Saturday, January 12, 2008

First Finished Object Of 2008

And it's not knitted...although it is made of wool.

Meet Father Christmas:

You know how it feels when a project turns out just as good as--or even better than--you envisioned it? That feeling of joyful giddiness, when you keep going back to it so that you can pet it, and where you bring it into work to show everyone because you just have to, even though they are not going to "get it"?

Yeah, this one's like that for me.

The details: Needle felted Father Christmas, made from a kit from Black Sheep Designs. (You will have to look at the PDF catalog to see the actual kit.) I bought mine at Rhinebeck last year. I had previously enjoyed working on the snowmen kit from the same designer, Sharon Costello, and was looking for something that would bring my skills up a notch or two.

Father Christmas is 100% wool except for one pipe cleaner in his arms, and he stands about nine inches high. He took about six hours to make, plus or minus a bit. He's actually not quite finished, as I want to make him some sort of walking stick, but he's pretty darn close to done.

This is the first felted figure I have made that has articulated facial features, as I am generally not a fan of them. Although I greatly admire Sharon Costello's felting skill and would love to take some classes from her, I find some of her felted figures with detailed faces to be a little, well, creepy. Just a personal preference thing. But this one seemed less creepy to me, and I learned a lot by following her detailed directions on how to build and shape the face. Those techniques will be useful when I am creating my own style of figures down the road.

I find needle felting to be just an amazing form of artistic expression. It's more like sculpture than any other type of fiber art, and yet it's a flexible and forgiving type of sculpture. You start with this clump of carded wool and a needle, and just by poking the needle you can create shape, order, personality. There is a sense of immediate gratification that I have never gotten from knitting or even spinning; and a sense of creative possibility that is exhilarating.

Although it does feel a bit weird to stab Santa with sharp needles.