another two ounces of a skin color.  The remaining weight (if any) comes from the wool I use to needle felt the needle felted wool pixieclothing to the doll and the wool I use for hair.
For a 3 ” Pixie, it takes less than an ounce!
I hope this gives you some idea of where to start when asking yourself “how much wool do I need for needle felting?”
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Needle Felting Tip – Bag the Head!

needle felting tip - bag the head

This needle felting tip – bag the head is a trick I’ve developed over the years to protect the head/face of my needle felted dolls while I’m finishing up their bodies.

It looks rather gruesome but tying a plastic bag over the head of a needle felted doll in-progress keeps it pristine as you work and if you poke little breathing holes in, you won’t feel so bad.

Oh – sorry, Mr. New Orleans blues legend Dr. John, for exposing you on the ‘operating table’.  🙂

Here he is all finished and dapper!! (and so relieved he can finally breathe easy with that bag off his head.)

needle felting tip - bag the head

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The Use and Care of Felting Needles

the use and care of felting needles

Felt Alive Needle Felting Tips!

Let’s face it, felting needles are sharp and must be used with caution.  Poking yourself and breaking your sharp, fragile felting needles are both inevitable when needle felting but they should be rare occurrences. It is important to learn the basics on the use and care of felting needles.  Once you break your felting needle, there is no way to fix it or keep using it – it’s done.  I’ll be the first to admit that when I first got started needle felting, I broke so many needles but even worse, my fingertips felt pincushions.   I quickly realized that if I was going to continue on with this addictive craft I was going to have to figure out what was going wrong.

Here are a few tips and tricks that have helped me save my needles and my fingers.

  1.  Work Area  Set up your work area on a sturdy table with good lighting.  Curling up on the couch with a bunch of wool and sharp felting needles is fraught with danger.
  2. Work Surface You’ll need some sort of a felting pad to work on on.  While it’s tempting to hold your project in your hand while needle felting, it inevitably leads to injury and needle breakage.  I like dense poly foam to absorb the jabs of the felting needles while keeping my project stable and bounce-free.  I avoid foam like styrofoam (messy) or thick upholstery foam which makes for a bouncy work surface which leads to needle breakage and accidents.  Also, focusing on a project that bounces with each jab makes for bleary, weary eyes.
  3. Grip  The tighter you grip your needle, the worse it will be if you miss your mark.  Hold your needle just a lightly as you can.  As the wool begins to felt and the surface gets dense, you will find yourself gripping tighter to pierce your needle into the wool.  Switching to a finer gauge needle is the solution here.   Also, hammering away at your project swinging your whole forearm is a recipe for disaster.  I always rest the hand I use to hold my needle on the edge of my felting pad with the relaxed jabbing motion coming from my wrist and fingers, not my elbow.
  4. Speed / Depth  With so many needle pokes to turn wool into felt, it is natural to think faster is better.  It’s not always the case.   Going fast is ok as long as you take really shallow jabs, only piercing the first 1/8″ of your felting needle blade into your project.  You lose control with fast, deep jabs and the faster you go, the more needles you break and the more it hurts when you miss your mark.
  5. Control  The fragile blade end of the needle is the working part.  If you see it bending and flexing as you work, you should adjust your methods so the needle glides in and out of your project with as little strain as possible.  If you feel resistance as you work – if you feel the needle is getting difficult to pierce into your project – it’s very important to change to a finer gauge needle that glides in easier, saving you from fatigue, injury and needle breakage.
  6. Angle I find it very effective to change the angle of the needle as I’m jabbing.  The wool seems to felt faster that way.  I always make sure to pull the needle back the same way it went in as it’s very easy to break off the tip of the needle in my project.
  7. Density  There are no rules about how tight or densely felted you should make your projects.  I’ve seen everything from barely felted wool art to wool sculptures that are so densely felted they feel more like clay sculptures than wool sculptures.  There are no rules but the firmer you make your needle felted projects, the likelier it is that you will break more needles.
  8. Relax.  Worrying about stabbing yourself makes you tense.  I can’t stress this enough.  Needle felting is a calm, relaxing experience, but a needle jab or the dreaded ‘snap’ of a needle breaking is the best way to interrupt that.

