Category Archives: Art Dolls

Needle felted gargoyle figure sculptures serve as protection against ilness, ignorance, and environmental destruction

Gargoyle Trio

In recent weeks I created three gargoyle guardian figures. I’ve had a project at the gallery that has kept me quite busy. So, I’m just now taking the time to share them here with you.

Gargoyles are mythological creatures that serve dual duty in the protection of a building. As part of the roof drainage system, they protect a building from physical water damage. They also serve as guardians against evil. I’ve designed my gargoyles as protection against specific modern perils, with sort of a nod to Norman Rockwell’s 4 freedoms paintings?

Gargoyle Gauardian Illness

Needle felted gargoyle figure sculpture serves as protection against illness (COVID)
Gargoyle Guardian Illness

My Guardian Gargoyle Illness was the first of the three I completed. He has his left paw (claw?) on a stylized version of the Covid-19 virus. Along with all the other protections we can employ against such threats (vaccine, masks, hiygene, etc.) a little supernatural protection certainly can’t hurt. He is needle felted wool over a wire and quilt batting armature with glass bead eyes.

Gargoyle Gauardian Ignorance

Needle felted gargoyle figure sculpture serves as protection against ignorance
Gargoyle Guardian Ignorance

I don’t know about you, but I find myself yelling “READ A BOOK” in my head more often than I like to admit. Perhaps, social media just allows us greater access to more people’s ignorance. However, I don’t think I recall so many proud to celebrate it. My guardian is holding an open book in his lap. I think that I also could have depicted him as a traveler or explorer, as I find seeing other parts of the world and meeting different people are also strong protections against this particular threat. Gargoyle guardian Ignorance features the same constuction as his predecessor with irredecent glass eyes.

Gargoyle Guardian World

Needle felted gargoyle figure sculpture serves as protection against environmental destruction
Gargoyle Guardian World

The last of this trio of gargoyles is guarding the planet earth. He has a daunting endeavor ahead of him. It sometimes seems we humans are determined to ruin our one and only home. This seems all the more crazy given the threats that already exist of the cosmic and natural disaster nature. This guardian is perched atop the globe, and is holding tight with all four claws and his tail. He is similarly constucted as well.

In The Gallery Soon!

The trio of gargoyles will be in the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts soon.

Needle felted snail art doll figure sculpture based on imagery pulled from Virginia Wolfe short story Kew Gardens

Summer Work

As Show Closes

My fetaured artist show at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts is now down. The remaining work has been distributed around the gallery, and I’ve had a chance to sit at my studio table again. Getting new ideas going after mounting a show is sometimes a tricky activity. I always need to rev up my sketching. Not everything that I put to paper ends up executed in 3D, but this seems to be the process that works for me. I also take in a lot inspiration visual and otherwise. This can include anything from scrolling on Pinterest to catching a phrase while reading.

Following the Spark

Meet Persistence.

Needle felted snail sculpture based on imagery pulled from Virginia Wolfe short story Kew Gardens
Persistence

The idea of Persistence came to me from a couple of directions. I first just had the thought of creating a snail, no deeper meaning connected. I like the interesting form of the animal, and the endless variety of the size and shapes of their shells. When an idea occurs this way, I will often do a search of the topic. I look for meanings or symbolosm connected to the image.

Among the results that came up when I searched snail symbolism was a short story by Virginia Wolfe titled Kew Gardens. In this story an unnamed narrator is observing the garden along the side of a flower bed. Several pairs of people walk by each engaged in conversation. In between these snippits of dialogue, the narrator turns to describing the flower bed itself. Several of these descriptive musings note the progress of a snail. One critique I read of the story describes the snail as a manefestation of Wolfe’s depression. I have to say that I disagree with that interpretation. The snail seems to be steadfast in its determination to keep going on its path, and completely unaware of the concerns or even existence of the people passing by. I saw this little snail as persistent.

He is needle felted wool over a wire and quilt batting form that contains a small sand bag inder his shell. The sand bag provides ballast to keep his head up. Hand sewn glass beads serve as his green eyes and tips of his tenticles.

Scary Cute

Scary-Cute

Pandas are often fodder for anthropomorphic art. The real animals are just so full of personality. The giant panda usually gets the attention, but the red panda can be equally as engaging. I came across a photo of two red pandas trying their best to intimidate the other. The result is nothing short of adorable! Much in the oxymoronic fashion of “ugly-pretty” I found their intimidation scary-cute.

My Panda is needle felted wool, over a wire and quilt batting armature. He has hand sewn glass bead eyes, and knotted yarn claws. This work features quite a bit of felting with a reverse needle to provide him with his fluffy look.

