So a while back in Vancouver I picked up this neat Glueless, craft art form called Needle Felting. I had seen a few makers at the San Mateo Maker Faire display, specifically Wooly Buddies, and always thought their creative plushes looked intriguing but required some complex skill. In reality, Needle Felting is literally one of the simplest and most fun crafting methods.
I've made a few things since then but this is my first instructable on the topic. I wanted to create something awesome for the holidays but after going on a gaming spree of procrastination, I decided to make Q*Bert instead,
Step 1: Q*Bert Bio
For the majority of you who don't know this guy, Q*Bert is a 1980's Arcade game by pinball company Gottlieb. It is a platform game that features two-dimensional (2D) graphics. The object is to change the color of every cube in a pyramid by making the on-screen character jump on top of the cube while avoiding obstacles and enemies. Players control this weird orange ball guy with a funny nose, who is the eponymous Q*Bert, while he hops around and avoids enemies like a coiled snake (Coily) and two purple demons (Ugg and Wrong Way).
While the game may not be as recognized today, it's legacy continues. Recently, Q*Bert & Co. were featured in the Disney film "Wreck-It Ralph". The game is available online here: http://www.freeqbert.org/
Step 2: Materials
Needle Felting is not at all expensive and most of the items here are available at most craft stores (like Michaels), The only item that might be difficult to find are the barbed needles and the foam pad.
Kits are available here: http://www.livingfelt.com/
Optional for Cube
*Yellow, Gray, Red and Blue sheet felt
Needle Felting Tools
*Barbed Needles (variety of thickness)
*Tweezers (Optional, if using processed rovine sheets)
Tip: While Unprocessed Rovine is the easiest and fastest material to work with (looks like colored cotton), it does tend to be quite expensive. If you have extra time, you can save money by buying processed felt sheets and pulling out strands yourself using tweezers,
Step 3: Make a Ball
Felting is basically like sculpting with felt, except instead of mashing material together you're puncturing colored felt with sharp barbed metal.
Start by simply rolling your rovine felt into a ball. Puncture the ball with the needles to compact the felt together and continue doing this until you have a sizable sphere.
This will serve as the body.
Step 4: The Nose
Not too difficult here either, but it does take a while to compact it in this tubular shape.
To make the rather fat protruding nose of Q, take a AA battery and wrap felt around it. Stab the sides of the felt to compact it together and continue doing this for at least 9 layers. Eventually you have a sizable thickness, one that does not fall apart or flex too much.
Step 5: Attach Nose to Face
Once you have your tubular nose and ball, connect them together. Stab the barbed needle felting needle around the perimenter of one end of the tube into one side of the ball. Using excess orange rovine, continue going around the edge until both parts are securely connected.
Step 6: Feet!
Legs and feet are relatively simple stick shapes and can be accomplished easily by rolling orange rovine into a small cylinder.
To do this, take some orange rovine and using your index finger and thumb roll it into a small compacted cylinder (should be around the same length as Q*Bert's nose). Then, stab at it with the needle until it won't fall apart. Finally, connect legs to body by repeatedly stabbing the needle into the end of the leg and body together.
To make feet, simply make a 90 degree bend at the ends of the legs.
Tip: to make legs that allow the plush to stand requires several that they be stiff, as well as the same shape.
Step 7: Eyes + Eyebrows
Together, Q*Bert's eyes are roughly 1/10th the size of his body and his pupils should be half the size of his eyes.
Using white felt/rovine puncture it into the ball at either side above his nose. Then using the black rovine, puncture it into the white rovine until you have a pair.
Eyebrows are optional, if you want a more expressive look. You can add these above the eye by taking a few strands of orange rovine and adding them to the upper outside perimeter of his eyes.
Step 8: Q*Bert's Cube
This step is optional but i think it adds the layer of dimension for him.
Q*Bert's Cube is isometric meaning it is composed of three equally sized parallelograms. I basically copied a template I found in my mathbook. I have included the copy for your convenience.
The cube is composed of four parts- a yellow parallelogram (for the left side), a red parallogram (for the shadowed right side), a blue parallellogram (for Q*Bert's color changing platform), and a grey outline for the bottom.
Use glue to attach pieces together.
Step 9: Finished!
Success! If all went well, you should have your very own orange hopping iconic video game character nostalgic felted plush!
I love Q*Bert and I am really growing attached to needle felting. I will probably release more video game related characters for this upcoming holiday.