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!

Lorisnail meets new friends

My Lorisnail character meeting some new friends…

Lorisnail and Dolomedes Spider
Lorisnail and the Giraffe
Lorisnail and the Pangolin

These were a birthday set for my two sisters and my friend. We all have summer birthdays and it’s fun to make gifts that go together. I love the three of you so much! You are like my cavalry — I know you’ve all got my back! Thank you for being in my life.

Simple pencil drawings have a special charm. I like to imagine them inside an old little book, one that has the title written in tiny gold font on the spine. And it’s got that kind of musty, sweet smell. Ahh, old books are the ultimate comfort.

Anyway, some day I will write (and illustrate) the Lorisnail story. And all of you here will be the first to know about it!


If you’d like to help me get closer to my artistic goals, please consider becoming a patron and supporting me on my patreon page:

Familiar Oddlings on Patreon

Needle Felting

Okay, a long overdue post, heh. Sorry about that. Now for what you’ve all been waiting for…. How I started needle felting! And what is it, anyway?

I first discovered needle felting while browsing the fantastical and often fabulous art on Elfwood (www.elfwood.com) a couple years ago. This one artist, Amanda Edlund from Sweden, made extremely appealing bipedal creatures with amazing color patterns. They had wonderful ears and great expressions. Here is one, The Blue Creature!

wool felted doll
Blue Creature by Ulltotten on deviantart.com

Check out more of her amazing art over at deviantart.com here: http://ulltotten.deviantart.com/gallery/

In short, I fell in love with her creatures and I desperately wanted to know what this “felting” was! I sent her a few notes and she kindly explained what needle felting was and how to build the armature underneath so the creatures would be pose-able.

Here are the two pictures she was generous enough to share with me:

Wire armature wrapped with wool
Adding the layer of dyed wool along with the details

So what is needle felting? It is the art of poking wool into shape! Here’s the official definition: Needle felting is a popular fiber arts craft conducted without the use of water. The artist uses special barbed felting needles from industrial felting machines to sculpt wool fiber. The barbs catch the scales on the fiber and push them through the layers of wool, tangling and binding the fibers together, much like the wet felting process. Fine details can be achieved using this technique, and it is popular for both 2D and 3D felted work.

My first felted creature was Glip.

wool felted doll
My first needle felted creation

As you can see, he was heavily inspired by Amanda’s work. I took some pipe cleaners and twisted them into an armature over which I wrapped undyed wool to make a padded base — the “stuffing” if you will. Then I needle felted the dyed wool over the top, poking myself several times in the process. I discovered how difficult it was to make the fingers slender and delicate! Also, how you really should use multiple layers of the dyed wool to build up stability and a deep color. It was a wonderful learning experience!

Some time later, I fixated on making a snonkey (see previous post) with the needle felting technique. After considering it a for a while, I decided to felt the body but let the shell be an actual shell. I love shells and the hard smooth texture of a real snail shell can’t be beat! But the trouble was finding the right sized shell. Up until that point I had been using (to make other works of art) the small garden variety snail shells I found lying around my neighborhood, abandoned by the local snails. Then my family came home one day from grocery shopping with a bag of escargot shells! They were the perfect size. I made a pipe cleaner armature, felted wool over it, then glued an escargot shell on the back.

felted wool doll with snail shell
The first felted snonkey

So that’s how I started needle felting. Next time I’ll tell you about the Lorisnail, a special kind of snonkey. Take care, everyone! Thank you for reading!

The beginning of the snonkey

One day while I was dreaming up a children’s story, and feeling particularly obsessed with my pet snails, I was suddenly struck by the image of a monkey with a snail shell on its back.

Let’s back up a minute. Yes, I said “pet snails.” I’ve had an interest in snails since I was twelve years old when I found a small clutch of snail eggs in our garden. The pale soft eggs, each about the size of a whole black pepper seed,  just beneath the surface of our damp dark soil fascinated me. I put them, along with a good clump of soil, in a jar with a bit of nylon stocking stretched across the opening. Sometime later, a few tiny baby snails appeared. They were the most delicate and adorable things I had ever seen! Their shells were golden translucent and their eye stalks were short and stubby. The experiment ended badly, unfortunately; my tank-keeping skills left much to be desired and with a rambunctious puppy in the house, the tank proved an inhospitable place for the tiny captives.

Many years later, I decided to recreate the experiment. I did some research and set up a decent snail tank with a plastic lid. Instead of starting with eggs, I put in an adult snail and two adolescents, naming them Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather. I enjoyed their company for a couple weeks and then I found a giant clutch of eggs in the tank! Evidently Flora had decided it was a perfect place to start a family. A little later and boy did we have a family! There were tons of tiny baby snails filling up the tank. I counted up to ninety.

Snail babies on my fingers
Too many babies!

So that was what was on my mind that day I started sketching and out came the snonkey, a snail-monkey.

Snonkey Sketches

Next time I’ll get to the felting part of the story. Meanwhile, if you’re so inclined, you can view more pics of my pet snails and read more of their story at my deviantArt gallery folder My Pet Snails.