Recently, I posted about excitement about my very first custom order: to make a felted Shiba Inu for Instagram user Vaportrailed as a Christmas gift for her husband. Their eight-month old puppy, Moshi, was just so adorable and fun to re-create in felted wool! LOOK AT DAT FACE!
2.5 hours later, I came up with this fuzzy recreation below! She was so fun to make! Now, I’ll show you how I did it.
2 packages of black and white wool roving (or one medium-sized package of each color)
1 small ball of tan wool roving
Needle felting sponge
2 small black beads
Small piece of black leather (or alternative material, for the nose)
1 small piece of red felt (for the collar)
First, you’ll need some 100% wool roving. You can find this eco-friendly wool at most craft stores. One of my favorite suppliers is a local farm called Esther’s Place. Their wool is easy to use and they sell bags of multi-color felt for around $10. For my Shiba Inu sculpture, I got wool at Hobby Lobby (my most favorite store in the universe).
Begin by using one or several reference photos. This will help you to see multiple angles of the subject, which help when creating details. I decided to sculpt the figure the same as in the above pose.
Begin by completely unrolling the packages of fiber, then pulling off a large section for the body. Felted wool figurines are created by ‘stabbing’ the wool with a VERY sharp needle; these usually come in kits (I got mine at Esther’s Place). Continuously roll the ball of wool while you stab it; this keeps the wool from sticking to your sponge surface. Doing so also helps to keep a more uniform shape.
Slowly but surely mold the large chunk into the main form of the body. Add clumps of black wool to the shoulders and leg areas; this is where the limbs will attach. Sculpt the body in a sitting position (it should look somewhat like the above photo).
Next, rip off a fist-sized chunk of black wool for the head. Roll into a ball and then stab repeatedly until you acheive a round shape with a sloped edge for the snout. Attach to the body by stabbing into the neck (wow, that sounded really violent! I swear, it really isn’t as creepy as it sounds. Just be sure not to stab yourself or anyone else. These needles are EXTREMELY sharp! I stabbed myself by accident a few times)!
Once the head is attached, start adding some of the details, such as the white markings on the tummy and neck area. These need to be done before the limbs are added, because they will be attached on top of some of the details.
Next, sculpt the limbs, one at a time. I found out after making the first leg that it is more practical to make legs that are white wool with black markings on top, instead of black limbs with the white details attached (the black wool shows through). I made sure the markings matched Moshi’s from the photo reference.
Attach the limbs, one by one, onto the body. Add more black wool to the connecting points (shoulders, etc) to add more detail to the figure. Remember, this is a project that requires some patience. Each piece requires many many stabbings with the needle to take form and also to be connected to other parts.
Here is a detail of one of the hind legs; I used a combination of white and black wool roving and attached them to the side of the hind leg.
Now, onto the best part! The details of the face are always saved for last, and they really complete the sculpture. Begin with the white markings of the face. Since sometimes the black wool shows through easily, be sure to attach more white wool so it’s not quite so see-through looking.
Next, create triangular-shaped ears with pink details. These look almost cat-like (Shiba Inus have adorable pointy ears!)
Attach the ears, then continue working on the details of the face. I added a few VERY small details with tan wool, a wide smile, and the bridge of the nose. Tip: it is much easier to add wool roving than to remove it, especially after it has been ‘stabbed’ into place. However, pieces can be removed and re-attached with the needle.
For the finishing touches, I glued on some small black glass beads for eyes, and glued on a small nose made of vintage leather. The details are really what bring your figurine to life!
Don’t forget the last two details: the tail and the collar. For the tail, I cut off a small piece of pipe cleaner. Pipe cleaners are ideal when creating a felted sculpture with thin, bendable parts. Wrap wool around the pipe cleaner and stab, then twist into a curly-Q shape. It’s a good thing I had reference photos, because I realized the first tail I made was a mistake! Moshi’s real tail has only a white tip, not like the one in the photo above (I fixed this by removing the excess white wool).
Lastly, cut a small strip of red felt or other material for the collar. There you have it! My very first custom felted wool creation, just in time for the holidays!
I can’t WAIT to see Vaportrailed‘s pictures and her husband’s reaction when he sees this in his Christmas stocking!
If you’d like me to make you a custom order like this one for you, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org!