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

 

 

Paper Clay Sculpted Animal Dolls

sculpting paper clay
Mama Bunny and her three babies

A few years ago I was into sculpting with paper clay. I love the hands-on, work of getting dirty; I missed this type of art when I was only designing on the computer (now I do both). This mama rabbit is a bank; you can put money into her through a slot in the back of her neck.  

bunny bank
She's a bank.

One theme that I see in my work is that of utility; the sculpture is also a bank. It isn’t my style to sculpt a rabbit just for the beauty of a rabbit, so I make the art functional. As time has passed, I’ve started to make art for the sake of art (progress I think). 

paper clay sculpture
Mama rabbit bank, back view

 I put the three bunny babies into the mama’s apron, maybe I was sculpting myself with three little girls.

baby bunnies
Three baby bunnies

Each little bunny is sculpted from paper clay and painted with acrylics, like the mama. They sit in their mama’s apron, living the life of Riley!

rabbit jewelry
Carrot necklace

Mama Bunny is decked out in a paper clay sculpted, carrot necklace and a handmade, cotton dress and apron with Portuguese lace. After I made the Mama Bunny and babies, I made more animal dolls. First I made Mr. Rabbit; his head is sculpted from paper clay, but his body is made from cotton and painted with acrylics. 

paper clay sculpted Mr. Rabbit
Classically dress Mr. Rabbit

Mr. Rabbit is wearing a wool jacket, plaid wool pants, a white cotton shirt with brown antique buttons; a brown velvet bow-tie finishes off his elegant ensemble. I’m sure Mr. Rabbit has a smoking jacket in his closet at home.

carrot kercheif
Mr. Rabbit wears a carrot kercheif

Because I have a fetish for ducks (I collect duck nick-nacks), I made Mrs. Duck.

duck doll
Mrs. Duck

Mrs. Duck has a paper clay sculpted head and a cloth body. Her head and body are both painted with acrylic paints. Mrs. Duck is wearing an antique doll dress and a handmade bonnet; she’s the picture of pretty for spring!

spring bonnet
Mrs. Duck wears a spring bonnet of handmade roses.

I think Mrs. Duck has the personality of Sandra Dee or Doris Day; she’s the duck next door with a sweet, chirpy personality!

Mrs. Duck
Mrs. Duck, the duck next door.