Friday, December 3, 2010

Needle Felted Terrarium and Mushroom Tutorial

A while back, I saw a post on Craft about everlasting terrariums which I really loved. I wanted to do a similar project, but make my own mushrooms with needle felting. This project was extremely fun to do and also looked amazing when it was finished. There are so many ways to customize your terrarium; you could make different mushrooms, add real forest objects like dry leaves, rocks or tiny pine cones, or you could even add kitschy items like vintage ceramic animals or little gnomes.

I had never needle felted anything before, but the low cost for one barbed needle and a couple ounces of wool roving made me confident to just give it a try. I also lucked out and found the perfect glass "terrarium" at a second hand shop for 2$. Needle felting is pretty easy; you just loosely form shapes with your wool, rest them on a piece of thick foam (to protect yourself) and stab at it with the needle until it becomes firm and takes shape. I didn't have any instructions for my mushrooms, and sort of came up with a process as I went along.

To form a mushroom, felt a flattish pancake of wool, adding as you go to the top so that it forms a smooth dome, or whatever profile you want your cap to be. Turn it over and punch an inner circle to make an indent. The wool pulls together and firms up as you needle it, so that is how the indent forms. Roll a log of your stem-coloured wool and fold the bottom end over itself; this will make the stem end a little bulbous when you felt it. Leave the very top of your stem unfelted. Tease this out into a flat circle and center inside your cap. Stab the needle all around the stem into the cap, pushing the "gills" inside the indent. If you are making a polka-dot mushroom, roll tiny balls of wool and attach them to the cap by gently stabbing them with the needle. Be very careful not to stab yourself at that point, the needle is very sharp! I found that when I was finished, there were little stray fluffy hairs that needed to be snipped off with scissors in order to make the surface smooth.

If you follow the Craft tutorial for how to make your terrarium base, I should mention that I pushed wires into my mushroom stems (use a gentle jackhammer motion, twisting didn't work as well) and then just poked them into the moss base instead of using glue. Because nothing is glued down I can rearrange them as much as I like and if I ever want to make any changes I can.

If you live in Victoria, BC and are interested in learning more about needle felting, or if you are looking for a great place to get supplies, I recommend heading over to Knotty By Nature Fibre Arts, on Government St. in Victoria, BC. They were really helpful when I walked in with this project idea and I like supporting local businesses.

I also made some tiny fabric ferns for my terrarium. You can see a photo and short description of how they were made here. I have to be honest and tell you that the ferns were a huge pain in the ass to make. It was an incredibly fiddly job getting all of the leaves to stay on and align properly. If I was to make this again, I would cut the leaves out as attached pairs instead of individually in order to make it easier.


  1. These are amazing! I can't wait to see what else you create!

  2. Holy cow this is cool Gabrielle! You're blog is uber awesome and inspirational!

  3. Nice. I love to felt. Try out some shapes... I think animals are cool. you could also give the mushrooms eyes... so they are like mario mushrooms.

  4. Way cool. I make similar mushrooms, but mine are from clay. I am having too much fun in creating these.

  5. This is amazing! How did you make the little anthers in the moss?

    1. I did make them, I used little pieces of wire (the kind they used for floral arranging, but not covered in thread), which I dipped into the hot end of a glue gun. You draw them out of the glue drop to make the shape (like a dairy queen icecream cone) and then set them in a block of foam to cool. When cool, I painted the glue drop and the wire with acrylic paints. It took a lot of tries to get a few anthers that looked nice.

  6. Hi, its so cute! Thanks for the Tutorial!
    Greetings from Germany Lolo