Last New Work Struts

Strut

Strut is just what he appears to be. An anthropomorphic rooster wearing spats and an ascot, and using a glass-topped and silver-tipped walking stick. Roosters seem so embued with confidence and flamboyance that depicting one as a bit of a dandy borders on cliche. He does seem to pull it off with flare, however.

Strut features colorful needle felted wool over a carefully balanced wire and quilt batting armature. His tail feathers I constructed by stitching a central anchor line in a strip of denim, and then fraying and trimming the sides. His spats are needle felted wool with copper brad embellishments. I used glass beads for his eyes and cane topper. The walking stick itself is a trimmed down chopstick painted black, with a jewelry ferrule tip, and silver wire and glass bead top.

That’s all the new sculpture work I have for you for now. Stay tuned.

Remembering Whales

I’m of a vintage to be able to remember ‘Save the Whales” as being a thing. I know that the global moratorium on whaling isn’t complete, and doesn’t block all whaling. But, it has allowed many species of whale populations to rebound. Why did I find my self thinking about this the past week or so? It might have some connection to watching my daughter doing some fundraising for Ukrainian refugees at school, and working an internship at a non-profit that deals with poverty issues. It is inspiring to witness empathy and caring. In recalling this rallying cry from youth for people to care about something, I was inspired to bring my own whale to life.

Remember whales -humpback whale art doll figure sculpture. Needle felted wool over batting and wire
Remember Whales

Remember Whales

I’m not sure if some would count him as anthropomorphic or not. I do not have this humpback whale doing something overtly human, and he’s certainly not dressed up. However, I find a certain intelligence expressed by most species of cetaceans. My whale seems ready for a conversation. His bright blue eyes sparkle with knowing, and he is propped up on his fins to look the viewer in the eye. A conversation with this humpback might prove quite embued with humanity

Remembering Whales is needle felted wool over wire and batting. HIs upper coloring is a hand blend of grey and blue fibers. Blue glass beads are sewn and felted in place for his eyes. He will be available at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts the last week of May.

Helping Sunflower Stand Tall

It is impossible to filter out all that happens in the world, and just create sculptures that depict cute happy little creatures. So, I’ve responded by creating some cute happy little creatures trying to say or do a bit more. “Helping Sunflower” is the next piece that will be available during my feature show in May. In this sculpture, three woodland creatures are working together to help a sunflower stand tall and straight.

Helping Sunflower is needle felted wool sculpture over a wire and quilt batting armature form. Anthropomorphic raccoon, mouse and robin work together to help a sunflower
Helping Sunflower

Ukrainian Sunflower

The whole world is now aware of the sunflower as symbol of Ukrainian national identity. We are also painfully conscious of that nation and its people’s need for help right now. I decided to depict that need and hopefully the resulting aid through this piece. My blossom is being aided by a trio of woodland animals.

Racoon Stability

Helping Sunflower is needle felted wool sculpture over a wire and quilt batting armature form. Anthropomorphic raccoon, mouse and robin work together to help a sunflower
Helping Sunflower – Raccoon detail

The raccoon at the base of the sculpture is doing more than holding up the stem of the sunflower. I filled his bottom with a small pouch of glass gems so that he provides ballast to this taller than average sculpture. His construction is needle felted wool over foam, batting and wire. His glass bead eyes are sewn and felted in place, and his whiskers are fishing line knotted in place. The fur is purposely felted in with ends loose to provide a fluffy fur coat and tail.

Mouse Has The Leaves

Helping Sunflower is needle felted wool sculpture over a wire and quilt batting armature form. Anthropomorphic raccoon, mouse and robin work together to help a sunflower
Helping sunflower – mouse detail

A field mouse is perched on one leaf while he steadies another. His construction is felted wool over quilt batting. The mouse eyes and whiskers are the same as his raccoon friend.

Robin Provides Sunflower Air Support

Helping Sunflower is needle felted wool sculpture over a wire and quilt batting armature form. Anthropomorphic raccoon, mouse and robin work together to help a sunflower
Helping Sunflower – robin detail

At the very top a robin in flight grasps a petal in his beak. The robin was the trickiest element construction wise. I wanted to make sure he appeared to be pulling the flower upward. The wire armature travels up through the petal edge and on into the bird. The wing edges are left purposely loose to give the illusion of movement. The robin features needle felted wool over wire and batting with hand sewn glass bead eyes. The sunflower incorporates recycled chopsticks and wire in its stem, a machine stitched center that provides the illusion of seeds, and individually formed petals.

The sculpture will be at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts beginning May 24th.

Pond-er, anthropomorphic frog needle felted art doll figure sculpture seated in 'Thinker"pose

Three for May

Three to share today

It has been much too long since I’ve shared some new work from my studio work table. I have been busy creating new sculptures, but other computer work priorities have kept me from telling you about them here. As a result they have actually backed up a bit, so I have three new pieces to share today. They are all being saved for my featured artist show at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts in May.