I hope these tips help you with The Use and Care of Felting Needles!

Watch me needle felt a basic shape out of Core Wool using my Yellow 40t Felt Alive Felting Needle

Watch all of my videos to learn how to work with the needles for a relaxing and safe needle felting experience!

Shop for Felt Alive Felting Needles HERE!

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Felt Alive’s Guide to Needle Felting Doll Clothes

needle felting doll clothes

Needle Felting Doll Clothes, when a Fig (oak) leaf isn’t appropriate…

Wool For Needle Felted Doll Clothes

Felt Alive’s Guide to Needle Felting Doll Clothes

It's Time To Get Dressed!
I’ll be the first to admit, my dolls LOVE being naked. They really do seem to enjoy their new little bodies. But in felt, as in life, sometimes we simply must get dressed.
needle felted dolls by felt alive
It is easy to make needle felted clothing (watch a video) with clean edges for hems and even firm soles for shoes; needle felting it all right into place.
Clothing my dolls is very exciting, it seems like with each ‘outfit’ I create, I’m learning and developing new techniques.
the dude caricature needle felted doll by felt alive

No sewing is needed – ever!

The clothes hang loose and shoes look like they can be removed. But they are securely needle felted in place. Using quality wool helps me bring my ideas to life.  Getting my dolls dressed is such a big part of developing their characters and making them literally ‘Felt Alive.’ I rely on wool that will behave exactly like I need it too.
Using wool that isn’t ideally suited to sculptural needle felting might leave my sharp-dressed men a little less sharp.  And there would certainly be less of them. Needle felting with wool that felts up fast and neat with a felting needle leads me a little quicker to my ultimate delight in needle felting – falling in love with my new wool friends.

Wool Batting

wool batting for needle felting

Batting comes in sheets, rather than ropes (like roving or top) it’s is a great choice for making needle felted doll clothes using flat felting techniques.  I typically start clothing out on the felting pad and felt the components flat making clean edges for hems, leaving loose fibers to needle felt right to the dolls.

Our Yellow 40t felting needle works like a dream with all of our batting.  The Double point needles really do double the fun.

Wool Batting is a fun choice for needle felted doll clothes.
These Felt Alive Dolls are all dressed to the nines in with clothes needle felted from wool batting.

Needle felted accessories?  Hal, The Tourist even has a camera made from wool batting!

Hal - A needle felted doll by Felt AliveMac - Needle felted doll by Felt Alive

And Mac, well, Mac is pretty happy with his kilt and sporran needle felted with wool batting. Merino Roving came in handy for creating the plaid pattern.  His happy face shirt and boots are also made using batting!

Merino Prefelt!

merino prefelt for needle felting doll clothes

Sheets of partially felted wool that I use often for clothing my dolls. It works great because it is, essentially, thin sheets of batting but a needle felting machine started the process for us!
If you are embellishing and need clean edges, cutting the merino batting gives a great result as you needle felting it in to your piece.

If I want a clean edge that hangs loose it’s a good idea to finish the edge by folding a hem under and felting it flat.  I find if I ruffle the edges with a strong sewing needle, the edge felts in nicely.

Prefelt sheets are not fully felted, meaning there are still loose fibers that can be felted – needle felted right into projects. with no seams showing at all.

Li’l Saige’s shirt and shoes are made from Merino Prefelt.
His shorts are made with wool batting (and his hair is Merino roving.)

needle felted doll clothes - shoes

The details of his “FA” (Felt Alive) shoes were simple using tiny letters cut from prefelt and needled right into the shoes.

