Some birds seem to just get us humans, so to speak. There will be individuals, that interact with us on their own terms. They learn our habits, evaluate advantages and assess our risk factor. Before long, us humans give them names and a routine of interaction is established.
One of my family had just such a relationship with a blackbird. He called the bird Blackie. The bird learnt to trust his human and would come to be fed when called. He was quite a character. Every time we visited, we heard more of this blackbird’s antics.
Blackie raised several clutches of little blackbirds, over the years. Always keeping his nests in close proximity to the dwelling of his human friends. Then one day, he didn’t turn up. No-one knows what happened. His adult offspring are still around, but not Blackie.
So I decided to make Blackie. A young version. Why not?
To start, I used pipe cleaners to form the frame. Makes it easier to shape and re-shape, I find. The white is from a Jacob sheep fleece which forms the base. It is springy and felts up to be a firm structure.
I felted the base of the body, tail and the head separately and fitted them into the pipe cleaner frame, then felted more white fleece over the top, until the pipe cleaners were hidden and I had the right shape.
Next the black. I kept the length long, so it covered the whole length of the body. It was at this stage I knew I was getting the shape right. It’s very difficult stabbing a needle into something thats starting to look like a living creature.
The legs are wire, covered in brown fleece. I used silk filaments to give the impression of wings folded back along the body.
The eye is a felted circle of yellow, with an inner brown circle. I added a touch of white, for a sparkle in the young blackbird’s eyes. Giving him character. The beak was a mixture of orange and yellow, that I hand mixed, to avoid a solid block of orange.
I took these photos, to check the shape. Afterwards, I thinned down the tail, added shoulder definition, flattened his back and chin. Totally forgot to take a final photo.
Blackie has now been gifted. I could have played with the shape for longer. I wonder if I would ever be totally happy with it. Probably best that he’s gone to live somewhere else.
(wet felted snails)
There are some tasks that seem destined to constant interruption. Forever work in progresses. As soon as all the tools are assembled, and work on the verge to commence, a voice pipes up and my priorities are changed in a moment. A different task beckons. Sigh. I know I’m not alone.
All week, I’ve been trying to clear a
weed flower bed to plant a few new plants. All week. Finally Sunday, I woke early, before the rest of the household, and dug.
Among the plants are a pair of delphiniums that the slugs and snails had munched through while they waited in their pots to be planted. I brought them inside and they have recovered. Bunches of new leaves, although I’m not sure they will produce flowers.
(poached egg plant)
Poor plants. They are going to need extra defences in their new location. I’ve liberally sprinkled egg shells around, to deter the slugs and snails. Without wishing to tempt fate, this method usually works well in our garden.
So far, so good. I’ve not spotted any snails or the tell-tale signs of their sneaky visits. Admittedly, I did relocate a fair few snails to one of our wild areas in the garden, as I cleared the area of weeds.
Fortunately these particular snails are 100% harmless. The children recently made them by wet felting and needle-felting merino fleece. They used the technique of making long thin rods of felt (details here) and also had a go at needle-felting. They decided wet felting has the best technique when it comes to snail making.
The felted snails are back up above our inglenook, among the felted leaves and crocheted daisies. While I’m left to keep a beady eye on my delphiniums. I have a plan B, a plan C and a plan D. I hope I’m not pushed into resorting to Plan D.
Recently we visited Montacute House and the children were fascinated by the Koi Carp in the pond. To be honest, so was I. Where they were probably enjoying seeing the fish swim around, I was very taken by the markings. We all have our way to appreciate nature. They saw fish. I saw a needlefelting project. It’s just the way my mind works.
I wanted to try a technique that I have only done by accident in the past. I started by making the body of the fish out of brown Jacobs fleece. I love this as a base as it felts up easily into a firm shape, that is still easy to manipulate.
Next, I needlefelted bright orange merino over the top. Now comes the new method. In some areas, I felted more. This causes the orange to thin and disappear into the brown, giving a brown, mottled look. You can see this most clearly on the back of the fish’s head. As a contrast, I added merino brown to the sides. Where the Jacobs brown has come through, it gives a more natural look, while the brown merino is harsh.
This is my prototype, and I have learnt so much. Next time, I’ll allow the Jacobs brown to do all the contrast markings. I’ll also make the fins and tail thinner and more feathery. For a first attempt, I quite like my fish.
I seem to be going for a sea theme this week, so far. I’ll break the pattern for a St George’s day (23rd April) craft activity this weekend . Off to bake some biscuits, to go with it.