Do you like craft but want something that comes together in a couple of hours rather than several days? Well then, you are my kind of crafter and I guarantee you're going to love needle-felting!
Taking just a handful of wool fibres and stabbing them with a special needle, you too can make gorgeous little sculptures! And who knew that repeatedly stabbing something could be so bloomin' therapeutic?
If you would like to have a go for yourself, I am sharing my needle-felted mouse tutorial here. The wool and supplies are pretty easy to source online and in your local art shops but we will be adding kits soon so that you can get exactly what you need straight from us.
Firstly, pull your wool gently to part the fibres and take a small piece to make the head. Wrap it around your needle, pull it off and, holding one end, stab it with the needle to mash the fibres together. You will soon see that it is starting to felt. Work all over the top and under the chin, keeping hold of the loose fibres at the neck.
Wrap a tiny amount around your needle to make a nose. Felt it with a few stabs and attach to the face by stabbing through the larger end of the nose into the head. It looks a little funny at this stage but don't worry!
TOP TIP: I have used coarse sheep's wool for the core as it felts quickly. But I am going to be covering this with soft merino wool fibres for a super soft finish. These wool fibres look paler in the photos.
Take some (merino) wool strands and wrap them under the chin, either side of the nose and over the top of the head. Use your needle to gently felt them to the head.
Take another piece of wool and wrap it over the top of the head and hold the ends under the chin. Felt these carefully to sculpt the face. Leave some loose fibres hanging down for the neck.
Wrap a larger piece of wool around your needle to make a cone-shaped body. Felt it for a while until it is nice and firm.
TOP TIP: Keep turning the sculpture as you work, never stabbing in the same place twice. This will ensure that you get an even firmness all over. Only stab halfway in, not all the way through to the other side. But do make sure your needle is going all the way into the middle.
When the body is nice and firm, attach the head using the loose neck fibres. Stab all around the neck and then diagonally downwards through the head into the centre of the body. Blend all of the loose fibres in.
Take a longer, thinner piece of wool and wrap it around the bottom half of the body to make the haunches.
Tuck one end of the piece of wool under itself to make a little curve at the front of the body. Stab it in place, working along the edge of the wool to hold it in place.
Wrap the other side of the wool around, tuck it under itself again so that it joins the other curve at the front of the body. Stab it in place.
Now that you have both legs in place, work over the haunches with your needle to firm them up and get the shape that you want.
TOP TIP: The more you stab, the firmer and more condensed the fibres become. So if you want a soft, fat bottom, don't over-stab!
Now to make the arms! Take a small, thin piece of wool and wrap it around the top half of the body. Tuck the ends in as before and stab them in place before working all across the back, felting the arms in place.
Time for the ears! Rub a small piece of pink wool between your fingers to make a rough little ball. Place this on a sponge and felt it with your needle, turning it often as it starts to mesh together into a little pad.
You can play around with techniques here: you can use your needle to shape the edges into an ear shape; or use scissors to cut the ears out of your felted wool. Using your needle takes time to master but looks better in my opinion.
Fold the ears at the base and secure with a few stabs before attaching them to the head.
TOP TIP: The size and position of the ears will really determine the character of your mouse so have a good play with position before you attach them. And remember, if you don't like it, just pull them off and reattach!
Make some little pink feet and hands in the same way.
Twist a tail-length piece of pink wool and, holding firmly, stab along the length until it felts.
Attach it to the bottom with a few firm stabs.
Add the eyes! Decide on the eye placement and make a hole with your needle or an awl. Push the eye into place. Check you're happy with his expression, then secure each eye by wrapping a tiny bit of grey or back wool around the edge and felting this with your needle, trapping the eye in place.
TOP TIP: I have used glass eyes, which are easy to find online. If you don't have any, you can twist a tiny wisp of black wool into a ball and this looks great too.