green sea turtle wall hanging sculpture. needle felted crazy quilt shell patchwork

Wall Sculptures:

Green Sea Turtle and Flutterbys?

I haven’t created sculptures for the wall in quite some time. At one point almost all my sculptures were wall hanging. Over time I’ve found my niche in pedestal top scale works. So, why some wall pieces this time around? Partially, it is what evolved out of the ideas I was sketching. I just followed where those works were leading me. But equally, it is a “necessity being the mother of invention” situation.

As the year has progressed, factors outside of our control have lead to my upcoming feature show being myself and just one other HGA artist, Ellie Snow. This is both great and terrifying at the same time. If you visit her website, you will see that there will no doubt be interesting and vibrant interplay between her abstacted landscapes and my creatures. That’s the great part, the terrifying portion is that our HGA feature shows usually include two 2D artists, and one 3D. Since there will be more available wall space this time around, I let myself follow sketches that cried to be wall hung. In the past, I would have figured out how to support such pieces on a base. Instead, I am letting them swim, crawl, or fly on the wall as they please.

Yuri The Wall Turtle

Yuri is named after a character in a YA novel titled Yuri’s Brush With Magic. Set on the North Carolina coast, this book was one of many written by my late mother-in-law, Maureen. The book weaves together Japanese folklore, art, magic, and turtle conservation. In this sculpture I pay homage to one of her other artistic endeavors, art quilts. Continuing my exploration of patterns I decided on a green sea turtle, where each segment of shell could be unique.

green sea turtle wall hanging sculpture. needle felted crazy quilt shell patchwork
Yuri

I drew from some of the pieces already completed for this upcoming show. You will find the zentangles, giraffe patterning, paisley, and what appears to be tie dye. Interspersed with my felted sections, are fabrics from the quilter’s stash. One area is made from precut squares that were, I assume, ready to be pieced together? The result, recalls “crazy quilt” technique. The “green” turtle also incorporates pieces from a recycled wool sweater on her head, flippers and tail.

Yuri’s construction keeps both wall, and pedestal top display possible. I included wire in the flippers and head, but her body is more of a large “bean bag” with poly pellets providing the volume and weight. Loops of high weight fishing line are stictched strategically under the base of one flipper, so she hangs in the position shown. She is a large piece measuring approximately 20 inches across.

Fluttering By

I’ve also created a series of whimsical creatures for the wall that are a hybrid of a butterfly and a human form. I’m refering to them as Flutterbys.

anthropomorphic butterly/human hybrid wall sculptures. Needle felted and wet felted elements
Flutterbys

The Flutterbys are a mix of needle and wet felting techniques. The base of their wings were achieved by nuno felting. This is a technique that involves wet felting on to a net like fabric. This allows you to achieve a very thin felted material. I then needle felt the additional detail elements on the wings.

The wings areattached to thin wire supports at their upper edges, and the human figures start with pipe cleaners. These are wrapped first in black yarn, and then finished with needle felted black wool. Wire and beads complete the antenna, and pressing with spray starch adds additional structure to their wings. They also hang from stitched fishing line on their back.

Remember to save-the-date: Friday, July 26th from 6-9pm, for the Natural Patterns reception. Stop by to see Yuri, the Flutterbys and all their pedestal top friends!

Brood XIX – Sound of Summer ’24

The sound of summer, almost?

Click… click.. click. click, click click-click-click whirrr. That’s my memory of the sound of summer cicadas. A strange almost mechanical sound that makes you think of the heat of summer. Well, it’s not quite summer (though it is hot enough here in NC.) And, the sound this time is quite different. It is a lound constant sound, somewhat like a car alarm going off near by. And, this sound doesnt build up, and then trail off in typical cicada fashion. Instead it is constant, from just as the day starts to warm, until the afternoon shadows start to lengthen. We were warned that Brood XIX, the emergence of both a 17 year and a 13 year brood cycle would be special. It hasn’t disappointed.

Brood XIX - the sound of summer, is a needle felted anthropomorhic cicada sculpture with vintage megaphone
Brood XIX – Sound of Summer

Left out?