Li'l Jessica by Felt Alive - wearing needle felted clothing made from pre-feltTwo Jessicas - Needle Felted Doll by Kay Petal

Li’l Jessica looks so cute in her jumper made with Merino Prefelt

Jim Timmie got dressed in my Needle Felted Dolls video workshop using prefelt for his shorts and his shoe.
He lost his other shoe so you could learn how to make bare feet and feet with shoes!
Because our prefelt is made of fine merino wool, I recommend using our fine and fast Blue 40 star felting needles. the Double or Quad Point blue needles work great for finishing up the work that the machine started without leaving big holes in this fine wool.

Small bits of prefelt can even be fluffed right up with your fingertips (or a sharp sewing needle) and you will find yourself with messy batting to use for eyes, teeth in shading. The white pre felt can be used in place of our Short-fibered white merino batting in all of my video workshops as long as you fluff it up first.

Learn How to Get Your Dolls DRESSED!
Felt Alive Needle Felted Dolls
10 hour Video Workshop

Needle Felting Doll Clothes

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Celebrity Caricature Dolls

Felt Alive Needle Felted Wool Caricature Dolls by Kay Petal

Not long after I learned to needle felt dolls, I discovered I had a knack for making the wool look like real people – funny little versions of the real thing.   From Elton to Elvis, Janis Joplin to Ellen Degeneres, I’ve been busy bringing the wool to life and the list in my head is endless of who’s next.  Like real celebrities, they enjoy the camera very much – and I love capturing their candid moments.  This gallery is a collection of some of my favorite Felt Alive moments.

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The Late, Great Freddie Mercury – in needle felted wool. UPDATE

Serendipity: While taking a Sunday drive we spotted a person in a furry costume with a sign that said Farm Open. We followed the sign to a Suri Alpaca Farm and decided to stop in to see if I could find some hair for the doll I’m working on – Freddie Mercury, the late, great singer from Queen. I found the perfect fiber and in chatting with the owner of the farm, it turns out he is old friends from college with Brian May, the guitarist from Queen. What are the chances of that?

The hairs on my arms were on end the whole way home but things like this have been happening since the day I first picked up a felting needle.  Someday, I might need to write a book about it.  But something made this story even more magical – before talking with the owner, I had a discussion with another fiber artist I met at the farm about how serendipity led us both to our crafts – I even mentioned that if you don’t pay attention, you might not notice it’s happening. So pay attention to the signs – especially if a furry creature is holding it!

Here is my Felt Alive tribute to Freddie Mercury (5 September 1946 – 24 November 1991)

Besides his lovely hair and mustache (Suri alpaca) he is 100% needle felted wool

Part of what I love about needle felting great musicians is listening to their music while I’m working and watching their amazing performances on YouTube during my breaks.  This video of Queen performing A Kind of Magic live at Wembley Stadium in 1986 inspired this Li’l Freddie Mercury doll. 

UPDATE – I’m most honored to say that Li’l Freddie Mercury is happy at his new home in the official Queen Archives in England.

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Making Whoopi! A Needle Felted Doll

Meet Li’l Whoopi

I was so excited to be commissioned to bring Whoopi Goldberg to life in needle felted wool. I couldn’t have thought of of a better subject myself! She is solid needle felted wool with flexible needle felted joints. She stands on her own and is about 12″ tall. I wet felted her dreadlocks using Merino Roving and for her glasses I used Merino prefelt that I needle felted and then wet felted. She was quite a project and a fun collaboration with my client. My only problem is saying goodbye! I literally fall in love with my dolls as they come to life on my felting pad. I have only recently started doing custom dolls for others instead of dolls for me – it is getting easier to part with them but never easy!

If you would love to learn the magic of sculptural needle felting, I’d love to show you how! I have several fun and comprehensive video workshops along with all of the tools and supplies you need!

