Saturday, 23 November 2013

SMockery Santas 2013!

I've finished those Santas.

(Click on photo for bigger image)
Three Santas and one St Nicholas!

(Click on photo for bigger image)

Friday, 8 November 2013


making Santas!

(Click on photo for bigger image)

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Works In Progress!

For Art Dolls Only monthly challenges.

(Click on photo for bigger image)
The September challenge was "self portrait". That's meant to be ME at my workbench. Some embellishment still to be done. (I did get the head completed in time!)
The October challenge is "witch/voodoo". I was going for "witch", but the doll went for "voodoo". Hopefully I will finish this one in time!

Sunday, 29 September 2013

It's about time!

Something's going in in the workshop. It's a mess!

The raw materials.

(Click on photo for bigger image)
The base fabric needlefelted and machined.

(Click on photo for bigger image)
It's time to start on this year's SmockerySmArt Santas!

Monday, 2 September 2013

Working on a WIP!

Remember this chap?

Well, here he is now. Meet Pucklington Hive (at least that's as close a translation as I can get from the name he gave me) an elder from a tribe of forest fairies, Sussex Pucks,  residing in Ashdown Forest.
He carries a bow and an arrow made with a pen-nib he found. With it he catches small rodents for meat and clothing. He wears a necklace made of their vertebrae (actually, its plastic). The fairies collect sheeps' wool caught on the hedges and fences to spin and weave their tunics. His badges are made from buttons and beads lost in the forest by the humans, likewise his ruby ring.


This is a needlefelted head on a cloth body, dyed to match, with a wire armature.
The clothing is all synthetic fabrics that look like wool and suede. The fabric for the gauntlets, bag and shoes is needlefelted from scraps. The hair is needlefelted from fancy knitting yarn, with matching eyebrows and moustache.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Corn dollies for the Lammas Festival

After I made John Barleycorn, I thought he needed some company.

(Click on photo for bigger image)
So I made these "corn dollies"!

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Oh! it's so corny!

It's coming up to Lammas Festival time here in Eastbourne and I got inspired to make an interpretation of a well-known traditional figure - John Barleycorn!

The stories attached to John Barleycorn are many and varied but all contain some common elements. John Barleycorn is the spirit, or the god of the corn and each year he must die by being cut down. He then suffers horrible indignities; being bound, thrashed, ground, mashed, burnt and boiled to make bread, beer or brandywine. The next year, when the sun starts to warm the soil, he springs up and the cycle starts again. The grain harvest was life and death to people in olden times and there were regional rites and customs to pay homage to the spirit of the corn. Occasionally, a sacrifice would be required and this might be an animal, or possibly an unwary stranger would come by just at the right time. It would not do to sacrifice a villager, as that would mean losing a worker.  

(Click on photo for bigger image)
This is my John Barleycorn - the last remaining sheaf in the field.

The background fabric, made from scraps of fleece fabric and wool tops (roving) needlefelted on to a piece of ecofelt then machine quilted, represents the stubble and the soil.

(Click on photo for bigger image)


 The buttons with the black centres and the red beads represent the poppies that are always associated with corn fields. Poppy seeds stay dormant and grow in newly cultivated ground, that's why we see them on recently disturbed roadside verges and why they grew amongst the gravestones in France after the great war. In olden times, poppies did not grow in a field left fallow, so people thought the poppies in a corn field came from the blood of a sacrifice.
(Click on photo for bigger image)
(Click on photo for bigger image)

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Some progress on the "big doll"

I was asked if I could make a version of this doll:

the size of a 2-3 yr old, with more realistically shaped body and limbs that could be dressed in children's clothes. I do like to work quite big, (the original measured about 24 inches from head to toe) but this was a challenge. I've never tried to make one on that scale before. The proportions had to be quite different from the long armed and long legged figures that I usually make and the head needed to be much bigger in proportion to the body. Here's the prototype I have made so far:

I gave the doll pixie ears and it is intended to be "unisex" it so that it can be dressed as either a boy or a girl.  The arms and legs are jointed with plastic safety joints at shoulder and hip, so the doll can sit, but the legs contain a piece of wooden dowel so the knees cannot bend. The arms are loosely jointed to allow for dressing and the fingers are poseable. The knitted wig is made of the same kind of yarn as the original, so because the head is so much bigger, the hair is shorter. The doll stands unsupported in the pose shown in the photographs but it is very light. There is a bit more work to be done on the face, currently it is coloured in ink from archival pens and coloured pencil - I need to colour the eyes and mouth with fabric paints.
So far,  making the doll has used a yard of polyaloba fabric, two  kilo bags of stuffing, pack of pipecleaners, wooden dowel, small piece of grey picture framers board, two balls of eyelash yarn, 4 plastic safety joints, reel of thread and a lot of hours!

