Saturday, 27 February 2010

Needle felting, beagle, stage 10

To attach the head to the body I take a large piece of fluffed up fleece and felt it into the back of the head

I then hold the head above the body in the position I would like it to end up in and I spend a long time firming up the neck, stabbing lots up into the head and down into the body to bring fibers through each and meshing the two pieces together firmly.

Keep stepping back and looking at the piece and adding more fleece to areas that are too skinny. At this stage you can pose the head a little, often it gets a little more life if you cock it to the side a little.
Spend LOTS of time felting the body now so it is very firm and smooth

Friday, 26 February 2010

Needle felting, beagle, stage 9

Now the body is quite smooth and firm I bend the legs over into a more dog like shape

First just bending them over but then curving the back legs out slightly and back in again at the hock joint.

Now looking at how a real dog is build I add more fleece to pad it out. I fluff up the fleece between my fingers to it dosent show lines as it felts then I add some to the hips and chest, I also fatten up the body of the dog. Keep adding and felting until the dog is firm and dog shaped. At this point I am realising the front legs are a little short but I will deal with this later

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Oh the weather outside is ......

Just horrible!! I never thought I could get fed up of snow but this wet mushy slippy stuff is just no fun!! (unless you are a dog)
So a bowl of hot lentil soup with crusty bread and then I am back to felting my fingers to the bone!

At the weekend my kitty splat was featured in the Etsy finds mail and the storque

and things went crazy!! over 100 shop hearts in a 24 hour period, 6 sales (4 of them custom orders) and as many requests for me to let them know when kittys are back in stock!!
So I have got 3 of the 4 custom ones done. A long gray tabby for hardback books, and a orange tabby (I think these cats liked the photo shoot too much, they are full of mischief! and a splatted back end of a long hair faun pup

Oh sorry! Were you expecting fotos of doggies in the snow?? Its just too wet to take the camera out.

Also my Beagle project has been put on hold a little! Check back soon for more stage by stages

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Needle felting, beagle, stage 8

With the wolf I didnt use a frame to make the body but often I use a frame to allow gentle posing and to help keep the size somewhere sensible (I tend to make them bigger and bigger)

I cut two lengths of pipe cleaner and fold in the ends (so there are no sharp bits of wire) I then fold them into a rough body shape and twist the middle together.
Starting with the legs I wind wool around the frame. It is important to felt lots here in lots of directions to smooth out the areas where the wool was wrapped

Also the firmer this base is the easier the next bits are to felt.
Keep felting until the fleece is smooth and firm, this should take well over an hour

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Needle felting, beagle, stage 7

The dogs ears are brown with black over the top.
First I lay down some brown in a large (these dogs have big ears) triangle shape. I tease out some black fleece so it is fluffy and add a little layer over the top.

Spend quite a long time felting the ears, if you keep them on the foam pad then turn them over frequently else it will start sticking to the pad. You can also hold the ears between your fingertips to make the edges more sharp

Looking at the dog his ears are attached quite low down on the head, level with the eyes.
I attach the ears by stabbing the ends into the side of the head.

I then hold the ear in the shape I would like it to be in, I stab gently in all directions to firm the ears in the desired shape.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Needle felting, beagle, stage 6

Now the face is really starting to shape up and look a lot more like a dog it is time to work on the eyes.
First I add two ovals in black. The dents I made earlier make it easier to see where to put them.

Next I decide which way I want the eyes to be looking and add a C shape of white on the inside side opposite where I want the eyes to be looking. I leave a small amount of the black showing on the outside edge as this defines the eye

I then add a blob of the eye colour. Sometimes I just add another C shape but with small eyes this is fiddly and the blob makes the eye more rounded. Again I leave some black showing all round the eye, and if possible a little between the eye colour and the white adds a little more cartoon look.

Then I add a small ball of black to make the pupil and an even smaller ball of white to make a glint in the eye. Manipulating gently with the needle makes this ball into a more pointed shape I like but you can just have a spot of white.

Now I spend some time really felting the eyes in, sculpting them slightly rounded by felting more firmly round the edges and less on the top being careful not to distort any of the detail

Friday, 19 February 2010

Needle felting, beagle, stage 5

The lips really help to give the dog expression and life

To make these I tease out a few strands of fleece twisting them to make a cord like a thin peice of yarn - the thicker it is the easier it is to felt but of course too thick will look too clunky

Then I take the center of the cord and felt it in below the dogs nose

Felting one side at a time I make an upside down V from the nose to the mouth felting the cord to the nose.

