Creature Felt

Felter Skelter - Needle Felt Art Inspiration

Welcome to Felter Skelter, your essential guide for needle felting inspiration and ideas!

Zoe Williams has now retired from her awesome Felter Skelter column, but we loved it so much we have chosen to reissue it each month! 

In this issue, Zoe looks at creature felt, where wool has been used to make artisan critters using felting techniques.  There is so much animal art out there, but I really think I have found some awesome pieces. It sounds like an interesting subject; lets see what she has to say.

Sometimes it seems that needle felt is the exclusive domain of kitsch and pet portraiture. To be clear, I don’t dislike pet portraits – I’ve done a couple myself and I enjoy the opportunity to immortalize a beloved animal friend – but in this post I want to highlight a few examples that break the mould..we will call them creature felt. These artists use needle felt to render realistic sculptures of creatures of all sorts. Perhaps most impressive is the way in which they are able to adapt the material to approximate fur, feathers, skin and scales.

Miki Ichiyama gives us creature felt in the form of a needle felted Emperor Penguin
Miki Ichiyama’s needle felted Emperor Penguin.
Miki Ichiyama shows creature felt with new meaning, in the form of a needle felted snake Shiro Ebi
Miki Ichiyama’s needle felted snake Shiro Ebi
Miki Ichiyama's needle felted tortoise Lonesome George
Miki Ichiyama’s needle felted tortoise Lonesome George

These first three are the work of Japanese artist Miki Ichiyama. Although I can’t read the descriptions without the help of Google Translate, I think the photos speak for themselves. These are some of the most lifelike needle felt sculptures I have seen and I love the variety of animals represented. The fine detail in texture, color and even facial expression is exceptional.

nosonoso needle felted Sloths
Needle felted Sloths by nosonoso
nosonoso needle felted Spotted Cuscus
nosonoso needle felted Spotted Cuscus
nosonoso needle felted Larva
nosonoso needle felted Larva

The next three are the work another Japanese artist – sadly I wasn’t able to find her real name, but she goes by the nickname “nosonoso“. The pieces shown above are complete animals, however some of her other work depicts disembodied heads and even bones. Many of her felt creations are also intended to be worn, which only adds to their strange appeal. You can follow her on flickr.

CreturFetur needle felted Axolotl
CreturFetur needle felted Axolotl
CreturFetur needle felted chevrotain
CreturFetur needle felted chevrotain
CreturFetur needle felted bat
CreturFetur needle felted bat

These three are from San Antonio, Texas-based artist Leticia Rocha-Zivadinovic/CreturFetur. While I am partial to her bats myself, her portfolio is also full of intriguing, unfamiliar creature felt creations like the axolotl and the chevrotain (first and second photos above). Her pieces are fantastically detailed and her thoughtful use of clay for things like hooves and ears provides an excellent contrast to the fuzzy texture of the felt wool. You can find more of her work on Etsy.

KJE Felties needle felted Nuthatch
KJE Felties needle felted Nuthatch
KJE Felties needle felted Chickadee
A needle felted Chickadee

Finally, these last two are the work of Karen Engelbretson/KJE Felties. Her technique is wonderfully reminiscent of watercolour painting – soft and delicate, but perfectly expressive. The contrast of that softness with the twigs and bark upon which the birds seem to have alighted gives them a precious quality, as if they may fly away at any moment. You can buy her work on Etsy and see more of her work on Facebook.

You will find more creature felt as the months go on!

What Technique Is This?

Needle Felting is the process of using a notched or “barbed” needle to compress layers of wool into denser felt that can be manipulated to create 3D sculptures. It is different to wet felting, which uses water to combine wool fibres, and these days there are a range of felting tools available that can enable you to make your own soft sculptures with ease!

Want Some More Needle Felting Inspiration?

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Zoë Williams

Zoë Williams creates needle felt sculptures based on spirits, sacred creatures, and dreams. Her work is concerned with the intersection of the (inner) realm of the collective unconscious and the (outer) kingdom of nature. She lives and works in New York City.

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