Editor’s Note: A few months ago, I stumbled upon Miranda Rommel’s Etsy shop, Fiber Friends, and was blown away by the highly-accurate felt Corgi sculptures she included in the dog mobiles she had for sale. I emailed her to ask if she’d do a little tutorial for us on how to go about making a felt caricature of our favorite dogs, and she replied thusly:
“[That] totally sounds like fun, though a tutorial is kind of not possible as I just sort of stab the felt until it looks like a dog! Haha! But I could do a tutorial on how to make the fuzzy balls I string between the critters on my mobiles.”
I told her that would rock. This is that tutorial, as well as a little backstory on how Miranda started felting Corgis in the first place! –Janine Kahn, EIC
Although I love all animals, and have lived with a menagerie from horses to turtles, I am particularly inspired by a particular, short-statured breed: the Corgi. I met my first Corgi three years ago and obsession hit instantly. When our Husky passed away, my husband and I began the search for our first Corgi. Even before we met our puppy, a name was chosen: Pocket. Little did I know, however, that bringing home our much-anticipated first Corgi two-and-a-half years ago would be an even bigger turning point in my life.
I have been a children’s book illustrator since around 2005. Inspired by my own animals, my illustrations are always full of chickens, pigs and now, Corgis. Lots of Corgis. The inspiration for all these drawings is my Pocket. Isn’t she adorable? She’s smart too, and she’s the reason Fiber Friends exists and a big reason my personal blog, Pocket Pause is so popular. Since Pocket came into our lives, not only do we have more fun playing at the beach, frapping around the living room, or “herding” chickens into their roosts, my business has really taken off. Thank you, Pocket!
The best-selling items from my Etsy shop and website are custom pet portraits, with a heavy focus on (yes) Corgis. I love hand-crafting every little doggie, and especially love having my inbox flooded with photos of other peoples’ cute Corgis! I’ve even shed a tear or three when working on commemorative pieces for skin parents mourning a recent loss of their fur baby. I knew I’d really hit the jackpot when I put together my first Corgi mobile. What’s better than a tiny felt Corgi? Several tiny felt Corgis spinning around on a brightly colored mobile! Yeah!
Since that first mobile (featured here on Dogster!) I’ve had the honor to create custom mobiles for new and expecting parents and have fulfilled several baby shower dreams. My mobiles can range from very simple to as elaborate as imagined and can be strung with individual portraits of a family’s favorite pets, or cute generalized animals. Often, the doggies will be strung with their favorite toys to chase, as well as colorful felt balls. I string the mobiles using a fisherman’s swivel at the top which allows the mobile to spin freely in the air over a baby’s head. They really are mesmerizing! (Confession: I have one over our own bed and love waking up to fuzzy sheep bellies every morning.)
I just love creating adorable critters, on paper or in felt. It brings me such joy to read positive feedback and to know I’ve made something special that my clients will love for years to come. Hint: I’m currently accepting orders in time for the holidays! I often have a waiting list, so plan ahead if wanting to place an order!
While each dog takes me up to 3.5 hours or more, the decorative balls included in each mobile are a quick and easy design element that anyone with some wool and a felting needle can create! Here’s how:
1. Pull off a bit of wool fluff. I use “core wool” that felts very well and is inexpensive to purchase. Batts work better than roving and can be found from felting supply places or your local yarn shop. I hear you can also use non-wool fluff like the stuffing that comes out of Corgi-eaten dog toys.
2. Roll the fluff towards you to make a log, folding over each side to make a roundish “ball” so that fluff overlaps and is coiled tightly.
3. With a course felting needle, or set of needles stab the overlapping fluff where it connects with itself, rolling it in a ball, stabbing anywhere that it’s not tight.
4. Keep stabbing! Once you have the core in a ballish shape, pull off a bit of colored fluff (never cut!). Lay the colored fluff on top of the ball and stab. Again roll and stab, coating the ball evenly, adding or pulling more fluff over thin areas. Each ball may take you 15 minutes or more to get smoothly felted, depending on the type of wool and needles used.
5. Switch to a fine needle and continue dragging and stabbing until the ball is smooth all around. Roll ball in your hands to get a uniform ball shape. Use scissors to trim any flyaways if necessary.
Felt balls make for great mobiles all by themselves, and can also be strung as necklaces, bracelets or party decor. If you’ve never needle-felted before: beware, those needles are SHARP! Even with my experience, I stab myself a few times every week – occasionally letting out a blood-curdling yip that wakes even Pocket from her deep slumber. Keep some bandaids on hand and focus – felting is not a “do this while you watch TV” activity.
Check out my Pinterest board “FELT” for some great inspiration for using your felted balls! And Have fun!
About the Author: Miranda can be found homesteading, blogging, flyballing and stabbing cute animals into life at PocketPause.com.