Saturday, 30 August 2014

A puppy for all seasons

This is the first puppy in my needle felted series of 'A Puppy For All Seasons'
Autumn - Golden Brown/White Spaniel
OOAK needle felted soft scultpure of a tiny baby spaniel puppy, nestling in the autumn leaves.

The winter puppy will be listed when all the leaves have fallen and we have approached winter time.

The wool I use is 100% cruelty free, ethically produced wool :)

This puppy measures about 4.5" long, plus his tail which is about 1.5" long.

You can see his listing in my Etsy shop here: A puppy for all seasons - Autumn Spaniel by Mrs Plop's Shoppe

Thursday, 28 August 2014

A website? Really? Woohoo!

My husband (aka Mr Plop) has made me a lurverly new website! I am currently populating it (ie putting stuff all over it) and it will be ready to view soon.

It's in maintenance mode at the moment, but if you want to check back, here is the url:

It's got a shop and slider thingies and everything. Ah, I'm like a kid in a sweet shop haha :D

See you soon!

Love Mrs Plop xxx

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Needle Felted Dumbo Rat Custom Order "You're the rat's whiskers"

I had a message from a lady asking for a custom order needle felted 'Dumbo Rat'
I'd never even heard of one before. But they're cute little critters, and I really enjoyed making this order.  The outer fur is my usual favourite - Alpaca fibre. I blended a brown and black to make a darker brown, as I just didn't have a dark enough brown. All worked out though, and I'm happy with the result. Not as happy as Fred though, who was very intrigued! :D

The whiskers are horse hair that were very kindly sent to me by a follower of my facebook page, from a gorgeous horse called Toby. Thank you Lisa & Toby!

Fred seems to think Dumbo Rat looks like dinner!   

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Needle felting and staying in the moment with a sleeping mouse

Staying in the moment is something I don't find easy. And I know I'm not alone! Being a human being with a mind full of junk and noise and clutter is hard. Let's face it!

Animals seem to have it sorted. My dogs just live for today. They don't seem to worry about what just happened/what happened last year/what's going to happen tomorrow. They're all about what's happening now. And that has to be a much more peaceful place to be. I can't prove it, but I'm pretty sure they don't go about their day with this incessant chatter and worry about the past and the future going on in their heads like we do.

I don't know why it's so difficult to stay in the moment, I'm not a psychologist. But I do know that during the times when you are really in the present, you know about it! You feel a true peace, and the noise shuts up for a while. Some people achieve it with yoga (I tried it a couple of times, but I got bored and fell asleep) some with meditation (I once went to a meditation class, held in a sports hall, but it smelled of B.O. and I couldn't stop thinking about the B.O. and then I kept wishing I'd taken the bread out of the freezer, because now I'd have to have toast when I got home, instead of a sandwich and I'd really rather have a sandwich etc)  Some with positivity self-help books. (ok, I stayed awake with this one, but trying to force yourself to feel ok about things when you really don't, didn't work for me. And some with therapy. Yep, that one works.

But whatever method you try, it doesn't make you stay in the present with a still mind all the time. That would just be weird, and unobtainable. I think the point is to get as many of those peaceful times as you can, and just know that it's fine to have all this noisy rubbish going on the rest of the time. That way you're not fighting it, you're accepting it.  We're humans, and humans are pretty messy and complex, that's just the way it is.

Now to the needle felting. Well, that's my method. It might not work for everyone, but it works for me. That isn't the only reason I do it, but it helps to have something that that makes you feel calm and peaceful while you're doing it. I can't say there's one way it works for me, it's lots of things - it's probably the repetitive movements of the needle shaping the wool. Then it's the shaping and working the wool, and then it's the brilliant moment when the wool starts to look like a little animal. And you almost want to say hello to it! (I don't say hello by the way, ahem, um well maybe I might have done ;) ) From there it just develops more and more, and when you're working on the finer detail, it keeps your mind focused just as much as when you're doing the more repetitive needle poking movements at the start. The whole process is completely brilliant, I have to say!

My sleeping mice seem to be very popular and I've been so touched by all the lovely messages I've had about them. I think maybe they appeal to people because the mouse is so peaceful and so in the moment. When I make one, I've noticed that lovely feeling of calm goes up just a notch. Maybe that shows in the finished piece.