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X-treme Felt Alive Motor Sports with Li’l Conan & Li’l Trump

Needle Felted Conan O'Brien & Donald Trump Dolls

Li’l Conan & Li’l Donald Trump tearing it up on Li’l Conan’s li’l ATV for a high-octane off-road adventure. And check out The Li’l Donald’s comb-over!

My needle felted dolls are pretty tough – it’s hard to believe that these two li’l buddies look no worse for the wear after their wild ride.

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It’s a Worm’s Life – Felt Alive Needle Felted Worms

I needle felted these silly little woolly worms today over wire. I rarely use wire but this was easy and fun! I wrapped core wool roving around cloth covered florist wire, needle felted it using Felt Alive Super Duper Double Felting needles and covered them with Norwegian C1 premium felting batt – available Felt Alive Needle Felting Supplies

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Li’l Lyle Lovett – needle felted wool art doll

Lyle Lovett has such an interesting face so I thought he would be the perfect subject for a recent workshop where I taught advanced needle felting techniques for working from photographs. It was the first time I’ve shared my techniques for bringing wool to life as an actual likeness.

And I must mention that I’m a huge fan of Lyle Lovett! I’m on a new mission to introduce Li’l Lyle to the real Lyle Lovett. I have a feeling he would get a big kick out of him and I would love nothing more than to get a picture of the two of them together.

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The Li’l Boss – Needle Felted Springsteen Doll

The Li’l Boss!! Yes, I made a needle felted caricature of Bruce Springsteen.

I listened to his music while I was bringing him to life – it was a great trip down memory lane and very inspirational.

And Li’l Bono was happy to share the stage with The Li’l Boss!

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Li’l Ellen DeGeneres

Today I am so happy because I get to unveil a new Felt Alive Li’l Celebrity.

Ladies & Gentleman…….Li’l Ellen DeGeneres!!!

And it seems the rest of the Felt Alive stars were pretty excited about her arrival on the scene.

Li’l Spock likes these guys but disco dancing remains illogical.

After all – Ellen is the life of the party… She can even get Li’l Trump to lighten up and give new meaning to a Trump Tower.

I am scheming of ways to get Li’l Ellen in the hands of Big Ellen. I’m busy going through the Ellen Show website and did submit some photos. Maybe I need a Felting Friends campaign to Ellen’s show. Any volunteers to suggest that her producers to take a look at her Ellen’s Felt Alive Felt-Alike??

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The Universal Language of Felt

I have video workshop customers all over the world but most of them speak English very well. I was so pleased to receive this email from a student in Hungary who was able to follow along in my 10 hour long Doll Making Video without being fluent in English!

“Hi Kay,

I send to you photos of my first work. I have great pleasure from it.

Thank you very much for your school.


(Sorry my English, I do not speak english very well)”

My videos have no subtitles so it is very safe to say that Eva speaks the Universal Language of Felt!

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Sweet Station meets Needle Felting

I was looking at my website stats and noticed a bunch of hits coming from a blog called Sweet Station. Then I remembered I had recently submitted a link to my website-They feature really sweet stuff, you can get lost for hours scrolling through the posts & I was delighted to find my Li’l Celebs featured.

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Daisy – A Felt Alive Needle Felted Doll

Those of you familiar with my work know that I rarely offer my dolls for sale. As living conditions for my collection get more and more crowded, I am faced with the reality that I must learn to say goodbye. So!!

Little Daisy is available for sale on eBay

Daisy stands about 7″ tall and is solid needle felted wool.

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Will Ferrell – ELF!

Will Ferrell – ELF!, originally uploaded by feltalive.

My husband requested a Will Ferrell caricature, my nephew suggested the Elf costume – I think it all worked out although I must admit, this li’l dude sort of gives me the creeps. He looks like he is up to no good if you ask me.

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Li’l Travolta Sightseeing in Alaska

I had to make a Li’l Travolta Saturday Night Fever style! Boy does that take me back. I have to find a place with a disco ball for his official photo shoot but in the meantime we took him out sightseeing here in Alaska. When we stopped in at McHugh Creek along Turnagain Arm he learned an awful lot about the Dall Sheep we spotted in the moutains…Hmm….I wonder why he was so fascinated????

