Loris

My world changed the first time I saw it. I had always been fond of monkeys for their human-like faces, prehensile tails, and wondrously dexterous hands. Other primates were fascinating too: the thrilling grace of a gibbon is nearly unmatched in the natural world and the wise expression of an orangutan goes straight to the soul. But when I saw the face of a slow loris, my heart was stolen.

Not only are they stunningly adorable, they are amazing. AMAZING. They are so unique it is sometimes hard to believe they’re real. They have a toxic gland under their arms which they lick and use as venom. They  have special backbones that allow them to bend at incredible angles. They have a tooth-comb that they use to groom themselves. They’re nocturnal and can climb swiftly and nearly silently through the trees.

Unfortunately, there is a downside to being cute and fantastic: these animals are endangered. Deforestation and wildlife trade, as pets or for traditional medicinal uses, are threatening the existence of this amazing creature.

After falling in love with the slow loris, I created a new snonkey (snail-monkey), the Lorisnail. Here is the needle felted Lorisnail, who will appear in a story of mine someday:

felted lorisnail
Needle felted Lorisnail

The concept is still taking form in my mind… I will share more about it in another post.

Meanwhile, I was still burning with passion for the precious loris, little fireface, so I felted a loris:

felted loris
Needle felted loris
needle felted loris
Needle felted loris (closeup)

This little one will go up in my etsy shop (FamiliarOddlings.etsy.com) on September 16th, the start of Slow Loris Awareness Week. It will be $150 USD, $50 of which will go to The Little Fireface Project to help the loris.

Want to learn more about the slow loris? Visit Dr Anna Nekaris’ Little Fireface Project.

Keep an eye open for Slow Loris Awareness Week!

Needle Felting

Okay, a long overdue post, heh. Sorry about that. Now for what you’ve all been waiting for…. How I started needle felting! And what is it, anyway?

I first discovered needle felting while browsing the fantastical and often fabulous art on Elfwood (www.elfwood.com) a couple years ago. This one artist, Amanda Edlund from Sweden, made extremely appealing bipedal creatures with amazing color patterns. They had wonderful ears and great expressions. Here is one, The Blue Creature!

wool felted doll
Blue Creature by Ulltotten on deviantart.com

Check out more of her amazing art over at deviantart.com here: http://ulltotten.deviantart.com/gallery/

In short, I fell in love with her creatures and I desperately wanted to know what this “felting” was! I sent her a few notes and she kindly explained what needle felting was and how to build the armature underneath so the creatures would be pose-able.

Here are the two pictures she was generous enough to share with me:

Wire armature wrapped with wool
Adding the layer of dyed wool along with the details

So what is needle felting? It is the art of poking wool into shape! Here’s the official definition: Needle felting is a popular fiber arts craft conducted without the use of water. The artist uses special barbed felting needles from industrial felting machines to sculpt wool fiber. The barbs catch the scales on the fiber and push them through the layers of wool, tangling and binding the fibers together, much like the wet felting process. Fine details can be achieved using this technique, and it is popular for both 2D and 3D felted work.

My first felted creature was Glip.

wool felted doll
My first needle felted creation

As you can see, he was heavily inspired by Amanda’s work. I took some pipe cleaners and twisted them into an armature over which I wrapped undyed wool to make a padded base — the “stuffing” if you will. Then I needle felted the dyed wool over the top, poking myself several times in the process. I discovered how difficult it was to make the fingers slender and delicate! Also, how you really should use multiple layers of the dyed wool to build up stability and a deep color. It was a wonderful learning experience!

Some time later, I fixated on making a snonkey (see previous post) with the needle felting technique. After considering it a for a while, I decided to felt the body but let the shell be an actual shell. I love shells and the hard smooth texture of a real snail shell can’t be beat! But the trouble was finding the right sized shell. Up until that point I had been using (to make other works of art) the small garden variety snail shells I found lying around my neighborhood, abandoned by the local snails. Then my family came home one day from grocery shopping with a bag of escargot shells! They were the perfect size. I made a pipe cleaner armature, felted wool over it, then glued an escargot shell on the back.

felted wool doll with snail shell
The first felted snonkey

So that’s how I started needle felting. Next time I’ll tell you about the Lorisnail, a special kind of snonkey. Take care, everyone! Thank you for reading!

The beginning of the snonkey

One day while I was dreaming up a children’s story, and feeling particularly obsessed with my pet snails, I was suddenly struck by the image of a monkey with a snail shell on its back.

Let’s back up a minute. Yes, I said “pet snails.” I’ve had an interest in snails since I was twelve years old when I found a small clutch of snail eggs in our garden. The pale soft eggs, each about the size of a whole black pepper seed,  just beneath the surface of our damp dark soil fascinated me. I put them, along with a good clump of soil, in a jar with a bit of nylon stocking stretched across the opening. Sometime later, a few tiny baby snails appeared. They were the most delicate and adorable things I had ever seen! Their shells were golden translucent and their eye stalks were short and stubby. The experiment ended badly, unfortunately; my tank-keeping skills left much to be desired and with a rambunctious puppy in the house, the tank proved an inhospitable place for the tiny captives.

Many years later, I decided to recreate the experiment. I did some research and set up a decent snail tank with a plastic lid. Instead of starting with eggs, I put in an adult snail and two adolescents, naming them Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather. I enjoyed their company for a couple weeks and then I found a giant clutch of eggs in the tank! Evidently Flora had decided it was a perfect place to start a family. A little later and boy did we have a family! There were tons of tiny baby snails filling up the tank. I counted up to ninety.

Snail babies on my fingers
Too many babies!

So that was what was on my mind that day I started sketching and out came the snonkey, a snail-monkey.

Snonkey Sketches

Next time I’ll get to the felting part of the story. Meanwhile, if you’re so inclined, you can view more pics of my pet snails and read more of their story at my deviantArt gallery folder My Pet Snails.