Saturday, December 27, 2014

I think I'm in love ...

I live in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, right next to the Cultural Center.  On Saturday and Sunday nights, there's a craft fair with tables set up around the sidewalk on the side closest to our house, and it's a bit like strolling through real live Etsy shops.  A few years back, I noticed some amazingly cute animals made out of wool set up at one stand, though she wasn't selling them.  Then, while I was in England a few years ago, I noticed some books on needle felting.  (Google it.  I didn't know what it was either.  Or you can check out my Pinterest board.  I've gone a bit crazy on that one.)

At first I thought that this was something I would have to wait to discover when I finally made it back to the west, but it turns out, as with so many things in Taiwan, I just didn't know where to look.  Apparently, needle felting wool is a very popular craft in Japan, and since Taiwan's craft scene is heavily influenced by Japan, quite a few books have been translated into Chinese and are available in the bookstores here.  And then I happened to wander into a large building that looked like a jewelry supply store -- it turned out to be a three story Japanese craft supply shop with an entire back wall on one floor devoted to selling wool roving and the other things needed to needle felt.  The supplies are actually quite minimal.  At its most basic, you need one little barbed needle, a foam mat, and a bit of wool.  So last year, when David was still small enough that I could craft with him on the bed, I experimented with a few things.

Using a cookie cutter as a form, I came up with this little bear.  Some day I might get around to attaching a string so he can join the ranks of the Christmas decoration.  (He's pretty sturdy, which is a good thing in a house with three kids under 5!)

Snowmen are also a nice, easy place to start, so I tried one out.  This is what he looked like originally, with his nice, traditional top hat.
Well, I was pretty new at making these, and obviously I needed to work better at joining the pieces because this is what he looked like after two minutes with a two-year-old.
Apparently, decapitated snowmen still smile.  Notice the teddy bear survived just fine.
Fortunately, needle felting is repairable, though the top hat did get transformed into a beret.
Now he's ready again to wish you a very Merry Christmas.
Well, he's still a bit delicate, but now that David has moved into his own room at nights, I've pulled out the needle felting supplies again.  This time I am trying to come up with ways of building my core snowman much more stably so he is play-safe.  I've figured out at least two or three ways to do this.  The only problem is, I get part way through making the basic form and something other than a snowman suggests itself to me.  So far, I've started a snowman twice and ended up with a duck and a little Japanese kokeshi doll.  (Google it -- they're cute!)  Once I put the finishing touches on them, I'll post them, too.  Oh well.  One of these days I'll get back to my snowman.

But yes.  I think I'm in love with needle felting.  It's definitely going in my arsenal of crafts to keep working on.

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