Needle felted furry Dog

I have been curious about using goat locks in a felting project so I ordered some from Sarafina Fiber Art. I was looking for a dog breed that could use this much fur and texture and a Briard was what I found, photo below-Briard dog

I had never heard of this animal before, but he looked like a good candidate for my project.

I began with the wire armature. This time I wanted to try something different- I found that it was difficult to wrap the very ends of the feet and nose with wool fiber because the fiber wanted to just slip off the end, which left a bare wire showing.  I added fiber to these areas as I built the armature, which worked to anchor the fiber at these

Then the wrapping started. When I worked the legs, arms and face I started with the furry ends, winding them upward, with the face, downward. I ran out of the grey variegated wool that most closely matched the locks I had so I continued with a lighter solid tone , in the end it didn’t matter because this base could really not be seen.

dog with wool wrapping

Finally ready to start felting the locks on. I’m trying to keep the shape of a dog while not having any bare spots so it’s just kind of a give-and-take little bit of trimming with scissors doesn’t

Here is the dog in progress with a pile of goat locks. It’s a little confusing finding what would work in an area, but it you are just patient and sort through it you will start to see the useable pieces. The photo below shows a closeup of the locks with a nice wavy section to use.goat locks

There’s definitely a learning curve, you just kind have to get the feel of what piece would go best where.

I’ve always thought that less is more, but I don’t know . . .maybe I went to far, anyway there is still a lot to learn-

A Pair of Needle Felted Greyhounds

Next I wanted to tackle was the greyhound dog. I just so happen to have a friend whose birthday was coming up with two beautiful Italian greyhounds, so this is the first project I’ve done that is going to attempt to look like someone’s specific armature for felting

Here is the armature I made for this project, notice the extra long neck and legs. Every time I make a wire armature I’m really thinking about how it can help me make the form. This time I used double wire in the legs and back.

Unfortunately I didn’t take pictures along the way but I used alpaca wool and floral wire to build up the body. Wrapping around the wire, adding more layers until it was dense enough to attach some larger round shapes. The head is the hardest part because there is so much going on, chin, muzzle, nose, eyes and ears in a small space. I find I’m gaining more control of these small shapes as I practice.

Here’s the first finished greyhound, Drexelboth dogs

Here are the two dogs together, Drexel and Charlie. I thought they needed a personalized tote bag for a home so…

Greyhounds with their tote bag

This was a fun project, the next one is going to be a Briard Dog with long locks!

Needle Felting a Dachshund, finish

In the previous post I wound a few layers of wool on the wire armature. At some point you have to stop winding the wool around or else you will end up with a fat tube.

Now it’s time to add shapes of wool. These shapes are best when partially formed on the foam block by tearing some wool off the ball, using the needles to punch up and down through the fiber. Here’s a photo of a couple of shapes in progress- needle felting wool shapes

Moving right along, knowing what the dog needs is the first thing,  figuring out what type of  shape to make is next. Below the dachshund is getting some form, I think the tail is a little long, just snip it- needle felting dachshund build

Thinking of the armature as the backbone of the dog I’m adding shapes underneath, to the chest under body and sides while trying not to build up the back too much- needle felting a dachshund stage 2And finished, outside for a breath of fresh air…

Needle Felting a Dachshund part 2

In the previous post I showed the beginning of my first needle felting project, I forgot to show this picture of the tools I’m using -needle felting tools

From left; wrapped floral wire, pipe cleaners (from a smoke shop, not a craft shop), reference photo, foam block, wire bending pliers, wire cutters, felting needles and wool. needle felting needles

Here is a close-up of the needles I’m using from the left; single needle, I accidentally bent this one because I hit the wire armature but it still works. Next is the triple needle and a tool with five needles. As you would think, the larger the tool the larger the area you can felt with it. needle felting wrappingHere is the wrapping stage, I’m wrapping wool around and around the armature so that there will be a base to work in to. You can see I’m starting to add a second color to the nose. Haven’t used the felting needles yet, just wrapping.

