Peacock Spider – Maratus elephans

Back in July 2019 (can we even fathom how long ago that was??) I took a vote from my patrons over at my Patreon page. It was decreed I’d needle felt a bowhead whale — AND a peacock spider. I made the bowhead a while back, but this guy has been languishing in my studio far too long. I am profoundly proud to finally announce his completion!

Peacock spider males are famous for their incredibly colorful abdomens, which some can unfurl like a banner for their mating dances.

He is a Maratus elephans specimen. Yes, the name is referencing the elephant-looking design on his flashy abdomen. The blue is sort of shaped like an elephant face with a trunk down the middle with ears off to the sides.

Photo of a maratus elephans from the website peacockspider.org (so many amazing photos!)

Real peacock spiders are tiny – some species are as small as 2.5 mm! My sculpture is about 135 mm long, or 5.5 inches.

He is needle felted wool over a thin wire armature. All his joints are easily articulated and even his display flaps can be folded down. His eyes are plastic hot glued in place.

The legs took hours and hours. There are so many, many, many legs.

Move the slider to make him dance

To get a peek behind the scenes of how I made this guy, join my PATREON!

You’ll also get other cool benefits, like a chance to win your own needle felted oddling and vote to decide on what I make next!

Head over to my PATREON page to become part of the team

https://www.patreon.com/familiaroddlings

Want to take this guy home with you? He’s available in my etsy shop: Needle felted Peacock Spider – Maratus elephans

Listen to BIPOC


It is so important for us white folk to open our ears and listen to the voices of Black people, Indigenous people, and POC.

This is a silly art project for a serious theme.

As white people, we can easily ignore other voices out of privileged ignorance. Let us know in the comments how you’re practicing listening to BIPOC voices in your life.


Lend Me Your Ears, my fellow white folks! I’m doing a series of white listening ears and I’d like to draw YOURS.


I need help. This is a community project.

I want to make at least fifty drawings, one daily for fifty days. If you’d be so kind to be part of the project, please send me a pic of your ear. This is about demonstrating the need to listen, not bragging that you are! I’ve gotten 18 ears so far and put them up on my instagram @familiaroddlings. Send me more ears and share this post!

To my BIPOC friends:


Don’t send me your ears. You’ve done SO much listening in your lives! Your thoughts, feelings, or ramblings about whatsoever you feel like putting out here, are welcome! I will listen.

And I WILL DRAW!!!

I’ll make some kind of representation for your comment and make it part of this series. It can be anything. If you have something in mind you’d like me to draw, let me know. If you’d just like to let off steam or anything, I’ll find a way to draw it.

If you are an artist yourself and would like to share it, I’d love to feature it here too!

Thank you for sharing this space with me.

Simin Hailu’s ear
Julia Carranza’s ear
Leah Walsh’s ear
Karen Schlesser’s ear

Difficult times

I’ve been struggling with depression and fear and all those types of things, which I’m sure a lot of us have during this time. Moments that leave me without any inspiration at all. It’s been hard. My heart goes out to all of us struggling and those who are suffering the most.

I’m learning to let myself feel whatever it is that I’m feeling and not fight it. No judgement. Create when I can and not pressure myself to produce, produce, produce.

I’m trying to take each moment as it comes.

Take in the joys.

Take in the sorrows.

Let the anger and fear roll through me.

And breathe in hope, when I can.

Be gentle with yourselves, my friends.

Lorises don’t make good pets

Needle felted wool on wire armature with plastic eyes.

Lorises are adorable little primates with huge soulful eyes. Their round furry faces have “sad” eyebrow markings. They have tiny hands with five fingers, just like a human baby. They even at times appear to be asking for a hug or a tickle.

But they are not.

Loris doesn’t want your hugs.
Loris in distress

YouTube videos of these sweet faced animals lifting their arms and bearing their armpits have gone viral. We want to sweep the little darlings up in a cuddle. But most people don’t know that these critters are venomous and the arm lifted pose is in fact a sign of distress. They lift their arms to lick their inner elbows, where a special gland secretes venom. Their next bite is serious business!

