Last month I visited the San Diego Aquarium and a couple of tide pools while seeing relatives and touring the area. I’m always fascinated with the beautiful creatures from under the sea. When I returned home, I did some more research and came across the Blue Spotted Ribbontail Ray. You can read more about them here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bluespotted_ribbontail_ray
You can also Google them and see some really beautiful pictures.
I have seen other Stingrays in Sausalito, California, but nothing this beautiful. Of course, the colors made this guy pretty attractive to me. I thought it would be a fun, challenging project in felt.
Although I know the body is fairly flat, I started out with making a resist.
The eyes were a challenge because they have an unusual shape with a cutout (spiracle) behind them. I made tight ball which encased a glass eye and a rock for the spiracle portion, then covered it with the yellow merino.
I used one layer of corriedale as my base on each side, then used a white batt on the underside. To give the back some height in the middle I added extra layers. Once I was satisfied, I attached the eyes and a piece of a batt to attach a tail.
The tail was next. I used a corriedale core and covered it with a batt, then rolled it into shape. I tried to use roving to make the blue stripes, but the rolling moved it around to much, so I striped it off.
The tail also includes the stinger near the end. The tail is actually one and a half times the length of the body.
I had to do some studying of the anatomy to try to get it close to reality. The nostrils, mouth, nasal flaps and gills are underneath. I didn’t add claspers or pelvic fins.
Next was decorating. It took a long time to cut out the spots from handmade prefelt in various sizes. I placed a batt over the top taking care not to overlap to the underside which would stay white. Then came the spots.
There was a lot of rubbing before rolling. I used a gray roving to highlight the mouth, nostrils and gills on the underside.
Once the felting was near complete, I cut out the resist, the gills, mouth then finished the fulling. The eyes came last. They were a bit tricky. The glass bead and rock had moved during the felting. Removing the rock took a little doing and I ended up using a tweezers. A little needlefelting helped finish off the eyes and put stripes on the tail.
I wanted to show the ray in motion so I put two plastic bottles under the flaps while it dried, but even after drying as soon as I layed it down the ray went flat. Plan B was to use Modge Podge to hold the shape. It did the trick, but I wasn’t happy it remained white.
Here he is hanging on the wall near my work area. It’s hard to tell, but the wall is a light blue.
I sometimes wonder why I come up with these types of projects. I did enjoy the learning process though. What challenges have you had lately?