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