Sunday, 30 October 2011

Christmas decorations - needle felt acorn tutorial

(Goblin is 24 months)
I know its early to think about Christmas but this decoration requires acorn caps or beech nut shells and the season for collecting them will soon be over. So I thought I'd do a quick post on how to make them incase anyone is interested in having a go. 
My preference is to collect a ton of caps and then match them to the size of acorn you happen to have felted. As a needle felt beginner (which I am) I think this is easier than trying to make a felt acorn to fit a particular cap - although to a certain extent extra stabbing with a needle can shrink it down. 
To make your acorn take a tiny bit of stuffing wool (usually a cheaper plain colour). The picture below gives you an idea of how much we are talking about - no a lot at all. 
Wrap felting wool around the stuffing wool. I have gone for reds and greens as these are christmasy colours. Make sure you wrap the wool round the top, bottom and sides of the stuffing wool and do a few stabs along the join to hold it in place. Then take the acorn in your fingers and stab it into shape. Be careful not to stab your fingers (this isn't so important when you are working with red wool as it hides the blood!). So what do I mean by stab it into shape? Well literally just that. If there is a bump in the wrong place, stab the needle into it until it flattens out.
 
If you have never tried needle felting before it really is as easy at it sounds. You can get a starter kit from Bloomingfelt or FairyFolk. I bought mine from FairyFolk and it does come with some beautiful wool but for regular suplies in the UK Bloomingfelt is an easier option. Once you are cotent with the shape of your acorn you need to match it to a cap. The acorns need to be a lot smaller than you might think so it might take you a couple of tries to get one that looks good in a cap and not oversized. When collecting caps look out for the bigger ones. 

If you intend to hang your acorns you need to make a hole in the cap. I experimented with different tools - a drill with a 2.5mm bit does an ok job; an awl is ok but makes a big hole and can make a mess of the outside of the cap; a nail and hammer is not great because the nail often gets stuck in the cap and can smash the cap; and a stanley knife made a hole but also took a chunk out of the cap. The best tool I found was a needle file. 
Its a bit like a nail file but it is triangular and really pointy. I go from the inside of the acorn cap and gently file out a hole. It doesn't take very long at all with this file. Once you have your hole you need to cut a length of ribbon or in my case christmas parcel tie, about 3 inches long (you'll be able to judge the right length if you fold it over and it gives a decent loop and you have about half a centimeter at each end to thread through the hole. If you are using ribbon you can push it through the hole with the back of a needle and use the pointy end of the needle to hook it through from the other side and pull enough through. The parcel tie folds and can be easily poked through.
Once you have threaded both ends through the hole you need to glue them and your felt acorn into place. I bought myself a glue gun which is absolutely perfect for the job, but a dollop of PVA will also do the trick (you might just have to hold the acorn in place for a while). I did some beach nut shells too, and for added sparkle I painted the shells with a small amount of gold glitter paint. Glitter would do the job too. 
And there you have it. Cute little Christmas decorations. They can also be used to add the personal touch to a parcel tag. 

I'm linking this up to the Sunday Showcase. The Sunday Showcase is a link up for child centred ideas. Now obviously my toddler couldn't make these but an older child could definitely do the felting. I'm also making a ton of different coloured felt acorns for Goblin to sort into different coloured bowls, so there is lots of milage in child centred fun with this.  
Classified: Mom

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