Making Of: Realistic Needle felted Dog -7. Fur Planting
Updated: Jun 19, 2019
This is going to be the last post of this "Making Of" cavalier, which I was supposed to finish more than 10 days ago!
It has been a roller coaster month, everything was put to hold and all plans thrown out of window, but I'm finally coming back to it to finish this post.
I hope you'll enjoy it :)
Fur planting is very painstaking process and it feels like never ending.
It is most rewarding though as I get such a great feel of accomplishment when I finish, I want to do it again!
It's the process you stab small amount of wool into core wool body to make it look like coat of a dog.
It's one of the most challenging process as you have to correctly mix colour, recreate the texture of wool to match the model's, and plant it to follow the correct direction of hair growth to achieve the natural look.
For example, this cavalier has mixed texture of curl and straight. His markings are black tan, but I avoid using just black and tan brown colour out of purchased bags, I always mix colours to create few shade, if it's brown, darker brown, mid tone brown and light brown as such. It creates depth in over all colour and that makes the sculpture looks more realistic.
(I don't plant wool if my models are smooth coat dog, such as staffy or french bulldog.
For those dogs, I will spend extra hours in contouring muscle on body before colouring. )
Wool for planting
Not that I know so much about wool and fibres now, but when I first started to felt, I really didn't know anything about it, that's why I bought a lots of merino tops, ouch... ><
My early sculptures are all planted with merino tops, If you've felted something with merino tops, you probably know how hard it is to felt or not matting them.
Merino top is apparently great for wet felting, but not so great for needle felting.
Well, I didn't know that it is a very much a known fact, until I joined a needlefelting group on FB!
I realised I couldn't use merino tops on its own so I started to mix with different fibre such as alpaca, mohair, silk etc.. It does work, but if you want it little easier, there are wool specially made for fur planting. japanese craft supplier Hamanaka has a wide range of planting wool, both in straight and curl in different colours, if you want to try it out. It's sold in UK at Sweetpea doll shop.
I have used Hamanaka planting wool for most of this project to test it out, and it worked really well.
If you only have straight wool, you can curl it easily too.
I normally use kebab skewers, wrap straight wool tightly and wet them.
Apparently you can microwave it to dry, but I normally use drier or naturally dry them.
These are the wool I mainly used for planting for this project.
How to plant wool
I normally use 38 star or, 42 spiral needle for intricate part.
You need to tear off small amount of wool but long enough as it will be folded in half.
I normally use the method on the left for small parts, like faces or legs etc, basically you take very small amount of wool you can stab in with single point.
For body, I will tear off little more, lay it against the surface and stab in line against the length of wool while folding.
You can change the angle of fur by changing needle's angle to stab.
As for where to begin planting,
I plant from bottom to top, back to front, while carefully maintaining the direction of hair growth.
I have filmed some of the footage and fast forwarded to show how I've done.
I don't trim all at once at the end, but trim as I plant to avoid fibre tangling up.
Hats off to groomers though, I wish I could learn from them to learn the trimming skill.
It's painstakingly loooong process,
So I took pictures here and there, so you can see the naked cavalier slowly getting covered with fur :)
Hours and hours of just planting is tiresome, so have endless supply of tea or coffee close by, listen to your favourite music or podcast, and think how close you are getting to the finish! (not how far you are to the finish, that'll kill you...)
and try not to over handle them while planting. I try keeping my sculpture on a turning cake stand to raise it and to minimise the handling.
& Don't forget the tail!
For a fluffy tail like this cavalier,
With a piece of wire, create a tail like lion's with straight wool and core wool around length of the wire.
then plant fur from the tip side.
To set in place, make a hole with an awl, put some glue on the wire and insert.
Stab around the base of the tail to secure in the place.
So this is pretty much it.
I have made a cute collar and a bow tie for him and all done ;)
I hope this series of "Making Of" has given you some idea on what's going on behind the scene :)
I just wanted to see if I have anything useful to share to fellow felters and craft lovers by doing this blog and I hope even a couple of people found it useful.
And thank you for some readers who has sent some lovely comments about blog, it means a lot to me.
I don't know if I'm going to make any tutorial in the future, but if you'd like to see some more, please feel free to send me email or comment on social media.
Thank you so much again for reading!