Wednesday, 15 May 2013


Say hello to Agatha. Her froggy familiar is actually a toad called Jeremy. He is her ex-fiancee. He has been with her ever since he decided to cancel the engagement. He wears around his neck the silver heart-shaped locket he gave to Agatha on her 21st birthday, the day he declared his love. Agatha looks after him very well. She makes him a special potion to increase his seratonin levels to keep him smiling.

(Click on  photo for bigger image)

Sunday, 12 May 2013


This is Myrtle with her two feline familiars, Midnight and Shadow. Myrtle was bullied at school. After the class reunion ten years later, two of her classmates were found to have disappeared. Myrtle keeps her familiars on a leash because they keep trying to escape.

(Click on photo for bigger image)
Myrtle's familiars are needle felted on a pipe cleaner armature.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Never too old to learn!

I've been playing with needle felting faces and heads. While I was about it, I decided it was time I learnt to make a full wire armature.  Say hello to Gerry Antimony, superannuated and unsuccessful rock star. He is stuck in a time warp and even holds on to what remains of his "mullet"!

I didn't give him enough chin, I'm getting better. I struggled with making the armature and frankly his insides are a bit of a mess, but The Boss bought me a bigger set of pliers and wire cutters and showed me how to do it using a workshop vice. The next one should be much better!

This strange fellow will be the next one off the workbench:

I don't know who he is yet, but he will be wearing quite regal robes in earth colours.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Still iterating, or perhaps irritating!!!

The first two tries. I should have mentioned, these are the size of a 2 and 3 year old child. I made the tallest one first. It was too thin. So I made another. I decided to try using the grain and stretch of the fabric horizontally instead of vertically to see what happened. The shape was better but the doll was shorter. I had made the heads too small on both of them too.
This is closer to what I had in mind. I put cardboard soles on the feet and he stands on his own, but he is very light and easily knocked over.

Happier with this version. Still a lot of work to do on it, but progress has been made!

Monday, 1 April 2013

A process of iteration!

Still not quite what I was after.

(Click on photo for bigger image)
This one is too short and the head is too small. Also the legs are not shapely enough. Never mind, another pixie or a goblin. Nearly there!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Trial and error

This one was too thin!

(Click on photo for bigger image)
Never mind, it will made a picie or a goblin!

Friday, 22 March 2013

Something taking shape!

A bit of pattern drafting and testing going on in here:

(Click on photo for bigger image)

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Face up!

More needlefelting. A "worm-like" creature in the early stages. Later, he will be riding a vehicle.

(Click on photo for bigger image)

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Oh, that's much better!

I've had another go at needlefelting a credible cow. I was aiming at a kind of bony, skinny, ethereal cow of the kind that might belong to a goddess. What I made was a calf. I used too much padding on the wire armature. But.................................................

(Click on photo for bigger image)
It's not a SHEEP, it's definitely a COW!

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Brigid the Midwife

I've reviewed my latest effort, here's the final version. Brigid the Midwife!

(Click on photo for bigger image)

Monday, 4 February 2013

Brigid Fire of the Hearth

I'm not sure about this version:
(Click on photo for bigger image)

Brigid is a fire goddess, born at sunrise. This is Brigid Fire of the the Hearth, the goddess of fertility, family, childbirth and healing. This version holds a babe in arms as testament to her role as midwife. The swans are for faithfullness and longevity. Brigid wears her green mantle, credited with healing properties. It is said that as she made her own mantle on a loom by the hearth, Brigid taught the weavers of Ireland their craft. Her headress is appropriate for a goddess of sun and fire. Brigid was often seen with a white cow with red ears.

 In keeping with her responsibility for childbirth, I've made a calf. It's my first attempt at a needlefelted cow - I think there will be a second!

(Click on photo for bigger image)
UPDATE: No matter how hard I try to convince myself, this is NOT a calf, it's a SHEEP.............trying again.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Snakes alive!!

I've been trying out needlefelted snakes for a future Brigid.

(Click on photo for bigger image)

My friend Tarni says this snake has the silliest smile!

(Click on photo for bigger image)

This one is much better!

Monday, 21 January 2013

Back in action!

I've been away visiting family in Australia for the past two months. I had the best time catching up with my daughter, son-in-law and the grandchildren. Now I'm getting back to normal................... Starting with a new version of "Brigid" .

(Click on photo for bigger image)

This one represents Brigid the 'Fire of the hearth', the goddess of fertility, family, childbirth and healing. She has a more recognisable 'goddess' shape, like the 'wise women' that I like to make, and a more maternal, matronly look to her. The body fabric for this version is white silk, machine quilted to felt, giving a nice sheen rather than a woolly look.