Something A Little Too Familiar?

“Too Familiar” is the latest creation to exit my work table. Her genesis came from an external source. You may recall my last post, where I described a couple of pieces that weren’t exactly born in my sketch book. This latest sculpture was born on those pages, but in response to some thing I came across.

I saw a posting regarding a new issue of a defunct art publication. The post announced a new issue in the fall, and included a link to info for a call for submissions. They were looking for art dolls that fit either a Halloween or autumnal theme. As my feature show this year is in September, and I was in the midst of sketching ideas, I decided to play with the idea of animals that are known as “familiars”. They are the animal companions of witches and wizards… cats, owls, etc.

Too Familiar Taking Form

I first started my sketch of “Too Familiar” animal as witch, as a cat. The cat just appeared a little too precious to me. So, I refined my idea as an owl. Owls hold mystery and the appearance of wisdom. They are also a symbol of truth which fits in nicely with one of the many interpretations of the title of my September show “Unmuted”… to speak up.

Anthropomorphic owl art doll sculpture. Needle felted wool, one-of-a-kind artist original
Too Familiar

Too Familiar is a barn owl who is busy simmering a potent looking brew of some sort. She holds the viewer in a direct gaze. The owl stands next to a clump of toadstools that look as though they may be part of her potion recipe.

The anthropomorphic art doll sculpture is needle felted wool over a frame of wire and quilt batting. She features glass beed eyes, and Swarovski crystal embellishments on her satchel. Her hat is needle felted wool over a synthetic felt base.

We Have to Wait

As I plan to have this piece in a show that opens at the end of September, you will have to wait a while to see Too Familiar in person, or for her to be available for purchase.

needle felted baby giraffe art doll sculpture before her bow and ID bracelet accessories

Sculpture Detours

I don’t know about all artists, but I prefer to get in a groove in the studio. I encounter periods where my sculpture seems to flow from one to the next, and though each is unique, there is a connection between them. With luck, these periods precede an upcoming featured artist show, and the result is a cohesive body of new and exciting work in the show.

There are also times where the work comes in from widely varying directions. The last few weeks have been one of these periods. In fact, I would go as far as saying that I didn’t have much of anything to do with the origin of my last few creations. I have instead worked on a couple of commissions, and made a couple of not-for-sale original versions of existing characters.

High Fashion Giraffe Offspring

My anthropomorphic giraffe sculpture from my last feature show, High Fashion, was purchased last year. The owner asked me to create an offspring to accompany her. The finished version sports a pink hair bow, and vintage beaded ID bracelet. The image here is a work-in-progress photo. She will be off to join mom her new home shortly. This commission was fun. It allowed me to revisit a piece I truly love (High Fashion is currently featured on my gallery bio-cards) but look at it in a different way.

needle felted baby giraffe before her bow and ID bracelet accessories
Baby Giraffe commission

This was not the case with another recent commission. One I almost declined. With the exception of my puffin and polar bear ornaments, I prefer to not recreate any of my designs. Though, I will revisit an idea or theme and take a new look at it, I prefer not to simply reproduce something I have already made. To me it lessens the original. I had someone contact me and ask if I make them a new version of a piece that had a red dot (sold) in the gallery. Try as I might with questions about different colors and numbers of items in the piece… The customer was undeterred, and wanted one exactly like the piece they were unavailable to purchase. I’m not exactly sure why, but I did create the piece. In the end it made someone happy, so I guess that’s a positive.

A Real Sculpture Departure

In a real departure for me, I spent a little time making a couple of anime characters. These two pieces were not to be sold, but rather helping out with a club project. Fans might recognize my versions as a needle felted Totoro, and a hand sewn stuffed Pikachu with needle felted embellishments. They were an enjoyable diversion and challenge, as I was going for a definitely handmade while still true to known character aesthetic.

Before anyone asks… Sorry, but no. This was a one time, and not for sale thing.

Back To The drawing Board

Now I guess it is time to take out the sketch book, and see were the next flow of work all take me. At least I hope so.

Proud Fisherman, anthropomorphic puffin sculpture art doll, needle felted wool

What Now For Newest Work?

