Last week (https://feltingandfiberstudio.com/2021/07/28/2021-ovwsg-fiber-poker-felting/) I showed you what turned out to be the Arnold Schwarzenegger of Chickadees! He is Humongous!! (There may have been a robin secretly involved in his parentage. Some illicit tryst perhaps?) As I said last week, I mostly followed Sara’s instructions and upgraded the wire for Mega-chickadee. The wire gauge was defiantly a success there was just too much of it.
A bit of historical interlude (I will get back to felting shortly I promise)
When I was much shorter and could still climb trees, my parents bought land adjacent to a lake but way up a steep slope, so reasonably safe from lake attacks. (You do not want to ask me about the long weekend before I started grade 13. Never trust water!) A small cottage was built looking out across the lake and we enjoyed watching sunsets, sailboats and the local birds, including the great blue heron and the loon family. Mom and Dad enjoyed the Chickadees, Wrens and hummingbirds particularly. I spent many years bringing mom wonderful presents, of Frogs, in various sizes and shades of green. I finally gave up on my quest for the perfect frog, when Mom rejected a tree frog. it was perfect! How can you object to those huge cute eyes, the sucker tows and cool colours that made him almost invisible sitting on a tree! But no it was like all the other frogs I had brought her. Mom said, “it’s an outside creature take it outside right now!” “Aw, Mom!!!” I got the same response for grass snakes, garter snakes and black rat snakes (I did not try the snake that looked like a Mississauga rattler but without the rattle). She even rejected turtles, including the almost impossible-to-catch, soft-shelled Mud turtle!!! Look at the nose on one, it’s soo cool!!!
Mom’s birthday is coming up fast and its going to be one of those big number birthdays. This year will be her 90th! So i will have to chose her present carefully! I know frogs, snakes and turtles are out as presents. She did like the small birds at the cottage, but the chickadee I just made would be unacceptably large. The armature would make a fine robin but she still blames the robin for taking out the original railing on the path down to the lake. The robin was a bit Rubenesque and it often hopped down the skinny birch tree that had been used to create the railing. On one trip to the cottage, we realized the railing was broken and lying on the ground! Stupid robin I bet it was jumping on the railing again!! – so no, I had better not make a robin.
She would like a chickadee; they are always so fun and will yell at you if you didn’t fill up the bird feeder fast enough. The ones in my side yard get particularly annoyed with me if I’m out and haven’t topped up the feeder. Ok, I will have to make a smaller armature at least half the size, maybe a bit smaller.
I am pleased with the armature wire gauges that I had used for Mega-chickadee and they should work for a closer to normal size bird too. The body is 20ga steel floral wire. I measured from the foot, leg, body the added the length for the neck/head. I wrapped the neck/head in black floral tape and then cut the excess off, Which I used for the shoulder/body and tail. I used 26-gauge floral wire for the tows and extra leg supports. I was enthusiastic in the wrapping of the legs to provide lots of support for posing the little guy.
1 Mega-Chickadee and 2 smaller Chickadee armatures
I selected a short, superfine, highly crimpy fibre from a fleece I had purchased from the Wool Growers Co-Op, (possibly a Shetland). This is the same fibre I used for the mega bird legs too. I pulled out my scary-looking Viking combs and put them to use. I drafted out a narrow sliver and wound carefully around the wire. Unfortunately, earlier this morning I was moving small plants in pots in the front garden, one of the pots broke and I broke one of my talons much lower than they normally break. OWW!! ( I trimmed the nail down and had to use the left hand as my primary winder. (One of the few positives of my particular learning disability is my weakness for the concept of left and right, which means I have two lefts or two rights and can often use the wrong right hand to do things. Silly brain).
Ok, the left hand is not as good at photography as the right one is. It may be because all the buttons are on the wrong side for the left fingers. Can you get a left-handed camera? My thumb should be heeled by the weekend but now I’m curious about left-handed cameras…. Focus, back to felting!!
3 legs done and the first under-layer of core wool added.
4 comparing the two new armatures
I did not use the floral tape with its waxiness to increase adhesion on the legs but the wool stayed in place well. I was starting to worry I had guessed the nose (beak) too long. I can trim the nose back if it seems too long but let’s add more wool and find out if it still looks long.
