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!

Tweed the cat

Some months ago, I received a custom order for a pet memorial of this lovely, lovely fellow:
TweedRefPhoto

It was an honor to make such a meaningful piece. I needle felted wool over a pipe cleaner armature, used small glass eyes, and made the whiskers from fishing line glued in place with superglue.

_TweedChair_TweedChair2

_TweedCollar
I made a removable collar like the one in the photo reference.
_TweedFace
Such unique facial markings!
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My initials on the belly, lost in the fur.
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I was told he had a funny habit of sitting on top of vases and pots. What a silly!

_TweedSide

If you would like to see some of the process that went into making this needle felted oddling, wander over to my Patreon page where I show many, many photos of the different stages and changes I made as I worked:

Familiar Oddlings on Patreon

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.

MixRoving1_web
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.
MixRoving2_web
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.
TentacleCore_web
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.

TentacleGreen_web
I stretch the blended roving out in a line to get the tentacle long and thin.
TentacleBlueTip_web
I add blue roving to the tip of the tentacle.
AnemoneTentacle_web
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:

FitzgeraldAnemone
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.

 

 

AnemoneWIP_web
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.
AnemoneWIP3_web
I found the colors that I liked and put in the delicate “burst” pattern.
AnemoneWIP4_web
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 Completed

I have a fascination with the often bizarre artwork found in Medieval manuscripts. Sometimes the creatures depicted are extremely ugly, other times there’s great charm to their awkwardly proportioned features and perplexing color choices. Look at the giant bird feet on this blue and gold one below. There’s an appealing flare and commitment to the style on that one that just thrills me. And look at the expression on the one in the top right corner. It could easily be the face of some hilarious meme. I love the patterns you can find worked into the griffin feathers on some of the drawings.

Examples of griffin art from Medieval manuscripts

 

It was with these key elements in mind that I undertook the task to recreate a Medieval manuscript drawing in the 3D medium of needle felted wool: strange color combinations, overt feather patterns, not-quite-right proportions, and an emphatically cranky expression. Capturing the expression was probably the most difficult part, but I think next time I shall endeavor to start with a larger piece. Working on such fine detail at that small a scale (this griffin is only about three inches tall!) was brutal. I think he turned out wonderfully cantankerous, however, and Valkyrie, the proud owner of this gift, was happy to receive him.

Manuscript Griffin, needle felted wool over pipe cleaner.

You can see the beginning of this diminutive magical beast on my blog post A Griffin For Valkyrie.

Bentley the dog

My aunt has an adorable Cavalier King Charles spaniel named Bentley. Last time I visited her house, I was struck by his silky charm and started needle felting a portrait of him, but somehow the project got interrupted and the piece languished in my bedroom for over two years.

Now, here he is completed! And just in time for my aunt’s birthday as a gift from my mother.

He is made from needle felted wool over pipe cleaner. His eyes are plastic. He is only about 4 inches long and 3 inches tall.

My aunt called my mother after she received him in the mail to tell us she loves her miniature Bentley.

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.

Brilliance_dA
Brilliance, needle felted wool over pipe cleaner.

And another I made way back in 2009.

Valky_Griff_Web
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!

https://giphy.com/embed/G2PFZL26hdCHm

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.

https://giphy.com/embed/GYH6LraGdVAru

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.