I’m asking “what now?” because I find myself with a very different schedule this year. Normally, I would have finished helping with our annual juried show and made pieces for our group shows. Then it’s Valentine’s jewelry items, and start pieces for my featured show. For the past two years I had a feature show in April, and had two months to get all my new work complete. This year my show is in September. You would think this space would provide freedom, and it does creatively speaking. The trick is deciding just what to do with the work as each piece is completed. Do I make the new piece I’m excited about available on Etsy, in the gallery, or the gallery online shop? Or, do I hold it back as part of a new body of work I’ll present in my feature show?

I’ve completed two new pieces since my last posting and have no Idea what I’m doing with either Just yet. I’ll just share them both with you and figure it out later.

A Baby

A baby elephant to be exact. I think we all could use a bit of optimism right about now. This piece is titled Looking Up, and and seems happy with what she sees. “Looking” appears quite pleased with the bright red ballon she’s holding in her trunk.

Looking Up, anthropomorphic elephant sculpture art doll, needle felted wool
Looking Up

I sculpted the elephant figure’s body from quilt batting without an internal wire skeleton. There is a wire hidden within her balloon’s string that allows it to hover above her trunk. The elephant sits abut 7 inches high, and the top of the balloon measures just below 13 inches.

A Puffin Is What Now?

I become somewhat done with puffins following the holidays. I crank out quite a few of my puffin ornaments, and am not ready to even think of them again until maybe August. But this puffin figure was just asking to be made. He’s based on a photo I shot when we visited Iceland. One puffin landed quite near, and stood for what seemed an eternity showing off his catch. I created a relief sculpture panel of his photo, but felt he needed to become a fully fleshed figure.

Proud Fisherman, anthropomorphic puffin sculpture art doll, needle felted wool
Proud Fisherman

Titled, Proud Fisherman, this anthropomorphic piece captures what we felt the tiny bird was trying to communicate to us. He was so happy with his catch. Proud Fisherman is needle felted wool over a quilt batting and wire frame. His bucket style fishing hat has beaded lures. His glass bead eyes are sewn in place. The hat, large beak, and fish make the proud fisherman a little top heavy, so this piece has a needle felted “rock” sandbag that serves as ballast. This art doll figure stands about 9 inches tall, and has the same comical charm of his real life inspiration.

“What now?” for these two anthropomorphic art doll sculptures? Don’t know, What do you think?

close up of hand made book held by Badger Reads

Midwinter Badger Restocking

With the holiday season safely in the review mirror, and it is now time to get back to my more regular studio work schedule. The Hillsborough Gallery of Arts’ show from my last post (Share the Love) is still ongoing. You have ample time to purchase a wonderful piece of art, and benefit our local food pantry in the process! I’m just starting to think about this year’s Featured Artist show, but that isn’t until September this year. So, in this winter doldrum time I’m thinking about curling up with a book, and Valentine’s.

First a Badger

I’m not sure exactly why my imagination turned to a badger. I suppose it may be my appreciation of storybooks and that my anthropomorphic figures look like illustrations to me. I love look of classic children’s tales like Alice in Wonderland, and Winnie the Pooh. This time my thoughts wandered to the Wild Wood of The Wind in the Willows.

Badger Reads - anthropomorphic needle-felted badger sculpture in Edwardian arm chair with book
Badger Reads

Badger from these tales is a perfect pandemic lockdown character. Although he is gracious and helpful when his friends show up, he is known to live alone and enjoy his solitude. My version of Badger is titled Badger Reads. He is dressed in his robe, and is seated in a comfortable arm chair, and is reading a leather bound volume. This is one of those pieces where I’ve let my love of details fly a bit. I started with sculpting the figure in needle felted wool over my wire and quilt batting form. He called for more than a simple block to be seated on. I obliged him by crafting a small upholstered armchair and pillow from heavy card stock, foam and fabric. His book I made from card stock, watercolor paper and some faux-leather.

close up of hand made book held by Badger Reads
Detail of Badger’s book

I really didn’t have a destination (Etsy, HGA gallery, HGA online?) predetermined for this piece. However, he was such a hit when I shared a few images on social media that I figured I’d bring him in to the gallery this weekend.

