Watching Over Me

Steampunk Raven watches us
Steampunk Raven watches us

I miss the black, shiny Raven that always sat on my gate; he and a few of his friends were always sitting on the gate or the phone wires or the branches of the big tree that spilled into my yard. As I entered the big metal gate to my courtyard, he would cock his head to the side and look at me, as we looked at each other I always had the feeling he watched over me. I came to look for this guardian of my “castle” as I came and went; his familiar presence gave me a peaceful feeling. We were friendly acquaintances for 13 years; I recently moved and I contemplate if he wonders where I am.

looking right at you e

I have recently become familiar with the Steam-punk style and while searching for a subject for my first Steam-punk inspired sculpture, my friend the Raven came to mind.

key e

Steam-punk-“Steam-punk is a sub-genre of fantasy and speculative fiction that came into prominence in the 1980s and early 1990s. The term denotes works set in an era or world where STEAM POWER is still widely used—usually the 19th century, and often set in Victorian era England—but with prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy, such as fictional technological inventions like those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, or real technological developments like the computer occurring at an earlier date.” Wikipedia  Steam-punk elements include: gears, watch-parts, watches, velvet, cameos, wings, aviator goggles, Victorian clothing, top hats, hot air balloons, locks, keys and metal parts.

the other eye e

 The Raven is a needle felted shape, with shiny black satin quilted on top of of the wool. His eyes are a blue, blinking-doll eye and a red, glass taxidermy eye. There is a wind-up key on his back that serves as the handle to a lid, the lid covers a hidden compartment which contains the typical watch parts and gears of the Steam punk style. The Raven’s sharp talons are tiny watch hands, His pivoting neck is encircled by a thick row of black feathers and over the feathers is a stiff cardboard collar, collaged in vintage Italian train tickets. He sports a Victorian Saks-style collar that makes him appear a gentleman, as I imagine him to be. His large beak is waxed to make it very hard and a different texture than the rest of his body. The head rotates and tilts so he can be positioned as a real bird, his legs, wings and tail are poseable. Raven on cage

I learned a bit about watches while researching Steam-punk, like the little sapphires and rubies in the watch movements are real (also some watch crowns for winding contain real sapphires! Vintage watch hands can be very ornate and beautiful and some watch movement parts are intricately engraved.

inside hidden compartment e

Needle Felted Dog Art

needle felted art

How many times has this happened to you? You get up from your comfy chair to get something and when you come back, your pet is sitting there, looking very comfortable and looking at you like “WHAT?” It happens in the blink of an eye (or the wag of a tail) and it makes me laugh every time!

wool art

I”ve been needle felting dogs again, the dogs are telling a story; it’s the everyday, mundane actions of dogs that make them so humorous. It’s the “human” things that dogs (and cats) do that I find the most interesting. My dog Quill used to jump into the bed next to me, when my husband came into the room and stood by the bed, Quill would be sprawled over the bed and look at him with a face that said “where are you going to sleep?!”

wool and needle felting
Relaxing

There are several small details in this piece that I think make it more interesting, the leather collar with a copper buckle and the piping around the chair.

needle felting details
Leather Dog Collar with Copper Buckle

 

wool art
Needle Felted Dog Chair

 

laura lee burch needle felting
I'm Comfortable

Sometimes animals surprise (and delight) us with the things they do!

textile art
Needle Felted Dog and Bead Bug

Much like children, dogs (and cats) can occupy themselves with the smallest, everyday things; they don’t need fancy toys to play. It’s like that saying: it’s not what you have, but what you do with what you have that’s important.

textile dogs
Observation

I think the stance of this bug conveys a little attitude; the bug is standing his own ground.

textile dog art
The Stand Off

Happy as a Duck in Water

needle felted ducks
Needle felted Mama and baby ducks

Today is a day meant for a duck……and me, a dreary, rainy, chilly day in Tel Aviv. These rainy days are my favorite, I’m not a sun-goddess, thus Tel Aviv is a challenge for me, being so sunny and all. These rainy days are snugly, contemplative and they remind me of home and ducks!

needle felted baby ducks
"Wait for me", cried the smallest duckling!

As a child, my grandfather Perkinson used to bring magical things to my brother, sister and I  from his farm. He brought us fruits from his persimmon tree that my mom made into persimmon pudding (delicious!), butter made from a churn, big dried gourds that he had made into bird houses or drinking cups, arrow heads he found in the ground while building fences, petrified wood he found in the streams along with lizards and turtles and one day he brought ducks to us and my life long love for these birds began!

pet ducks
Ten year old me and some of my pet ducks

I had a lot of pet ducks as a kid, Muscovies and Mallards mostly, they started off living in the corner of our kitchen; my mom boxed off an area where they could live till they were big enough to venture outside and fend for themselves.

wool toys
Wait for me!

