Canvas 3: arctic Fiber Gold, Qiviut!! Now that is Canadian
Now I was on to canvas 3. I had been looking and thinking of quintessential Canadian topics, I considered moose and had selected a couple reference photos that I may do at some other time but just wasn’t quite what I wanted. Then I started thinking about the arctic. Muskox!!
My brother Dave is a Geologist, he has worked up north most of his career. He told me of being on a mapping traverse and stopping to sit on a bolder. He had been innocently enjoying his lunch when he heard a Whiffling sound behind him. So he turned to see what it was. It was a muskox squinting at him. He seemed to be trying to figure out what Dave was, likely hoping for a sexy new female muskox and not an interfering male one. He got a little closer and seemed to realized it was only a geologist having lunch, did a snort, looked indignant, turned and left. INSPERATION!! I will do a muskox. (But without Dave and the rock).
I kept to the same work process as before, Research first; off to the internet to look at lots of muskoxen, eastern arctic, western arctic and Greenland. I looked for various pictures with details I wanted. Coloring, body shape, horns, feet, nose, eyes. I spent hours having fun surfing Google images. I made of folder of the ones I thought most helpful.
When I had a good selection of reference photos in my file, I grabbed a scrap of paper (which now I can’t find to show you) and did a quick composition sketch to fit the 12×12 square format. I wanted the muskox to be emerging from the background. So I would need the head and shoulders forward and land for the muskox to stand on. Ok I will need a background to work this from. I am not fond of getting wet if I don’t have to so needle felting is my preferred method of working. I made a gray brown back ground so I can add foliage and muskox to it. I used a felting tool I purchased at the fiber festival Twist. It is perfect for background work! You can get it here https://halcyonyarn.com/felting/68862190/10-needle-felting-tool-_-aluminum
For the background I used some of the leftover fin-wool form Miaka’s great fish cat cave https://feltingandfiberstudio.com/2016/02/25/the-great-fish-creation/ and some Shetland in a gray brown. I measured out the felt so that I had enough to rap around the stretcher bars of the canvas and secure it to the frame.
Next was to build up the core of the muskox and base. I had used an armature in the frog but here I was only working with part of a muskox, so the front legs and one back one have an armature, as well as the neck, head and horns. It was very handy to be able to tilt his head up so I could work on his chin!!!
I continued using Rideau Arcott for my core wool. It was free, unfortunately it was also dropping veggie matter all over the floor. But it made a good solid base for the muskox and the promontory he is standing on. I added the armatures in as I built up the structure. The flexy neck was really odd in this under layer form.
Next I went to the living room and started searching for the colours I would need, I used alpaca for some of the black and reddish brown as well as merino Shetland and assorted bits I wasn’t sure what they were anymore. The pull it apart over and over again blending technique really worked well here. I used the photos to try to get a realistic colour. I started adding the colour layer from the Hooves and nose first and working up the body. I blended only a bit at a time and re-blended to create more so there is uniformity in that I am using the same base colours but the exact percentages are changing as I mix each batch. I was not blending to the point of a uniform colour so the individual colours still showed as I used them which lets the eye blend them. I also considered the light source as above and slightly behind the muskox. So you have was lightening of the colours from both sun damage and visual lighting conditions to consider as I worked up the fur.
To create the fur effect I used a combination of securing the fibers at one end and the fold over technique to get the shaggy fur look. I used a single needle and a tiny bit of black blended alpaca for mouth and eye details. It was amazing how little fiber could create so much detail.
Mounting: With the canvas removed it was easy to use double sided Carpet tape to position the piece and then sew it around the stretcher bars. I again used the indentation of the stretcher bars to give myself more height for the piece. I carefully adjusted the foot and attached it to the promontory then adjusted the head down and made final adjustment to the horns. This is the show and tell presentation at the guild. Sorry that Froggy is giving you a cheeky butt view.