Valentine’s and a Bad Baking Bunny

I’ll also be bringing a couple of pieces of needle felted jewelry with me. After all, it is the second half of January, and some guys do their Valentine’s shopping before February 13th, don’t they? One of my favorite needle felted pieces is a red heart with orange flowers that is available in my Etsy shop. So, I’ve created a couple of similar pieces in different color combinations for the gallery too.

I haven’t filled pedestal tops vacated by holiday purchases, so I’m also bringing in another piece from earlier this year. Hands Off The Carrot Cake is an anthropomorphic rabbit baker who is serious about the proper serving of his famous carrot cake.

Hands Off The Carrot Cake

I mentioned him at the end of last week’s post. I thought he’d might as well take a trip to the gallery to be seen in person too. He will stay listed in my Etsy shop for a while longer too, just in case you’re not local enough to get to HGA.

"Journey" anthropomorphic needle felted traveling sparrow sculpture

New Friend, New Year, New Show.

The New Friend

I’ll start with introducing you to the new friend.

"Journey" anthropomorphic needle felted traveling sparrow sculpture
Journey

“Journey” is my latest anthropomorphic needle felted creation. He is for HGA’s next show “Share The Love” which will open next Friday, January 8th at noon on the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts online shop. This first show of the year will benefit the local OCIM food pantry with 44% of sales proceeds going to the pantry.

Show card for "Share The Love" show at HGA Jan 2021

As you see, Journey is representing the show in the gallery’s promotional materials this month. This piece stands 5″x 7″x 5″. He is a little sparrow all set to fly off from his perch on an adventure. Sparrows are considered a symbol of hope. That seemed to me to be something we all are in need of as we embark on 2021. Journey is needle felted wool over a wire and quilt batting frame with glass bead eyes.

Journey and other new original works by HGA artists will be available in the Share the Love show next Friday. Check back here, I will update this post with direct links to the show page.

Holiday Cleanup and Other Friends

I just took some time to deactivate my needle felted puffin and polar bear ornaments from my Etsy page. The ones currently in the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts and the HGA online shop will go into storage next week. But many of their needle felted friends will remain in the gallery, on the gallery online shop, and on my Etsy Page. With all that occurred this past year, you may have missed a post or two of mine. So, I think over the next few weeks I may take some time to reintroduce some of last year’s work. “Hands Off The Carrot Cake” is a personal favorite of mine.

Hands Off The Carrot Cake - anthropomorphic needle-felted rabbit chief sculpture
Hands Off The Carrot Cake

I wrote about “Hands Off…” here in June, and he is currently available on my Etsy LWSculptedShop.

Mouse #1 with striped hat

Restocking Items for the Holidays

I wasn’t really planning on creating any additional holiday themed items. I usually build up my holiday inventory of one-of-a-kind pieces and ornaments before the show installation. Then I start thinking about the next year’s new work. A reimagined local event and and a vacated pedestal changed my mind this year, so I’m restocking items for the holidays.

When “Winter Ride” sold, I replaced it with another polar bear creation “Climate Report“. But, I couldn’t help feeling that the pedestal should have another seasonal piece. So, meet the “Caroling Mice”.

Caroling Mice anthropomorphic needle felted sculpture
Caroling Mice

These three little carol singers measure between 5 1/2 and 7 inches high. They are decked out in their warm winter gear and have their mouse-sized sheet music in hand.

Each mouse stands on their own on little booted feet and propped up by a long curving tail. The needle felted wool covers a wire and quilt batting frame. Glass bead eyes are sewn in place, and the sheet music is secured to their mittens.

Light on the Longest Night

One of the yearly winter events put on by our local arts council is a Solstice Lantern Walk along the Eno Riverwalk. Unfortunately, as you may have guessed, COVID had forced the arts council to reimagine the lantern walk. In the past, a long parade of participants march together along the river with their “winter white” lit lanterns of all shapes and sizes. This year residents, and businesses in the downtown historic district are displaying their lantern creations for the weekend of the 19th through the 21st. There is a map that will be created so that people can drive or walk by the locations safely distanced.

