I realise people are usually misled on what is needle felting! (for 3 dimensional objects)
I happen to see so many pins on Pinterest particularly, from good willing fellow artists too, confusing a cloth or stuffed doll with a needle felted work.
(Cloth dolls can also be made out of felt if it is the piece of material sewed or placed on a clay mold)
I thought a little explanation on what is the technic and what it implicates could help.
As you can see on my picture ,(yes these are the tools I use and nothing else), a special needle is required.
They come with several size of thickness (I use the finest gauge possible), and are fixed on that wood handle for comfort only. More needles can also be fixed on such handle, for big projects.
If you observe well, the needle is not rounded like a sewing needle, and it has cuts along the sides, either downward or upward (it will make a different effect).
Now, when you poke the loose fiber (you can see a piece of white merino on my pic.), the needle gets in the material and brings back a bit of fiber through those cuts each time you pull out.
The structure of the wool fiber itself is such that is has tiny hooks.This causes the fibers to mix up tightly as much as the kneedle goes in and out. After some time, you technically speaking get a big knot, that is, it takes the texture of what we call FELT. As simple as that.
You can easily understand that no sewing technics , no stuffing for volume, nor painting or glueing (yack!) , no water, no soap is needed in order to obtain a shape.The piece is built on itself, adding more raw wool, and poking it over and over.
The process is long, and much closer to sculpting than anything else actually!
...and you cannot use molds or patterns either actually :) thus it is real one of a kind, non reproducable piece you get (which is certainly not the case for the most praised porcelain dolls actually!)
Keep in mind, there is as much difference between a needle felted item and a cloth or stuff animal or doll, than between a cloth doll and a porcelain doll, in term of technics.
And it would come to NOBODY's mind to confuse and put them in the same category , the works are totally different in nature!
I find it most important to be precise, as the implicated work and skill is largely under estimated and under valuated for my fellow needle felters, and so are the market prices.
However, it is probably more difficult to achieve fine details, and mostly a very big time consuming task! I know fellow felters who do also paper clay as well who can relate to what I am saying :)
Please, why is it that needle felting shoud remain a subcategory in craft making, doll making and such? Why should the range of price remain low and thus reflecting a hobby rather than real art piece?
If you are further interested, you can consultate these links, including my illustration of a work I made, and also appreciate the works of these artists I most admire doing needle felting for ART DOLLS.
google pics. of needle felted art dolls! -even there, some dolls have nothing to do in that needle felted category, are you able to tell which now? :)
And so on! Spread the word!
(Wow, this was long, thank you for such attention span :) )