Tag Archives: anthropomorphic

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.

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”.

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 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.

Through The Looking Glass One Too Many Times - anthropomorphic needle felted rabbit art doll sculpture Alice in Wonderland character mashup.

Wonderland Looking Glass Mash Up

Passes Through the Looking Glass One Too Many Times

My work travels through Alice in Wonderland’s looking glass every once in a while. Alice makes a number of appearances, and the White Rabbit showed up once as well. My latest trip through the looking glass appears to have taken a number of trips. “Through the Looking Glass One Too Many Times” is a mashup of several of the Wonderland denizens. Alice, the White Rabbit, the March Hare, The Mad Hatter, the Red Queen, the Cheshire Cat, and Absolem all lend elements to the piece.

Through The Looking Glass One Too Many Times - anthropomorphic rabbit needle felted art doll sculpture Alice in Wonderland character mashup
Through The Looking Glass One too Many Times

The sculpture not only brings together several different characters, but several types of media as well. The rabbit figure is needle felted wool over a wire and quilt batting frame. Her eyes are iridescent black glass beads, that give the illusion of eyes of many different colors. I created her long eye lashes by fringing black denim, and sewing them in place. Her apron is white cotton and lace with needle felted wool pocket, heart appliqué, and novelty heart button. The “Drink Me” bottle is a compilation of beads with a small paper craft tag. I made Abselom’s hookah from a wooden ball, glass and metal beads, leather chord and metal findings. Her curly Alice locks are dyed wool roving from Susan Hope‘s (HGA artist) sheep.

Take Two, Take Three

Some pieces emerge fully formed in the sketchbook on take one. I create some on the fly with just a concept in mind. Through The Looking Glass was a fully formed concept that I needed to sketch. The first drawing was just too much, and felt forced. My second try also missed the mark. I felt that the figure had to try to accomplish the challenge of combining the figures without getting drowned in costuming. My third sketch served as the basis of this final piece. I hope you’ll agree I found the balance I was looking for.

Through The Looking Glass One Too Many Times - anthropomorphic needle felted rabbit art doll sculpture Alice in Wonderland character mashup
Through The Looking Glass … hat

At The Hillsborough Gallery of Arts in September

Through The Looking Glass One Too Many Times will also make her debut at HGA in September. I will be sure to share when she and all her friends are available.

Journal Cat side view, asleep or winking?

Winking Or Sleeping?

Winking Journal Cat…

Journal Cat - needle felted wool and mixed media anthropomorphic cat sculpture
Journal Cat

Perhaps she is sleeping with one eye open? I’m not exactly sure. I started out wanting her to be sleeping, but couldn’t resist the temptation to have her peek at the viewer with one of her bespectacled eyes. Depending on the angle, the cat appears to be either sleeping with one eye open, or winking knowingly.

Like a predecessor named Literary Cat, Journal Cat is a calico. For some reason they strike me as the cat that hangs out in bookshops, libraries, or one’s favorite reading nook. She looks like she would be equally comfortable curled up in your lap as you read as well.

Journal Cat isn’t actively reading or writing, but rather reclining on a fabric covered journal. The journal is no longer operational. The pages and cover have been glued together providing a comfortable base for our feline to rest on. The journal, hand formed “pince nez” specs, and fishline whiskers create a more multimedia piece. The primary media is still needle felted wool. You can view a short video from my last post to see how needle felting works, and how I incorporate it into my sculptures.

back of Journal Cat sculpture
Journal Cat back view

As is the case with most of my anthropomorphic figures, Journal Cat expresses her human-like characteristics in minimal fashion. Her bright scarf, glasses, and literary perch tell you what she is about. The viewer is left wondering exactly what this cat’s journal entries would look like. I would suspect a lot of naps among the prose and poetry.

Another Show Reminder

Journal Cat will be at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts‘ September featured artist show, Unmuted, along with all my other new works. The show installs in the gallery on 9/20 and will having its Last Friday reception and will go live online on 9/24.

Plague Doctor - anthropomorphic rhinoceros sculpture w/plague mask, staff, and oxpecker assistant. Needle felted

Plague Doctor Rhinoceros?

Being Unmuted During a Plague

Did you spend any time in a Zoom or other e-meeting during the last year? If you did, you understand the phrase “unmute yourself.” Unmuted is the title of my upcoming featured artist show in September. The show title is a reference to the recent COVID lockdown. I spent time this week thinking about all the meanings of muted and unmuted while writing my statement for the show. You can mute a voice, mute a color, or mute a message. I try to look all the different interpretations in my pieces for this show. Some are bright and colorful, and some appear to be speaking or singing. Hopefully, one or two have something more to say.

