Felting Alfresco (Outside! Its Summer!) On to Pet Two. Part 1

Felting Alfresco (Outside! Its Summer!) On to Pet Two. Part 1

Felting Alfresco (Outside! Its Summer!)

On to Pet Two. Part 1

So, this week the goal was to start on Mer-Pet number two. (Sharkette Needs a friend!)

As usual, I did some digging on the internet to find out about them. After a lot of browsing, looking at Spotted Eagle Rays, Bat Rays and Manta Rays I decided on Manta Rays. As I was Focusing on collecting many different views, I started to notice there were differences amongst the photos I was collecting. I think I need to look at words now too. <drat>  While looking for pictures of what a female manta ray looks like I tripped over a post with cool facts about manta rays.


Cool Facts About Manta Rays:

The name “Manta” comes from the Spanish word “Mantilla” or cloak.

  • Female manta have pelvic fins but no claspers (that’s a male thing). Females tend to be larger and generally more friendly towards divers than males.
  • Manta can be identified by their splotch patterns on their bellies. Each is different.
  • Manta and Mobula rays have the largest brains of all fish. They keep their brain warm by a counter-curent heat exchange system using their circulatory system. This keeps their temperature more even than most fish.
  • They are smart and use coordinated and cooperative feeding. They are also social and curious about divers.
  • Rays are in the same family as Sharks and Skates. In the ray family, (Myliobatidae), there are two species of Manta (Manta Birostris – Giant Oceanic and Manta Alfredi – Reef manta) and 9 species of Mobula devil rays. You can tell the two types of Manta apart by their coloration, location and size.
    • Birostis (oceanic) has a ‘T’ pattern and there is a distinctive black/white division on their back and almost no spots on their bellies. Tending to be larger around 7m wide and are more solitary. They can stand colder temperatures and are seen most often off shore. Manta have evolved from sting rays but Manta Birostis is the one who has a vestigial sting on their tails.
    • while Manta Alfredi (reef) have a ‘Y’ pattern fading into the black colouration on their backs and unique spot patterns on their ventral side. They tend to be smaller, around 5m wide and are found more frequently in schools around reefs and tropical islands.
  • The Marquesas Islands are one of the few places in the world where you can find both species.
  • I also found photos showing all black and all white manta as well as a definitely pinkish one. So we should keep watching and see if there is another subset of Manta are discovered.


Ok, time to get to work!

 1-2  I brought out the implements, armature, fibre and photo reference.


Here is the armature I created for the back of the Manta Ray.

I reinforced the leading edge and front scoops (cephalic fins). The black wire running through the body is to help support the posterior aspect, back, of the body. There will be a separate section for the anterior body/mouth. I used fine floral wire to help stabilize the tail extension which like the rest of the body is 14-gauge aluminum – thankyou Dollarama!


I started at the proximal (nearer to the centre or midline of the body) point, attaching with a few quick stabs.  Then wrapped fibre towards the distal (further from the centre of the body) end then back, securing it at both ends.  As you can see, I was able to leave a loop at the end of the scoops. This gave a good location to secure the fibre at the distal end.  (I promise there is no medical vocabulary exam hidden at the end of this post but I bet you would pass it if there was!)

 4-6 Wrapping the wire securing at both ends

I added a base layer wrap to the armature to give a bit more support for the fibre that would be added later.

 7-9 First layer of skin for the wings

I then began adding the dark split from a piece of the batt and then adding more to build up the midbody section.


10 Back or top of manta ray

  1111 underside of manta ray

This brings us to the missing bits. We are missing the inner mouth structure, gills and the rest of the abdomen/body.

(Manta ray Undercarriage armature.)

So its time to create an armature for the mouth/abdomen.

12 12 Armature for mouth gets measured

Glenn arrived home and I moved to working from the bench in the front garden. Glenn enjoyed one of the gravity chairs and was just falling asleep when we started to hear Harp music which seemed to be coming form the other side of the front hedge.

13-14 working in the front garden

1515 Yes that is definitely a harp being played next door!!!

Our neighbour was hosting his other neighbour on his bench with her Harp! (He likes his lovely green grass, unlike my front yard, which has almost no grass.)


 16 What a wonderful way to felt, to live music! (Usually in the summer she plays harp at weddings. I hope she will be practicing in the front yard again soon!)


We use to have someone who played bagpipes at sunset from somewhere behind our yard. He or she was also vary good. i always hoped i would find them and be able to request Alice Cooper or a bit of really old Black Sabbath. in more normal years we would heading down to the Ottawa Bluesfest and watch live bands, mostly Alt rock, old rock, techno, industrial, prog-rock and yes even blues but only once or twice. i usually brought my drop spindle or one of the portable spinning wheels. It was fun to see bands we had never seen before and some we had. Muse, Alice Cooper and Gretta Van Fleet were particularly enjoyable!

this summer will make us appreciate all the things we use to enjoy once we get to do them again!  so back to felting!!

10 thoughts on “Felting Alfresco (Outside! Its Summer!) On to Pet Two. Part 1

  1. I like this one Jan, your Manta looks as if it will make a good mer-pet.
    looking forward to the next instalment

    1. thanks Karen Lane, it was a supprize to hear music comeing through the hedge! i hope we hear her again soon

  2. Fascinating post as always. Lots of stuff we didn’t know about mantas! Your felt version is coming along beautifully and how wonderful to have a harpist practising next door.

    1. i am glad you enjoyed it Annielynrosie! Yes it was an inspiering way to work. i recognized one of the pieces she played as a medieval dance tune!

  3. Looks like the manta is coming along nicely. Thanks for the manta lesson too. My niece played harp for a while and listening to her play was always enjoyable.

    1. thanks Ruth! harps espescaly when played well just send a tingling down my spine. this was sertenly a change from my usualy felting music!! (which is much hevyer)

  4. A very informative post Jan….sitting on my sofa I mentally measured out 5 & 7m….wow!!!
    Your Mer-manta is taking shape. Thankfully it is not 5m in width! Think of all the wool you would need, not to mention the wire & the thickness of it….you’d not be able to lift or bend it.

    Working in warm sunshine with live music….I’m on the next flight over!

  5. Antje!! Life size!! …. Humm, craine, another craine, a cuple of theose realy bigg diggers down at the transit construction site, How heavy the wier wood need to be? how many flocks of sheep or should i just consider bailes of wool from the wool growers co opp. no i would need to have a place to hang it too…… hummmmm no i dont think i could get bigg enuff needles! but yes that is an intreeging thought!!! we will have to see if someone else already has all the equipment includeing the gient needles and wants to try!!

    i have the back and front patios too, so if you can join me you are welcome! the Black currents just got picked but there are still a few razbarrys left if the chipmunk hasnt finished them off! the front pattio is vary shady and has everberring stawbarrys comeing again! See you soon!!

  6. You certainly did your research Jan. The manta is coming along nicely. A nice addition to your Mer family!

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