Grinnosaurus – A Slap-dash Attempt at Describing How it’s Done.

010 (3)Many moons ago I promised a “how-to” blog… I did photograph this finished blue dinosaur in all of his stages so now its time to try to help us make sense of the process… They do say “those who cannot do teach”…well it seems I can do but I struggle to teach, so perhaps the reverse is true too. It may be fruitless to explain the work because it  is less a “plan” than simply feeling your way through. Each piece is  the epitome of creative process beginning sometimes with out so much as an image in my minds eye.

003Beyond the picture above, of the finished work, the next, Picture #1- Is the balls of fluff and the tools of the trade. Pictured here are both raw “black sheep” wool rovings and a carded ball of mixed white and black. Also is pictured a brush “mat” for felting upon, so one doesn’t stab themselves! There is on felting needle and two garden variety chopsticks. Knitting needles or smooth bbq skewers would work as well.

002Picture #2 –  Shows the usefulness of the two chopsticks for twirling a thin sheet of rovings into a cylinder used for arms and legs and giraffe necks and octopus tentacles. You get the picture! Essentially, the beginnings of each sculpture are a variety of applicable shapes. I assemble parts and pieces and keep them aside for “assembly”.

There are different grades of needles for deep heavy work as in the forming of the core or base of the sculpture and regular and finer needles for surface and finish work.

005Picture # 3 – His body was a sizable gourd. First I made an egg shape and then a cone atop this made with a with a pile of rovings twirled obviously thicker at one end,  his legs toes and arms were pairs of evenly sized cylinders. You put the parts together by deep needling through both pieces with a bit of spare fluff in between. Its all sort of gradual. You get a feel for density, a feel for the directionality of the needle that produces the desired effect. I tackle form first and add color on the surface later with a finer finishing needle.

009Picture #4 –  Parts that needed to be bent like elbows and knees and the right curve of his neck are done so by holding them bent and  deep-needling to keep them that way.  I have found they relax a bit so I bend them to the extreme and needle them sturdily. Even in his finished state he could be re-needled and his pose could be changed somewhat.

012Pictures #5 and #6 – He sort of evolved as I went along,…18 hours in all, with giant yellow toes, one at a time, with claws. His back grew a set of lovely red scales that I made one at a time then poked in individually.  To get him to sit flat, I put him on the needling mat and deep-needled  downward while he sat flat, leaning the gourd shape back slightly  because by then I pictured him reclining on one big hand while waving or resting the other on his knee. After a bit of poking the fibers just molded to the surface of the mat and settled him into sitting position.

015002 (1)I do remember getting him to a point where everything was built but his head and not knowing how to proceed. I just wrapped a blob of wool around his head and began to poke. I  think the best way to learn is to put the materials in your hands and go. You really do develop a feel for it and each project teaches me more about the possibilities. Its important work completely, thoroughly needling on all the surfaces, around each angle and limb to leave a lasting even form.

023Even as I write I realize all the little nuances that made him are hard to describe and so fine, ( his nostrils and his smile…the ridge of his nose…) that they’d be hard to demonstrate. But the finished fella makes me smile, and as always, so satisfying that I just want to do more!

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