DIY a Felted Japanese Dwarf Flying Squirrel Felting Tutorial (and a little rant first)

Hi All!

I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately, it’s true. Etsy is becoming more and more difficult to work with and it’s quite demoralising. First recategorising so that certain sellers (including me) don’t really fit into any categories sensibly, then edging towards a Facebookian commericialism by not really helping anyone who doesn’t pay extra to promote or advertise, and now the fact that UK and Australian sellers are being ostracised even more by their tinkering with the search facilities so that we end up very low on the search results for the rest of the world.

I UNDERSTAND that Etsy is trying to promote a local ethos, I get it, I do. But seriously Etsy, what are you playing at? I’m sure I’m not the only one who loves the fact you can collecta little trinket or treasure from anywhere in the world. It felt local, but was in fact global. What a lovely community to be a part of. Now, you’re far more encouraged to buy from near you, and it’s the UK sellers and the Australian sellers particularly who are paying the price. Most of my creatures would ship weekly off to the US, and I’ve noticed a dreadful drop in this activity. It’s lovely to send creatures to new homes in the UK too but that isn’t what Etsy was for, and frankly, many of us feel cheated. 😦

Anyhoo – rant alert! (I should have probably written that at the start really!) I’m not sure what it’ll mean to Knittynudo long term, but I’ve seen so many other wonderful shops closing over the past year. It’s so sad. I’m still working it out really. I think my own website would be the best, but I’m not (yet) techy enough to do this well. Any web developers out there – advice would be great!

Aaaaaaaaand breathe. I really wanted to show you guys a lovely tutorial, but this has turned into anger management! I’ll now channel the more zen side of me and get on with the step-by-step guide, shall I? 🙂

Have you heard of a Japanese Dwarf Flying Squirrel? They’re obscenely sweet. They’re like a little puffball of squishable cuteness. I’ve made a few over the past couple of years and it’s always one of the top viewed so I thought I’d make another. With a little creature like this (that’s quite ball-like) it’s all about the layering, so I thought I’d show you the step by step process:

Step 1:

I guess I missed out the VERY first optional step, which is to create a solid ball of core fibre. Core fibre is rougher, quickly felted, and is usually a straggly grey colour. It creates a nice solid base for you to layer your more precious colours on top. I don’t always do this, usually only when I need a sculpture to have a little more substance or if it’s particularly round.

At this point in the process I’d felted a core ball, and then I layered lots of creamy white on top of the core. Rather than it being just an oval, I used this stage to form a better shape for the features to add on top.

Step 2:

At this point, I still keep things white. It’s far easier to layer darker colours over paler ones, so with creatures like this I save the shading until much later.

I felted two forearms separately, leaving one end loose and fluffy, and then felted each of these onto opposite sides of the ball. Placement can be tricky with a creatures front legs. Try to imagine where the face is going to be. If you’re looking for super cute, then it’s a good idea to keep limbs small and (if appropriate) end the paws by tucking them under a face (it gives the little being a bit of a shy or bashful expression).

I also felted two smaller limbs and felted them underneath as feet. To create the flanks, I felted on layers of the same creamy white until the areas where the hind legs would be were rounded and raised. Japanese Dwarf Flying Squirrel’s are naturally quite chunky when resting.

Step 3:

Now it’s time for serious layering!

I layered a mid-grey over the head, arms and back, leaving the chunky flanks, underside, and forefeet creamy white. To create the tail, I felted in the same shade of mid-tone grey a tongue shape, which would then felt on to the back of the squirrel and reach about the top of his head. I then felted this in place, as I don’t like there to be loose pieces on a creature who should be quite solid and chunky.

Step 4:

And now for the features…

This step can be done in whatever order you like, but I prefer to start with the ears, as it gives you an idea of the placement for eyes and nose. To create the curled up ears, I felted a little tube, rather like the forelegs only much thinner. I left them relatively soft and then felted them on to each side of the squirrel’s head in a ‘C’ shape. Some extra light layers of fibre over the op help to make it a lot smoother. I’ve used this little trick for all sorts of creatures, from shrews to sunda colugos, and even for a little foetus I was requested to make!

I also layered a darker grey and black in areas above the flanks and down the centre of the tail to add a bit of shading and realism (just a little)!

Then – the eyes! Each eye was felted from black fibres (for the main eye), encircled by white (for definition), and then a little white speck for added ‘life’. I really advocate bordering eyes when you felt, as it not only gives added definition but also gives the face a bit more colour, and can neaten up loose fibres around the edges where the black meets the fur tones. For a sweet little nose, I felted a tin blob of peach,ad then outlined the underside of it with black, and continued the line down to where a teeny little squirrel mouth would be.

In addition to this, you can add as many different tones and shades as you like! The more tones you use, the more realistic the creature will be. I plan to create another little Japanese dwarf flying squirrel shortly, but in wintery white with light grey highlights.

And there you are! If you’re a bit of a felter, feel free to have a go. You can see the finished article for sale here on the Knittynudo etsy shop.

Speak soon!


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