Chocolate Tutorial

I’m slower to post this week but I haven’t disappeared! And to make up for it, I have a tutorial for you. I posted a picture or two of my needle felted chocolates early on, I’ll give you a couple more here too, and they tend to be quite popular. Lots of people ask me how I make them and always want me to teach them to make the chocolates themselves so I figured a tutorial would be popular.

A box of felted chocolates

This is one of my favorites that I’ve made, it sold a while ago

I made this one for my BF’s mom for Christmas, her initial is K.

So those are lots of fancy chocolates that I’ve made. Now to making them. They all start out just the same: with the stuffing. I use dryer lint (yes dryer lint like from your clothes, although I prefer wool dryer lint) in mine. I have used poly-fill stuffing but it didn’t work as well and got very compacted, resulting in a much smaller and harder chocolate than I intended.

I like to get a ball of stuffing about the same size that I want the chocolate to end up as, maybe a little larger if there’s a lot of air-space in the stuffing. I’m holding it in the picture to give you an idea of the size.

Then I wrap the base color of the chocolate around the stuffing. I wrap the stuffing in two layers that overlap and are perpendicular to one another. You can see that just the first layer leaves big gaps on either side, that is what the second layer covers. I like to poke a couple times where the two ends of each layer overlap to sort of tack it in and make sure they’ll stay.

You’ll notice that the wool still doesn’t perfectly cover the stuffing. That is easily fixed while you are doing the initial felting, which is what comes next. Basically you want to spread the wool out a bit to cover the holes and then gently felt all around the ball of wool and stuffing. I say gently because you don’t want to felt all the way through the chocolate, you only want to go through the top layer of wool and into the stuffing a little bit. If you felt all the way through you quite quickly get a flat chocolate.

You only need to poke until all the barbs are in the wool, thats maybe an inch deep at most. You should have a lot of needle still sticking out between the chocolate and the hand holding the needle. If you’re poking all the way through, you’re poking too far.

You also want to make sure that you are felting the whole surface, not just one side. I find this easiest to do by felting the chocolate while holding it in my hand. BE CAREFUL! this is a very easy way to stab your hand and fingers, I have done so many times, and nobody wants to bleed all over their chocolates. I also find it helpful to try not to poke more than 5 or 6 times without turning the chocolate a little.

Everyone always wants to know how much the chocolate needs to be felted. It’s difficult to give a definitive answer, because some people like to felt tightly and some people like to felt loosely, but I can give you a baseline for the least felted you want your chocolate to be.

You want the chocolate to be felted enough that you can’t pull out a chunk of wool without a lot of work. The tops picture there is me just grabbing a bit of the chocolate and pulling gently, see how much fiber I have between my fingers there? That’s too much. The bottom picture is me grabbing and pulling hard to get just a few fibers out. Really most of what I’m holding in that picture is the little bits of fluff that were sticking up from the piece, not any of the actual chocolate.

So that’s the minimum amount of felting I would suggest. I like to felt mine down a lot more because it gives them a smoother texture and they feel more solid to me.

Once you have the chocolate felted enough that it will hold together you start shaping. Mostly the shaping just involves making a bit of a flat bottom, so the chocolate sits nicely. But if you want to make a square chocolate this is the part where you start defining the sides and edges. It’s a pretty simple concept, you felt more where you want it to be flat (whether that be the bottom of a round chocolate or the sides of a square chocolate). As I shape my chocolates I like the felt them tighter, but not quite as tight as they can go, because we still need to add decorations.

You can see the nice flat bottom on the left side of the picture. I like the make the bottom slightly smaller than the widest part of the chocolate because I think it makes it look like it was a ball of chocolate that got set down to cool and just developed a small base to sit on. Take a closer look at round chocolates, or make some yourself, and you’ll get what I mean if you don’t already.

Now that you have the basic shape of your chocolate you’re up to the part I like the most: decorating. For the tutorial I just did a basic chocolate with a drizzle of one color over the top because it’s the simplest one to do and can be used as the basis for almost all of the designs I do. But I love to come up with new decorations for the chocolates, whether that’s making letters, using two colors of drizzle, putting dots and drizzle on it, you name it, I’ll try it.

To start the decoration you choose the color you want, I like the minty green and use this one a lot, and pull out a small bit, preferably longer than it is wide. Then you pull it out a little bit more and twist it, as if you’re spinning yarn. This makes it so that you get a nice clean line. You can use yarn for this part, preferably wool, and I have a time or two but I don’t have much yarn that is as thin as I like for the decorations.

When I’m putting a line of drizzle on a chocolate I like to start at one end and a bit to the side. And then I try to curve the decoration like it would be if it were frosting dripped onto a real chocolate, as opposed to making nice straight lines, which is quite easy with felting but a good deal more difficult with frosting!

I felt down the very beginning of the line very well so that I can put some tension on it without it pulling off. I like to leave a bit of extra fuzz at the end that I later cut off or felt down, so that I’m not worrying about getting the beginning of the line just right and it isn’t overly skinny at the start.

You can see the curve of the line here. I also try to just tack the line in at first rather than felting it down securely, so that I have a bit of wiggle room later to get it just right.

It is important to felt the turning points down well just like you did the beginning of the line, and for the same reason. In order to get the line where I want it and to hold the twist in it while I work it is necessary to put some tension on it, so it gets quite annoying if it keeps popping off the chocolate.

The chocolate tends to end up with a weird shape and possibly some strange bulges when the decoration is first put on. Therefore, at this point more felting is required. Often that is the solution to any needle felting problem, more felting!

In order to reshape the chocolate I usually felt extra between the lines of the decoration, and then make sure that the decoration is felted down tightly. Felting the decoration more means you need to felt between the lines a bit more again, but this way seems to work quite well. You may also notice that the chocolate in the last picture above is more tall and skinny than it was before. This is one place where the fix is quite simple and easy, you simply need to squish it back to the right shape. Think of it like a pillow or teddy bear with loose stuffing, you can squish it into weird shapes if you try, but then you just squish it back into its regular shape as well. I find once I am completely finished felting the chocolates, decorations and all, they hold their shapes quite well.

From start to finish one chocolate takes me 30-45 minutes, depending on the complexity of the decoration, and with square chocolates tending to take a bit more time because the shape is more difficult to make. And here is the finished chocolate from a couple different angles.

Please comment if you have any questions and let me know what you think about the tutorial. If you think I missed a step, or you want a picture of something I missed, or you think there’s too many pictures, let me know! I am aware that the picture quality is not the best, that is mostly laziness with not wanting to set up good picture, which could take me 5 to 10 minutes, for each step that takes maybe 2 minutes to do, so I just took pictures where I was working.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Great tutorial Anna! Thanks for sharing your art.

    Reply

  2. […] make the ones that jump out and grab me. Other times I see things in life, animals, space ships, chocolate, etc, and it just hits me that I have to make that in fiber. Then I figure out which fiber […]

    Reply

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