I recall, just a few weeks ago feeling a little left out. Local friends were posting photos of cicadas everywhere, and remarking that the sound they made was deafening. We did not see or hear anything. But, we just needed to be patient. The bugs emerge as the ground reaches the appropriate temperature. We were just a bit further north and a little more shaded in the woods. Soon, I was sending video clips of the alien sound up to relatives in New England.

As a sculptor who focuses on cretures of various sorts, I could not pass up the chance to pay homage to the event. So, meet my cicada, Brood XIX – The Sound of Summer. He is needle felted wool, over a wire and batting form. I constructed his wings by stitching pip cleaners to tulle, and then needle felting wool over those wires, and on to the tulle to form veins. Two large orange-red glass beads are stitched in place for his eyes. I used some commercial deep red wool felt to form the cone of his megaphone. This was needle felted together, and then gold wool fiber was needle felted in place to form the rim, mouth piece, handle, and Roman numerals.

Brood XIX - the sound of summer, is a needle felted anthropomorhic cicada sculpture with vintage megaphone
Brood XIX – Sound of Summer – view 2

No Pattern Play?

The cicada is a little departure from the exploration of the animal print patterns I have been playing with in my sculpture lately. The cyclical nature of the brood’s emergence seems to be enough of a natural pattern to warrant his inclusion in this summer’s feature show. He’ll be at HGA beginning July 23rd.

Over The Rainbow

Frogs, Frogs and a Rainbow of Frogs

Continuing my explorartion of distinctive animal prints led me to consider poison dart frogs. These tiny little inhabitants of the rainforest come in a literal rainbow of bright colors. Their patterns say “see me” and also “leave me alone!”

Instead of changing or altering their patterns in any way, I used their natural looks to create a rainbow. I guess it would more acurately be described as a frog pyramid, but the shades of the spectrum are present in an arching form.

sculpture rainbow pyramid of anthropomorphic poison dart frogs in needle felted wool over wire and batting armature
Poison Rainbow

This piece stands about 14″ tall. The individual frogs are quite a bit larger than they are in real life (.75 – 1.5″ long.) Each frog is approximately 5 inches from nose to tail. I created the individual frogs separately. All began with a wire armature wrapped in quilt batting. Reference photos provided the colorful patterns that I felted on to the surface of each. Each of the amphibians is finished off with large glass bead eyes that are sewn in place.

Once each frog was sculpted, I played around with different configurations to create a self-supporting structure. An additional wire was run through most of the frogs to provide additional stability to the final form. I then stitched and felted the frogs to each other wherever two connect together. The final sculpture was then secured to two layers of thick felt for additional stability.

This rainbow of frogs will make its debut at my feature show at The Hillsborough Gallery of Arts during the Last Friday Art Walk in July.

sculpture rainbow pyramid of anthropomorphic poison dart frogs in needle felted wool over wire and batting armature
Poison rainbow side view

So, Not Quite Done

I returned to my little snow leopard cub, Snow Cat. I fuzzed out his coat a bit more, and took some new images against a dark background. He might actually be done now?

Snow Cat update

Try, Try and Try Again.

Still a Work In Progress?

I know that I haven’t shared any new work for a few weeks. Work time at the table has been split between pieces for my summer feature show, and smaller items for our gallery’s Mother’s Day/spring Pop-up. I decided not to try to share images of all the mini sculptures. Time spent editing photos takes away from creating. My latest sculpture made me “try again” each time I looked at photos of it. Something just wasn’t quite the way I wanted it.

Meet Snow Joy, I might aptly refer to him as my recent nemesis. I continued my exploration of transformed animal print patterns with the idea of a snow leopard. Specifically, a snow leopard cub with some markings that appeared suspiciously like snowflakes. The result is Snow Joy.

anthropomorphic snow leopard sculpture needle felted wool over wire and batting armature, with "snow" leopard patterning. made artist try more reverse felting
Snow Joy

What wasn’t right about Snow Joy? He just needed more, more expression, more movement, and more fuzziness. In needle felting, a fuzzy surface is usually a no-no. The goal is to achieve a nice smooth surface to one’s work. The exception to this is when you want an intentionally fuzzy or long haired appearance. I encountered a challenge with this. The usual method used is more like rooting one end of the fibers, but this doesn’t lend itself to the surface patterning I was trying to achieve. As you might imagine I was unimpressed with the images I took of the completed piece.