I then take the cord from the front of the mouth all the way to the back corner in a U shape

This helps define the dogs smile, it takes tiny delecate stabs with the needle to secure without burying the cord.
I then felt along the bottom lip to meet the ends of the cord in the middle of the bottom lip

Size dosent matter!

Small dogs are just not treated the same way as large dogs. I saw several examples of that out and about today.

1. 3 tiny JRT's being walked by one woman. All three dogs were pulling so hard that their paws were scrabbling on the pavement and they where wheezing and panting.
If a large dog pulls people are more likely to deal with it one way or another, because it hurts them and it can be dangerous.
Just because a small dog isnt pulling you with as much force as a large one it is still hurting itself pulling with all its force onto a small collar.

2. A pair of poodles snarling, barking and lunging at passing dogs.
If they were GSD's or something of that size then people would be yelling at the owners to get their dogs under control but with these poodles people laughed and pointed.
No matter what size dogs are dogs, they are still able to cause injury to another dog or person if they choose to attack and even if they can be controlled on the lead the dog is very stressed when they are in this situation. This stress is not good for your dogs health

3. A pack of small dogs charging at other dogs with no control as their owners laughed. Just because the dogs were lucky enough to meet well mannered dogs who put up with their bad manners owners should keep control of their dogs no matter what the size!

4. A small yorkie in a 'princess' fluffy dress being carried and cooed over like she was a toy. Please let your dog be a dog!! If you want a doll but one!!

All seen in one day!! Dogs are dogs regardless of the size, if you wouldnt let a 15 stone dog do something then dont let your 2Kg dog do it.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Needle felting, beagle, stage 4

To make the nose I use a small piece of black fleece.
First I roll it into a ball and then between my fingers I pinch a edge out slightly

Carefully holding this I gently stab into a kind of rounded triangle shape. At this point I have to be very careful to make sure I let the needle slide between my fingers rather than stab into my flesh (owwwch)

I do not firmly felt the nose at this point because I prefer to sculpt it into shape on the actual sculpture
Felt all around the nose onto the head shape being careful to angle the needle in towards the centre of the head, if the needle pokes out of the white fleece at this point it will have taken some of the black fleece with it and this will cause a tiny black spot to appear in the white fleece

Stabbing many times into each side not only forms nostrils in the nose but also makes sure it is well attached onto the head

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Punishing is for the lazy

Interesting where you can get inspiration for dog training.
Today on 'The Wright Stuff' on TV this morning I got some amazing advice from Joe Mangle from Neighbours.
They were talking about raising children and how some children are so out of control.
He had a amazing point
It takes time and energy to be consistent, to teach our children (or dogs) that actions have consequences and that we mean what we say.
It is far easier to give in and give the sweetie when the child is chucking a tantrum (or let our dogs pull on the lead because we are in too much of a rush to teach them to walk nicely on the lead)
Then we get angry with their behaviour and yell or punish them. This is confusing, sometimes they get what they want, sometimes they get punished.
If we are fair and consistent, make sure they know what we want from them, let them know when they are doing the right thing and, when needed, show them the consequences of doing the wrong thing (naughty step, no pudding, dont get to keep walking forwards on lead) then children and dogs will be better behaved, less confused and everyone will be happier

Needle felting, beagle, stage 3

Now the head is fairly firm and in an almost doggy shape I start colouring it in.
The Beagle I am aiming for has reddish brown markings with a black cap so I apply fleece in the areas I want to colour and I firmly felt it in place
Stabbing many times in the same place creates dents in the fleece that gives me an idea where I would like the eyes to be. For felted eyes this is useful to stop the felt stick out too much. If you are using glass eyes this gives a nice eye socket for the eyes.
At this stage have another good look at your dog. I decided that he needed eyebrows above the eyes so I added a small amount of fleece above each eye socket to give a more realistic expression

