There once was a flock of birds. One fateful day, they found themselves distracted for just a moment. Before they knew it, a troop of villainous pigs had stolen their eggs! The birds were enraged and set forth on a journey to destroy the pigs and recover their precious eggs. Their story is tragic and triumphant, and is now the world’s most addictive video game.
When Sherry Huss, director of Maker Faire, first introduced me to Angry Birds, I was skeptical. But soon I found myself spending every free moment trying to get those eggs back from the pigs. And, like many others, I needed to express my love of these Angry Birds in new ways. So I turned to my favorite craft, needle felting.
Needle felting is easy! Using a barbed needle and wool roving, any shape you imagine can be formed. The key to success is to work carefully and slowly. Avoid the urge to make crazy, dramatic stabs. Focus on pressing the point of the needle gently and deliberately. Oh, and be sure to watch your fingers! Do not be intimidated by the complexity of the bird. Instead, break each feature down into a simple shape. Together the elements will combine into exact replicas. The characters I made are serious fun. Almost as much fun as playing Angry Birds!
Foam work surface
Wool roving: red, white, black, orange, tan, and green
Step 1: Take a palm-sized portion of red roving and tug it into tufts. Use your hand to mash them into a loose ball. Press the felting needle into the wool and the barbs on the end of the needle will tangle the fibers up. As you continue pressing the needle into the roving, the wool will stick together and become more dense. The key to creating 3D objects is to continuously rotate the work and keep the needle moving evenly around the sphere. Work the roving until it becomes a firm red ball. Once the dense ball is formed, I like to use the side of the needle to grab any loose fibers. By working the wool with the side of the needle, you can clean up any hairs that might be otherwise difficult to tuck away.
Step 2: Pinch a very small piece of white roving, and roll it in your fingers until it gathers up into a small ball. Hold it against the red ball, and then just press it in place with the tip of the felting needle. The more you work it with the needle, the more securely it will attach. Attach both eyes right next to each other.
Step 3: Once the eyes are in place, create the bird’s unibrow. Make a simple black bar by twisting up a small pinch of black roving and then needling it. Then, fold it in half and stick it right over the eyes. Focus on the center of the eyebrow to make it into a deep “V”. Then work out towards the edges to secure the rest. You might not have a bird yet, but the eyebrow makes it instantly angry!!
Step 4: Form the beak from a small pinch of orange wool. I folded long fibers into a point, and then needled them until I liked the proportion. Leave a loose fringy tail on the beak for attaching it.
Step 5: Hold the beak underneath the eyes. Fold it in half, with the flat point of the beak on top, and the loose end of the beak is on the bottom. When attaching the beak, the angle of the needle is important to consider. The direction that you push will affect the final placement of the beak. Push all of the loose orange fibers deeply into the center of the red ball until it is secured in place.
Step 6: Make two feathers for the top of the bird’s head from a bit more of the red roving. Be sure to leave loose ends on each one. Attach them using the same technique you used to attach the beak.
Step 7: Form the three tail feathers with small amounts of black wool. Hold them together and then attach all three at the same time. Press them deeply into the back of the bird.
Step 8: Cover the belly of the red bird with a pinch or two of tan roving. Shape it into smooth a half circle.
Step 9: I like to add the pupils of the eyes last. You will literally only need a wisp of black to create these tiny details. Roll the fibers in your fingertips, then place them in the center of the white eyes using just the tip of the needle.
Step 10: Perfect the texture of the completed bird by gently needling in any loose fibers. Going over the bird one last time will ensure the most smooth surface.
Bonus Pig! Follow the methods in the previous steps to create the pig. Needle felt the body first. Then make the two eyes and two ears. The trick to getting the pig right is to place the eyes slightly wider than the ears. Then add the snout by attaching a loose figure 8 into the center.