I also want to say a big thank you to Heather & Gary from Little Ram Studio (They make the most stunning lino cut art) for featuring one of my sleeping mice on their gorgeous blog! Thank you so much guys x

Love, Mrs Plop xxx

Monday, 4 August 2014

How to make needle felted legs & feet for a sleeping mouse intermediate level

Needle Felted Sleeping Mouse in a Vintage Sugar Bowl by Mrs Plop
Making the legs for my needle felted mice (or any other animal) used to drive me nuts. It took me quite a while to figure out what was the best way to do it for me, and it is one of the most difficult aspects of making a needle felted animal (in my opinion)

Some needle felt artists make legs by using a method where they wrap wool around wire, and that is one way of doing it, which I have done on occasion, but it doesn't give you as much sculptural detail as the method I've shown here.

Learning how to needle felt legs for an animal is quite tricky and it does take lots of practice, but I hope this tutorial will help you, if you choose this method.

Please note, this is a tutorial for those at intermediate level.

If you're looking for a needle felting kit, I currently offer two kits, one for beginners and one for advanced beginner or intermediate level (although a complete beginner bought this kit and wrote to me to tell me she found it easy to use and was very happy with the mouse she made)

My needle felting kits fox or mouse, can be found in my Etsy shop:
Orange & white fox, needle felting kit for beginners - make your own 'Frankie' Fox 
 Mouse with flower posy - make your own 'Maisie' Mouse

Both kits include free tutorial support from myself. Not just relating to these kits, but to any aspect of your needle felting journey :)

Frankie Fox Needle Felting Kit
Maisie Mouse Needle Felting Kit

Now onto the tutorial!

Love Mrs Plop xx

Step 1 - making a leg
Wrap a piece of wool around a cocktail stick. You can use a skewer or something similar, but I use cocktail sticks because they are the right width for me. (Although sometimes they can break, so be careful!) When you're wrapping your wool around the stick, try to keep the wool as even as possible, and wrap it around tightly, and then rub it between your hands vigorously. The friction will cause the wool to part felt. In the photo below, you can see that the wool is thicker at one end, but that doesn't matter because you won't need all of it, and I use the thicker part to make the main base of the leg.

Step 2
You can just slide the wool off the cocktail stick, and it will hold its part-felted shape. You can then take your felting needle and felt it as normal, until you are happy with the shape. I do felt legs in a gung-ho manner :) because you want them to be as firm as possible. So prepare to do a lot of needle felting on the legs. This particular leg is going to be a back leg, so I have made it quite long. But even if you wanted a front leg and your tube shaped felted piece is too long, it doesn't matter, because you can shorten it later. You should end up with something like this...

Step 3 - making a foot
Next you can add your feet. Take another piece of wool and fold it in half so that it's doubled over. You'll need to practice with the amount of wool you need. You may find that at first you use too much or too little, but that's something that will come right with time and practice.
When your wool is folded over, shape it with your felting needle into a sort of oblong shape but with edges that fan out slightly at the top. If you are at intermediate level, you'll know that when you felt wool to attach a felted piece to another felted piece, you'll need to leave some of the wool at the end un-felted, as that is the only way the two pieces will felt together. But you may be reading this post as a beginner. It's better to have more unfelted wool to attach to another piece than not enough! You can always pull some of the wool off if there is too much.

(See photo below. But please note, always felt on a foam mat! I've just used the background below for the purposes of the photo)

Then choose three points along your edge, at about the same distance from eachother and felt your oblong shape by poking and shaping the wool in one place on the oblong shape to make toes. Then do the same on the other two points that you've chosen. It will look like three little triangular shapes, as below...

Step 4
Felt and shape the foot onto the leg, as below. Hold the unfelted wool tightly onto the leg, making sure the foot piece and the leg piece are as close as possible, otherwise you'll get a section of the leg that has a bend in it. If that does happens though, you can always strengthen that section by felting in more wool.

Now to add the furry part of the leg. Take some of the wool that you want to make up the fur of your mouse, and double it over in the same way that you did with the foot. Felt it into the leg, all the way around at whatever point you choose, depending on how much of the pink part of the leg you want showing. I usually use quite a thick wad of wool for this part, because you obviously want the leg to get thicker as you felt upwards to form a thigh shape.

Step 5
Now you have your outer fur felted onto your inner pink leg. Felt it enough so that it holds but make sure you can move the wool so that you can cut off some the inner pink tube leg to the length you want, so that it looks the right length on your mouse.

Then, holding it firmly against the body of your mouse, just felt it in, you can just pull off any excess wool that you don't want.

Eeeek that looks a bit brutal doesn't it?!
When you've felted the wool in, you can then add more wool over the top and shape it to make more of a thigh shape...

You can use the same method to add the tail, and bottom :) Adding those also gives a lot more definition to the legs, but I will go into that in another tutorial.