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  • Writer's picturesarahvonthronlaver17

Here be dragonflies

Meet Derek the dragonfly.

Hello - meet Derek! He's made using needle felt, wire, a swimming woggle

(yes woggle not goggle) voile, a little bit of sparkly thread,

jewellery making clips and a blob of glue here and there.

Derek the Dragonfly

He took a bit of thinking about, in terms of how I was going to make him, and below is a reasonably coherent step by step guide on my process.

First I picked out some dragonfly reference from the internet and drew a very rough sketch on procreate to give me an idea of scale. Using procreate gave me the options of altering the scale of the wings vs body.

Once I had an idea of how big I wanted to make the dragonfly, I then roughly cut out the shape using the foam from a swimming woggle. I've found swimming woggles make amazing bases for needle felt, as they are light, easily cut and the wool attaches very easily. I also introduced a simple wire armature to run through each body section.

Looking at the shape so far, I realise I had to make some serious adjustments before adding more wool, so having added simple legs, decided that I needed to remove them

and lose the original head.

Once happy with the body and head shape using a lime green wool, I start to add in a mid green, turquoise and mid blue into the tail, added tiny amounts, which a loosened up first before poking in gently. When I was happy with the position, I worked them in further.

I created the eyes using the mid blue, just working in loose wool, and creating eye shapes as a poked the wool in progressively.

Once happy with the overall feel, I worked the wool in, and dampened it, so I could see loose fibers better.

Next stage I added in a mouth part with loose wool (again working it in as I went, to create the shape, and adding more as needed). Then I picked a deep olive green metallic effect thread, and stitched around the eyes, wound around the neck and mid body, with simple chain stitching running in tow line down the back of the main body.

I also stitch around the mouth part, creating a division through the centre (by just sewing top to bottom and pulling a little tight).

I added segments along the tail, by stitching in from underneath up through to the top, then winding around, then from bottom to top then sending a stitch down the length of the tail, then stitching through top to bottom, winding around, then bottom to top, then another stitch down the tail. Half way down I change the thread to a really metallic effect thread in turquoise and continued down to the tip of the tail, where I wound off the end of the tail to create a spur shape by pulling the thread tight. I also added in star bursts - stitched onto the eyes.

Now for the wings.

I created a template to shape the silver wire around. I used jewellery making wire (roughly 1mm diameter) for the main shape of the wings, then a slightly thinner wire (again jewellery making wire roughly 0.8mm diameter) for the centre line that runs from the base of the wing to the tip. I left around 60-70mm wire at the base of each wing, as these will double up as legs.

Once I made 4 wings 2 top and 2 bottom (slightly different shapes for top and bottom)

I then laid a roughly cut piece of voile over each wing after dabbing a touch of superglue

along the face of the metal wing edges. I then pressed the voile against the wing face, using a metallic hat pin (for minimum contact, so that nothing else got stuck). Then I left to dry. I repeated this on each wing, and again once dry, did the same on the other side of each wing.

Once all the glue had dried thoroughly (I left overnight) I cut around the shape of the wings, leaving a 2 - 3mm margin.

I then chose an iridescent thread in 3 tones, and stitch around the edges of the wings

in segments, sending the thread through to the centre to created veins, winding once around the centre wire, then stitching over to the other side.

The stitching was quite rough, as I didn't want to compromise the voile too much. Once all stitching was done on each wing, I tied off each thread, superglued it where it met the edge of the wire, and then cut close once the glue was dry.

Assembling the dragonfly

I decided it was going to be a bit tricky to assemble without the main body being held secure, so I bought myself a model making stand, which proved invaluable at this stage.

I poked my thickest felting needle through the dragonflies body from top to bottom, where I wanted the wing to attach and where I wanted the leg to come from. So sending the needle from top left wing attachment point diagonally down to exit at bottom right leg attachment. I then sent one wing through, before sending the second top wing through (same process ) careful not to force, so it didn't bend if it met the main armature wire, or other wing wire. Once the two top wings were in place, I repeated with the bottom wings.

I then wiggled them a little to get them where I wanted, before adding in an extra pair of legs above the top leg attachments. Then I just poked them in with a little extra wool, to fill in any unwanted holes or gaps.

I then stopped off the point that each wing wire met the dragonfly body, with silver jewellery making clips, I then superglued them into place. Then did the same where the wire came out from the bottom of the body to create the legs. supergluing where the metal met the body. I then bent the legs where I wanted them to create joints, and added in jewellery making clips again glued into place. I then clipped off any excess wire on the legs.

After this, I carefully bent the wings down, to put them into a typically dragonfly position, careful to stop the legs bending in the wrong direction.

Et voila, we have a dragonfly.

The intention is that I will be mounting the dragonfly in a box, so there are a few more stages to come. I will update again soon, with added pictures, and also a list of materials used!

if you want to see more of my work - illustration, character design, and one or two needle felt pieces visit

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