By Emily Smith
If you haven’t tried needle felting yet, you’ll be amazed by how simple it is. All you need is a felting needle (with barbs at the end), a foam pad, and some raw wool. The way it works is that the barbs on the needle get caught on the fibers and pull them together in a mass, sort of like dreadlocks. I recommend starting with simple shapes first, but once you get the hang of it, this tutorial is pretty straightforward. The most important part is finding the proper plastic backing so that when you store your needles in the pincushion, they don’t go all the way through the doll.
Bottle cap, jar lid, or hard plastic material for backing
Raw wool in several different colors for the main body and embellishments
Needle felting needle
Piece of foam to felt on
Sewing needle for sewing embellishments
Step 1: To make the pincushion, you’ll need some sort of backing so that the pins don’t go all the way through the doll. I used a trimmed bottle cap for the head, and cut out some thick plastic from a disposable plastic container for the body. Try to find an object that’s rather flat, because backing that’s too thick or wide could distort your doll.
Step 2: Roll your wool into a ball for the head.
Step 3: Keep piercing the ball with your felting needle in order to obtain a round shape for the head.
Step 4: Place the bottle cap or plastic cut-out underneath your ball.
Step 5: With a new piece of wool, create a flat shape by piercing the wool with your felting needle. Be sure to work the material quite a bit, as you won’t be able to poke it much once it’s attached behind the backing.
Step 6: Place the bottle cap with ball on top of the flat shape.
Step 7: Puncture on all sides. The more you puncture the wool, the more dense the felt will get. Leave the neck fairly un-worked so that you can later attach the head to the body.
Step 8: Now create another larger flat piece for the back of the body, much like you did with the head. Attach this piece to the larger piece of plastic (your backing), like you did with the head and the bottle cap, and pierce it on all sides. Like the head, it’s best to really work the material before attaching it so that it stays in one piece once it’s attached.
Step 9: Attach the head to the body by stabbing through the neck. Be sure that it’s securely fastened. (Again, the more you poke the wool, the denser and stronger it becomes.)
Step 10: Now start making the limbs. Create each appendage by rolling the felt into a tube shape, and then puncturing it on all sides.
Step 11: Work the ends of the arms and legs by rounding, or shaping, as desired. Leave the end to be attached to the body fairly un-worked, so that attaching limbs to the body is easier.
Step 12: Attach all limbs to the doll.
Step 13: Now you can start adding embellishments to the doll. To create a heart, start by rolling a piece of red wool in your hands. The moisture from your hands will help start the felting process.
Step 14: Attach the heart by shaping it on the doll.
Step 15: Fill in the heart with more red wool.
Step 16: Now sew X’s where the eyes should be. Feel free to sew more embellishments where you’d like to see them. Be creative!
Step 17: Enjoy your new pincushion voodoo doll in all its glory!
About the Author:
Emily Smith is a graphic designer, illustrator, and crafter based in Vancouver. She is an avid textile artist and community organizer with a focus on facilitating collaborative and creative workspaces, teaching workshops, and organizing crafty and creative events. She enjoys foraging for unlikely materials, increasing bicycle safety and visibility, and becoming more self-sufficient while lowering her carbon footprint. Follow her on her blog at bluemollusc.com or Twitter @emilysmith2000.