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

The food bowl

It is very sad that some training methods are not only misguided but they can be dangerous in some cases and spoil our relationship between us and our dogs.
One method that often causes problems is taking food off a dog.
Many people believe that to show the dog who is the boss they should be able to take food from the dog whenever they want to. To implement that they remove the dogs food bowl when the dog is eating.
Lots of dogs are very forgiving and just put up with our rudeness.
Some dogs begin to learn that they are not safe when they are eating their food and start to become defensive and aggressive when anyone comes near them.
The owner misreads this as the dog becoming dominant and then punishes the dog. The dog then learns that it was correct, it is not safe when it is eating, bad things happen and it can become even more aggressive.
If you imagine yourself if you are eating something yummy and someone comes and takes it away without saying anything. The first time you may be a little confused but say nothing, the second time you may yell 'HEY' the next time you might be holding onto your dish waiting for them to come.
Its true sometimes you may need to take food away from your dog, but rather than get into a battle it is better to teach him to trust you.
Around the food bowl (If your dog isnt already showing aggression) you could casually toss something really yummy into their bowl. You can teach your dog to 'give' you something in its mouth by swapping it for something even better - and then you can even sometimes give them the original thing back again.
Dogs and wolves do not take food off another dog, even the most alpha wolf will leave a cub that has food in its mouth.
This applies for your household dogs too, if you allow one dog to keep taking food or toys from the other dog then he may learn to guard items from other dogs. Mia was very bad for resource guarding from Ben until she understood the rules of the house, it belongs to whoevers mouth it is in.
No matter how nicely mannered your dog is it is also very important to teach children if they drop something it belongs to the dog. If something needs to be taken away from the dog then it should always be you that does it, not a child

Remember if your dogs behaviour suddenly changes check with your vet that there is nothing wrong and if your dog is showing aggression consult a behaviourist

Needle felting, beagle, stage 2

Now the head and upper jaw are taking shape I create the lower jaw.

I take a piece of fleece about 1/4 inch thick - or less.

I softly roll it around the needle then flatten it by stabbing it a little onto the foam pad.

If you havent been felting long just make the lower jaw totally on the foam pad turning it over often.
I prefer to be more hands on at this point, but there is a risk of stabbing your fingers if you loose your concentration.
I hold the lower jaw between my finger and thumb

and gently stab into it to smooth the edges and firm up the whole jaw by taking the loose fibers from the edges right down into the middle of the jaw. I leave the end a little fluffy to make it easier to attach to the head

Using the loose fibers I then attach the lower jaw to the head adding more fleece if needed and always looking at the face from all angles to make sure it is looking right. Remember to open the mouth and felt inside as well as outside

At this stage I always think they look a little like a duck or a donkey, I think this guy looks a little mole like too :D but if the basic shape looks OK then once you add the other features it will begin to look more like a dog soon!

At this point spend a long time (at least an hour) making sure the head is really firm and smooth, keep looking at it from all angles and add more fleece to any areas you need to flatten out

Monday, 15 February 2010

Needle felting, beagle, stage 1

I thought it might be fun to photograph another make so you could all see the stages involved in making a fuzzy dog.
This is not a tutorial for new felters, some methods I use will get your fingers stabbed, much safer (but not so much fun) to do all your stabbing on the mat)
First I need some inspiration. Sometimes I have orders or make dogs I know, sometimes I just make it up as I go along, today I liked the photograph on a magazine.

First I took about an inch thick piece of fleece and rolled it into a ball and stabbed it until it became fairly firm

Then I took another piece of fleece about 1/2 an inch thick and gently wound it around the needle to make a tube.
It is just softly wound so I can sculpt the shape as I attach it (this will become the nose and upper jaw)

I attach the nose to the head by pushing the needle right along the length of the nose into the head. If the nose is too long stab more towards the head, if it is too fat stab horizontally into the nose. If it is too thin you can add more fleece and if it is still too long after it has felted firm you can even cut bits off, the cuts can be closed over by felting with a thin layer of fleece

At this stage I stab lots into the underside of the jaw to make a dent, this strengthens the jaw and makes it more mouth shaped.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Bens gone digital

Enchantedmemories on Etsy made me this lovely logo for my dog training business (when I decide to take the plunge)
Its a digital image of Ben with a kiss on his cheek
I think it looks fab!!

Friday, 12 February 2010

A splatted Kitty!!

With the rest of the grey and white Nuno felt I decided to splat a cat.

This little cutie has blue eyes and black stripes

I was working on some slightly different photographs here as some people suggested that the flat out bookmark look made my bunny look a little like roadkill!!

So I have tried shooting her in the pages of a book.

I have also been working on a couple of other splats but I have to keep them a seceret for a little while!

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Featured Dog website - Silvia Trkman

Silvia is a totally amazing dog trainer with the cutest happiest dogs on the planet.
She is a world champ agility handler and trainer.
She also teaching the most fun tricks and is kind enough to post her method and fantastic you tube videos to inspire us all.
I totally adore her ethics, she does not drill her dogs and on the agility course its all about speed and fun.
Her dogs do not know a cross word and they are so happy and attentive that it is a total inspiration to anyone who want to train dogs.

All her videos are amazing but this latest one with her dogs doing the housework just makes me LOL every time

She has some great tips for training agility, but most importantly I love the way she just focuses on teaching her dogs that learning is fun.


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