I am pleased to announce ORACLES, my upcoming solo exhibition at the Philadelphia Sculpture Gym’s PSG Gallery. I usually prefer to showcase other needle felt artists in this column, but this month I want to give you a peek at what I’ve been working on myself, and share a little about how it is made.
These are the tools of the trade! My favorite needles and mat are both made by Clover. Pictured is the large needle felting mat and refill needles (heavy weight and fine weight). Also pictured: a “reverse” felting needle, which pulls the fibers outward instead of pushing them in. Of course there would be nothing to felt without some WOOL*! I get my wool from Paradise Fibers. I use a combination of Corriedale and Superfine Merino Top in most of my sculptures, but if you are new to needle felting, I recommend trying a variety of fibers to give you a feel for the medium. (*Actually, you can needle felt acrylic fiber too! I wrote about this for the Lion Brand blog HERE)
I get a lot of inquiries about my eyes. I use glass taxidermy eyes in all of my pieces and I get almost all of them from Tohickon. For ORACLES, I painted many of the eyes myself, using clear eye blanks and enamel paint. They are painted on the back side, which is every bit as tricky as it sounds!
Here’s a look at one of my sculptures in the early stages (left) and then later on with some of the details roughed in (right). They look very blobby for a long time while the wool firms up, but it’s important not to rush. Needle felt need not be squishy! This is ultimately a matter of taste, but a solid foundation is critical for adding non-fiber elements like eyes, bird legs, antlers, etc.
ORACLES opens Friday, June 5th with a reception from 6:00 – 9:00pm (Join the party on Facebook). If you would like to preview the show before it opens, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, you may direct artwork inquiries, artist recommendations, and needle felting questions (or any questions about art, life in general, etc) directly to me! Happy felting!
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Zoe Williams creates needle felt sculptures based on dreams and visions. She lives and works in New York City.