Most helpful critical review
25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
Great ideas, but fails to deliver. A bad book.
on May 10, 2012
An introduction to begin with, shall we? I'm an experienced needle felter, and I've tried a variety of books written in English through to Japanese.
This book looked like it was going to be my new favourite. Adorable farm animals, hard to find patterns for the more rare species like pigs, donkeys, and cows! What could be better than another book that tells you how to make cats, penguins and sparrows?
Don't get me wrong; the cute pictures alone are what gave this book two stars. In all other aspects it fails, and I would take this book back to the store if I could. It was very poorly put together, and the most important part of the book: the instructions, is where it was hit the hardest.
This edition had been translated from the original 2009 German copy, but the blurb doesn't tell you that. Nor is that a problem. Good editors and translators have often succeeded where most would fail in translating a complex book such as this. This isn't the problem here. The translation itself is good, but the instructions themselves are nearly nonexistent. Nothing seems to have been lost in translation because I don't think there were any to begin with.
The writer, although an experienced fiber artist of many years, put no thought in planning this book. Essential information is missing, like the truth that this book is for WET FELTING and not dry felting, and the little that remains remains daunting. Take care! Although this book claims it has tutorials for beginners right through to advanced, this isn't true. The difficulty begins at intermediate. She doesn't tell you what type of wool you should be using, besides mentioning briefly at the start that Merino is preferred for the details, but mountain sheep's wool is the best. The sheep family is not split up into two groups: Merino & Mountain Sheep, as you should already know.
The writer had failed to specify what size needles you need, and had messed up the weighing of the required wool. The rabbit apparently only requires 2 gram (1/16 OZ) of wool roving, for an example; by my reckoning I'd say you need 5-10grams. In each critter's set of instructions, she has failed to specify what size the animal is supposed to be in the end. Are these miniature? Are they palm sized? Are they 1:25? What are they?
Each set of instructions had been left bare bones, as if she expected you to be leaning over her shoulder and watching her work. You will find that you have to improvise and make up steps as you go along, because the instructions don't tell you anything. You can hardly use the photographs as references because most of the designs only come with one finished photograph, and one work-in-progress photograph. A couple of the larger animals like the cow comes with a handful of photographs, but nevertheless it feels like she had left out half of the photographs because it is quite obvious that some of the steps in writing were omitted. You will find yourself working BaCKWARDS to figure out how she had felted the animal, using techniques you gathered from other artists because this book does not provide you with anything except for a couple of pictures.
It didn't help but alarm me that she strongly recommended that the beginner and simple designs (ducks, chickens, piglets, cats, dogs) can be made by, quote-end-quote, 'very young children'. Needle felting is not a craft for children; the needles are very sharp, and should only be handled by supervised children above the ages of 12 years old.
An example of the instructions and how they are written:
body: 3/4 x 3/8 in (2 x 1cm)
leg: 1 1/4 x 1/2 in (3 x1.5cm)
tail: 1 1/4 x 3/16 in (3 x 0.5cm)
ears: 2/8 x 3/4 in (1 x 2 cm)
1/32 oz (1 g) white, red-brown, dark brown merino wool
Make a small, thin body with narrow legs and tail. Add strands of dark reddish-brown wool. Make the ears stick upwards in a triangular shape and build up a small muzzle. Stretch the neck slightly while fulling. Position the tail around the body or bend it sideways and felt the ears to a point. Optionally, you can pull one paw pointing upwards.
There were only three pictures to go with this. The 'sizes' per appendage do exist it they do not match what is in the photographs. The 'finished product', one photograph of a half-finished white cat with some brown roving stretched across it (captioned 'Add the stripes'), and the third photo is of her pinching the nose.
One last perplexing feature of this book was her insistence on forming the animal by 'fulling'. She explains quickly at the start that 'fulling' is to form the animal's shape by poking, rubbing, squeezing, pushing, and vibrating the animal. You will see the word 'fulling' mentioned frequently throughout each set of instructions. I thought needle felting was supposed to be forming the shape through repeated poking of the barbed needle; not by drowning the animal in soapy water and compressing it with your bare hands for 5 hours, like she explains.