I’m creating some items that can be displayed in the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts window during the walk. The first is a little Lantern House. It is needle felted wool that I’ve stiffened on the interior. A small battery tea light sits in the interior and shines through the windows and open door, and glows through the wool walls.

Restocking Items in the Gallery

The Caroling Mice are now available in the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts, and I will bring in my lantern pieces on the afternoon of December 19th.

Winter Ride anthropomorphic needle felted art doll sculpture

Shop The Season Differently

The Turkey Soup is in the Freezer.

Now that Thanksgiving has past, the holiday gift season is in full swing. It certainly has been an interesting journey to this point this year. With much of the prep work for online sales needing to be completed ahead of time, it is almost a little anticlimactic. I do, however, find myself keeping an eye in several different directions at once. In the past, I only had to attend to my work at The Hillsborough Gallery of Arts. Now, there are new tasks and more things to learn.

Winter Ride anthropomorphic needle felted art doll sculpture
Winter Ride

Winter Ride went to a new home over the weekend. So, in addition to packing it up at the gallery, it also needed to come off of my Etsy page. It is a strange experience when a piece like this sells, especially early in the season. I had this sculpture front and center on a pedestal in the first room of the gallery. This prime location obviously did its intended job. So, though I love that this one-of-a-kind piece will go somewhere it will be treasured, I’m just a little sad to see it leave.

A New Season

I also experienced my first Etsy shop sale over the weekend. Imagine my surprise when my phone suddenly made a “Ka-Ching” sound. This brought new things to learn, like Etsy’s built in customer communication, and updating the status of the order when shipped.

Since two items came off my LWSculptedShop Etsy store this weekend, I guess I should put something new up. I just completed another of my needle felted pins, so that might be a good place for it to find a sales home? This little relief sculpture measures 1.25″ x 3.5″ and has a hand-stitched rigid back and standard pin clasp. It features some curly wool from the sheep of another HGA artist, Susan Hope’s, farm.

Ram on Hill pin
Ram on Hill pin

I hope that you will take the time to see what the small local businesses and artists around you have to offer this holiday season. Many like our gallery have had to adjust the way they do business face-to-face, and/or establish online sales outlets for the first time. I can speak from personal experience that the learning curve on both has been steep for some. If you are lucky enough to have the ability to give gifts when so many are struggling it would be wonderful if some of those gifts came from local artisans and shop owners.

Feet on the Ground is an anthropomorphic reindeer wearing snowshoes art doll holiday sculpture

Holiday Sales Sites Up!

I suggested you to check back here for links to holiday sales sites. Your patience has been rewarded. The Hillsborough Gallery of Arts online holiday show, The Art of Giving, went live yesterday at noon! Here is the link to find the gift offerings from all of the HGA artists… https://hga-store.square.site/holiday-shop

Feet on the Ground is an anthropomorphic reindeer wearing snowshoes art doll holiday sculpture
Feet on the Ground

You’ll find Feet On The Ground under Holiday Items, my puffins and polar bears under Ornaments, and my felted brooches under Jewelry.

Take time to browse around the holiday show categories, there are plenty of unique gift ideas from all of my artist partners there.

And on Etsy

I also have ornaments, brooches, bags, and one-of-a-kind needle felted original sculptures available on my Etsy shop. They can be found at… https://www.etsy.com/shop/LWSculptedShop

In the Gallery

face of Moose Call, anthropomorphic moose art doll sculpture
Moose Call close up

If you are local, you can stop in to the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts. Take in all of the amazing artwork there. Some of the items in the HGA online shop are available for pickup at the gallery after purchase.

Hope you had a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving!

Sculptures in Motion

I strive to capture movement in many of my sculptures. I’ve also managed to make a few of them move on their own. Or, at least they appear to be in motion.

