Monday, September 11, 2017

Needle Felted Pumpkins

Want to make some needle felted pumpkins? 
Let us help you get started!

Needle felted pumpkins are a great beginner project and we have a couple of video tutorials on how to make pumpkins. We have recently added some fun House Carded Pumpkin Batts and coordinating Dyed Sheep Curls to our website for your pumpkin felting pleasure.

This blog post is meant to help guide you to finding the right Sarafina™ wool products to make beautiful pumpkins.

If you are just starting out, try starting with our Sarafina™ Pumpkin Tutorial Video and Pumpkin Supply Pack.
Sarafina™ Pumpkin Supply Pack
In addition to the supply pack, you will need a needle felting surface like our Stabbit (that you fill with 3 pounds of uncooked rice) and needle felting needles.

Helpful tools to have if you want to do more, but aren't necessary to complete the project:
Pen Tool, Punch Tool, Sarafina™ Zullitool.
Toothpicks, bamboo skewers, pencils are always good to have on hand for wool wrapping.
See our Tools and Hardware page to shop for lots of fun tools.

Once you feel comfortable with making the basic pumpkin shape, and you want to expand your pumpkin palette, watch the Needle Felted Pumpkin Bonus Material Video and look at these next photos will help you pick out some of our coordinating batts, locks and core wool to be more successful with your project.


Links will follow below.

Sarafina™Needle Felted Sleepy Mouse among the Needle Felted Pumpkins.
Sarafina™ DeVine Curls with the Pumpkin Patch Batts
Sarafina™ Pumpkin Patch Curls with Pumpkin Patch Batts
Sarafina™ Squash Blossom Curls with Pumpkin Patch Batts
Sarafina™Twilight Tendrils Curls with Pumpkin Patch Batts

The above house carded Pumpkin Patch batts can be found in our website shop:
Shop Supplies - Fiber - House Carded


Remember that the Vine Pumpkin Patch Batt makes a great pumpkin stem color!

The above Pumpkin Curl Locks can be found:
Shop Supplies - Fiber - Specialty Fibers


Please keep in mind that the hand dyed sheep curls that you receive may vary slightly from the photos due to the nature of sheep fleeces being from individual animals, and dye variations in the dye pot, but they will in these palettes.

Next are suggested core wools that coordinate with the Sarafina™ Pumpkin Patch Batts.
You can buy most of these core wools in Sampler Packs to try them out. If you want the most for your money, consider buying the individual 2oz or 4oz balls of core wool.

Sarafina™ Pumpkin Chunky Core with the Harvest Moon Batt and Pumpkin Patch Curls

For the most uniform color and fast success, try to match a core wool with a batt or top coat color that will cover it.
If you want a challenge, try a core wool underneath that is darker or lighter for a different tone, knowing you will probably use more top coat or batt to cover the core wool.

Sarafina™ Harvest Moon Pumpkin Batt (front) with Pumpkin Chunky Core (left middle),
Copper Chunky Core (right middle), and Cinnamon Dyed Core (top).

Sarafina™ Blue Moon Pumpkin Batt (front)
with Gray Chunky Core (left) and Denim Dyed Core (right).

Sarafina™ Full Moon Pumpkin Batt (front)
with Off White Chunky (left) and Funky Chunky Core (right).

Sarafina™ Meteor Shower Batt (front)
with Brown Chunky Core (left) and Black Dyed Core (right).

And if you like to coordinate your home decor with the season, consider making pumpkins that can decorate your house through the winter with Snow Hare or Snow White (sparkle) batts.
Add any color locks that make you happy!

Sarafina™ Snow Hare (left front) and Snow White Sparkle (front right) Batts
with Off White Chunky Core (back).
We have many core wools to choose from:
Shop Supplies - Fiber - Core Wool

If you want to try the different core wools in a sampler, we suggest starting here for pumpkins:

Please remember too that this is just a starting point. There are so many possibilities if you want to try to make your own color palettes.

