Two Book Reviews (on Felting) and a Giveaway

Winners of the Felting books: Congratulations to Traci Johnson and LaTrecia Rafferty, the winners of the two felting books mentioned in this article!

Winners of the 3 journals:  The winners for the traveling journals have been drawn– Congratulations to Lisa “Salt and Light” Brown, Stephanie Hansen and Wendy from Late Start Studio!  Now, on to the next giveaway!

This week, I’m celebrating my 1,500th blog post with a series of giveaways. Today, it’s two fresh-off-the-press books on felting. Leave a comment letting me know you want one of the books. If you have a preference for the bird book or the complete photo guide  book, mention it in the comments. I’ll draw the winner on Thursday evening, 5 p.m. Phoenix time.      The books:

  • The Complete Photo Guide to Felting by Ruth Lane
  • Felted Feathered Friends by Laurie Sharp

The reviews:

Title:  The Complete Photo Guide to Felting

Author: Ruth Lane

Details: Creative Publishing International, soft cover, 240 pages, 800 photos, $24.99

Content: Introduction, five instructional chapters, a gallery of photos, and five sections of acknowledgements, resources, glossary, etc.

  • All about wool and other fibers
  • Preparing to Felt
  • Traditional wet felting
  • Nuno or Laminate Felting
  • Needle Felting

What I like about the book: The scope of the book will satisfy both beginning and advanced felters.

The book begins with an exploration of what fibers are suitable for felting and which won’t work. It describes how to choose fibers and how to clean then, a chart of needle sizes and what each needle is best suited for.

There is a step-by-step, photograph-rich instruction to each of the different kinds of felting: wet, laminate (nuno) and needle felting.

There are technique tips on almost every page. Both positive and negative (You know it’s not working when. . .)

A two-page, step-by-step section on how to figure shrinkage in both size and percentage. Since felting is based on shrinking fiber, this is very useful.

There are both projects and techniques in the book, from wall hangings to dolls (including how to do faces and hands).

Color-coded bands at the top of the page help you find sections easily.

What I don’t like about the book: The project headings are just a point size or two larger than the body text and in a lighter color, making it hard to find the beginning of a project. If it hadn’t been for the picture of the giraffe and one of a doll, I would have thought they were the same project.

* * *

Title:  Felted Feathered Friends: Techniques and Projects for Needle-Felted Birds.

Author: Laurie Sharp, with photos by Kevin Sharp.

Details: Creative Publishing International, hardbound, 128 pages, $19.99

Content: Introduction, materials and tools, basic technique, 20 bird projects, gallery, resources.

What I like about the book: It is simple and direct: 20 projects on how to make needle felted birds, using one kind of barbed needle and wool roving. Birds include a variety from bluebird, swan, owl, peacock, flamingo, and pelican. There is also a mobile and an ornament.

The photographs are all taken on a warm-colored background, creating unity throughout the book.

There are step-by-step photographs to show different stages of the project.

Each project starts with a large photo of the finished project along with suggestions of how to individualize your project and a list of materials, including how much wool you will need.

If you love the idea of making whimsical figures of birds, this is your book. It’s got a tight focus and a big range.

What I don’t like about the book: The sans-serif type is too light weight to make for easy instruction reading if you are working on a project and checking instructions.

The background of the photographs should have been varied for better contrast. A yellow bird on a warm tan background is not appealing.

You know how large the finished project is only by seeing it in context with hands. Measurements would have been welcome.

There needs to be more “how” in the how-to. I will admit this is a particular complaint of mine in how-to books. Telling me to “shape a crescent” or “pull some wool loose from one end” to make the tail requires me to see that the crescent changes shape and to guess how to make that happen as well.

The instructions for shaping legs and feet need one more step to make them three dimensional. It’s easy to get lost when the entire bird-foot shaping instruction is, “use pliers to make five bends in the stem. Pinch the bends to make three claws.” Even looking at the photos, I can’t figure out how to get from 5-bend stage to claw stage.

For the pelican, the big pre-instruction photo shows a blue “fish” in the birds mouth. The caption says, “If your pelican is hungry, needle felt a tiny fish to put in his mouth.” The step-by-step bird is shown with fish in mouth, but there are no instructions how to make the fish or how to get it into the beak, which seems to be solid, and closed

The beak instructions say, “Roll a wisp of orange wool into a cone shape,” without telling you how much a wisp is or how long the cone should be. There are photos, and I’m willing to admit I may need more instructions than others.

* * * Full disclosure statement: A publicist for both books asked if I’d like a review copy; I did not pay for the books.

–Quinn McDonald is a writer and certified creativity coach and writer who designs and makes art journals she uses.