A Frog to Start the Trio

Pond-er, anthropomorphic frog needle felted art doll figure sculpture seated in 'Thinker"pose
Pond-er

Pond-er is the first of these three new art doll sculptures. Yes, he is reminiscent of Rodin’s “Thinker”, in a lighthearted amphibious way. He is an ultimate example of my frequent aim of minimal anthropomorphism. Trying to create figures that express human characteristic as minimally as possibly, and not by simply dressing them up in clothes. Pond-er is a natural for this approach, as the famous sculpture he is based on is also a nude figure.

Pond-er is needle felted wool over a wire and quilt batting armature frame. His eyes are glass beads that are sewn in place. Admittedly, he does just make me smile, and that is why I created him.

Two of Three

Morph, anthropomorphic zebra needle felted art doll figure sculpture with rainbow butterfly wings
Morph

Secondly, I’d like to introduce you to Morph. Morph is a rainbow zebra pega-fly? Tricky nomenclature aside, Morph is just a flight of fancy on my part. In my head I saw a zebra with butterfly wings where the black stripes became the borderlines of the wings, and the white gradates into the colors of the rainbow. I think that my expression of these ideas in Morph is pretty spot on. I will admit that Morph isn’t necessarily imbued with any particular human characteristics, she’s just a feast for the eyes. Though, she may express some thoughts of change and inclusion through her coloring and metamorphic nature. Morph’s construction is similar Pond-er.

A Bear in Solitude

Considered Solitude anthropomorphic needle felted bear art doll figure sculpture
Considered Solitude

The last of these three new pieces is Considered Solitude. It started by looking at the word solitude, and finding that a bear is an animal that is supposed to be representative of that concept. From there, I thought what might a bear do in its moments of solitude? Mine is carefully considering a daisy. This seated figure does have a simple scarf wrapped around his neck (perhaps it’s an ascot?) He just seemed to need something extra. Considered Solitude has the same felted wool over wire and quilt batting construction.

All three of these new works will be available at the end of May at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts. I will share more details as the date approaches.

Dare To Clash

Next week a new show installs at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts. Entitled, Stirrings, the show will feature new work by HGA member artists. For my contribution to the show I thought about the first few anthropomorphic pieces I created. Though I had sculpted animal inspired art dolls before, this was a whole new direction. High Fashion, was one of the first of these creatures, and she has remained one of my personal favorites. Dare to Clash recalls her predecessor. This giraffe is displaying her own unique style.

Dare to clash anthropomorphic giraffe sculpture, one of a kind needle felted art doll sculpture.
Dare To Clash

Perhaps she is over doing it just a bit with the animal prints, but her purple flats are on point. She also seems quite happy with her visor and large hoop earrings. They show off her long slender neck.

“Dare” stands a little over 13 inches high. She has bright glass bead eyes capped off with long black lashes. Her custom footwear is hand sewn from faux leather.

This piece really a represents a labor of love. I fully recall how labor intensive adding all of the giraffe spots to High Fashion was. Now I added leopard spots, and tiger and zebra stripes to mix! Needless to say, she took quite some time.

Close up of dare to clash
Dare close up

Dare to Clash will be at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts starting Tuesday, February 22nd. Come and check her out along with all new the “Stirrings”.

What’s Up Doc? Anything Goes

– A Rabbit Plague Doctor

What's Up Doc is an anthropomorphic rabbit plague doctor art doll sculpture. Needle felted wool over wire and batting armature, glass bead, faux leather and suede embellishment.
What’s Up Doc?

The state-wide juried show Resolutions 2022 has come down at The Hillsborough Gallery of Arts, so now it’s time for us HGA artists to have a bit of our own fun. “What’s Up Doc?” is my offering for our new show Anything Goes. We installed the show a couple of days late due to a bit of snowy weather, but it is now hanging in the HGA Featured Exhibit room for you to check out.

It is not often that I do a new version of a favorite piece very quickly. I like to let some time pass so that each stands completely on their own within my portfolio. However, like all things pandemic related, normal gets thrown out. I really liked my rhino Plague Doctor from this fall, and he found a home rather quickly. So, this time around I chose a smaller, but no less brave anthropomorphic plague combatant.

What’s Up Doc – Details

What’s Up Doc is needle felted wool over a wire and quilt batting armature I created. His fur is a custom color mixture of wool that I felted together to give him the appearance of a wild rabbit. The ridescent glass bead eyes are sewn in place. I created the walking staff from a stick, glass beads, glass gem, copper wire, and needle felted wings. Doc’s hat and mask are hand stitched from faux leather and recycled suede from an old pair of boots. His medical shoulder bag is needle felted wool with hand sewn bead closure and strap clasp. The sculpture stands 11 inches high and balances on his large hind feet with his staff for a bit of added stability.