Notice the magenta pink pumpkin in the photo towards the top of this post?
We took our Berries Top Coat Sampler and blended the 4 colors together (you can use hand carders to start (watch video), but if you become addicted to blending your own colors, you may want to invest in a drum carder). Check out all of our Roving and Top Coats for colors that you can blend or use as is for your pumpkin body and stem colors.

Overwhelmed yet? Here is a quick check list to make a needle felted pumpkin:
Video Tutorial
Needle Felting Surface and Needle Felting Needles.
(Pen and Punch tools are handy).
Pumpkin Supply Pack 
OR
Core Wool for the body.
Yarn to make segments.
Top Coat or Batt for Pumpkin color.
Top Coat or Batt for Stem color.
Dyed or Natural Sheep Curls.
(Wire: pipe cleaners, fabric coated wire, Tacky Wrap Wire or Tacky Wrap Sticky Bun)
If you are making faces, have a toothpick and small bamboo skewer on hand.

Don't forget to check out the Pumpkin Tutorial Bonus Material video for more pumpkin ideas!

Have fun and show us your pumpkins on our Sarafina Felting Fanfare Facebook Group!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Marsha's Mish Mash Texture Fibers April 2017

One of my favorite things about working at Sarafina as a wool washer and dyer is that I get to help find and try all kinds of fleeces from small farms here in the US. Sometimes we order fleeces with the hopes of the right color, definition, and length for our kits but what we get does not always wash up the way we expect. Often we just see really great fleeces and want to see how they can be used.

The concept behind the Marsha's Mish Mash bags is to be able to share unique fleeces that we come across that have lots of potential for experimentation. The uniqueness of these fleeces means that these bags are limited edition, and the number that we get is all that we will have.
We look forward to having new batches when the previous one sells out.
April 2017 Sarafina Fiber Art Marsha's Mish Mash Fibers (shopping cart photo)
Brown Huacaya Alpaca in various lengths from 1" to 3".
Rose Grey Huacaya Alpaca in various lengths from 1" to 3".
Dark and Light Lincoln with some curly and straight bits.
Finn Sheep Fleeces before dyeing.
Weighing out the bags showing the dyed Finn Sheep.
This particular Finn Sheep had found some burrs while on the farm.
We hand picked them out, but may have missed some!

Marsha's Mish Mash April 2017
4oz Textural Fiber Bag Limited Edition contains the following layers of fibers from top to the bottom of the bag:
1 oz Dyed Finn Sheep
1.3 oz Dark Lincoln (some curly, some straight)
.7 oz Light Lincoln
.5 oz Rose Grey Huacaya
.5 oz Brown Huacaya

We would love to see what you are doing with these Mish Mash Fibers so if you are on Social Media, use the hashtag: #MishMashFibers to show off your work.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Wool for Needle Felting

Through the Sarafina Fiber Art Website we carry lots of wool for needle felting and we have broken them down into a few categories to make your shopping for supplies easier: Core Wool, Roving and Top Coat, and House Carded.

Core Wool

We created this category to assure you that these rovings are the best choice for the beginning of your sculpture and making shapes. They work well because they are a blend of many different sheep types, creating a fuzzy but consistent, and easily felted texture. Of course you can also use any of these colors on the top of your sculpture, but we wanted to distinguish them from the other rovings as ideal for core.
Sarafina Fiber Art Core Wool

Chunky Core Wool:

Our Chunky core wool is springy and uniform so it builds up large bulky areas quickly but is also smooth enough for the tiniest details.
Sarafina Fiber Art Chunky Core Wool

Core Roving:

This roving is a blend of various sheep's wools creating the perfect voluminous, easily felting texture for your needle felting projects. Perfect for the core of your project.
Sarafina Fiber Art Core Roving:
TR: Medium Gray, Dark Gray, Black
BR: Light Gray, Oatmeal

Sarafina Fiber Art Core Roving:
TR: Cinnamon, Tan, Teddy Bear Brown
BR: Gold, Umber

Sarafina Fiber Art Core Roving:
TR: Evergreen, Denim, Pink
BR: Chick Yellow, Christmas Red

Roving and Top Coat

A wide variety of fibers and textures, and colors which are used in a wide range of applications. From blends to Romney, to Mohair, we are sure to have a roving that suits your project. Most of these rovings are best for top coat application in needle felting. They are also good for wet felting and spinning.

