Introduction: Felting a Redbird
This instructable has been build for your pleasure, and education, with the intent of guiding you through the process of felting a “redbird”. If you prefer you can read through the guide before beginning, or take it step by step.
Needles are sharp, try to avoid poking yourself while felting.
Felting needles like sewing machine needles can break if too much pressure is applied. This is rare but handle with care.
There are pictures provided to give a sense of scale for how much wool you’ll need in each step.
We have included notes in each section marked with an *, if you're struggling with a section make sure to refer to these notes.
How to “Felt”:
Once you have a cylinder or ball of wool, you will want to stab it with the barbed end of the needle, this will cause it to tighten, and shrink as well as thicken and become firm. It will take sometime to get to your desired firmness, so be patient. The end result will be smaller than you’re initial ball of wool.
When Felting larger parts such as the body you can use a common color, such as white or black, as the center and then add a layer of colored wool around it, to save your colors.
Wool: A handful of red, and black wool, a small pinch of yellow wool for the beak, and a tiny pinch of colored wool for the eyes. The third image above is an example of the proportions.
(Leave a little wool leftover so that you can fill out parts that didn’t shape out quite right. If in the end you’re looking at your redbird and think, the head is a little lopsided you can tack on a little wool to fix it).
Felting Needles: Felting needles are a specific type of needle. They are generally inexpensive and can be found at your nearest craft store. Follow this link for an example.
Felting pad / Cardboard (optional): A felting pad can be used to hold you're wool on while you felt it (This also helps prevent possible injuries from stabbing yourself while felting).
Step 1: Body
You’ll want a small hand full of black wool for the body. Roll, the wool into a small cylinder and fold that into a ball as shown in the second image, and poke it with the felting needle until it’s held together firmly.
Make sure to felt it until the body is firm to the touch and feels like one homogeneous piece (this might take some time, so please be patient). The wool should shrink in this step. The third image has a firmly felted body.
After the main body is done, break a small piece of colored wool to wrap around the main body. Wrap around about ¾ of the body, keeping the black part in front. Felt until firmly attached.
*It’s usually easier to work with the wool if you form it into a ball with the threads of the wool going in one direction. Once you’ve formed a ball you can roll it in between fingers or palms to thicken it. This will make it so that you don’t have to felt with the needle for quite as long.
*If any areas are looking lumpy you can keep felting the lumpy areas to smooth them out.
*Now that the body is complete you can judge the size of the rest of the pieces against the body, but make sure they’re a little bit big as they will shrink with felting.
Step 2: Head
Form a small ball, that looks like it would be a little to large of a head for your current body, once you’ve felt the head into a shape that you’re happy with, you can tack it onto the head by setting it on top and poking the felting needle through both.
Focus your felting around the base of the neck to when tacking it onto the body.
Step 3: Feet, Wings, and Tail
The feet and wings can be of a similar size, the feet should form slightly sharp triangles. This can be done by folding a square of wool in half and pinching one end. The wings should be formed similarly but they should be rounded triangles.
Felt the feet and wings until they hold their shape. Then attach them to the body. For the feet you want them sticking out a little bit for balance.
The wings can be felted on mainly at the shoulder, and around the back of the wings. If either the feet or wings turn out a little lopsided, you can add on a little extra wool to balance it out. It may also help to felt around the neck when adding the wings, to keep the redbirds shoulders in shape.
Next create the tail, as a slightly larger, version of a foot, forming a fan shape. Our tail was felted loosely, to give it a feathery feel. Tack the feet onto the center of the butt of the body, with the tail over them. The feet should be close together to help keep balance. The tail will act as a counterbalance so that your redbird can sit up.
Step 4: Beak and Face
Add a little black mask around the redbirds face, to give the eyes and beak a background. It should be rounded at the edges and it shouldn’t go too far back. The main purpose is to frame the face and make it stand out.
Next, create a small cylinder from your beak color that comes to a point (rolling it in your fingers can help create the shape more easily) you can tack a smaller version of this onto the redbirds face, and then add more wool to flesh it out until you like its appearance.
Take a tiny nugget of wool for each eye, you won’t need much at all. You can roll your pinch of wool between your fingers to help form the eyeball shape. Tack on the eyes to each side of the face. (It helps if you try to make the eye’s and mask symmetrical around the beak.)
You can give the eye’s character by making them not quite round
Step 5: Head Feathers/Mohawk
Next, add a little feather to the back of the head, these can optionally look like a mohawk. Gather a small bunch of fluff that’s the same color of the head, and loosely attach it to the back of the head, facing out and vertically, like a bunch of feathers. Felt it on gently so it doesn’t lose its feathery feel. Focus your felting more on the sides of the mohawk, so that it is clearly defined.
*If you wanted to combine this step with step 2 (making the head) that is perfectly fine.
Step 6: Finalize
If any part of your redbird isn’t feeling quite right take any left-over wool and even out parts of your redbird that look lopsided until your redbird is to your liking.
If need be you can also add a little left over wool to certain areas. Adding wool above the wings can help shape the shoulders. You can also add a little extra black wool to the chest to make it puff out a little more.
The finalizing step can take as long as you want. The longer you felt it the more firm the redbird will be. The more firm it is the better it will keep it's shape.