Sunday, August 16, 2009

Lion and Lamb

by Lynne of cozycottagecreations

Recently a customer contacted me to make a needle felted "Lion and Lamb scene". I was thrilled that she had looked through my previous work and chosen me to create this piece for her. And, this was one of those requests where I could just smack myself on the forehead with "why didn't I think of that!". The symbolism and the image of the lamb lying down with the lion speaks to me deeply, and I was excited to have the opportunity to create my own version.

I thought I'd share with you a little bit of my process in making this.

Needle felting is a very laborous - and very addicting - art form. It involves taking unspun wool, called roving, and poking it with a very sharp barbed needle many many times. It always amazes me that this simple action can transform a non-descript ball of wool into a sculpted piece. The magic is in the barbs on the needle. As the needle is pushed in, the barbs cause the tiny tiny fibers that make up the larger (but still tiny) fiber to grab on to each other, which then starts to create a form. By poking and poking the needle at strategic angles with the right size needle and the right color wool, virtually anything can be brought to life. A finished piece usually feels very firm and solid, while the wool it was created from was once loose and squishy.

Whenever I work on one of my needle felted scenes, I never do it in one sitting. I like to work on these projects in segments lasting anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours. Two hours is really the longest stretch of time I can work on the needle felting. It's a very impressionistic art form, with the blending of the different colors of the wool fibers. After two hours of focusing on these tiny little fibers, my eyes start to get really wonky. Plus my brain likes to work away at these things while I sleep.

This particular piece took about six (maybe eight) sittings to complete. One of the true gifts to me in this project was that my customer did not have a quick deadline. She contacted me in June, wanting this piece in October. During the summer when my kids are out of school, I really can only work at night, and at that point I am dog tired. So it was a pure joy to be able to work on this when I was up for it and not just wanting to throw myself in to bed.

The first thing I did was create the form for the lion's body out of some core wool. In following a photo the customer had provided, I fashioned the paws and hind legs. Once I had the basic shape, I covered it in a butterscotch colored roving.


Here you can see the photo I used as a guide. (for some reason I liked the look of the lion's head on the other side) In taking a fresh look, I realized I had made the front paws opposite from what they should be. I subscribe to the notion that you only get one chance to get it right, so I took the plunge and cut off both the lion's front paws with my really sharp scissors and switched them. The surgery was a success and you would never know. That's a wonderful thing about this medium. If there's a part that's not going well, you can just cut it off and adjust.

I'll admit that at this next point I fashioned the lamb's body, but forgot to get a photo. It basically looked like an oval wool ball with a head. I decided I wanted the lamb to have curly locks, so I ordered some from Etsy seller DraigAthar and waited for it to arrive before moving on with the lamb.

The lion's head was probably the longest I sat for. I intended to put on just the mane, but once that was there I just kept going and made his face. I looked at a lot of photos of lions on the internet and was pleased with how it came out.



The final steps were in putting in the details. I added the lion's ears, gave him a tail and put padding on his paws.

In a separate sitting, I finished up the lamb with some front legs, ears and eyes made from seed beads firmly sewn on. It was that last step - the creating of the lamb's eyes - that brought it all to life.

Take a look at the first photo of this blog post for the most detailed look at the finished piece. I'm thrilled I got the opportunity to create this, and it's off to it's new home!

4 comments :

  1. I cant imagine how long it takes to complete that! I LOVE the adorable sheep in particular :)

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  2. Grace Filled HandsAugust 25, 2009 at 11:46 PM

    Lynne,
    thank you so much for making this special piece for me! I feel honored and privilaged to have a piece created by you!
    You truly are blessed by God with a talent!
    You have captured the spirit of this piece with the tender love in both of thier expressions. All the love and care you put into making this really shows, and though the pictures look great....it's even better in person! I just love it!
    I made a keepsake box for my great nephew (Mason) for his upcoming Baptism and this is the crowning piece on top of it. I centered the box around the Lion and the Lamb, using the extra fabric from his patchwork crib quilt that his gramma made for him, so it matches the nursery perfect!
    I can't wait for them to get this!
    Thanks again I am just so happy with it!
    God bless you!

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