House Carded Batts

Sometimes a custom color is the only way to go. We create our house carded line using top shelf fibers like merino, angora, alpaca, and many more. Explore the possibilities of our pelts and skin tones, old world santa, pumpkin patch, and fiber art batts:

Sarafina Pelts and Skin Tones

Pelts:

For years, Sara has been carding her own custom colors for her sculptures with endless possibilities and satisfying results. We create these 1 oz batts in-house using top shelf fibers like merino, angora, alpaca, and many more. These give you soft and realistic feel with needle fellability in mind. Part of the beauty of an animal's coat is the natural variation in the colors and textures. For that reason, a plain dyed single roving does not have the dimension needed to replicate an animal. Also, the addition of finer fibers to these batts makes a finer top coat for your work. Pelts are meant to be used in a flat/pelt needle felting application.
Sarafina Fiber Art Pelts:
TR: Snow Hare, Tawny, Squirrel
BR: Acorn, Buck, Red Fox.

Sarafina Fiber Art Pelts:
TR: Burro, Bay, Woodland
BR: Peacock, Black Bear, Raven

Bunny Bare is a house carded batt made with the pinks of animal's skin in mind. Gnome cheeks, dog bellies, rabbit ears, cats' noses, wherever you need a touch of pink.
Sarafina Fiber Art Bunny Bare

Snow White is a dreamy blend of white wool for feltability and bulk, and angora for whitening and softness, and iridescent Angelina for sparkle. Sara uses this special blend as a top coat on snowmen, the trim for the Clauses garb, or even a snow layer in a seasonal landscape.

Sarafina Fiber Art Snow White Sparkle

Our 1 oz Pig batt is a muted pink blend of top coat, Merino, and a bit of core for feltability. Use as a top coat for your momma pig and her piglets.

Skin Tones:

Skin tones are tough to come by. Dyed roving for skin tones is often too flat, too warm, or too cool. Sara has found that by blending these similar tones and values together, she can obtain a more dynamic, alive and realistic color. The skin tones batts are a blend of sheep breed wools that work well for needle felting. Each batt is carded several times to make the colors blend seamlessly.

We offer the skin tones in 1 ounce batts in six color tones. Or if you would like to try out all six of our skin tones, try our Skin Tones Sampler Pack of 1/3 oz in each of the six colors.
Sarafina Fiber Art Skin Tone Batts:
TR: Olive, Bronze, Arabica.
 BR: Alabaster, Fair, Glow.

Sara found that over the years she was always blending pinks to create a shade for cheeks and lips. She decided to make the Cheeky Batt into a 1/2 oz batt since only small amounts are needed.
Sarafina Fiber Art Cheeky Batt

Old World Santa Batts:

Bring your Old World Santa to life with our House Carded 1 oz Batts. We designed these rich colors to work well together or alone. They are a well blended variety of smooth top coat wools types that both needle and wet felt well.
Sarafina Fiber Art Old World Santa Batts: Gold, Blue, Green, Red


Pumpkin Patch Batts:

When pumpkin season arrives, celebrate by creating some pumpkins with our rich pumpkin colors. There are three 1 oz batts of the Full Moon, Harvest Moon, and Blue Moon. The Vine color is a 1/2 oz batt in tones perfect for your pumpkin stem.

Sarafina Fiber Art Pumpkin Patch Batt Collection:
Vine, Full Moon,  Harvest Moon, Blue Moon.

