It has taken me about 6 months to develop a full size felt figure and there have been plenty of problems to overcome along the way when upsizing from a 40cm tall figure to one that is 4 times bigger!
From these small figures…
…to this one – 164cm high
The problems I encountered were due to the scale of the figure and they began with the wire.
I tried heavy fencing wire however this just wasn’t strong enough to hold the figure up right one leg so I had a length of steel tubing bent to follow the line of the spine down to the toe of the standing leg and built the rest of the body around this structure.
The musculature was added beginning with a layer of knitted woollen strips to cover the wire to form a base for the wool fibres. I used Blue Faced Leicester wool, wet felted in layers, to build the shape of the body and a steamer and sander to aid with the felting and fulling.
The final layer or ‘skin’ was felted separately and then stitched onto the the figure.
As you can see from the variety of figures in this post I have made several more! I am now going to experiment with adding the colour and texture straight onto the figures to cut out the rather lengthy processes of making the felt skin, stitching it in place and fulling with steam and sander. So watch this space!
The movement and emotion in this art form is wonderful and I use images of dancers to create the sculptures.
Starting with a wire I make a skeleton and then cover it lightly with knitted fabric to give me a soft layer to attach the wool fibres. I then build up the musculature with layers of wool fibre using soap and water to felt so that the final shape is firm and well sculpted.
The decorative skin is a piece of handmade felt that I hand stitch onto the body of the sculpture – this is the most time consuming part of the process.
Three dancers ready to be mounted on wood
I love the contrast between the rough felt and smooth polished wood – both are natural and compliment each other.
People often ask me how to look after their felt sculptures – and it is very simple!
Just wipe gently with a damp cloth to remove dust. Moths are the main concern especially in the summer. You can buy moth killer to spray on the felt or periodically put the felt sculpture in the freezer over night – this will kill any moth eggs.
I will be posting the dance sculptures in my shop in the near future and if you are interested in ordering a sculpture or would like me to notify you when new sculptures are ready – please contact me.
As the name suggests, the origin of tattoos goes back to indigenous tribes in the Bronze Age, which was about 5000 years ago. In fact the word “tattoo” derives from the word “tatau” in Polynesian. All of the people living on Marquesan island in Polynesia were tattooed. They regarded the tattooed symbols as a form of language. In this particular culture the images were usually inspired by animals. For example, shark teeth represented protection, and shells meant wealth. Other common symbols included turtles, fish hooks, and lizards. Due to the early origins of this style of tattooing, no one is really sure exactly how it was first developed. Some theorize that it was likely an accident that led to the first tribal tattoo.
Tribal tattooing was not just a physical adornment. It was also part of a tribes spirituality. There were three major factors that took the practice of tribal tattooing from being purely art to being a spiritual symbol as well: Pain, Permanence and Loss of the Life Source (blood). This mystical trio elevated the tattoo from mere art and transformed it into an opportunity to draw people into a relationship with God.
Because body and soul were generally thought to be identical to one another, your tattoos then existed on both the physical and spiritual planes.
While meanings vary from culture to culture and time period to time period, there are many similarities across these cultures and times.
I have joined the Make it in design Summer School 2017. The course is a fun series of briefs focused on experimenting with new patterns ideas and techniques for surface patterns designers.
Week 1 Brief
Your brief is to design a mystical, tribal inspired
pattern using the following prompts:
Be inspired by the supernatural, geometry, astronomy, magic, nature, minerals and the cosmic to create your pattern
Think about dark symbols, landspaces, the cosmos, flower mandalas, fractals, geometric shapes, symmetry and symbols
Key words that attract me:
Circular designs symbolizing the belief that life is never-ending. A Mandala represents wholeness, and is an apparent shape in life, the earth, moon and sun
Representations of life, fecundity, ritual, war, protection, communication
Textile patterns – carpets and cultural clothing
A fractal is a never-ending pattern. They are created by repeating a simple process or pattern over and over.
Shell, flowers, ferns, crystals
Precision and repetition
Repetition, movement and symbolism are key points for the design development that I will start today! More later next week – deadline 9th August so I’m gathering my pens, pencils and geometry kit and heading to my studio!
Islamic Geometric Patterns 12 May 2008 by by Eric Broug
Viking Language 1 Learn Old Norse, Runes, and Icelandic Sagas: Volume 1 (Viking Language Series) by Jesse L. Byock
Born in Sichuang Province in 1904, Jiang Zhaohe is one of the most famous 20th century painters in China and a contemporary of Xu Beihong and Qi Baishi
He studied with established masters such as Xu Beihong and Qi Baishi and mastered many different modes of artistic expression, including sculpture.
In the Autumn of 1927 he made acquaintance with Xu Beihong in his friend’s home. During the following years they established a long lasting friendship. In 1928 he was appointed as teacher by Li Yi of the education school of Nanjing Central University to teach design pattern. In 1930 Jiang transferred to Shanghai Art School as the sketch professor. In 1937 he held the display of his latest painting works in Beijing. In 1947 he was appointed as a professor by Xu Beihong in Beiping art school. In 1950, he was appointed as a professor in Central Academy of Fine Art.
‘Inspired by Mr. Jiang’s experience during the War of Japanese Invasion, the painting portrays the suffering of over sixty ordinary people during the war. The original piece is about 32m high and 30m long in total and was created in 1941. However, 10 metres of the picture was ruined and the remaining 20metres is now kept in the National Art Museum of China in Beijing.’
Jiang Zhaohe’s huge handscroll Liumin tu (Refugees), painted secretly in occupied Beijing, stands out as a remarkable achievement.
Jaing Zhaohe had had it in mind for a long time to record the suffering of refugees and the poor in an ambitious work, and is said to have lived for a year and a half in the slums of Beijing, Shanghai, and Nanjing before embarking on the Liumin tu. This huge scroll, two meters high and twenty-six meters long, contained over a hundred figures. To avoid attracting attention, he worked on it section by section. Finally completed in the autumn of 1943, the scroll was put on show in the Imperial Ancestral Temple in Taimiao. Within a few hours, Japanese soldiers burst into try to close the exhibition; so truthful a picture of life under the Occupation was offensive to the occupying power. Later that afternoon, orders came from Japanese police headquarters to take the painting down, officially because of the “poor lighting” in the hall.
In the following summer, Jiang Zhaohe took the scroll to Shanghai for an exhibition in the French Concession. A week later, the Japanese “borrowed” it. It then disappeared until 1953, when it was discovered in a warehouse in Shanghai. By that time, the second half of the scroll was lost–destroyed, it was said, by a Japanese officer–and today exists only in photographs. The surviving half was badly damaged.
A Chinese critic has called the Liumin tu China’s Guernica. But here is none of the screaming horror, the pitiless cruelty of Picasso’s work. Suffering and despair, the dying and the dead, are here rendered with a quietness that is far more tragic, because it is more human. It is fortunate that it is the first half that has survived, for it has more variety and movement than the lost section, and the figures seem less posed. Taken as a whole, it is a deeply moving work. Art and Artists of Twentieth-Century China.
Fortunately Jiang Zhoahe took pictures of his masterpiece and a replicated version was painted by his students based on the photos to pay tribute to this virtuoso in the 90th anniversary of Mr.Jiang’ birth in 1994.