Needle Felted Wool Dolls and Other Sculptural Works of Fiber Art
My soft sculptured character dolls were inspired by real people that I have either known personally or simply noticed from afar. They are not meant to be exact replicas but are instead altered egos of "familiar others".
We have lost a very dear friend who enriched out lives for 15 years. We will miss her crazy funny antics and her sweet, sweet smile! Go with love our pretty 'Jessie Girl'. We hope to see you at the Rainbow Bridge one day.
Getting a pat on the back every now and again feels pretty darn swell and even getting a blue ribbon or two at the local county fair strokes the old ego. In light of this I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to enter a couple things this year. And much to my delight both entries won blue.
Lily was looking pretty nifty in her new blue felted merino dress as she stood by her man Zeke. I entered them as a pair...that's how they wanted it.
And they looked so small in amongst the hooked rugs, counted crossstitch pictures, crocheted doilies, and numberous other needlework items. There are not many other needle felted pals in this neck of the woods and there wasn't a catagory for felted works at all so they competed in the general soft sculpted doll category.
On a lark, I also threw in my first and one and only (thus far) wet felted, silk cap on blended wool (merino and C-1) beaded vessel. Again, there was such a variety of crafted items in this catagory and no two were alike so it's hard to really judge how well an item placed. The judges had a difficult job...almost everthing entered was neat and interesting.
Stepping outside the realm of normal again, I have been working on creature characters and VooDoo style dolls...
This guy doesn't yet have a name and I am not exactly sure what he is either...alien, dragon, vampire?
No pictures of the VooDoo dolls yet...not even sure if you will see them here...that's a whole 'nother story that may never be told.
Finally I have finished my first female character and what a challenge she was! Who knew how much harder it would be to create a softer more feminine doll? And still there is much room for improvement, starting with a smaller nose. Sorry about that Miss Lily, but you are still a cutie to me...big nose and all!
Feisty Miss Lily likes fast cars and sunny beaches and is ready for both!
Early yesterday morning I walked out to my "new" studio and made a startling discovery.
Over the past month or so I have been working hard on converting one of our storage buildings into a place where I can work on my felting projects without having art supplies strewn all over the house. Every artist needs a studio, right? But not everyone is fortunate enough to have such a space. I am very lucky. It's only about half finished - floors still bare wood, ceiling not finished, no air conditioning - but I have moved in and sorted all my fiber and other supplies where they are handy and within easy reach of my work station. No more digging through plastic bins trying to find the right fibers. Hurray! Also my dolls are out of their plastic confinement and displayed around me as I work. It is not beautiful or glamorous but it will do very nicely. Anyway, I digress. Back to yesterday morning...
I walked in and there was "Ezekiel" laid out in the middle of the floor, a good 3 feet away from his shelf. Then I discovered "Oliver" passed out, face down, clinging to the edge of his shelf. The "Moonshiner" was a bit red faced and seeing double.* The other characters were just where I had left them. But did I imagine that faint snickering sound all around the room?
I figure there may have been a big celebration in "Granny's Playhouse Studio" the night before. After all, it was their first Friday night out of confinement plus I had finally finished my first female character doll (excluding the little worry dolls) and she had joined the crew. "Lily" is a feisty little redhead who loves fast cars and sunny beaches. She likely caused quite a stir after I closed up for the day and left them to their own devices.
What fun they must have had!
*Just kidding about Moonshiner seeing double...playing around with Photoshop on that one. Rest is truth, I swear!
Ezekiel hit the floor...
Oliver hung on by a thread and Henry just grinned...
The Moonshiner saw double while Lily looked a little devilish...
In the end, all were a little embarrassed but doing okay...
It's no secret, my friends all know it, I am very addicted to "junk'n." Do I need help? Maybe an intervention? No, no, no. I can control this thing on my own, thank you. No, really I can!
It's true, I do love prowling through thrift stores, yard sales, and flea markets. And I used to buy anything and everything that caught my interest and "might be of use sometime." And that's exactly why I have a storage building full of stuff...some good old stuff and some not so good newer junk.
But in recent months I've narrowed my purchases down to only buying things I will actually use like kitchen gadgets, leftover bits of yarn, lace and ribbon, buttons and beads, etc. I also still have an affinity for old and small oddities and collectables. And of course I am always scouting for doll chairs and other props to use when displaying or photographing my needle felted characters.
Last week I paid just one dollar for this funky old hickory nut head doll in our local Habitat For Humanity thrift store.
She's about 6 inches tall and is really quite a study in contrasts - elegant in her beautiful lace and satin dress but quite haggard and witchy in her face and stance.
One has to wonder why she is dressed to the ninths and if she made it to the ball (or her wedding) on time?
A dozen or so "Kindred Spirits" met for our annual Dye-In at Ms. Peggy's house this past Thursday. We brought fibers of all sorts (mostly wool) and our hostess provided dyes of many colors. We had a great time - playing like little girls - painting, dunking, steaming and even microwaving until at last a rainbow of colored roving, batting and yarn hung on the clothes line drying. Lunch was potluck style and boy can we gals cook!
What a great and beautiful day it was down in the country on the Cumberland Plateau...good friends, good food, and beautiful fiber to work with...who could ask for more?
Thanks Peggy, for having us!
In The Top Photo: These silk caps, wool locks and wool/mohair yarn have been handdyed to coordinate with each other. My plan is to use them, along with C-1 and Merino, in making felted vessels. I will use the beads and buttons for embellishments. Barb Keyes, of Lancing, TN, custom dyed the silk caps for me. I ordered a blend of turquoise, copper, rust, etc. and she nailed the colors beautifully. My goal at the Dye In was to dye small amounts of wool locks and yarn in a variety of coordinating colors to also use as embellishments on my pots. With the help of fellow Kindred Spirits I was able to pick the right colors and they will work perfectly, don’t you think? I am so excited to get started!
Applying dye to fiber...
Brewing fiber in a dye kettle...
Rolling painted fiber up in plastic wrap for steaming or microwaving...
Often times I get inspiration from catalogs, magazines and the like. In one of the several catalogs received just before Christmas I came across a set of little Guatemalan style worry dolls. They were so cute and colorful I had to try felting them.
Guatemalan worry dolls date back to Mayan times. Traditional worry dolls were simple little amulets less than an inch tall and were made in groups of six that fit snugly in a brightly colored woven pouch. Fashioned from scraps of various materials – fabric remnants for clothing, pieces of wood for bodies, etc. – they were created as a distraction for children who needed comforting in the night. Each night the child would take one of the dolls, whisper a worry in its ear, place it under their pillow and sleep soundly with assurance the worry would be gone by morning. I wonder why only six dolls were made instead of seven? Were there only six days in the Mayan calendar week?
My "Martha Rita" is about 4-inches tall and one of a kind. She is needle felted from Norwegian C-1 batt, Merino top, and other wool fibers. My other worry dolls are about 3 inches tall and felted from the same materials. I use found objects - beads, threads, ribbons, etc.- as embellishments.
Thanks to fellow 'Kindred Spirit' Lucy Elmore for sharing her original snapshot of my Martha Rita. I used Photoshop CS to manipulate the background, taking out the holder's lap, the floor, and other such distractions and adding the background colors so the doll stands out for presentation here. I love Photoshop! It is so much fun! By the way Lucy is a fab photographer. Visit Lucy Elmore's PBase photo galleries
Update June 27, 2010: More Little Worry Dolls These little ladies are so much fun to make!
Mother, grandmother, great grandmother, artist, writer, photographer, animal lover, oh yeah, and wife. That's about all there is time for now but later I would love to become a traveler. Wales is first on my travel bucket list.