Friday, November 18, 2011

How to Create a Pattern for Needle Felting From a Photograph Part 2

This method of creating patterns is for those who do not own an overhead projector or who don't want to enlarge their patterns at a copy shop (see previous post on creating patterns).  I often use this method when the picture I am working with doesn't fit on the projector screen or is only slightly smaller than the finished painting I am planning.  The following tutorial is an exerpt from my book, "The ART of Machine Needle Felting"  which is ON SALE BLACK FRIDAY WEEKEND - 15% off and FREE DOMESTIC SHIPPING.  Go to  for details.

First, you can draw grid lines on paper by hand with a permanent marker or by computer and print them out with your printer in several sizes such as those pictured below. For example, if your reference picture was 8 ½” x 11” you would use the larger size grid of 4x5 squares.  If you were using a smaller photo, you would use the smaller size grid, which was 6 down by 7 across.  As long as the squares are really square, the dimensions of each square are not important. They are only used to break down your source picture into units to enlarge your pattern up to the finished size of your wool painting.

4 x 5
5 x 6

6 x 7

Take these to a copy shop and have them make two transparencies of each size, so that you can tape two together if you needed a larger size or more squares for your project.  Here is a picture of the transparency laid over a small photo, dividing the space into units I can draw on my background, square by square. 

Transparency Over Photo

Clip one of the grid transparencies to the source image with a paper clip and lay this on the bed of a photocopy machine.  Make a copy of the image, which will now have grid lines in it that you can use to enlarge your picture.
Source Image
Copy of Source Image with Grid Lines
Draw squares with a water washable marker on a piece of blue flannel, or whatever your base fabric will be.  Cut the piece 3 inches  larger than you want the finished piece to be, in this case 18” x 24” finished size plus 3 inches equals 21” x 27.”   Draw the same number of squares on the flannel that were on the transparency, which were 7 squares across and 5 squares down, only this time draw them in a larger size to fit the finished size of the flannel.   You can draw 3" squares or 4" squares or whatever you want, keeping in mind the larger your squares are the larger your finished piece will be.
Working square by square, copy the major shapes of the source picture within each square on the flannel substrate, using the washable marker.  Include all shapes, square by square, until all are copied and ready to paint with wool.  You can faintly see the drawn lines of the squares and major shapes in the photo below.
Gridlines and Major Shapes Drawn Onto Background Fabric
Now you can begin building your felted painting.  This is the blocking in stage of the major divisions of the painting.  The picture has been divided into simple shapes or sections: sky, distant hills, background, foreground garden and trees.
Hand card your wool and set it out in front of you with your hand felting tool and foam pad.  For more information about this please see a copy of my previously mentioned book to learn the process.
Outline each section or shape with thin layers of core wool, to keep its place in the painting while you develop the other areas.  To do this, tear off thin layers of roving or fleece and begin covering the surface of the flannel, blocking in the main shapes with a hand felting tool.  Include shadows, trees and clouds as main shapes, if they are dominant in the design. 
Begin Felting Outlines of Each Major Shape
Continue to fill in the shapes until you have one complete layer of wool covering the surface of your base fabric.
First Layer Finished
Here is a view of the process from my studio on my first Monet felt study entitled, "August Afternoon."
Studio View
Now continue filling in your painting, working in very thin layers until you feel it is finished.  For more information on creating felted paintings visit the previous series of posts in the archive entitled, “Building a Felted Painting."  Here is the finished painting entitled, "Monet's Garden Path."

Monet's Garden Path

Enjoy your felting machine!!

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