Tag Archives: figure sculpture

Naked Anthropomorphism & Friendly Debate

Perhaps Minimalist Anthropomorphism & Friendly Debate?

I’ve mentioned before that I try to imbue my anthropomorphic figures with human traits as simply as as possible. I find it a challenge to make them appear human without merely dressing them up in clothes. My latest piece takes this to the limit. Friendly Debate shows a sparrow couple locked in discussion. Or, are they singing to each other? Perhaps it is a little of both.

Heated Debate anthropomorphic sparrow sculpture
Friendly Debate

I took my inspiration for this piece from a image I found online. The photo showed three house sparrows on a branch. The three birds appeared engaged in a heated debate. I loved the interactions shown, however, I decided to concentrate on just two of the birds. As a result, I created a sculpture that I’m not sure would still classify as an art doll, but it is definitely anthropomorphic. I find that result intriguing.

Friendly Debate is needle felted wool over a wire and quilt batting armature. I approached the bird’s feet and legs differently with this piece. In the past, I have felted a bird’s feet too, but the result is usually thicker than I like. For these bird’s feet I wrapped the wire with thread. I like the more proportional result. I was able to leave the end of the foot wires exposed, and then glued them into holes I drilled in their perch. The end effect is more realistic looking feet that really appear to grip the stick.

Also for Unmuted

Friendly Debate is also intended for my feature show at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts in September. This piece definitely fits one of the definitions of the word Unmuted… To produce sound again. You can almost hear the two sparrows in their Friendly Debate. Do you hear squawking or something more melodious?

Waiting To Be Sheltered

Last time, I introduced you to a new piece, Too Familiar, that you’ll have to wait a bit to see in person. That is the case this time around too. Let me introduce you to Sheltered Harvest.

Sheltered Harvest - anthropomorphic needle felted chipmunk sheltering acorn under a toadstool
Sheltered Harvest

This little anthropomorphic chipmunk is sheltering his acorn harvest under the umbrella provided by a toadstool cap. His sketch started out a bit differently in my sketchbook, but I’m happy with the changes I made. The rain and the toadstool were not in that original sketch. Their addition turns this sculpture into a complete little story.

Where will Sheltered Harvest be?

Sheltered Harvest will also be sticking around in my studio until my feature show in September. In addition, I also submitted him for the same publication as Too Familiar as he has an autumn harvest vibe. Holding back pieces is as hard for the artist as it is for the viewer. Generally, the last piece completed (assuming you’re happy with how it has turned out) is an artist’s current favorite. Some are even a special favorite. I have to say I feel that way about the charm of this particular sculpture. So, since we have to wait a little longer to enjoy him together, here’s a second view.

Sheltered Harvest - anthropomorphic chipmunk sheltering acorn under a toadstool.
Sheltered Harvest

Sheltered harvest is needle felted wool over a wire and quilt batting armature. His eyes are iridescent black glass beads. The acorn features some thread detail on the cap to create texture. The raindrops and the toadstool stem are attached by both felting and careful stitching onto the figure.

Sheltered Harvest will be with Too Familiar and several other new creations I will introduce over the coming months. They all will make their debut at my scheduled featured artist show at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts in September. We all hope you will come and see us then.

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.

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.

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.

Independent Art Doll Figures

An artist’s work quite often reflects what is happening in the world, and right now there is almost too much going on. I’m not sure one could successfully escape current events even if they wanted to. I’m also not sure one should try. So very much of consequence seems to be at stake. It seems no surprise that such things might be on my mind in the studio, and find their way into my art doll creations.

Mice Can Roar, My RBG Art Doll

The recent passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg and the rush to fill her seat are just two news items from the past few weeks. She was a model of intelligence and strength expressed with class and grace. Her rise to cultural icon status seems to be incongruous with her role as Justice, her age, and small stature. She seems truly a mouse that was able to roar. This is why I’ve titled this small anthropomorphic art doll sculpture Mice Can Roar. I didn’t want her to be derivative of other artists depictions of RBG, so I based her off of a recent piece of my own, Adventure Begins. I also wanted to stay away from the now all too common representations with a crown or holding a gavel.

Mice Can Roar

The sculpture stands about 7 inches high. She is needle felted wool over a quilt batting frame. Her shape and size allowed me to construct her without an internal wire armature. I used iridescent dark glass beads for her eyes, and her Dissent Collar I created by sewing glass beads to a felt base. Her eyeglasses are also needle felted without an internal structure. Mice Can Roar is now available in my Etsy Shop.

Placing Her Own Crown

Another recently completed, and quite independent art doll now found in my Etsy shop is Placing Her Own Crown. This frog princess isn’t waiting around for a coronation. She is placing her crown on her green head by herself. I like twisting fairytales around from time to time. Placing Her Own Crown doesn’t necessarily erase a prince from the story, but doesn’t make him a requirement either. While not inspired by a specific event in the news, Placing Her Own Crown does seem timely. I don’t suppose having a college age daughter has any influence on this fairytale reinterpretation.

Placing Her Own Crown

My frog princess is needle felted wool over a wire and quilt batting frame. She features large blue glass bead eyes and glass bead accents on her crown. “Placing” sits about 10 inches high on her wood block display base.