Fiber Art Batts:

For the spinner, wet felter, 2D artist, or needle felter, our inspired batts will inspire you. We have as much fun making them as you will have using them.
Sarafina Fiber Art Batts

Landscape Batts:

With 2D needle felting and wet felting in mind, these batts were created to give you a leg up on some color palettes with fibers that felt well. Within this Landscape collection of ten color ways are 7 large 2 oz batts that will have areas where the colors are un-blended so that you can pull from different areas for color variations: Summer Sky, Desert, Canyon, Deep Forest, Meadow, Ocean, and Mountain. There are also 3 additional landscape 2 oz batt color ways that are blended: Morning Mist, Purple Haze, and Timber.

Sarafina Fiber Art Landscape Batts:
TR: Summer Sky, Desert, Canyon, Deep Forest, Meadow.
BR: Ocean, Mountain, Morning Mist, Purple Haze, Timber.

There are plenty of other types and colors of wool on our Sarafina Fiber Art website, so hop over and do some exploring.

Helpful Sarafina Links:

Sarafina You Tube Video Links
Sarafina Needle Felting Tools Post
Sarafina Wire Overview Post
Sarafina FAQ's Answered
Sarafina Fiber Art Website
Sarafina on Facebook

Sign up for the Sarafina Fiber Art Newsletter.

If you are shopping through our Sarafina Fiber Art Website, please make sure that you login prior to placing items in your cart so that you can take advantage of our Sarafina Rewards Program.

Using Wire in Needle Felting

Most of Saras needle felted sculptures have armatures built from wire. The armatures give her sculptures flexibility, an accurate skeleton, the ease of being able to wrap wool quickly to begin building shape, and a stable "bone" to keep limbs skinny. The key is finding the right wire for the job...

To get you started on your journey to making needle felted sculptures with wire, please watch these two videos:
Sarafina video on creating Armatures.
And Sarafina video on Troubleshooting for Armatures which helps to answer a lot of common questions that have come up over the years.

The metal wire we carry and recommend has been used by Sara for many years, and we are confident you will enjoy felting with these understructures.

Natural Color Chenille Pipe Cleaners:

Sara likes to use pipe cleaners for small projects such as ornaments and to wrap around the 12 and 14 gauge aluminum armature wire to give the wool something to hold onto.

Sarafina Natural Color Chenille Pipe Cleaners
Sara wrapping a pipe cleaner around the 14 ga armature wire.

Cloth Covered Wire:

Cloth covered wire is very useful with armatures for needle felting as the wool has something to hold onto. We have three different gauges of wire: 22 gauge, 26 gauge, and 32 gauge.

The 22 gauge wire comes in white and brown cloth, and is 18" long. This size wire is good for making small armatures under 6 inches tall. Sara uses this 22 ga wire to make armatures for Basket Bunnies, Birds' legs, mice, ornaments, and more.
Sarafina 22ga Brown Cloth Covered Wire
Sarafina 22ga White Cloth Covered Wire
The 26 gauge wire comes in white cloth, and is 18" long. This size wire is good for making tiny fingers and toes for your small creations: Mice, Chipmunks, Raccoons, Beavers, Chickens, and more.

Sarafina 26ga White Cloth Covered Wire
The 32 gauge wire comes in white cloth, and is 18" long. This is even finer than the 26 ga wire for even smaller tiny fingers and toes for your critter creations.
Sarafina 32ga Cloth Covered Wire

Check out Sarafina's Tiny Fingers Video.
For making tiny fingers and toes, don't forget our Sarafina Original Tool: The DigitWidget!

Aluminum Armature Wire:

The 12 gauge wire is a nice weight for sculptures over 10". Sara uses this gauge for Reindeer, Camels, or other similar size creations.
Sarafina 12ga Aluminum Armature Wire
The 14 gauge wire is a perfect size for sculptures in the 6" to 10" range. This is the wire that Sara uses most often and is great for: ponies, donkeys, goats, sheep, etc.

Sarafina 14ga Aluminum Armature Wire
Sara suggests if you need more structure to your creation, try twisting two lengths of 14 ga wire together, or try a 14 ga and 12 ga twisted together.

Please be aware that the more you bend and work any metal wire, you may reach a point where you have overworked it and it will break from metal fatigue.