Try Again

So, I reworked his coat some with a reverse felting needle. This unique needle does nothing as you stab into the wool, and pulls fibers up from below as you back out. I took more photos. Nope, still not right, try again. This time, I contorted the sculpture into a more exaggerated posture. I reattached it to the “rock” I felted as a partial base, and more reverse felting.

anthropomorphic snow leopard sculpture needle felted wool over wire and batting armature, with "snow" leopard patterning. made artist try more reverse felting
Snow Joy portrait

He’s closer now to what I had in my mind and sketchbook. Sometimes I need to take another step back and look again with fresh eyes. You may see some updated images as we get closer to show time. Stay tuned.

Snow Joy is needle felted wool over an armature of wire and quilt batting. His “rock” started out life as a wool dryer ball that I beat, squished, and felted into a different shape. I then felted grey and white wool in a marbling like pattern to the rock surface. Snow Joy’s coat has random crystals sewn to it, and his eyes are glass beads. I used fishing line for his whiskers, and dark transparent thread for his eye brow hairs.

Snow Joy may appear as you see in my FA show in July, or I may take another stab (pun intended) at him in the coming weeks.

Ride A Painted Pony…

Apologies to Blood Sweat and Tears, but I just couldn’t resist. I am continuing with my exploration of animal print patterns with a Paisley Pony. I don’t often create horse sculptures, though I have created several zebras. This equine ommission is on purpose, and for the same reason I don’t create many dog figures. You see, people don’t generally own zebras, so no one is going to inquire if I will do a portrait of theirs.

After sketching this piece in my notebook, however, I just knew I had to bring her to fruition. As with the other sculptures in this series, I have taken the animal’s distinctive coat pattern, and have added an unexpected twist. I started with an appaloosa pattern known as halo, or peacock spots, and transformed it into a swirling paisley.

Horse sculpture, needle felted wool over wire and batting armature- grey appaloosa coat becomes colorful paisley pony. Iridescent glass bead eyes
Paisely Pony (left view)

She is needle felted wool, over a wire and quilt batting armature. Her iridescent glass bead eyes are sewn in place. I created her flowing mane by anchoring long strands of wool on to a felted strand of wool. The mane was then felted at its base into a chanel I created up the back of the neck. Her long tail was made by overlaying long locks up a strand of white yarn.

Wait for Paisley Pony.

You will have to wait until my featured show this July to catch this pony in the gallery. The show goes up on July 23rd, and the opening reception is Friday July 26th from 6-9 pm.

Horse sculpture, needle felted wool over wire and batting armature- grey appaloosa coat becomes colorful paisley pony. Iridescent glass bead eyes
Paisley Pony (right view)

More Minis

I also created a couple of new mini sculptures since my last post too. They are intended for the Mother’s Day Pop-Up on May 11th. Meet Daisy Head, and Mush #2. Mark your calendars, there will be lots of interesting work available!

Bee Now And Mini Later.

This week I turned my attention to some smaller “mini” pieces. I think that I mentioned before that HGA will be having another Pop-Up event in May on the Saturday (11th) before Mother’s Day. Though it would be wonderful for visitors to all want to give their moms one of my larger sculpture creations, I am realistic about Mother’s Day gifts. Most mother’s day gifting is in the form of smaller remembrances, flowers, cards, etc. Much like my one-of-a-kind ornaments for the holidays, I sketched up a few smaller sculpture ideas. So far, I have settled on a few anthropomorphic botanicals. I wanted to strike a balance of sweet for mom, but not too “cutesy.”

Meet the Mini Sculpts

From my work table are some small sculptures that would be at home on a book shelf, or desk corner. Meet mini Mush, Morel, and Thistle. They will make their debut at HGA for the Mother’s Day Pop-up. It may be hard to wait for their arrival, but May will be here before you know it. I will be creating a few more of these in the coming weeks, so check back to see them too.

Speaking of Gallery Debutants

You met Coronation, my queen bee, a couple of weeks ago. She came into the gallery with me today. She seems to already be making friends. I think that she makes a sunny addition to this front pedestal grouping. There is nothing mini about her presence.

