Tag Archives: needle felted wool

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.

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.

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 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
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

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?