The armature wire we carry will stand up better to movement and bending than wire that can be found at a local hardware store, as it has been made specifically for sculptural purposes. 

We hope this post has a lot of useful information to help you get started on your needle felting venture. Here are some other helpful links to help guide you on your way.

Helpful Sarafina Links:

Sarafina You Tube Video Links
Sarafina Wool Overview Post
Sarafina Needle Felting Tools Post
Sarafina FAQ's Answered
Sarafina Fiber Art Website
Sarafina on Facebook

Sign up for the Sarafina Fiber Art Newsletter.

If you are shopping through our Sarafina Fiber Art Website, please make sure that you login prior to placing items in your cart so that you can take advantage of our Sarafina Rewards Program.

Needle Felting Tools - Our Favorites!

Needle felting can be a fun creative outlet, and just like any other craft, the right tools for the job help you create your best work.
This post is to share some of our favorite tools, all of which are available through our Sarafina Fiber Art Website.

In addition to the wool for your project, you will need to have at least two tools: Needle Felting Needles and a Needle Felting Surface which receives the very sharp felting needles.

Needle Felting Needles:

Sara's favorites are the 36 Star, 38 Star and 40 Twist.
The 36 star is the largest size, and strongest needle (it will grab a lot of wool).
The 38 star is the mid size needle, and is our most used for overall felting.
The 40 twist is the smallest size needle, great for tiny details.
2 of each Needle Sampler Pack

Needle Felting Surface:

Sara designed the Stabbit Wabbit to be eco friendly, long lasting, and a nice firm surface.  It has 2" marks for easy measuring of your wool roving.  We recommend using 3 lbs of uncooked rice to fill it. This firm felting surface is what receives the point of the needle as it passes into the wool.

Sarafina's Stabbit Felting Surface
Click here for the Stabbit Wabbit Video.

If you decide that you have become addicted to needle felting, like the rest of us, then you will want to look into further tools that will allow you to accomplish more.  As you hone your skills and develop sculptural techniques, the right tools can save time, create consistency, and make your felting world easier.

Sara uses this pink pen tool to hold either two or three needles. She also takes the extra pink guard off the front of the tool as you see below to allow for deeper penetration of the needles into the wool.

Replacement Needles: We recommend Sarafina Fiber Art Size 38 Star.
Sarafina Pink Pen Tool - 3 Needles

Green Punch Tool:

Sara uses this punch tool with 5 needles. This tool is wonderful when you have a larger flat area to felt.

Replacement Needles: We recommend Sarafina Fiber Art Size 40 Twist.
Sarafina Green Punch Tool - 5 Needles

Zullitool:

The Zullitool is a Sarafina original tool that was designed by Sara to help with making forms and shapes for your sculptural wool project. They are individually crafted by an artist in New York for our shop out of Cherry wood, and coated with several coats of boiled linseed oil for a smooth finish.
Sarafina's Original ZulliTool
Click here for the Zullitool Video

DigitWidget:

The Digit Widget is a Sarafina original tool that was designed by Sara to help you with those teeny toes, fingers, claws, feet, etc to keep their lengths consistent. They are individually crafted by an artist in New York for our shop out of Cherry wood, and coated with several coats of boiled linseed oil for a smooth finish.
Sarafina's Original Tool: DigitWidget


Click here for the Digitwidget Video

Needle Nose Pliers and Wire Cutters:

Don't hurt your fingers trying to bend the end of wire, use these flat edge needle nose pliers to make nice loops and bends. They also have a wire cutter in the back of the jaw of the pliers so you can easily cut your project wire down to the correct length. Two tools in one!
Sarafina Needle Nose Pliers and Wire Cutters


Micro Tip Fiskars Snip Scissors:

These micro tip scissors are made to get into small spaces and works to help you get the detailed edges you need from your fiber. They are a nice compact size that fits easily into your tool tote. There is a slide lock to keep the jaws from opening, and a spring loaded grip so that working with these is easier on your hands.
Sarafina Micro Tip Fiskars Snip Scissors


Seam Ripper:

This round handled seam ripper is a great tool to have on hand to help pull out problem areas of your project. The choice to use a seam ripper will allow the edges of the wool you are removing to have a frayed edge which allows you to blend the seam easier than a sharp edge from scissors would.
Sarafina Seam Ripper: Mistake Fixer

Click here for the Troubleshooting with Wool video.