Coronation of Queen Bee (anthropomorphic bee sculpture) at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts
Coronation at HGA

Reminder:

This Sunday at 4pm, HGA will be hosting a performance by Mary Rocap, the singer songwriter who served as a muse for our yearly “It’s All About the Story” show. Me and many of my fellow HGA artists will also be in attendance and can guide you through our inspiration for the visual component of the show.

Update: My piece for the “It’s All About The Story” show, Venus Dances For Herself”, has already sold and gone to her new home. Normally, works in a feature show stay with a red dot until the end, but this was a special birthday purchase, so we let the piece go home with the customer. So, just in case you missed her…

Sacred Cow?

A cow patterned coat we all might recognize.

I continued my exploration of altering and reenvisioning animal prints and patterns this past week by considering the cow. The cow print is a friendlier, less threatening, less exotic animal pattern. Cows simultaneously hold wholesome (family farm), villainous (deforestation, climate, health), and even sacred reputations. This variability in how bovines are viewed is intriguing. The term “sacred cow” is equally intriguing. Rising from the Hindu veneration of the animal, it’s usage refers to something unreasonably immune to criticism or opposition. Finding that cows are also held as a symbol of Mother Earth inspired this piece as a “sacred cow” I could agree with.

Gaia - Sacred Cow sculpture, needle felted wool over wire and batting armature with globe patterning
Gaia – Sacred Cow

She is inspired by the ancient Greek godess, Gaia, who is the personification of Earth. I replaced the classic black and white patterning of her hide with the blue and green of the globe. Gaia is my first cow figure sculpture, but she may inspire more.

Gaia is needle felted wool, over a wire and quilt batting armature form, with iridecent glass bead eyes. Her horns are felted wool over a pipe cleaner support. The sculpture’s coat was created “coloring book” style. I marked her globe pattern by hand using outlines printed and cut from a simple world map. I then needle felted the green and blue areas with my colored wool. You supplied positive feedback from previous posts where I included process information and images like those below. I will try to remind myself to keep sharing photos and descriptions like these. It also aids viewers in understanding the creation time involved in each piece.

Though she was quite time consuming, I am happy with the results.

Gaia will most likely make her gallery debut this summer for my feature show at HGA. Stay tuned for further information.

Queen Bee.

My thoughts this past week have turned to spring. I know it is a tad early, but living in the south provides this transplanted yankee with a bit of a head start. I have been patiently (ok, not really) awaiting the opening of some of the early blooms in the garden, so I can create some new botanical gell press prints. While those buds have stubbornly stayed closed, I turned my attention to a queen bee sketch I had recently created.

Coronation of the Queen

That sketch is actually the second or third incarnation of this figure in my book. Initial attempts taught me that a more biologically accurate figure might not be wise. For example, insect mandibles make a sweet smile difficult. Likewise, the last pair of legs that should also be attached to the insect’s thorax appeared gangly. So, I settled on a bit more anthropomorphication than usual, even if against my former biology teacher inclinations. The result is my queen bee, Coronation.

Queen bee figure. Anthropomorphic needle felted sculpture with copper, glass bead and crystal embellishments.
Coronation

Queen Bee Construction

Coronation is decked out all her finest regalia. Her crown is felted wool over wire with hand sewn beads and crystals. Her scepter is a painted and wire wrapped dowel with a wire and bead honeycomb head. The hive orb she holds is needle felted wool over batting with crystal embellishments. The bodice of her dress is a metalic trim with a pattern that appears hexagonal when stretched. Her wings form a “robe” over her shoulders. I created these by nuno-felting white wool fiber over a fine tule mesh, and “veining” with metallic thread. The wings are sewn on to the copper wing wires, and then finished by pressing with spray starch. The bottom of her gown’s fitted skirt, is slightly flared and ends in a “stinger” train which allows her to stand upright.

I took process images while I created this piece. I personally enjoy seeing how an artist gets from point A to B, so I thought you might appreciate it as well.

  • Queen bee figure. Anthropomorphic needle felted sculpture with copper, glass bead and crystal embellishments.
  • wire armature of queen bee figure.
  • wire armature of queen bee figure.
  • wire armature of queen bee figure, weighted feet detail
  • felted quilt batting and black yarn over wire armature
  • Queen bee figure. Anthropomorphic needle felted sculpture with copper, glass bead and crystal embellishments.

