Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Zoowoology 101

I have craft supplies. I have a crafting group. I have craft books and cravings to craft.

What I don't have is time to craft. Which means I don't actually produce any crafts. In fact, I am starting to think that my craft is the collecting of craft supplies.

This abundance of unused materials, depending on the day, sometimes seems to represent Hope (oh, the possibilities! The things I'll create! Just wait!) or Defeat (who am I kidding? I'll never do any of this stuff) or Regret (I've wasted so much money...I'm such an idiot...I never accomplish anything). Perhaps I can get a grant for it as some sort of art installation about evoking raw emotions.

But this past spring I actually did produce something. Not much, but something, and he's kind of cute. It seemed appropriate for him to make his debut on Election Day, being a donkey and all.

He's a product of needle felting, which for those of you who haven't sat around stabbing an extremely sharp and painful needle into your fingertips involves repeatedly stabbing an extremely sharp and painful needle into streamers of unspun wool, or roving, in order to weave, or felt, the fibers together (while avoiding stabbing your fingertips).

Donkey's got an armature of chenille stems (fancy pipe-cleaners), around which I wrapped the roving as I felted. He's therefore poseable, should he wish to strike a dramatic stance or lie down for a nap.

Unfortunately I broke two felting needles making him, since I'm still learning to avoid stabbing the wire of the chenille stems as well as my fingers, so he won't make any friends (or rather, I won't be making him any friends) til I get some new needles.

Despite my low productivity in the craft arena, I really enjoy needle felting. I don't get much time to do cartooning these days; when I'm with my craft group, however, and take up the felting needle and wool, I find that the critters I make resemble the ones I draw. 
Molding animals out of Sculpey never produced the results I wanted, but a felting needle somehow draws the wool fibers out and forms them in the same way a pencil pulls a character together out of lines of graphite.


For some really fun examples of needle-felted animals, check out my friend Eliel Fionn's "Felties" here (her characters also look just like the ones she draws!) as well as fiber artist and author Laurie Sharp's works. My friend Ruth Hendry is a fiber artist who felts, too--her beautiful creations include rugs, scarves, and wall hangings and can be seen here.

In the meantime, anybody interested in some paints, stamp pads, beads, sequins, fabric scraps, artificial flowers, Popsicle sticks...? No?