Tina Tang was born in Hong Kong but moved to the UK eight years ago. She taught herself to needlefelt and was encouraged to turn her hobby into a profession by friends. She now sells her beautiful creature creations in her Folksy shop Tina Chi Home. We had a quick catch-up with Tina, and she showed us how to make an amazing needle-felted panda (tutorial below)…
Have you always been creative?
I have been creative since I was very young. I always love to make something special, and I love using different kinds of material to create my work.
How did you learn to needle felt?
I learned needle felting on the internet! It’s very easy to start needle felting with wool. I remember my first needle-felted item was a frog holding a leaf as its brolly. Once I started, I couldn’t stop! My friends told me I had a talent.
You also work to commission. What’s the most interesting animal you’ve been asked to make?
The most interesting animal I’ve made was a swan with butterfly wings. One of my customers wanted to have a swan because her late mother loved swans, so I suggested I could make her a swan with butterfly wings. It turned out beautifully and she was very pleased. However, my favourite animal to make is a sloth – making their smiley mouths really makes me happy.
How do you fit your work around your family life?
I love working at night in my studio because it’s nice and quiet, and I can concentrate on my work. Having two young children means that night time is the only time I have to make.
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
For this tutorial, you can either use your own needle-felt supplies or you can buy the complete kit from Tina’s Folksy shop.
1) Begin with a piece of white wool (in my kit this will be in the bag called ‘head’). Roll it into a ball. Roll and fold in the fuzzy edges as you go. Keep the fibre tight to get as much air out as you can (this will mean you won’t have to needle it quite as much). Roll all the way to the end and start to needle until the fibre holds its shape. Needle just to make it nice and sturdy. The more you needle the smaller and tighter it will get.
2) Then take a smaller piece of white wool (in my kit it will be in the bag labelled ‘mouth’). Again, roll it into a ball, but this time don’t make it too firm and hard because you need to use the needle to make the shape of the mouth line. Needle the mouth to attach it to the body.
3) Once it is attached, use the needle to felt the line of the mouth, as shown below.
4) Now pull out just a small bit of black wool (from the bag labelled ‘nose’) to make a nose for your panda.
5) Pull another small amount of black wool (from the bag labelled ‘nose’) and make a thin thread by rolling. This will be one side of the panda’s mouth.
6) Now place the black thread on the line of the mouth and needle it in firmly. Do the same on the other side.
7) Using more black wool (from the bag labelled eyes in my kit), make the eyes.
8) Use another piece of black wool to form a long oval and then cut it in half to make two ears.
9) Needle the ears to the head as shown below.
10 & 11) Take a larger piece of white wool (in the bag named ‘body’ in my kit) and roll it into the shape of an egg. Use the same method you used earlier to make the head.
12) Now needle the body to head.
13) For the legs, start with a piece of black wool about 7cm x 2.5cm long (3″ x 1″). Pull off four equal pieces, so you have the right amount for each leg.
14) Needle the front and the back legs to the body.
15 & 16) Pull out a small amount of black wool to cover the white part between the forearms.
17) Make a hole for the panda eyes , then glue the plastic eyes and insert into the hole.
Now your cute panda is finished!