I have never needle felted will Dall Sheep wool. Sounds interesting, though.

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The Man in Black needle felted wool

I must say, I’m pretty smitten with my Li’l Cash – he looked like Sean Connery for so long and while I am a fan – Li’l Sean was NOT who this guy was supposed to be. So, like I usually do at that one special moment where my character comes to life – I shouted out with glee “I DID IT!!!!!!” It really is a fun moment…really fun.

Li’l Cash stands about 12″ tall and is 100% needle felted wool. He is fully jointed with needle felted joints and stands on his own without the use of wire armatures.

For his core, I used my favorite wool batting from For his flesh layer, I used my all time favorite needle felting wool – Norwegian C1 Felting Batts (beige peach for Johnny’s flesh) from New England Felting Supply – For his suit, I used Merino Prefelt, also from New England Felting Supply. His hair is Merino roving. And like always, I used my Felt Alive Super-Duper, Color-Coded, Rubber-Coated Felting Needles.

Li’l Cash – An original Felt Alive Wool Sculpture by Kay Petal

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Clementine, originally uploaded by feltalive.

I made Clementine for a VERY special project. She made a long trip to China to a doll manufacturer to study her for possible mass production of my designs. Well, it was no big surprise to learn that they can not be easily reproduced – the style does not lend itself to the assembly line. I was glad to get her safely back home!

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Needle Felted Celebrities

Group Shot, originally uploaded by feltalive.

Eleven Li’l felted celebrities all in a row! Pretty funny – The Li’l Beatles were the first – their scale is a bit smaller than the others but I love them just they way they are.

front row – l-r Li’l Bob Dylan, Li’l Marilyn, Li’l John Lennon, Li’l Ringo Starr, Li’l George Harrison, Li’l Paul McCartney, Li’l Elvis, Li’l Janice Joplin.

back row l-r Li’l Elton John, Li’l Willie Nelson, Li’l Conan O’Brien

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Lil Marylin Monroe in needle felted wool

She looks tragic to me – I find it strange that most of my characters have a spark of joyfulness to me, but not so with Li’l Marilyn. This one was a real challenge – I don’t think Marilyn wanted to come to life in wool. But my li’l Marilyn is very balanced – she stands all by herself on her little red shoes

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Li’l Bob Dylan in needle felted wool

I am really happy to introduce my newest li’l Felt Alive celebrity – Li’l Bob Dylan! I just love how the wool can take on the look of a rugged face and a steely-eyed expression. And curly sheep’s locks seemed like the perfect choice for Dylan hair.

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Li’l Elton John Needle Felted Wool Doll

My Li’l Elton John was SO FUN to bring to life. Even his li’l glasses are made of wool – I didn’t even have to use wire. My proudest accomplishment is the lenses – they are wool, they are felted and you can see his eyes through them. I just love his flashy, flamboyant li’l personality.

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My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys

Needle Felted Willie Nelson

My Little Willie Nelson!

Needle Felted Willie Nelson

Needle Felted Willie Nelson Rear View

Willie is about 12″ tall and is 100% Needle Felted Wool. His hair is a blend of Alpaca and Icelandic Wool. Like all my characters, I start with a basic body structure using what I call “core wool” which is basically wool batting that has not been dyed. The outer layers of the skin and clothing are made with Norwegian C1 Felting Batts. Willie was a wonderful, fun challenge for me – and he stands on his own!

Here is Willie with his buddy, Conan O’Brien!

Needle Felted Buddies

And here is a video so you can see how lifelike he is!

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Willie Nelson coming to life in Needle Felted Wool

My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys

willie wip

What fun I am having!! Willie will look much more like Willie when he gets a neck – I am learning that our necks really define what we look like! I will post again when Willie is complete but I love this stage and had to share!