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How to make a needle felted tart, a play food tutorial

So, here we go. In the tradition of slightly blurry photos, not so much direction, random instructions and bad lighting, I present you another tutorial. This one is so much fun! A word of caution is necessary however, as two things ought to be considered. One, and most importantly, needle felting can be quite dangerous as those barbed needles really cause damage to your fingers if you are not paying too much attention; therefore, please devote your time to do this, as I have poked my knees, my arms and my fingers with them and it really hurts a lot. Second, needle felting is very addictive. Seriously. First you sculpt with a very fluffy material, and you all of a sudden have a recognizable shape, and then you paint it with wool. It is an awesome medium and I do believe it can get easily out of hand. Use at your own risk.

So now for the tutorial. You will need this basic materials:

- sets of needles in different gauges, medium and fast-felting needles, as well as the ones required for more detailed work. You will need a handle to use several needles at once, as this speeds the process *considerably*. My holder has four needles, with two coarse, and two medium.
-wool batting or roving in the plain colour it comes (no grey or brown, as it will probably be harder to cover)
-wool roving in the colours of your choice. I will be using a medium brown, yellow, white, mauve, red and green. You usually buy them in like 1 or 3 oz weights, you will only use very little amounts for this tart, which means you will have plenty to exercise your creativity
-a protecting foam of some kind
-lots of patience

So here we go, ready?

First, you are going to wind up strip of wool about the width of your four fingers, around your hand. It doesn't really matter how long the strip is, or how thick, as long as you get a tight roll around your hand. The size is really of no importance, as I am not going to give you weights and measurements. Just gauge it by eye.

Once you have more or less covered your hand around this much, then you will take it off your hand, place it on the foam and start felting it at the bottom, and at the top, to compact the wool into a flat disk, with the needle felting handle with four needles. This can take quite some time.

Try to keep the shape the same, and just picture in your mind what you will be making: a sweet and lovely tart.

Once you have a slightly compact disc, you are then going to felt the sides. Always place the disk on the foam and be very conscious of the angle that you are inserting the needles, since they are quite long you can easily stab yourself, and that is so not fun. At all.

Once you have a very compacted disc, with no fluffy fibbers flying away, it feels sturdy and it has a definite shape (think hockey puck), and it sits or lies down very flat, then we are going to "paint" it.

You will grab the medium brown, strip a little bit off it, and spread it open.

You will then cover the bottom part and sides of your disc, like so. And still using the handle with several needles, you are going to felt this super soft wool onto your rough and coarser base.

Once you have covered all the white, and the wool feels and looks uniform, then you are going to add some "meringue" or "custard" of your choice. I chose lemon, therefore it is a pretty bright yellow. The same procedure applies: strips little pieces of wool, fluff open, place on top, felt with the handle. Repeat.

You can try to make swirls or something like that, so it resembles something that was "whipped" on top  of the tart.

Then you are going to grab a needle, a single one, that is used for light work, for detail. This is a needle for "finer" wools. And with this single needle, you are going to create a crease all around the yellow and in between the brown, to separate the two and give it more definition.

You then are going to place a little piece of mauve wool in the centre, because it is some sort of strawberry cream or genoise, didn't you know? Using only the single needle, and trying not to felt it too flat on top of the tart.

Then we are going to make a strawberry. You grab a little thin strip of red and bend it like so. Then you place it on top of the foam and tuck the sides under it with the needle.

You are going to needle felt it into a triangle of some sorts. Poking it into the foam. The beauty of wool is that it felts onto itself, and anything that is a natural fiber, but it won't felt or stick to anything that is artificial. So you can create shapes onto the foam, peel, and then place on top of your creation.

Once you have a rough triangle, peel it off carefully and place it on top of the "strawberry cream". Give it a few pokes with the single needle so it stays put, and tuck the sides underneath it, or fold it to fit quite pretty on top of the decoration. Then you needle felt it and give it the shape you desire with the single fine needle. You can create a lot of definition by going around the side, or you can flatten your strawberry to a desired width and size of your choice.

As it is, it already looks like something your kids and your dolls can easily play with. But you can still add more detail and decoration. I decided to recreate the centre of the sliced strawberry by placing first a little bit of mauve, and then a little red on top. Adding a tiny bit of green to resemble a leaf, and little bits of white all around to look like dots of icing or whipped cream. You can also add beads, or embroider more detail onto your creation. Let your creativity unfold and start thinking of other simple shapes or play food that you would like to make.

This little tart took me about an hour to make. I have made several so I know exactly what to do, perhaps it will take you a little longer as you will be more cautious at first. But it is very simple and all it requires is attention and lots of imagination. Enjoy!

The Elving

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