I put away the Viking combs and pulled out the hand cards. I had made a large purchase, from World of Wool, of 2kg of white core wool. The texture is soft but a bit clumpy so just pulling out of the bag to use was not drafting as well as I would like. When I did a quick couple passes with the hand cards I created a lovely soft, lofty, easy to draft out mini batt. From which I could easily pull a section to draft and wrap with.
I used a bit of Corriedale blending of the colours licorice and slate to wrap the beak. if you can, most living things will look more realistic if you blend more than one tone or colour. In the case of black if you can make that darkness with slate and a really dark brown or green or even a bit of red you will get a much more interesting black than using the colour “out of the tube” as it were.
Then I added more of the core wool white to build up the chest back and head.
5 It’s amazing how much bigger the bird is than the armature.
6 A bit more wool to the front of the face to get a better shape and the beak now looks like the correct size.
Oh good the nose is not too big!! The head, on the other hand, does look a bit tall and large. I need a quick trip back to check my photo reference to get the shape and angles on the head.
7 Here is Mega-Chickadee, normal chickadee and extra armature.
A bit fluffy but coming along nicely. It is now time to mix up more dark charcoal, this time to add the markings on the head.
8 it’s nice to see where you are going! So, I added the eyes.
9 Still a bit too tall so worked on compacting the top of the head.
The armature is strong enough to hold a pose of the head. The legs are also supporting the body weight. This was a good choice of wire gauge.
10 posing the armature and getting the curl in the toes.
11 I think it needs a bit of a creamy tone to the under-wing and sides of the body.
12 much better.
Now that is what I basically want. The core wool does have a bit of kemp, not a lot just the odd bit that protrudes, as well as a light halo of wispiness. The poor guy seems a bit harry. Ann sometimes Shaves her wool to expose silk fibres, it works wonderfully. I think some tiny scissors may work for my purpose. Now, where did I put those fine embroidery scissors? Hummmm……
13 Standing on the scissors will not keep me from trying to trim up the flyaway hairs. Is this a subtle hint not to trim anymore?
Need for more Experiments!!
I think I should make a couple of samples of hairy surfaces and try a thin application of hair spray or fixative to see if that will keep the fuzziness contained. I would want to do a time test to check for yellowing or other discoloration to the wool if either spay is applied. But for now, just the very basic trim has neatened up the surface of the chickadee greatly.
14 a view of the back
Next, I am off to IKEA, well in the morning, now it’s quite late since I got distracted again while writing this blog. There are bell display bottles “BEGÅVNING – Glass dome with base 7 ” tall”. Yes that is for the morning, “Yawn” I will let you see what I find tomorrow.
Day 2 the “Framing”
Oh, the Excitement!! A trip to IKEA!! (OK it’s only 5 stop signs away from the house. Well, 4 stop signs on the road and 1 in thier parking lot. It is very close, but it’s been over a year since I have been there!!) I consulted the web page and notice that the cafeteria is open for take-away food. Gravadlax or Poached Salmon? Yummm. Ok grab the camera and the Chickadee and headed off to IKEA!
15 the exciting Begavnings in their natural environment!
16 they come in two sizes!
17 the options at IKEA, If I could do woodturning I would consider the glass covers and make a wooden base.
I decided on the smaller size Begavning. Now off to get lunch to bring home.
As a fabulous treat, I went to the cafeteria and found that it was indeed open and you could eat in if you were spaced apart. I sat way at the back of the dining area in a section all by myself. It felt so odd to be eating in public and so tasty!
18 what a treat!
19 I think someone wants my dry cracker. Good thing chickadees can’t open zip lock baggies!
While i was shopping I also found a wooden articulated hand, a pepper grinder and then an umbrella weighted base in AS-IS! I LOVE trips to IKEA!
I brought home the display jar and tried the chickadee in it. The photo shows more reflection than is seen in person. Yes, that is what I am looking for.
20-21 almost ready to wrap
Do I need a piece of corkscrew hazel to give a bit of height? I tried one piece but was not convinced. I think I should add a couple of sunflower seeds and let that be the narrative.
22-25 The photoshoot
Mom’s 90th Birthday is on the 08th of the 08th, I have ordered Chocolate chip cookies from Ann (her favourite) and I have the chickadee done. It will be wonderful to see her. I hope she will like the little guy. I bet she says “at least it’s not a frog” when she opens it!
PS; Don’t tell Mom what she is getting, its a surprise!! (She doesn’t read the blog!)