I’ve recently written about the fact that transitioning work to online venues requires more than one or two good images. I’ve started providing multiple angle views, scale views, and images of work “in use.” Now, I’ve decided to have a bit of fun with stop motion animations. The hope is that using these videos on my social media can help capture a few more looks during the holidays. Having work that resembles characters from classic holiday specials helps in their creation. They are also just plain entertaining and fun, though they are rather time consuming to produce.

Puffin Pyramid

I’ll start here with the most recent. I just created this playful video of some of my puffin ornaments forming a pyramid. My puffin and polar bear ornaments will be available on my Etsy shop, the HGA online shop, and at HGA. I create them several at a time following my own original design. However, they are each truly an individual handcrafted item, all just a little bit different. This allows them to be a small, unique, and very gift-able piece of original art.

A Winter Ride in Motion

The first stop motion I produced a couple of weeks ago is a silent short for my piece titled Winter Ride. This anthropomorphic sculpture is already available on my Etsy shop, and may be on view in-person at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts soon. Winter Ride can be that future holiday heirloom, but I certainly hope whomever takes it home would want to display it year round.

Winter Ride in motion

The complete sculpture assemblage is 12 inches long, 6 inches high, and 4 inches deep. Momma bear is needle felted wool over a wire and quilt batting frame. Baby bear is needle felted wool over quilt batting form. The miniature sleigh and harness I constructed from wood craft sticks, copper coated flat wire, leather, metal brad fasteners, and jewelry findings. Both bears have hand stitched iridescent glass bead eyes.

Winter Ride anthropomorphic needle felted art doll sculpture
Winter Ride

I will be sharing both videos on various platforms over the next two months. I hope that you enjoy them, and take the time to follow the links to their sales pages.

Holiday Planning and Preview

procession of needle felted puffin ornaments
Puffin Procession

I am doing a bit of holiday planning this week. It is more involved than in past years. Before, I just had to decide what I was bringing to the gallery, and if I would have items in any other shows or shops. The complexity comes in the form of now having an Etsy shop, and HGA also having an online shop.

Surviving in the age of COVID makes an online sales presence pretty much a requirement. This means choices need to be made where items will be. Pieces that will be online, need more photography to provide shoppers with different angles, idea of scale, or context. To have popular holiday items, like ornaments in all locations, I have to generate more inventory. Items going in to my Etsy need to be weighed and boxes found because you can’t list them without shipping info… even if you are offering free shipping.

Choices, Choices

Feet on the Ground is an anthropomorphic reindeer wearing snowshoes art doll sculpture
Feet on the Ground

My newest anthropomorphic art doll sculpture, Feet on the Ground, is an example of a hard choice for placement. He is so fun and eye catching, I want to list him everywhere. Listing an item for sale online, and having it available in a gallery is not a great idea. It raises the possibility of crossed sales. In his case, I think I have decided that he should go into the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts holiday show, and sit proudly on top of a pedestal. Never fear, if you aren’t local, you can contact me here, and we can get him to you.

Feet on the Ground is a stable anthropomorphic art doll sculpture. He stands on four custom made snow shoes. “Feet’ is constructed of needle felted wool over a wire and quilt batting frame. His hat and scarf are needle felted wool as well. I made his distinctive snowshoes from polymer clay, toothpicks, embroidery floss, leather, and metal brads. Iridescent black glass beads are used for the eyes.

Something New for the Holiday Season

I recently made a miniature version of one of my needle felted panel pieces and attached a pin back to it as a gift. The recipient asked if I was going to have these items available in the gallery. At first I said no, as I don’t especially enjoy working on lots of small gift items, and would rather concentrate on my sculptures. After a bit of consideration, I admitted that it couldn’t hurt to make a few and see how they fare over the holiday season. Above are a few examples with a large paperclip for scale.

Old favorites Too

puffin and bear ornaments
Puffin and Bear ornaments

I will have my needle felted puffin and bear ornaments available in all three (gallery, Etsy, and HGA online shop) locations. I will let you know when all are available. There is still a bit more inventory background work to complete, and two locations (HGA and HGA online) have specific dates the shows open. I will let you know all those dates and times, as we get a bit closer!