Anthopleura WIP Video

I’ve been working really hard on the needle felted Anthopleura sola, the Starburst anemone, but making all those tentacles is taking a long time. So I thought I’d give you guys a peek into the process by…

… making my first needle felting video! View it at the link:

 

Below are some stills from the video with a bit more information.

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I found a yarn that was the perfect color to blend with my other roving (loose wool ready for felting or spinning). I only need to take it out of its loosely spun strands and make it into roving. You can do this with any yarn that is %100 wool, or any kind of felt-able fiber.
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Using specialized carding combs, I blend the two colors of roving together. You can get combs like these from Etsy or your local craft store.
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Here you can see I am wearing leather thimbles on my fingers and thumb. I use a wooden needle holder that I’ve found to be the most comfortable. Even though it has multiple slots, I typically use only a single needle. I felt on a Woolbuddy pad, which is a mat of densely felted wool that works just like a foam pad but better.

The start of the tentacle is a core of plain undyed roving, which is then covered and expanded upon with the blended roving. After rolling the wool into roughly the shape of a tentacle, I poke it repeatedly. The barbed needle does the felting by grabbing the strands and tangling them around each other with every poke. Slowly the tentacle starts to form and hold its shape.

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I stretch the blended roving out in a line to get the tentacle long and thin.
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I add blue roving to the tip of the tentacle.
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The tentacle is complete and ready to join the others on the anemone!

Thank you for watching my process! This is a long and intense project and I’m glad to have you all along with me.

Check back for photos of the finished anemone.

Anthopleura sola WIP

Today’s post is a sneak peek of my latest needle felting project: Anthopleura sola, the Starburst anemone.

These are one of the most gorgeous sights you’ll see as you walk along the tide pools of the California coast, with their jewel-like tentacles dancing in the currents. You can spot this particular species by the stripes radiating out from the center in a luminous “burst.” Here is a photo I took on one of my excursions to the tide pools:

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Anemone at the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve

And more photos of these magnificent life forms:

 

I want the felted Anthopleura sola to be life-sized with a diameter of about 150 cm. I’m pushing myself to work larger which allows me to get in more details.

 

 

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Here you can see I’m experimenting with different colors and seeing how they come together. I had to blend a few different colors together to find what I wanted. I blend the wool by carding it between two combs.
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I found the colors that I liked and put in the delicate “burst” pattern.
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Starting to put in the tentacles!

I loved poking these creatures when I was a kid and watching their tentacles retract, and then poking them again and seeing the water gush out. It was so exciting! I doubt they enjoyed it very much, however, and I no longer practice this harassment. But I still adore watching these beauties in their shallow pools.

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.

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.

Tamandua is a genus of anteaters

I love anteaters. I love their long snouts and their impressive claws and their strange color patterns — that bright stripe along the shoulder of the giant anteater! Amazing! Every anteater is fascinating in its own way, but the tamandua anteaters are especially dear to my heart because of that long semi-prehensile tail. There are two anteaters in the tamandua genus, the northern and the southern tamandua. The northern tamandua has a distinctive V-neck color pattern, almost like they’re wearing sweater vests, while the southern tamandua is much lighter in coloring and some just have a hint of the V pattern.

 

If you want to be charmed by these wonderful animals, just watch this adorable video: https://youtu.be/2TNp9EyBmcc

 

Have you ever wondered how an anteater’s front feet differ from their back feet? What their grooming routine is like? How much they sleep? What their poo looks like? You can find the answers (with pictures!) at Tamandua World.

 

Have you guessed the subject of my next project? Yup, I’m working on needle felting an anteater… It’s not like a real tamandua (yet discovered anyway!) but it’s very much inspired by the northern tamandua. I’m embellishing my anteater by felting elaborate patterns into the fur in fantastical colors.

 

Here are some in-progress photos.

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More photos to follow! Check back for the finished anteater sometime soon!