A Griffin for Valkyrie

My good friend, Valkyrie Johnson, is so multitalented it’s easy to mistake her for a mythological being. She is an artist who draws, paints, sculpts, sews, felts, welds, writes, carves, sings, arranges flowers, crafts jewellery, designs clothing, edits video, and practically anything else creative you can imagine. And not only does her repertoire have breadth, it has quality. She is astonishingly good at many, many, many things.

Just look at these few pieces by her!

Top: New Friends. From left to right: Wooden Pendant, Lovers Egg,  and Stage Fright
All by Valkyrie Johnson

 

When I think of all the amazing things she can do, I am filled with an awe and admiration that I feel towards magical creatures. Watching her accomplish all that she has is like watching a griffin fly overhead, beautiful and inspiring and kind of terrifying.

Every year for her birthday I like to make griffin themed artwork for her. This is one I made for her back in 2011.

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Brilliance, needle felted wool over pipe cleaner.

And another I made way back in 2009.

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Medieval Griffon, mixed media.

This year I have begun a needle felted griffin in a style I’ve never attempted before with my felting. I am recreating a Medieval manuscript illustration in three dimensions with wool. This project will take some time, but here are a few in progress photos.

Check back again soon to see the final piece! And hear Valkyrie’s reaction to my gift.

Meanwhile, make sure to visit her website to see more incredible artwork: Valkyrie Johnson on WordPress.

James Baxter the Horse

I don’t often make fan art but occasionally something will jump up, punch me in the heart, and force me to make it. From the moment James Baxter the Horse rolled on his beach ball into the cartoon series Adventure Time, I knew I was destined to make a tribute.

Just look at him!

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via GIPHY

He is perfection! The way he folds up his beach ball into a hat and trots off into the sunset is one of the most romantic things I’ve ever seen.

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via GIPHY

And as if the majesty of his imagery isn’t enough, his story-line makes for one of the best of all 274 episodes. He first appears in episode 19 of the fifth season.

So one day I found myself needle felting a James Baxter Horse.

 

Spots and stripes: baby tapir

All tapir calves have spots and stripes. These markings help them blend into their surroundings so predators won’t catch them easily. It also makes them gorgeous!

 

This bold fashion statement is the biggest challenge when needle felting these little ones. Here I’ll show you what this baby tapir looked like before the patterns were added.

 

A little strange and naked looking, isn’t it? Let’s get those fancy duds on!

 

 

Much better! The time and effort to make those spots and stripes was completely worth while.

 

These wonderful animals are endangered and vulnerable. For any new orders I receive for needle felting tapirs, I will donate a third to the Tapir Specialist Group who will use the funds to help protect and study tapirs all over the world.

Mimic Octopus WIP

Thaumoctopus mimicus, the mimic octopus, is deservedly famous for its ability to make itself appear like other species of marine animals such as a lion fish, a flatfish, a sea snake, a jellyfish, and more. In fact, the limit of its disguises is unknown.

Amazing abilities aside, however, it is also simply a ridiculously attractive cephalopod. The stripes of brown and white on the long undulating arms are mesmerizing. The horns on the tall alert eye stalks are more glamorous than any false eyelashes I’ve ever seen.

See for yourself: Live Footage of Mimic Octopus on YouTube

I’m working on capturing the loveliness of this amazing creature with needle felt over wire armature. Here are a few in progress photos.

Baby tapir

I got another baby tapir commission. I LOVE making these little guys. They are so cute and each time I get to refine and distill the cuteness for overload…

 

 

This is the best one I’ve made yet! I’m very proud of not only the shape, proportion of leg to body and head size, but also the brown and black balance underlying the white spots and stripes. I mixed the brown roving (wool) with the black to get a nice dark brown and then really focused on getting the lighter brown on the cheeks.

 

There is a cost, however. Those dang spots really took forever! I thought my fingers would fall off! I had to redo one of the ears because the white spot on it was turning the black gray. It’s all about balance and finding the magic point at which the black is thick enough to sustain a white spot poking into it but thin enough to be a flexible little ear…

It’s a challenge. But one I delight in!

This little one now makes his home in Half Moon Bay, California with his lovely new owner.

Horse Ornament

One day, I realized that I had never made a horse. And then I remembered that my mother-in-law’s favorite animal is a horse. So for Christmas last year, I needle felted her a little horse ornament. It has a loop of wire at the withers so it can hang on the Christmas tree.

