Welcome to the fungi neighborhood! I’ve wanted to make a habitat for awhile now, so I started with the mushroom houses and this is what I’ve come up with. I had some industrial felt sitting around, I decided to use this because I needed a firm material for the base of the house. The industrial felt is so hard you can’t felt into (it is about 1/4″ thick and comes in many thicknesses) but it’s perfect for “building”.
I really got into the felt details of the mushroom stem, in this house I’ve added a rabbit, deer and owl into the flower and vine design.
An owl in the forest, felt detail
I had needle felted the tops of the mushrooms earlier as hats, so I reused the hats for the mushroom caps. The houses have 2 floors; you enter the bottom floor by entering the front door and you can access the top floor by lifting off the mushroom cap.
There are two floors in the mushroom houses.
The mushroom houses are the perfect size for my wood-felt-wool dolls!
I tried to build a “magical world” for my needle felted gnome puppet to hide in the other day so I could take his picture. I set up my photo like I usually do, on a white piece of cardboard on my front porch. I set up my small mushrooms, positioned my gnome puppet behind the big orange needle felted mushroom and started to shoot. Something was missing. It’s hard to shoot magical, mystical worlds when you live in the middle of a city, another reason to be more creative I guess. I stood back and looked at my set up and I noticed the vines clinging to the side of my house, creeping along and nearly covering the facade. I pulled some of the vines into my shot and positioned them so the green leaves filled in the empty spaces, I think that did it!
My needle felted puppets usually end up acting out scenes and telling stories (like my Little Red Riding Hood post: http://www.lauraleeburch.com/blog/2010/04/the-adventures-of-little-red-riding-hood/). The mushroom forest set up inspired me to finish two other needle felted puppets I’d been working on and set aside for several months. I set out to finish the Rose Princess puppet and the Little Red Mushroom puppet because I was sure that the Little Gnome puppet would be delighted to run into them in the mushroom forest.
I was right, it was a grand reunion of old friends.
You know, I like my pieces of art to be useful; save for the specific holiday pieces that will be stored away till next year. I made these animal masks for Halloween, but they’ll be very useful all year round for imaginative play. I’m going to hang them in the playroom and let the girls and their friends play dress up with them and at the same time I think they’ll make interesting decorations. The masks are very strong and they’ll hold up well in the hands of a bunch of kids.
I’ve recently started to teach English to a little four and a half year old French girl and my toys and masks have become very useful in teaching her new words. The toys and masks engage her, she wants to play with them and they give me the perfect opportunity to teach her new words and ideas. I think that an activity helps her to remember new words as we use the words over and over again. I also draw with her (she doesn’t read or write yet), so I draw pictures of the words we’re learning (usually one of the toys I’ve made) and then she draws what I’ve drawn and then we play with the toy in the picture. Her reward for studying 20-30 minutes is playtime at the end of the lesson.
We made a game out of the masks. After Matilde found my masks sitting on a table, she put them on and started trotting around the room with a cow mask on her face. I asked her what the animal said (moo) and then I told her the name of the animal (cow). We did this for all six masks. I laid all six masks in a row on the table and told her to choose the correct mask according to the sound or word that I said. Moo, cow, baaa or sheep, she needed to choose the correct mask for the word or sound that I made. This has been a very successful game, as now she know the words and sounds for cow, horse, sheep, dog, cat and rooster! Next we’ll learn what theses animals do, like run, stand, eat, sleep, walk, etc.