This instructable shows you how to needlefelt realistic eyes for your felt animal.
While these instructions are specifically tailored to make hare eyes, they could be tweaked to make most animals eyes. Or if you want help specific to another animal just ask nicely and maybe I'll write out another set for the animal of your choice.
Step 1: Equipment
A fine needle - I use a 42
A slightly less delicate needle for eyelids - I use a spiral 38
I buy the needles I use from Heidi feathers. There are plenty of other retailers. Don't go cheap though. The cheap needles break too easily. I bought my first set cheaply from China and broke them all the same day. So don't do that!
I buy from World of Wool and the Makerss. Again there are plenty of other shops out there but those are the only ones I use so they're the only ones I can recommend . So far they have both done me proud.
The different types of wool needed are listed through the instructions. Pay attention to the terms. Buying wool is not just about picking colour and breed of sheep. It's also about how much the wool has been processed so make sure you get all three things in a row when you order.
A felting pad
And finally some reference pictures of hares, or hares themselves. Rabbits will do too. Mine model for me often.
Step 2: The Eyeball
Make two balls of orange merino roving. I used Merino Amber from World of Wool. The size of the ball depends on the size of the hare you are making!
For help with scale I included the hare I'm making with the two eyeballs in image 1. They are much bigger than the size of the eye you will eventually see. The extra eyeball gets covered by eyelids and plumps up the eye socket.
Felt them onto the hare. To keep the eyeballs plump felt at the edges angling the needle in behind the eyeball as in image 2. Stab all the way around the edge so the eyeball is firmly attached
Now you should have a rather bug eyed creature as in image 3. Don't panic, it'll get better I promise!
Step 3: Pupils
Roll two much smaller balls of black wool between your fingertips. I used dyed black corridale roving. Try and find a dyed flat black roving. Totally black with no variations in tone. Using the finest needle you can find felt them gently in around the edges as with the eyeballs. You should end up with something resembling image 4.
Smooth the surface of the pupil with the fine needle as gently as you can stabbing at a 45 degree angle.
Step 4: Iris
Take a look at your close up photos of eyes. No iris is one flat colour. For big eyes you can put in more detail but for any size you can add a little colour. It's surprisingly effective.
Get out a wisp of yellow wool roving. I'm using merino but anything smooth would do.
Using your finest needle attach it lightly at the edge of the pupil allowing it to spread over roughly half of the rest of the pupil.
I tried to take a picture of the wisp of wool but the camera barely caught it, which shows how little I used, Image 5. In the final picture you can see how the yellow lines the pupil (Image 6)
Step 5: Adding Shine
At this point I added some wool to my hare. Placing the eye helps me work out where the rest of the face should go. It doesn't really affect the tutorial at all but I thought I should mention it in case it confuses anyone.
Get a tiny piece of dyed white merino roving. As bright white as you can make it. Roll it into a strip between your fingers. For the size eye I'm making its a really tiny strip (Image 7)
Pin it onto the eye across the pupil and the iris in an arc ( image 8). The curve is important because the glint of light gives the impression of a round eyeball
Step 6: Eyeliner
Look at your reference pictures again and consider what expression you want your finished hare to have. Eyeliner and the shape of eyes expresses a lot of the attitude of a piece.
Pull off a reasonably long strip of carded wool. Dark but not flat black. Natural black generally has quite a variety of greys and browns in it. I used a natural black carded corridale wool for this (Image 8)
roll it between your fingers to make a long thin sausage shape. Felt it on to the eyeball to make the eyes into the shape you want. I make the eyeballs big to add shape to the hares face but I often cover quite a lot of their area with the eyelid and eyeliner. My hare now looks quite angry and harelike.. Hopefully yours does too!
Step 7: Eyeshadow
I generally use persian cat undercoat for this bit. Sadly most of you won't have this wonderful resource (image 10). I found it hard to find a natural wool that suited but I do find that honey karakul works almost as well. Pull off a strip and felt it over the edge of the black eyeliner. Refer to a reference photo to give you shape ideas. You want there to be a sharp line between the black and the yellow. The other yellow edge onto the brown fur should be more blended. (Image 11)