 

It was a lot of fun making this little guy. I researched a lot of other needle felters’ work to get inspiration.

 

Here’s one that I love:

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By BossysFeltworks on Etsy

And this one is just so fabulous!

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Horse mobile by BondurantMountArt on Etsy

 

Seeing these lovely horses, each with their own unique personalities, really gets my creative juices going! I’ll definitely make more felted horses over the coming years.

 

What other artists’ work has inspired you in your life? Let me know in the comments.

My snail succulent themed wedding

At the end of January 2017, I married my biggest cheerleader, Nick. He is the love of my life. He’s also my favorite art subject.

MyNick
My Nick, oil pastel

This was the most fun I’d ever had making a portrait! It doesn’t quite capture his magic, but even just that tiny bit there in the pastel strokes makes me gaze and gaze at it… Attempting to capture him is the labor of love I am going to relish for the rest of my life! Expect to see more of this guy around here. ^_^

 

I knew our wedding would be unique. We chose snails and succulents as our theme and it was even more otherworldly than I could have imagined! My family and friends helped tremendously to pull off the most beautifully breath-taking wedding I’ve ever seen. Shout out to my incredibly talented and dear friend, Valkyrie Johnson, who made the gorgeous bouquets and boutonnieres.

Valkyrie_Bouquets
Photo by Pamela Palma

All my wonderful bridesmaids helped make colorful paper snails for table decorations. Both my mother and my mother-in-law made cakes. My mother also made my dress, which was so perfectly “me” it’s hard to believe it wasn’t done with fairy magic.

Nick’s music, the first song he ever wrote for me, accompanied me down the aisle. Absolute magic. You can listen to the song by clicking on the title here: A Golden Spiral.

Not only was our wedding beautiful, it was unique and just a bit quirky. The perfect blend of elegance and oddity.

I made personalized snonkeys to go on the scrumptious purple cake my mother baked and which my friend, Priscilla, decorated with modeling chocolate succulents (she’s amazing! She seriously should consider a profession in cake decorating).

SnonkeyWeddingCakeChocolateSucculents

NickinaSnonkeys1
Straights’ Snonkey Cake Topper, 2017

 

I made the invitations myself and had them printed at moo.com as postcards (I highly recommend their printing services). I loved using postcards because I could make a full drawing on the back in addition to the smaller images on the front next to the invitation text.

I drew each image with crayons, scanned them, then made up the designs in Photoshop.

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Snail and Succulent Wedding Invitations, Crayola crayons 2017

Here’s a closeup where you can see that funny crayon texture:

SucculentSnail_Invitation_detail
Snail and Succulent Wedding Invitations – Detail

 

And I was able to print a custom sticker at moo.com that sealed the envelopes!

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Snail Succulent Sticker, Crayola crayons 2017

 

After the wedding, I made thank you postcards to continue the theme. Again, I used crayons and had them printed at moo.com

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Snail and Succulent Thank You postcards, Crayola crayons 2017

 

I would like to again thank everyone who helped make our wedding so beautiful. It was a perfect day and I cherish the memories that flood back every time I think of it. Thank you!

And a thank you to anyone reading this. I am so grateful to share all these wonderful things with you! My art is the joy of my life and using it to celebrate the day I united with the man I love is truly blissful.

Tapir mother and calf

A while back I was commissioned to make another mother and calf Malayan tapir pair. I love making these. The majestic shape of the mother is hard to capture in my felting somehow… I think it might be the unusual tapir face and how it flows into the neck and shoulders. The patterns on the baby are definitely a challenge too, but one I delight in taking on!

2MotherCalfTapir2BabyTapir copy2MotherCalfTapir_22MotherCalfTapir_32MotherCalfTapir_42MotherCalfTapir_5TapirMom2_Feet

 

I love these animals. The long mobile nose is the cutest! Have you ever heard a tapir chirp? This is what it sounds like. Did you know they have three toes on their back feet, but four on the front feet? There are a couple different varieties of tapirs, including the Mountain Tapir, which has long fur — such a fuzzy guy! One of my goals in life is to needle felt all species of tapir.

Green and Pink Snonkey

Here is the latest snonkey! A custom request, green with pink face, chest, and palms. This little guy is going to live in Portugal.

 

 

The previous snonkey was also a requested custom color. A teal one:

TealSnonkey_web
Teal Snonkey, needle felted wool 2017

 

 

….Check back soon for updates on the needle felted anteater I’m working on.