Needle Felting a Dachshund

The armature

About six months ago a friend gave me a link to an interesting site. It was an animal rescue group that made small sculptures of dogs which someone could buy and support the dog it was crafted after.

Those small sculptures amazed me. How did they do it? They had a fur like quality to them but where not sewn. Over the coming months I searched online and found what the technique is called, needle felting.

Like most things you might research on the web, there are some very good videos out there on this subject. An especially helpful site I found Sarafina Fiber Art, explained in detail how three projects were constructed. Another site that is more craft related but has some good info on explaining the process is

I gathered up my supplies, and was ready to start a project. Since I have a dachshund, thought I would use one as a model, although mine in red.

black dachshund for my needle felting projectphoto by Ellen Levy Finch

The first step is building a wire armature. I am using a heavy gauge wrapped wire (floral wire). The coating on the wire grabs onto the felt fibers better than a plain metal wire would. Some twisting, (a pair of wire pliers is helpful), cutting and wrapping and this is what I have -armature for wool sculpture

In the distance you can see a good side view of a dachshund which I laid a piece of acetate on and drew the simple lines of my armature. This gives me a general idea of where and how I need to fill things out.

Professional Product Photography

Have you ever tried to make an idea happen only to find yourself hitting your head against a brick wall? This is what happened to me in January of 2010 when I first started Rag Dolls Rising.

Having been a graphic artist for many years it was not difficult to come up with a logo and other identity graphics for my business, but I had one visual that became difficult to obtain, professional photographs of my dolls with kids. It seemed like it would be helpful for people to see the scale of the dolls in children’s  hands and would be a great marketing tool.

I called around locally, the photographers had the equipment but not the kids. I called modeling agencies, they had the kids but with a contract to hire them for a minimum of one day, plus make-up and wardrobe- yes, I am not joking, this was more of a commitment than I was ready for at the time. . .  so I kind of gave it up.

October 2013, I receive an email from photographer Jessica Fitzgerald. Jessica had seen my dolls on Etsy and felt they would make a good addition to her children’s photography props. When I looked at Jessica’s work I was instantly blow away. Her images of kids in the sunshine with earthy tones was exactly how I pictured my doll, in a perfect world; in the arms of a child running through fields of grass. A connection was made, I would supply Jessica, (DBA Adella Photography), with a doll in exchange for professional photos.  I absolutely love what she came up with, and how did she match the dolls dress to that wallpaper? I couldn’t be happier with the pictures that Jessica supplied to me.  Visit Jessica’s facebook page to see more of her wonderful photography.

Patience does pay off!

Art Fair Weekend

It’s Tuesday, John and I have finally unloaded the truck and car from the weekend Craft Fair. What an experience it was!

On friday we were allowed to set up our displays at

the Summerlin Community Park. We arrived around 11 a.m., found the closest parking space we could and checked in at the organizer’s booth. We were handed a packet with an artist parking permit and a map to our space. Next we unloaded the truck and began what was a very interesting weekend.



Saturday, just as predicted, was a clear and sunny day. The festival drew record crowds, which was good for us.

Sunday started out breezy, we soon realized why 200 lbs. of sandbags was a mandatory requirement for each tent. Keeping a sense of humor was important as my dolls flew off the shelves with gusting winds. John’s wooden boxes weren’t really effected so John was able to help me “hold down the fort” on my side. Around 1:00 things calmed down, we set the dolls back up to a sitting position, (we told the little ones they were taking a nap while it was windy). Then the sky started getting dark, and darker, and clouds, then RAIN! This time John was more effected as the hand rubbed finishes on his wood work did not take kindly to moisture. The vendor in the tent behind us peeked over and said “what next, locust?”