Ewe Smooth:

This is a Sarafina Original Product: Wool Wax and Hand Healer. It is handy when you are trying to wrap tiny fingers, toes, or snowman noses. It helps smooth and hold the wool into place when it is difficult to get your needle into small places.
Sarafina Original Product: Ewe Smooth

White or Black Beeswax:

Sarafina Beeswax: White or Black

Check out the Tiny Toes Video to see how Sara uses the melted wax to hold the wool in place.

SWAX:


Swax is a Sarafina original product. Sara wanted to create a medium that could be used to both secure and smooth wool.

Swax can be tinted with our Paverpol Powdered Pigments. Alone it is a semi transparent light ochre color. (It will tinge white wool. Perhaps, down the road, we will be able to provide a truly clear version. Also keep in mind when you use blue, it may warm towards green).

You will also need an applicator for the swax. We suggest Colour Shapers for this task.

Check out the How To Use Swax video.

Reference Charts:

These reference charts are hand drawn by Sara to help you make better armatures and shapes by helping you keep your sculpture in the right proportions. These double sided drawings are printed and laminated to withstand lots of handling.
Sarafina Reference Charts


Horse Hair (for whiskers):

We are happy to offer long 2-3' long horse hair for the use of whiskers for your critters. The tail hair comes from local well cared for horses. You will need a needle to thread the hair through your sculpture, then a tiny dab of crazy glue to hold it in place, and a sharp pair of scissors to cut them to the right length.
Sarafina Horse Hair for Whiskers

Sarafina Woodles (Wool Noodles)

Use Sarafina Woodles to attach longer fibers to your needle felting sculptures. We have three colors for your projects: Gray/Brown, Heather, Off-White.
Sarafina Woodles (Wool Noodles)
Check out the Sarafina video: How To Attach Long Fibers Using Woodles.

Sarafina 8" Hand Carders:

As we expanded our Fiber Art horizons, we found that hand carders are a helpful friend when blending small amounts of wool, flicking open lock ends, or smoothing un-carded fiber. We decided to make our own to the standard of quality, aesthetics, and function that we want for our creations.

Our Sarafina Hand Carders are individually crafted by an artist in New York for our shop out of cherry wood and contrasting walnut, and coated Tung oil to accent the wood's beauty. The smooth rounded handle is at a slight angle and incorporated into the body of the carder making it strong as well as comfortable. The body is further rounded for easy rolling motion. The cloth is 70 TPI - a nice weight for the most variety of fibers.

The carder body is 9" x 4" with an 8" x 3" carding cloth. The handle is 5.5".

Sarafina 8" Handmade Cherry Hand Carders

Click here to view the Hand Carding Techniques video.

Canvas Tool Tote:

To carry all of your great needle felting tools, check out our Canvas Tool Tote! This tote measures 12"x9"x6", and has pockets around the sides in 4 different sizes. Each tote comes with your own Sarafina Wooden tag for your name on the back.
Sarafina Canvas Tool Tote

We also have our Tool Tote available bundled with tools:
Tool Tote Basic
Tool Tote Ultimate

We hope this post has a lot of useful information to help you get started on your needle felting venture. Here are some other helpful links to help guide you on your way.

Helpful Sarafina Links:

Sarafina You Tube Video Links
Sarafina Wool Overview Post
Sarafina Wire Overview Post
Sarafina FAQ's Answered
Sarafina Fiber Art Website
Sarafina on Facebook

Sign up for the Sarafina Fiber Art Newsletter.

If you are shopping through our Sarafina Fiber Art Website, please make sure that you login prior to placing items in your cart so that you can take advantage of our Sarafina Rewards Program.