Speaking Seriously and Playfully

My latest piece has something to say about this past year. We lived this last year through what might be referred to as a plague in history books. Looking at historical references we encounter the image of the plague doctor. Accounts place these figures anywhere between physicians and record keepers. Whatever their role, they have a distinct appearance, one that conveys the seriousness of their job. Most often we see a figure wearing a long beaked mask. I decided to go with something a bit different than the expected bird beak. My Plague Doctor is a rhinoceros in a spiked mask.

Plague Doctor - anthropomorphic rhinoceros sculpture w/plague mask, staff, and oxpecker assistant. needle felted
Plague Doctor

This anthropomorphic figure is needle felted wool over a wire and quilt batting armature. I hand stitched his mask and hat from faux leather. His stick staff supports a glass bead lantern and finial of his trade. Additionally, his staff provides a third balance point that allows this art doll sculpture to stand on his own. I also created tiny sandbags within his feet that supply additional stability. Plague Doc has an oxpecker assistant riding on his shoulder.

My intent is the plague doctor juxtaposed with the absurdity of a rhinoceros conveys the seriousness of the past year in a playful manner.

Into the Process

Colleagues and collectors have asked questions about how my sculptures are constructed, especially the needle felting process. I took some work-in-progress images and video clips, and cobbled them together in this short video.

The felting is done with flat surfaced needles that have notches along their edges. As the needle(s) pass through, the wool gets pushed and pulled by those notches. The wool fibers have overlapping scales along their length. The scales catch as wool fibers are drawn across one another. This is what felts the fibers together.

Plague Doctor - anthropomorphic rhinoceros sculpture w/plague mask, staff, and oxpecker assistant. Needle felted
Plague Doctor detail

See you in September

Plague Doctor joins the friends I’ve already introduced (and a few you’ve yet to meet) at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts in September. The show also features the art of Ellie Reinhold and Marcy Lansman, and installs in the gallery on September 20th, and goes live on the HGA store site on the 24th. The official show opening is during the Last Friday Art Walk also on the 24th. Mark you calendars, and keep an eye out for additional pieces before then.

"Roll" anthropomorphic elephant art doll sculpture on handcrafted steampunk push tricycle. Needle felted wool figure.

On a Roll?

Where are the posts?

Hi reader. I was working on a commission piece. I can’t write about that yet, because it’s a surprise. As a result, you haven’t heard from me in a while. After I put that work to rest, I was able to get into the studio and start working from my sketchbook again. This is now a bit of a crunch. I need to get together the body of work for my featured artist show. I’ve shared a few pieces already that will be in that show, and will continue to do that until the show opens. I’ll save you the full litany of the things aside from creating the art that needs to happen between now and then (photography, editing, inventory, writing statements, social media…) I will just say it is a lot, and get to work.

Roll on

My newest piece is titled, Roll. She is a young elephant who appears to be having a great time on her trike. She is the latest in a line of art doll figures on bikes that I’ve created.

"Roll" anthropomorphic elephant art doll sculpture on handcrafted steampunk push tricycle. Needle felted wool figure.
Roll (left side view)

Roll brought me back into my garage work space for a while. I fabricated her handlebars, and bike frame from heavy gauge copper wire and brass tubing. The bike seat is hand sewn purple faux leather. The wheels are caster parts. The trike’s back deck is a piece of painted wood trim. Once the trike was finished, I knew how big to make the wire armature for the figure.

Roll herself herself is needle felted wool over a quilt batting wrapped wire frame. She has iridescent black glass beads for eyes. I finished this figure off with a small pink bow on her head, and light turquoise colored skirt.

The intention for this piece was to both capture motion, and to be able to provide motion. Yes, the sculpture does actually live up to her name and rolls.

I also wanted to make sure that Roll conveys the joy of her movement. Her bright expression as the wind blows back her trunk and ears says it all.

"Roll" anthropomorphic elephant art doll sculpture on handcrafted steampunk push tricycle. Needle felted wool figure.
Roll (right side)

Rolling into HGA in September

Roll and all her friends will be at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts the last week of September.

"Roll" - anthropomorphic elephant art doll sculpture on handcrafted steampunk push tricycle. Needle felted wool figure.
back of Roll