Clouds moving in

Clouds moving in

At the end of the weekend we had a great experience to look back on, and yes we did have good sales, we would defiantly do it again. Below are some notes to myself about what we did right and what to work on the next time

What we did right;

  • Make my shelving go all the way to the ground, eye level to a child is pretty low

  • Marked the price on every item

  • Let kids pick up and hug the dolls

  • Used Paypal Here to collect payments, worked very easy

  • Did some doll construction demonstrations at the tent

Things to work on next time:

  • Didn’t bring enough business cards, I had no idea how many I’d need.

  • Wrote the inventory number on the back of price tags, all of these numbers were confusing to  folks.

  • Keep better track of what sold, spent a lot of time after the fact figuring this out, yes that’s what the inventory numbers were for which I forgot to write down.

  • Took too many tables, the one in front blocked our tent off

  • Bring a box of wet wipes for the kids who did chalk art and were eating cotton candy

Free Sparky The Dog Pattern

I think it was a year ago that I created this pattern to make a Jack Russell Terrier out of fleece fabric. I had it on my old blog as a free pattern to download for anyone who wanted to give it a try. I’m putting it up again…..just click on the Sparky Pattern link below, enjoy, and let me know how it comes out!


Make your own Buttons Tutorial

When my husband  John built us a new platform bed I wanted to make some pillow shams to reflect the contemporary style.  I really like the look of big buttons something like this pillow with buttons

Looking for oversized buttons at JoAnn’s gave me a case of sticker shock. pillow with buttonsAt nearly $3. a button it would have cost me $36 for the 12 buttons I wanted to make my pillow covers, a great motivator to try to do it myself.

Using Fimo clay was the way to go, so I assembled some tools

button making tools

button making tools

  • A roller
  • Scraps of various colors of clay, didn’t have brown and I know from painting that adding everything together well get a brown.
  • A slicer tool to mix these pieces up
  • The Fimo box, for baking instructions
  • (not sure why I grabbed a ruler)

Slice and mush and roll clay together until mixed to a nice brownclay for buttons

Than roll out until you get a nice button thicknessgather circles for buttons

Now walk around the house and gather things that could be a possible die cutter for your buttons. I decided on the clear plastic pill bottle on the lower left. I used the thread spool next to it for the inner circle stamp.stamp out your buttons

Just like making cookies, after you stamp them out roll out the remaining  clay and stamp some more.buttons stamped out

Here they are all cut out and ready for the holes

buttons, ready to be baked

I used the birthday cake candle holder to make the holes in the center. On the foil lined cookie sheet and ready for the 230 degree oven for 30 minutes.

buttons, sewn onto my pillow shams

finished button, sewn onto my pillow shams

The finished buttons on pillows

The finished buttons on pillows


Ramping up for the Craft Fair

It’s been quite a while since John and I entered the 13th Summerlin Art Festival. That’s right I said entered, I never knew there was such a stringent selection process to entering one of these craft fairs. I thought all of those crafters and artists just paid some fee and got a space, we’ve since found out that’s not the case, so when we heard in early September that we were accepted, it was a reason to celebrate. So this is what we’ve accomplished up to this point.

On Memorial Day weekend we bought a 10′ x 10′ white tent at Big 5 Sporting Goods.Screen Shot 2013-09-15 at 12.47.58 PM

I bought canvas drop clothes and sewed together two side walls and table covers for our tent.Screen Shot 2013-09-15 at 12.51.53 PM

Had two banners printed with our logos and names, Woodworks By John and Rag Dolls Rising.

my banner

my banner

Set the whole thing up in our living room. The weather was bad so we  set it up inside, we looked like nomads for about 3 weeks. We took photos of the set-up and us doing our work to send.

Made the submission online, and waited….Screen Shot 2013-09-15 at 12.58.46 PM

Now what do we need to do?

Make an inventory of  all the rag dolls for the fair, number and price them. John needs to do the same with his boxes.

We are learning about the Pay Here program from Paypal that will enable us to take any type of payment with a cell phone.Screen Shot 2013-09-15 at 12.54.17 PM

John still needs to make some cement filed pipe weights for the tent. I think that’s all….. but probably not. On Oct 12 & 13 we will see how it all comes together to experience our first craft show!