Introduction: Needlefelt Wire Haired Fox Terrier
How to make a needle felt wire haired fox terrier out of wire and wool roving.
If you fancy it this design could be tweaked with different coloured wool to make most rough coated long legged terriers.
As well as making instructions I do also sell these and other felt and wire animals. I also make felt lookalikes of peoples pets on commission. You can find me at any of these places:
Please let me know if you make a dog from these plans I love to see other peoples interpretations and hear their feedback, good or bad.
Step 1: Equipment
I order mine from amazon. There is an amazing assortment of wool rovings. It can get a bit overwhelming. Don't panic!
For a wire fox I use a fairly rough texture of wool in three colours, black, white and tan. Merino wool tops work well. You can buy these individually online or find a set of a few natural colours contains the three colours you will need and some extras for any other projects you might be considering.
0.8 gauge craft wire makes a great armature. It gives the terrier a strong enough skeleton to hold it up but is also flexible enough to bend.
Needle felting kit
A beginners kit should have a needle, needle holder, and needle felt pad. The pad is to stop you stabbing yourself and to prevent you from breaking the needle.
You will probably still stab yourself and break the needle, but it helps.
Needle nosed pliers for cutting and bending wire.
A few good photos of fox terriers. Ideally at least one of a fox terrier stacked (standing for the show ring). Make sure the picture was taken with the camera level with the dog, otherwise
the picture will be distorted. If you do an internet image search you'll find plenty.
Step 2: Building a Nose, Spine and Tail
Eventually these sculptures are poseable but don't worry about poses yet! We shall start by making the head, spine and tail as it would look when the dog is in a show stack (standing up straight) and we will get to other poses once we have finished fancying.
Attach wool to the armature as it is made. I start with the nose. Pull off a small strip of wool and place it across the end of a 8cm ish strip of the wire. Wrap it firmly around the wire several times at the end to form a small black lump of felt. Then bend the wire over itself tightly, wrap the wool around the bend and felt the wool securely on with the felting needle by stabbing it. You should end up with a firmly attached blob of black wool at the end of your wire.
Then bend the rest of the length of wire into the shape of a neck, back and tail and leaving a small amount of wire after the end of the tail then trim off any excess. Attach the wool the same way as you did for the black wool nose at the other end. The only difference being you will need to pull off a longer a strip of white wool. Twice as long as the spine and tail you have made should work. Attach the end of the white wool to the end of the wire and continuing wrapping wool around the wool all the way to the nose. Use the needle to felt along the wire so the wool holds together and then felt the nose wool to the white.
Step 3: Adding Legs
To work out how long the legs should be check your reference picture. Fox terriers front legs are roughly the length of their backs. This varies slightly depending on which type you are making and individually between dogs, so if you have a specific pet you are making check. Consider that unlike a 2D picture your dogs legs will bend out over it's ribs so make them a little longer to compensate for that. And leave a piece of wire at the end to twist the wool around. The most important thing to keep in mind is that all the limbs are in proportion to each other to make a balanced dog in the end. Otherwise you can end up with a strange looking creature.
Cut yourself a piece of wire as long as both legs. Find the middle and twist it around the back you have already made as in the picture. Pull out a long piece of white wool. Attach it to the end of one of the legs at the foot as you did for the nose and tail, then wrap the wool around the wire up the leg covering the wire. At the shoulder wrap the wool round the spine and back down the other leg. Attach it at the foot and felt it with the felting needle to hold it on. Repeat for the back legs. Back legs are longer because they have more bends in them. Bend in an ankle and knee so that you can judge the right length, as in the picture.
Step 4: Standing Up the Dog
Next pull the legs apart and try to stand up the dog. Hopefully it should stand up like the dog in the reference picture above.
Notice the dogs back. Compare it to your reference picture and check it is at the same angle.
If the legs do end up out of proportion or the back isn't at the same level don't panic!
You can bend the legs over on themselves to shorten them to balance it out. I don't reccomend cutting
them shorter because it's hard to make them longer again and you may end up with a dachshund.
Step 5: Bulking Up
Ball up a lump of white to form the chest and felt it to the frame under the spine as in the picture.
Pull some more strips of white wool and wrap them around the chest, back and neck felting them on as you go.
Wrap more round everywhere the dog would be thicker but don't add the fur. Make a 'naked' fox terrier.
Don't worry about shaping them up at this stage too much. I aim for a rough shape and add definition with the fur.
Step 6: Adding Fluff to the Beard
Pull off a small piece of wool to become two lengths of curl. Roll it up in your hands so all the fibres hold together.
Stab it through the middle as in the photo then stab the needle into the dog by the nose.
Stab it several times to tightly attach the strip. Then you should have the two ends of the strip sticking out. Use the needle to twist them separately around and then felt their ends back onto the dog.
Don't felt them too much, or too precisely, the intention is to give the impression of close rough curls.
Work around the nose to give the dog a good beard. It's a feature of a wire fox, and shouldn't be neglected.
I know I added a ball at this point but ignore it. I like to make different accessories for each dog but I would keep it simple for your first attempt.
Step 7: Ears
Pull off a strip of brown wool. Double it over on itself and then felt it together shaping it into an ear.
Don't bend it yet, for now we'll make a prick eared terrier.
Attach it to the back of the dogs head felting in a semicircle where a real ear would attach to the head
and wrap any excess around the neck
Repeat for the other ear.
Step 8: Bending the Ears
If the ear set looks like it is set right from all angles then we can make them bend. Have a look at how ears bend on a real terrier. They only bend straight over on the side of the ear closest to the other ear. On the outside side there is a concertina like fold as the ear attaches to the neck.
Try to fold the ear as in real life and then felt along the bend into the skin of the ear. Then fold through the concertina fold to hold it in place.
Step 9: Eyes
Eyes are the windows of the soul. You need to get them right and then the rest will follow.
If they aren't right nothing else will work. So no pressure ;)
Roll two small balls of black wool into spheres.
Felt the eyes to the dogs face. They go roughly halfway up.
Felt them lightly and then check if they look right.
If they don't pull them off, adjust them and reattach.
Step 10: Eyebrows
Add longer fuzz all arong the eyebrow area as you did around the nose. Pay attention to where the dog is clipped. Felt on some fuzz there too but felt it tight so it's just slightly textured.
Step 11: Adding Colour Spots
Before adding a rough coat I like to block in the colour. I get a few small pieces of black and tan and felt them on where the coloured coat will be. We also need to cover some of the tan on his neck with white. Just stab it on till it holds so you can use it as a guide later
Step 12: Body Fluff
Add curls of felt closely up and down all four legs. Make shorter curls toward the feet and shoulders.
Leave the paws bare. If you're going for a show trimmed look the hair is short on the body, tail and neck.
Still add some curls but less densely packed and felt them in more so they just add texture and not thickness.
It does take ages. I tend to work on it in the evenings while watching tv so I don't get horribly bored.
It does look nice in the end though.
After felting the legs use clippers to shape up the legs and trim any off hairs.