Tag Archives: one of a kind

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.

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.

In need of an Inked Art Doll?

An Art Doll With a Bit of Ink

This latest anthropomorphic art doll is a bit off the beaten path. Inked is a needle felted and “tattooed” squid figure sculpture. Several types of cephalopods produce ink like substances that they use to deter would be predators. Playing with idea of being tattooed as “being inked,” my squid creation sports a jellyfish tattoo. The inked connection is reinforced by the needle felting process itself. Wool fibers are felted together by pushing them with a felting needle as ink is pushed with a needle in tattooing.

"Inked" - anthropomorphic needle felted squid art doll sculpture with tattoo.
Inked

Inked is not the only cephalopod in my recent body of work. I created the piece ‘Multitasking”, a tea serving octopus, for my gallery feature show. I wrote about him here earlier this year

Construction of a Squid Art Doll

The under structure of this sculpture is somewhat more involved than most, as you might imagine. Quite a bit of wire twisting was needed to form the base of the head, eight arms, and two tentacles. Once that somewhat unwieldy structure was complete, I felted quilt batting over the wire to provide the more sculpted form. Over this batting form I then felt the wool “skin” of the creature. I set large glass gems for the reflective eyes, and felted the socket surrounds of each.

Inked’s distinctive jellyfish and bubbles tattoo was needle felted in place on the the figure’s tube and head.

Not Your Typical Doll

detail of Inked's needle felted tattoo
detail of Inked’s tattoo

Inked is certainly not your typical art doll sculpture. It is neither pretty, nor cute in the usual sense. I do find it both intriguing and visually interesting, and hope that others do too. Playing with ideas and forms that others might not helps to keep work fresh, fun, and surprising. I have added Inked to my Etsy store so someone else intrigued by its distinctive nature can take it home.

Anthropomorphic Art Dolls Moving On?

…But they’re not gone!

This week is the last Friday of the month. A new featured artist show, Construction, is going live online for HGA. But, Three Narratives isn’t really going anywhere. My anthropomorphic art dolls will remain available both within the gallery featured sales pages, and here on my Available for Purchase page.

Multitasking anthropomorphic art doll
Multitasking 12″x7″x12″

At the Gallery

Those same anthropomorphic art dolls are now at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts awaiting our controlled reopening. As you can imagine, a space where patrons linger, converse, and touch objects is rife with contact concerns. The HGA owner artists are carefully considering all the angles we can think of to safely start to welcome visitors back. The current plan is to offer private appointments one weekday, and open a few hours with precautions on Saturdays. Details on both options are still being finalized. I will share all that information with you here, as soon as I can.

High Fashion anthropomorphic art doll
High Fashion 7″x18″x10″

Not Just Anthropomorphic Art Dolls.

Even with the move towards careful reopening, we are building and refining HGA’s online sales offerings. As you might imagine, something that required building on the fly has experienced a hiccup or two. The experience of the past few months has taught us that we need to develop this side of our gallery further. Keep checking in with me here. I will continue to share new developments. In the mean time, take a second look at our special Art Under $100 show. This show features pieces donated by the HGA member artists, and all proceeds go to maintaining the gallery.

Blue Butterfly Bag
Blue Butterfly bag 8″x11″x1/2″
Flower Necklace -purple and turquoise needle felted flowers on leather chord
Flower Necklace

Multitasking and an Emu

Different types of multitasking

There is always a fair amount of multitasking to do as an art show opening approaches. This time around that requires changes and additions to my task list. Launching this year’s show online necessitates that I expand my online communication and keep up with regular sharing of my newest work. This is the only way that new artwork will be seen. No one will be walking through the door of the gallery and discovering my sculptures. I need to make sure my images are all ready to go, and I needed to update, and reorganize my site. This is because I hope I will be successful steering new and increased traffic here. Also, after I write each post, I need to do increased followup social media posting and sharing to try to expand each post’s reach.

Multitasking anthropomorphic art doll
Multitasking 12″x7″x12″

A Multitasking Sculpture

My piece titled, Multitasking, is an octopus who is busy fixing a cup of tea. Multiple arms make this an easier task I imagine. This sculpture is one of those that was fully formed in my mind before I started. The scale and presence is a bit larger and bolder than most. He commands attention be payed, and also invites the viewer in to take in details. The china pattern embroidered on the cup and tea pot, and the arm raised grasping a tea spoon are a couple of examples. I actually think that I might add some others. A sugar cube on the spoon, and some tea flowing into the cup, perhaps? I’ll share new images if I do.

Emu on the Run

Emu Incognito anthropomorphic art doll
Emu Incognito 8″x16″x13″

This sculpture is “based on actual events”, as the saying goes. There was an emu nicknamed Eno that gained quite a bit of notoriety in this area and beyond this past summer. Eno got loose, and evaded capture for several weeks. The emu sort of became our very own Yeti for a period. Sightings were reported all over the county. Unfortunately, the tale ended tragically during the final attempt to capture was made. I wanted to honor the smile Eno provided during its time on the run. There was just a bit of the absurd to the idea of a fugitive emu evading captors for weeks. As you plainly see, my Emu Incognito is taking extra measures to make sure she escapes undetected.

One last bit of Multitasking

First, a reminder that all of my new work will go live on the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts online shop on April 24th. But, you can check them all out now right here on my Available for Purchase page. I just updated all the new offerings with dimensions and prices.

Protest Songs Art Doll

Protest Songs art doll
Protest Songs

Another Janice

Protest Songs is my newest original needle felted wool art doll creation. This seated figure is a look back at an earlier art doll figure sculpture of mine titled “Janice“. That piece was purchased years ago by one of my very favorite people, so I still get to visit her from time to time. In this newest incarnation I decided that my vintage songstress needed a floppy felt hat, and a bright orange paisley shirt. She is of course wearing bell-bottomed blue jeans, and they are coordinated with a pair of funky red boots.

For Protest Songs, I additionally constructed a miniature balsa wood acoustic guitar. This tiny instrument is complete with metal strings, tuning knobs, and a scratch plate. The Protest Songs art doll figure is also an homage to the late great Janis Joplin, as was the earlier, “Janice.” This sculpture has her eyes closed and her head tossed back as she belts out her tune with deep feeling.

Wigging Out

My Protest Songs art doll is wigged with unraveled yarn instead of me utilizing hand curled wool roving. I find I prefer the scale of the hair and curls of her coiffure with this method. Obviously, some of my future art doll sculptures will still call for the thicker more dreadlock look of the hand curled roving. I want to explore this untwisted yarn method for a bit. The plan Is to do a bit more experimentation in this area. I would like to see how different types of fibers look and react using them in this manner. Who knows? Perhaps a new art doll sculpture will have truly flaxen or silky hair.

Protest Songs is currently available at The Hillsborough Gallery of Arts along with a number of other creations from my studio work bench.