Felting A Gathering of Animalsstep by step tutorial
Sturdy foam or wool pad
Core wool for setting scale and placement
Wool in a color palette for woodland animals
Wool for the fairy’s pants
This felting lesson: animal gathering includes two hours of step-by-step video instructions (broken up into 4 videos) that walk you through composing the placement and scale of a group of woodland animals gathered in a circle with Tyler, the Keeper of the Great Woods. There are also three still image galleries of detailed process shots as I develop the fine details on several of the animals. I am working on an illustration for Plinius, a children’s book fully illustrated with wool. This lesson was created in the fall of 2022.
Felting Lesson – Animal Gathering
From the composition and scale of the animals to the fine details bringing the characters to life, this four-part video lesson is perfect for nature and wildlife fiber artists!
Establishing Placement & Scale
This illustration will use the 2D method of felting the animals directly onto the base layer, with a pop of 3D bringing them beyond the surface of the base. In the first video, I am laying out the composition of the gathering, roughing out the placement and scale of each animal in relation to Tyler, the horizon line, and the addition of a tree for scale and added depth.
Adding a Tree with Perched Bats and an Owl & Forming the Bunny
To add depth between the animal gathering in the foreground and the distant horizon, I add a tree along the left border to frame the group and provide a perch for winged animals to join the gathering. Toward the end of this segment of the felting lesson I am forming the detailed shape of the bunny.
Fur and Features of Bunny and Squirrel
Using additional core wool to create the basic shape of the bunny and squirrel I then add ears, features, fur, and tails, and then I move to another area of the piece (as I always remind myself to do) to begin Tyler’s pants.
Felting Pants and Shoes, Little Mice
The Fairy gathered with the animals is Tyler’s character, who wears blue pants and brown shoes. These are felted directly onto the base layer. Next, I add the fur, ears, and tails on two of the three little mice.
Securely Attaching a Tail
Master Tip: Roll — But Leave Loose Fibers to Attach Securely
When making tails, arms, or legs I first portion out the amount of wool needed to achieve the correct scale (adjusting as needed) and I roll the fibers between my two hands to create friction and felt the fibers together. The more I roll the wool between my hands, the tighter the fibers felt and the smaller the piece becomes. What I have found is that if I roll the section all the way out to each end, felting the end fibers as tightly as the mid-section, I do not have ample fibers to adequately attach the piece to the base layer.
By leaving loose fibers at the end/s, the barbs of my felting needle have lots of fibers to grab onto and interlock with the fibers of the base. That broader fringe of fibers provides woolly tentacles to secure the felted tail (or any narrow, tightly felted roll) into place securely.
Meet Your Instructor
Hi, my name is Hillary Dow. I am a mother of two, an author, artist, family chef, marketing manager, marketing consultant, felting artist, outdoor enthusiast, Maine native… and on, and on. I attended the Hartford Art School for my undergraduate studies, diving into the visually narrative world of illustration. Graduate school rounded out my studies with an MBA and I continue to run my own businesses amidst a successful career in marketing. I write and self-publish children’s books illustrated with my wool creations. It is both a thrill and an honor to help others develop their own skills and CREATE artwork. Thank you for joining me!
Be sure to join Hillary’s felting community for her monthly felting lesson! Each session includes a core lesson, or simply work on your current project while picking up new techniques and tips! At this point life is pretty hectic, so the lesson is recorded, edited, and then sent via email.
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