They “peeped” for the first few months of their lives, fuzzy and yellow. After they were bigger and they started to resemble small ducks instead of yellow dust bunnies with legs, they moved outside into a pen that my dad built for them next to our house, but they were like loud little “watch dogs”.  My ducks quacked at visitors, strangers and cars that pulled up into the driveway; eventually my dad rebuilt a bigger pen at the back of our property (far from our house) for my loud pets. I played with my ducks every day. They followed me around like a swarm of bees, if I stopped for a moment they were all over me looking for food and this made me laugh, I loved my ducks. They quacked when they saw me coming because they knew they were going to get fed;  as they ate the corn and grains that I brought for them, I played in the tall grasses that grew inside of their pen. I built a fort in a corner of the duck pen and barefoot and covered in mosquito bites, I pretended for hours, my ducks being bit players in my many imaginative scenarios. These duck memories have followed me through my life and ducks have always been one of my favorite birds/pets.

needle felted ducks
Follow me kids!

 

When I wrote my first book, Sew Magical for Baby, I included my favorite toy designs, one of which was my Mama and Baby Ducks stuffed animals. These funny, lovable toys are a big favorite with kids and adults! You can find the sewing pattern for my fabric ducks in my Etsy shop: http://www.etsy.com/listing/83311945/pattern-mama-and-baby-ducks

laura lee burch sewing
Mama and Baby Duck from Sew Magical for Baby

 

 

Attack of the Needle Felted Alligators!

needle felted puppets
Just when you thought it was safe.....

Moments before the alligator attack, Kitty and I were sitting in the kitchen minding our own business….

wool toys
imagine the du-da-du-da-du-da suspenseful, foreboding "Jaws" music

….and BAM, the needle felted alligator puppet jumped off the table and attacked Kitty!

wool toys
but don't worry, Kitty was victorious!

…oh, I was just daydreaming! I started making some puppets the other day, I intended to make a dragon like this one:

needle felted dragon puppet
Needle felted dragon puppet

….but at one point it started looking like an alligator, so I “followed the shapes”. The simple puppet I set out to make became more complicated, with fairly sharp fimo teeth and finger slots to put your hand so the alligators mouth can be opened and closed. This isn’t s step-by-step tutorial, but I did shoot a few of the creation stages, have a look!

needle felted alligator hand puppet
needle felted alligator hand puppet

I made the alligator’s top jaw first, his lower jaw second and the body sleeve last. I inserted glass doll eyes into the sides of his head. I connected the two jaws with a thick, flat piece of wool that acts as a hinge.

handmade toys
mouth hinge

The tricky part of making the finger holes in the jaws is making them deep enough for your hands so you have real control over the motion of the jaws. I used a pair of scissors to cut deep holes in the top and bottom jaws, I pulled out as much wool as I could so that it was still snug when I put my hands inside the holes. I felted the holes as best as I could to make them smoother.

alligator handpuppet
finger and thumb holes for the alligator puppet

 

making a hand puppet
My hand fits snugly in the finger holes

Here is the gator without any teeth, he looks pretty pitiful. I made the alligator teeth from off- white fimo (the photo shows an example of the teeth placement).

wool toys
toothless alligator puppet

I shaped the alligator’s teeth so that they’re slightly rounded, those are shark’s teeth at the top of the photo, for a future project. I baked the teeth at a low temperature for about 7 minutes, then took them out to cool and harden.

fimo alligator teeth
fimo alligator and shark teeth

With scissors, I cut deep slits in the jaws (following a photo of a real alligator with his mouth open) and glued each tooth in with fabric glue.

handmade toys
teeth placement

I needle felted a sheath to cover my arm; I wrapped the sheet of needle felted wool around the end of the alligator’s head and needle felted it on.

wool toys
Flat felted sheath to cover your arm
needle felted hand puppet
Felting the sheath onto the head

Now I have a fairly realistic alligator puppet with which I can use to help tell fairy tales or stories, use as a conversation piece at dinner parties or chase the cat around the house with!

handmade hand puppet
Needle felted alligator hand puppet

The Three Little Pigs Fairytale Dolls

the three little pigs fairytale dolls
The Three Little Pigs have got the world by the tail!

Things have changed for the Three Little Pigs, fairytale characters extraordinaire, they’ve got the world by the tail these days!  Long ago their nemesis the Big Bad Wolf was caught and jailed for stalking and destruction to private property. The pigs now live together in a posh condo with a doorman to keep out the riff-raff.

laura lee burch needle felting
The flying Piginski Brothers

After the traumatic stalking episode with the Big Bad Wolf, then trying to collect from the insurance companies for the destruction of 2 of their houses, the lawsuit the wolf laid on the pigs for getting hurt on their property and trying to rebuild their lives again, the fairytale gig didn’t suit the pigs anymore.  So, the pigs joined the circus and became the Flying Piginski Brothers, high-wire acrobats!

art dolls
On top of the World!

The Flying Piginski Brother’s Act has become a swine sensation , the pigs are really “on top of the world  now!” Who Knew?!

ADO
The Three Little Pigs 2011

 Moral of the story: Embrace change!

needle felt
The End

Fairytale Footnote*The Three Little Pigs are needle felted from wool, they are posable and they have glass eyes. The pigs range from 6.5″ to 7.5″ tall. I’ve updated their story with a modern twist, but the Three Little Pigs has always been one of my favorite classic fairytales! I guess we all like it when the underdog wins and the bad guy gets what’s coming to him, aka:  karma rules!

The Three Little Pigs
Emili and The Three Little Pigs