Needle felting – Ruth Packham’s tips on how to work with vegan fibers

from Annalisa Chelli - 22 May 2017

Annalisa Chelli

Community Manager at DHGshop
Sicily and Tuscany are in my blood. Travelling, movies, music, and art are the things I enjoy the most. I love whales, tattoos, the sea, Africa, good food, big smiles, Picasso, ‘The Master and Margarita’, and ‘Marriage Italian Style’. I believe in Charles Darwin and in the proverbs my grandmother said.
Annalisa Chelli

Vegan fibers and needle felting. A real surprise!

Today I am particularly happy to share a new DHG project with you. A fresh video which is as ethical as it is beautiful: 100% ethical video, and a must-watch for those who would like to start using vegan fibers for needle felting.

Indeed, in this video needle-felt artist Ruth Packham shows us how to work with vegan fibers. She will be working with ramie, cotton, hemp and flax. You may want to choose these fibers for ethical reasons (that is, so you can avoid using animal fibers such as wool), or just because you feel like experimenting. You’ll realize that with vegan fibers, you will get different types of effects and, consequently, a different yield.

So, Ruth Packham will tell us how we can use cotton, ramie, hemp and flax for needle felting. Each of these fibers has pros and cons, but they all have something in common: if they are processed in a certain way, they will felt faster than animal fibers.

Vegan Fibers - Cotton, Ramié, Hemp, Flax

Vegan fibers: Cotton

Let’s start this overview of the vegan fiber video tutorial by looking at one of the fibers that are most present on the market: cotton. Cotton has a very soft hand, and if you break up the individual fibers you’ll see that they are very short. For this reason, it is particularly suitable to reproduce the feel of animal hair. With this fiber you can unleash your creativity. In the video tutorial, Ruth Packham decided to make a fox, a wolf, an owl and a butterfly.

Vegan Fibers - Owl with Cotton, Ramié, Hemp, Flax

Vegan fibers: Ramié

Ramié is a long, shiny and very resistant fiber. It is the most unusual of all the fibers we’ll be analyzing today. It is so resistant, that it could break the needle once the fibers are tightly connected together. Once your project is finished, you’ll see that ramie makes your work very hard. At the same time, the finished work will be very shiny. In addition, needle-felted ramie hold their shape very well. Exactly how Ruth Packham shows us in the video, as she creates a flower.

Vegan Fibers - Wolf with Cotton, Ramié, Hemp, Flax

Vegan fibers: Hemp

The next natural fiber we would like to talk about is hemp. This fiber is very long, and if you take a close look you’ll see that some fibers are thicker while others are thinner. Hemp becomes very resistant in a very short time, and from this point of view it is a lot like ramie. As you work with the fibers, you’ll see that they will soon stick together. In fact, the material will be so resistant that you will risk breaking your needle if you punch too quickly. With this fiber, making small details is not as easy as it is with animal fibers. With a little bit of patience, though, you can achieve very interesting results. Once you are done, the felt is going to be very compact.

Vegan Fibers - Butterfly with Cotton, Ramié, Hemp, Flax

Vegan fibers: Flax

Flax may look similar to ramie, but it is not as shiny. Also, the fibers are very long and if you analyze them, you’ll see that some of them are coarse and therefore rougher, while they alternate with softer ones. Before you start your project, I recommend you break the flax ribbon into different segments. This way, you’ll be working with more uniform fibers. Also, it’s easier if you always work in the same direction as the fiber. The fibers of this plant do not connect very strongly to one another, so it is better to make multiple layers and work them in the same direction. At the end of the process, the resulting material will be very hard, so flax is suitable for different purposes.

Vegan Fibers - Daisy with Cotton, Hemp, Ramié, Flax

And now, I’ll leave you to the tutorial. Thanks to Ruth Packham for being our Special Guest Fiber Star and to Agnese Morganti for shooting the video. Enjoy the video and let me know what you think!

Vegan Fibers - Cotton, Hemp, Ramié, Flax

If you liked this article maybe you would also enjoy Needle Felting in a Nutshell – New Episodes

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6 Comments for Needle felting – Ruth Packham’s tips on how to work with vegan fibers

  1. Beth H

    Great video and article. I really like seeing the wolves all side by side in the photo, but can you indicate which one is which fiber, and link to a larger photo so we can really see the detail zooming in? Thanks

  2. Gaia Gualtieri

    Dear Beth!
    Sorry we have just realized we missed your comment.
    Actually we cannot indicate which one is which fiber because that picture was taken simply to show the 4 final results that, as you can see, are ALL VERY similar. I am afraid we did not record which fiber was used for each single wolf in the picture because we did not think that was so much important. All the info you need can be found in fact in the video so if you watch it you will surely appreciate differences among different vegan fibers. Concerning larger photos I will ask our technicians. Thanks for your kind suggestion.

  3. Sheila

    Thank you for the information. I have avoided felting until now because I don’t use products derived from animals. I wasn’t aware it could be done without wool!

  4. Annalisa Chelli

    Hi Sheila, great to know you appreciate it!

  5. Kim

    Hi! Can you make felt balls using these vegan materials? I haven’t been able to find any info on whether it can be done the same way you would do it if you were using wool.

    Thanks for your time!

  6. Annalisa Chelli

    Hi Kim, Ruth made for us (with vegan fibers) some pretty animals. But you can do anything you like just following her tips. Enjoy!

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