Stop In

The Anything goes show will be on display at The Hillsborough Gallery of Arts through February 20th. Check it out, and maybe take home something special for a Valentine’s surprise!

Happily Hauling Home

Mother and Baby Polar Bear Gather Their Tree

Happily Hauling. Anthropomorphic polar bear sculpture
Happily Hauling

This is the latest anthropomorphic offering from my work table. I’ve been fortunate. The holiday creations that I introduced you to over the past few weeks: Powder Bear, Emperor Coco, and the Caroling Mice all have gone on to their forever homes. Seeing as I had some empty pedestal tops in the gallery, I thought another holiday offering was in order. A new mother-child polar bear art doll sculpture is that piece. This work recalls my sculpture, Winter Ride, from last year. That mother and child polar bear pair were enjoying a sleigh ride.

Happily Hauling. Anthropomorphic polar bear sculpture
Happily Hauling, Mother bear focus

Happily Hauling has the smaller bear perched atop the Christmas tree they are bringing home. The mother bear is needle felted wool over a wire and quilt batting frame. She has hand sewn glass bead eyes, and a custom harness of bright red chording and steampunk embellishments. The smaller bear is needle felted wool over felted quilt batting. The minature tree is constructed of felted wool over a narrow dowel (chopstick) core.

Happily Hauling. Anthropomorphic polar bear sculpture
Happily Hauling, baby focus

Rerun From Last Year

Time did not allow me to create a bit of stop motion animation of this sculpture. You may recall, that I produced a couple of these videos last year. You can click here to enjoy Winter Ride in motion again.

Happily Hauling is already available at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts. Stop in to see all the art and holiday offerings by the HGA member artists.

I hope your holiday season is cozy, merry, and bright. Now, I must be off to work on more little holiday trees!

Holiday 2021

Holiday 2021 Show Is Up

Monday morning the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts was buzzing with activity. The artist/owners were busy installing the holiday 2021 version of the Art of Giving show. We completely reinstall the gallery for the holidays. Twinkling lights on white branches appear in our front window with a wide variety of ornaments. Blown glass orbs, ceramic bells, and hand painted miniature paintings are a few examples you will encounter.

I’ve already shared a couple of my new holiday themed pieces. They, along with others are now available in the gallery.

Emperor Cocoa

Emperor Cocoa is my newest original sculpture for our holiday 2021 Art of Giving show. This anthropomorphic penguin is holding a mug of steaming hot chocolate. He stands about twelve inches tall. Constructed of needle felted wool roving over a wire and quilt batting frame. The art doll figure stands on his own with help from his tail for balance. He is intended for the holidays, but he can bring cheer all year long.

Emperor Cocoa anthropomorphic penguin art doll sculpture. Needle felted wool over wire and quilt batting frame w/glass bead eyes. 12" tall. Holiday show original
Emperor Cocoa

Other Holiday Offerings

Along with the original art doll sculptures, I also produced some holiday exclusive items. This year I’ve again made Lantern Houses. I created them last year in response to the Hillsborough Solstice Lantern Festival. Each year Hillsborough has a Lantern Walk along the Eno River. Last year’s was altered due to the pandemic. Instead businesses and downtown residences displayed lanterns. I created these little needle felted structures to house an LED light. At night the light shows through the windows and doors, and makes the translucent walls glow. Additionally, I created miniature Christmas trees on natural wood bases this year. These stand between 8 and 12 inches tall. They are accented with hand sewn glass and crystal beads.

I do still have my original design puffin and polar bear ornaments available as well. Stop in at HGA to check them out, and do a little holiday shopping.

puffin and bear ornaments holiday
Puffin and Bear ornaments

Holiday Show Crunch

Now that my featured artist show has come down, it is time to turn attention to my holiday show inventory. Beyond more “gift-able” items like my original design needle felted ornaments, I also enjoy creating a few one-of-a-kind seasonally themed sculptures. The first for this year is Powder Bear.

Powder Bear anthropomorphic art doll polar bear ski sculpture
Powder Bear

Powder Bear is a ski themed anthropomorphic polar bear figure with a vintage look. This art doll sculpture stands 12 inches tall. He is needle felted wool over a wire and quilt batting form. I crafted his ski boots and goggles from recycled leather from an old used journal book. His ski’s are glue laminated card stock and patterned paper, and his ski poles are repurposed chopsticks, faux-leather, and metal gear embellishments.

Powder Bear anthropomorphic art doll polar bear ski sculpture.
Powder Bear side view

Powder Bear will be soon be available at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts. The holiday show installs on November 15th when the OCAG studio tour preview ends. For now, it is time to get back in the studio and finish up Powder Bear’s holiday friends.