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.

Happy Cephalopod Week!

Today is the final day of Cephalopod week 2018! I couldn’t miss it so here’s a special Friday blog post!

CrayCuttle
Cuttlefish Stare, Crayola crayons

The cuttlefish is my personal favorite cephalopod, which is kind of like saying chocolate is better than pizza — I am so lucky to live in a world that has it all! All cephalopods are incredibly cool creatures! But if you absolutely HAD to choose, which would be your favorite? The always charismatic octopus? The cryptic nautilus? The huge-eyed squid? Tell me in the comments.

Happy Father’s Day

I hope you had a wonderful time yesterday celebrating the father(s) in your life, whether he is your brother, friend, son, in-law, grandpa, or simply your dad.

I used Crayola crayons to draw this father bat-eared fox and his kit. Not only are they adorable with those huge ears, these foxes have heartwarming family dynamics. There are many other examples of wonderful fathers in the animal kingdom as well that are fascinating to learn about. Marmoset monkeys, for example, are extremely devoted to their young. The large Rhea bird is also a diligent father who looks after his chicks with great care. Do you know of an animal father who takes a leading role in child care? Tell me in the comments.

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.

Belly Painting

My twin sister is expecting her second child and to celebrate her pregnancy, I painted her gorgeous belly. I used the Proud Body Pregnancy Belly Painting Kit. She wanted a floral design and after looking through Pinterest together, we came up with this painting:

 

Working on an art project with my twin is a great feeling; working on art project ON my twin was tremendous fun! The little one inside kept moving, responding to my brush strokes. I have never done any body painting before and it was a challenge to work quickly enough that it wasn’t uncomfortable for all involved. Older Brother, only two years old, simply could not wait until it was done for cuddles.

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.

For my mother

For my mother’s birthday, and sometimes for Mother’s Day, I like to make something with her favorite flower, the sweet pea.

This year I also included her favorite thing to find on the beach: sand dollars.

SandDollars
Sand Dollars and Sweet Peas, Crayola crayons.

Drawn with crayons, I found it much easier to get that intense vibrancy of the sweet pea flowers than with other media. Those petals can almost burn your eyes, they are so bright! I also enjoyed making sand and water ripples with the play of light and shadow.

Did you know sand dollars are often purple while they’re living? Once they die, their skeletons get bleached by the sun and that’s why we see them as white most of the time. They also have millions of tiny wiggly feet! Watch this video on YouTube Live Sand Dollar Walking.

 

I love my mother. I believe I inherited my artistic spark from her. Even though she does not paint or needle felt, she is an avid knitter and seamstress. Growing up there were always fabric particles all over our house, bright bits of yarn, and the occasional stray pin. Beyond the example she modeled for me as a creative person pursuing her own artistic endeavors, she was and remains one of my greatest supporters. She always encouraged me in my art and still gives me kind words and genuine reactions to my work. Thank you, Mom, if you read this, for everything you have done to help me grow as an artist.

 

Here are some past pieces I have made for my mother.

 

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.

Lumpsucker Fish

Inspired by a comment made by one of my friends, I decided to draw these adorable and bizarre fish — lumpsuckers. The first time I saw these little guys, I could not believe my eyes. They look exactly like vacantly staring pompoms. Just little fish lumps that stick to things with their sucker fins. I kept looking and looking for some clue that they were real and my husband (boyfriend at the time, on our second date) had to pull me away from the display tank so we could get out of the California Academy of Sciences before it closed.

I never did find convincing evidence that lumpsuckers are real and not just pompoms.

I drew this continuing my experiments with Crayola crayon fish drawings.

 

Lumpsuckers
Lumpsuckers, Crayola crayons.