The venom is only one reason why keeping a loris as a pet is a bad idea. They are taken illegally from their natural habitats in destructive ways, their teeth are removed in painful and often lethal procedures, and they are kept in small crowded cages. The stress of bright lights and transportation often kills them. And even if they survive the process of becoming a pet, once in human care, they are almost certainly malnourished. A diet of insects and tree gum is hard for humans to cater. Neither are they suited to human schedules – they are nocturnal and need solid chunks of sleep during the day. They also have complex social lives and need a mysterious combination of space and companionship that science is only just now starting to unravel.

If all those reasons aren’t enough, consider the fact that the pet trade is threatening the wild population of these animals.

I know what you’re thinking.

But they are so cute!

I know, I know.

We want to cuddle one, just one!

I hear you.

What if I told you there was a way to cuddle a loris and keep it in your home without harming it while ALSO helping lorises in the wild?

Watch my video below to find out how:

 

Lorises need to be free.

Please visit The Little Fireface Project to learn more about these amazing denizens of the forest and how to help them.

Help a loris.
Thank you!

Lemon curd cheesecake

This year marks the ten year anniversary of the artists’ group, Colony of Coastside Artists, CoCA for short. To celebrate, I made a lemon curd cheesecake and brought it to our meeting.

The piped trim is sour cream buttercream frosting.
The crust is the classic graham cracker crumbs with butter.
I made lemon curd for the first time for this cake!
I had never attempted cheesecake before and this was almost a disaster! I was using a no-bake recipe and couldn’t for the life of me get the filling to thicken up and set. I finally moved it to the stovetop and added agar agar.
I was worried how it would turn out, particularly the texture, but it was well received at the CoCA meeting.

Congratulations to CoCA and especially Patt Sheldon who runs the group nearly single handedly! It’s been wonderful being part of the group and I applaud all the effort that goes into it.

Octonauts Party

I made a chocolate cake for my nephew’s Octonauts themed party. It was a blast! (This is long overdue, as his birthday was back at the end of December, but better late than never.)

Devil’s food chocolate cake with chocolate cream cheese frosting inside is so yummy, this is the second time I’ve made it for his birthday cake. I also like to put chocolate bee bees in the cream cheese layers for extra chocolatey crunchies. The outside frosting is Swiss meringue buttercream.

Using the colorful meringue frosting, I piped out the corals, seaweed, and starfish and froze them a week ahead. Then the night before the party I simply placed them on the cake along with the toy characters. Such a time saver!

The “sand” is made from graham cracker crumbs mixed with finely chopped pecans. I couldn’t resist using Goldfish crackers for the cute fishes swimming around the cake.

Captain Barnacles is his favorite character.
Assembling the cake layers with the chocolate cream cheese frosting.
Professor Inkling is one of my personal favorites.
I’m especially proud of the white and orange trims.

A Taste of Art for the Holidays

I had my first “in person” art show at the Half Moon Bay Library on December 7th and 8th with the Colony of Coastside Artists. It was a blast! I had never met and spoken to so many people about my artwork – and they were all so supportive and kind! My husband, Nick, acted as my spokesperson when my shyness threatened to send me inside my shell and I was honored to make connections with so many fascinating people. I even got to hear an octopus story!

The library is gorgeous. The natural light from all the windows showed off our art beautifully. And the librarians were hospitable heroes! They made the entire event seamless and fun.

The first day was rainy.

I made cranberry and pecan pinwheel cookies! And chocolate chip cookies too, though they’re not as photogenic.

A heartfelt THANK YOU to all the visitors who came, all the artists who participated, and all the library staff who helped pull off a wonderful show!

100 days of sketching

I participated in @kesh’s artchallenge on instagram for 100 days of sketching.

ChairBooks_web

I had such tremendous fun churning these out!

Every day was a challenge but to my surprise it actually *did* get easier…

…even if it was never exactly a breeze. I started to accept that not every drawing that I made was going to be a masterpiece.

Each day was a fresh start. A chance to try something new. To experiment.

And I started to explore what was really going on inside me.

It really became a kind of therapy.

Here are a few highlight sketches. You can view all of them on my Sketches page.

 

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I can’t thank Kesh enough for setting up this art challenge! He is such an inspiration. He makes all kinds of art videos on his awesome YouTube here. And of course go find him on instagram @kesh.

 

Would anyone be interested in a printed booklet of a few of these? I am thinking of compiling a ‘best of’ maybe along with another artist or two.