Instead of holding this piece for my featured artist show this summer, I think I may bring her in to the gallery as a herald of spring. Who know’s, perhaps she is the perfect Mother’s Day gift for someone’s own queen bee.

It’s Not All Springy

This past holiday season taught me a thing or two. One lesson was that people seem to appreciate my one-of-a-kind felted ornaments. A second lesson, was that I could hardly keep them in stock. As a result, I’m trying to spread their creation out over the year a bit. I already put a couple away, but thought I’d share the one that was still sitting on my work table. It is somewhat different from what you may be used to, as it isn’t a figure, but instead a ball that uses a wool dryer ball as its base. It is just the third of this type that I’ve created, and titled Winter Twilight #2.

Zentangle Zebra, Zen-bra? Zeb-tangle?

Either way, it’s a horse of a different stripe.

Continuing my sketchbook exploration into animal patterns, I came up with the idea of a zentangled zebra. Zebra stripes provide a great graphical element, and I have played with zebras and their stripes before. My first was titled Morph. Morph’s black stripes merged into the black lines of a butterfly’s wings, as those wings then diverged from black and white into a rainbow. A second zebra, titled Everything has a Price, has stripes on of one of its side flanks that transform into a barcode label.

I think that I have finally settled on the title Zen-bra for this latest striped figure. This dimunitive equine stands about 9″ tall. She is needle felted wool over an armature of wire and quilt batting. Her eyes are hand sewn glass beads, and I sewed her hooves from faux leather. I played with stylized zentangle patterns within the confines of many of her black stripes and a few of the white spaces. The result is a trubute to the art of the mindful doodle.

Zen-bra will not appear in the gallery until this summer as she is part of the show Natural Patterns.

Something for May

I also completed a couple of small functional pieces this week, They are in preparation of an event this May at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts. On Saturday, May 11th the gallery is planning a Mother’s Day Pop-Up. This event will be similar to the Holiday Pop-Up this past December, and will feature items perfect for Mom. I will update you on addtional items from myself, and other HGA artists that will be available that day. In the mean time, a little teaser… Two “Tokyo tie” hand bags with needle felted embellishments. I constructed the bags from commercial felt and a contrasting fabric liner. They each feature original embellishment, and a snap closure.

Peace and Procedure –

First a little Peace.

Seems we could all use a little peace right now. My latest anthropomorphic figure sculpture is a “tie dyed” giraffe named Peace. I looked at numerous sources for the symbolism attributed to the giraffe, and grace, gentleness, and peace came up over and over. You may recall several other giraffe sculptures, like last years’ Change Up. They are an animal that I find I enjoy sculpting. Giraffes have such interesting forms and proportions. I think I find them simultaneously graceful and comical.

Peace is a "tye dye" giraffe sculpture. Needle felted wool over wire and quilit batting armature.
Peace

Peace stands about 15″ tall, and casts a glance at her viewer from under long magenta lashes. She is needle felted wool, over a wire and quilt batting armature. Her hooves are hand-stiched faux leather, and her eyes are iridecent glass beads.

close up of Peace "tye dye" giraffe sculpture. Needle felted wool over wire and quilit batting armature.
Peace’s portrait

I created Peace using a different approach. Needle felting is usually done with loose wool roving fibers, but this unique hide pattern required something different. I hand dyed wool prefelt using alcohol inks, and then cut the individual blocks of color and needle felted them to the sculpture.

Not Quite Tie Dye Procedure

There is a faux tie dye method you may be aware of that uses permanent Sharpie type markers, and alcohol. I modified that process using drops of alcohol inks in place of drawing dots with markers.

  1. prefelt fabric is stretched across plastic cup and secured with rubber band
  2. drops of alcohol ink
  3. alcohol is dropped over ink drops allowing colors to spread and mix
  4. mixing of colors
  5. complete panel
  6. dyed prefelt after rinsing and heat set in dryer

Peace will probably not make an appearance in the gallery until this summer for my feature show at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts. She is the first of several sculptures for that show. These sculptures will feature animals that have distinctive “animal print” coat patterns that I have altered in some way.