Any other movie fans out there? Did you happen to follow the Oscars this year? Well, in case you missed it, needle felting made headlines!
It’s true, in the category of Academy Award for Best Short Film (Animated), “Sister” was one of five nominated. Unfortunately, it did not take home the Oscar (that honor went to “Hair Love”), but the emotional short story was told with characters and some set pieces made from felted wool.
The moving story is based on a man’s childhood with his annoying sister, but he then realizes it was a fantasy (no more spoilers here!). Writer and director Siqi Song used stop-motion animation and puppets made from wool. Sound familiar?
I just love when artists smash pre-conceived notions of what can be done with their medium – the creativity inspires me! A whole movie of felted characters? WOW!
Behind The Scenes
Song said, “Initially, I experimented with clay, but settled on wool because it reminded me of ink paintings.” She went on to explain that using wool allowed her to tap into visual memories and imagery from growing up.
The official website offers glimpses of the making of the short. Much like clay animation, “Sister” was created using stop-motion animation, and Song did all of the animation and filming herself. Roughly ten people worked on the film, including Cal Arts volunteers who helped with sound design, music, sets, models, and creating the wool characters.
Here’s what Song told “It’s Nice That” about her extensive use of wool: “This material is very soft and delicate,” she said. “It can create imagery that conveys the theme of the film: family, childhood, and memories. I think finding the right materials that work with the specific story is important for a stop-motion film.”
This isn’t the first time needle felted characters have been used in a stop-motion animated movie. The 2017 film, “Hedgehog’s Home,” won several major awards. Of course, I love it because of its use of animals to tell the tale of one hedgehog’s brave battle to defend his home from many imposing animals. It makes me want to create a hedgehog!
Inspiration Is Everywhere
Of course, most of us won’t make movies with our needle felted characters (but we could – hmmm), yet seeing where others take this art form is always inspiring. Whether they inspire you to try creating finer details or push you to marry photography and needle felting, seeking inspiration is the artist’s quest!
Personally, I enjoy photographing my animals, and sometimes I’m moved to recreate a scene on the farm using my needle felted animals. Blending the organic fibers with the natural world just feels like a wonderful way to celebrate the beauty all around us. I’m fortunate to be able to see how my own sheep produce the wool that ends up creating a needle felted sheep, which I then photograph in my field. That’s pretty cool!
If “Sister” or “Hedgehog’s Home” inspires you to pick up needles and wool, you’ve come to the right place. Here at Bear Creek, I am dedicated to teaching people of all skill sets to flourish with needle felting. I’ve created many online resources to get you started as well as complete kits to ensure you have everything you need.
Once you’re ready to go beyond kits and create your own wool stories, the Needle Felting Academy provides advanced education to take your skills to the next level. There you’ll not only receive personalized instruction but also connect with a community of needle felters who are advancing their skills and making breathtaking art!
My own journey is steeped in a love for farm life and working with fibers. For me, needle felting is a daily habit that is not only a creative outlet but also grounds me in much the same way people use meditation. Here’s hoping your needle felting journey is every bit as magical!