As promised, I’ll show a little more about how I make fairies and some examples of some new ones going into the Alchemist Gallery this week.
Sometimes I make a fairy in one go, from the head to dress and finally the hair, but as I had quite a few to make I started a little production line going.
I mostly use the green headed (36 gauge – starting) and gold headed (42 gauge – fine detail) needle felting needles. Mine are from Heidi Feathers, but they are available at other stockists.
- Heads are needle felted from some eggshell* coloured merino wool using starter needle.
- I then take a new piece of fibre, tie it half way down with a tiny piece. With the knot on the top of the head, the fibre is laid down the head to give a clean look to the face. It is secured by wrapping a smaller piece around which also makes the neck.
- A pipe cleaner is wrapped around, below the neck.
- Hands are wrapped in the same egg shell coloured top, and folded in half part way through the wrapping of the fibre.
- Finally I start to wrap more egg shell around her shoulders and upper body and secure the end with the starter needle.
Once I had all the little starting bodies, I switched to ‘dressing them’ individually.
- I wrap the arms with different coloured merino, starting at the wrist and working upwards to the body.
- Next I wrap around the upper body, to give almost a long sleeve t-shirt look. The 1st fairy below demonstrates this well.
- I then make a decision about what type of dress or skirt that the fairy will wear. Some are attached at the waist line, others are made by creating a hole in a piece of roving that is then popped over the head and cinched at the waist, like the turquoise and cerise fairy below. I attach the bulk of the skirt with the starter needle, but will go round with the fine detail needle to check waistline is straight.
- The final step is attaching some hair. The hair is made from hand dyed (or undyed) Wensleydale locks and occassionally some other sheep breed locks, but Wensleydale has a lovely shine and curl (although is more costly). I usually make a start on felting the head part before it is attached, so that I don’t need to stab the needle into the fairies head so many times!! I have in the past made fairies with straight hair and even up in a bun, but I like the curls and it seems to suit them well.
The final step is to attach some thread to hang the fairy by. This is threaded through the head from ear to ear! I have tried hanging fairies from their body, but they hang much better when hung from their head! I know, this post is starting to sound a bit grusome!!
I try where possible to make each fairy pretty unique, this is less the case when it comes to Christmas fairies, but for the others they are relatively unique. Above there is the 2nd autumn sparkle fairy and 2nd unicorn rainbow fairy that I have made, but they do differ slightly to their previous ones. If one is wearing the same dress then she may have different coloured hair, or wings or without wings. Sometimes they accidentally look pregnant, but I leave them looking like that, as who knows…perhaps someone will buy one for someone who is expecting a baby (like the last fairy pictured above). Some fairies are skinny, some a bit thicker in the arm, different shaped faces.
I’m happy to answer any questions if you have any. I did also make a couple of Christmas fairies, but I’ll share those a bit nearer to Christmas season.
*Why do the fairies all look caucasian? I live in an area of the country which has a very low population of non-whites and in the town I live in it is 98.4% white, so it is a very rare occurrence to see anyone of colour where I live, where my fairies are sold. There would be no reason why they couldn’t be made with an alternative skin tone rather than egg shell and I would be certainly willing to make one up if there was interest locally or if I started to sell them online. I would add I was one of the people who wrote to World of Wool a couple of years ago asking them to change the name of this merino from ‘Flesh’, which they did by changing it to ‘Eggshell’. I know when I lived in the US for a year the eggs were all bright white, but in the UK most eggs are actually this colour.