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.
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.
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
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
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I named my newest needle felted anthropomorphic art doll creation Adventure Begins, as this little mouse is all ready to set out on a journey. His backpack is on and his travel journal is in hand. With the addition of his hat and scarf, he is ready for what ever conditions he encounters.
Adventure Begins is also the first sculpture I have created since setting up the Etsy shop I told you about in my last post. As you can see, that means I also happen to have more images of him than past pieces. Why, you may ask, is that? Well, selling and showing sculptures online is quite different than in a gallery. In the gallery, a viewer can see the item from all angles. They can take time to notice all the little details incorporated into the piece. In the gallery there is also no real need for dimensions or an image next to something to provide scale. Online I want to show you the little handmade journal I created for him. You can see that his backpack has a little brass closure button, and that his hat fits neatly between his ears. So, a greater variety of images is needed.
I began making Adventure Begins in much the same way I make all my figure sculptures, But, I have to admit that knowing where you will display a piece of ahead of time, can influence some design decisions. As the piece is a mouse, you would expect him to be rather small in comparison. This does happen to make him easier to ship. As a result, when I listed the piece on line I decided to offer free domestic shipping on him.
Etsy tells its sellers that they are more likely to highlight pieces that offer such perks as shipping or special coupons. His small size also makes Adventure Begins easier to store in the studio. The piece also provides my customers with a choice that has a slightly lower price point. Im not sure any of this will make any difference in who visits my shop, but it’s worth a try.