3 New Chickadees for 3 new relatives

3 New Chickadees for 3 new relatives

Now a momentary pause from my last post and the horrors of math gone wrong.

Instead, I shifted gears back to a project I had started working on a couple of weeks ago but the deadline is now coming up quickly. As you may remember reading, as a commemorative of their parents, I had made each of my brothers-in-laws (there are 5 brothers in total), a chickadee.

6 sets of checkadee feet 1)Chickadee feet, birds in progress for the 5 brothers from 2021

We recently had exciting and unexpected news from one of the brothers. He had been contacted by new family members and was able to arrange a first meeting at the end of June.  I wanted to find a good way to have them feel welcome. When we lost both my in-laws, I made each of the five brothers a Chickadee. (There is a post about that somewhere in the blog.)  We all have fond memories of sitting on the back patio, or washing dishes in the kitchen sink and watching the birds, there were only a couple of bird feeders but so many birds!! The blue jays, cardinals, robins, finches, sparrows, other little ones (that I wasn’t too sure who they were) and the determined throng of chickadees. (There were also crows but I think I was the only one who liked them, plus an army of squirrels, oh and the occasional very cute rabbit.) I have inflicted photos of most of them on you already! Well, maybe just one more to inspire more felted birds.

Blue Jay stealing penuts2) Blue Jay steals Peanuts in Oakville

What we found out was that the brothers have gained a sister! (Ancestry has made a match!) And she has sons so we now have two new Nephews!!! (New to us, they are a bit older than brand new nephews usually are).  We knew that Brother #4 and family would be visiting in Ontario and could travel closer to the eastern end of the province so may be able to arrange a meeting. With a flurry of e-mails, all was arranged.

We were grateful to my brother and his wife for lending us their cottage.  This is the cottage from my childhood, where I honed my by-hand-hunting-skills with the local frogs (bull, leopard and occasionally tree frogs), snakes (black rat, Garter and grass snakes) and turtles (Snapping, painted and soft-shelled mud turtles). Unfortunately, I think my hunting days are behind me.) My brother focused on sneaking up and decapitating unsuspecting wildflowers (hunting) which were more appreciated by my Mom than my much more difficult to catch gifts. (Who could possibly say no to a tree frog? Ok, it was my Mom.)

We went up after work on Friday, it was a bit overcast but was forecast to be a hot weekend and it’s always cooler at the cottage than in the city. I packed up my box of chickadee supplies and was determined to finish all three before the new relatives arrived!

It is a fabulous spot looking out into the trees well above the level of the lake. It was a very inspiring spot to work. As you can see I took over the dining table and then spread to the coffee table. Felting is lighter to transport than spinning or weaving but it sure can take up a lot of space when it escapes from its confinement!

needle felting coving dining table in front of big windows at cottage 3)Wool expanding to fill the space provided (dining room table). Large windows showing trees and tiny glimpses of the lake, far below.

i left my hubby a bit of space to read as the rest of the table is covered with needle felting suplys4) I did leave my hubby a bit of space to read his book.

The Mer’s had come with us, as well as Miss Manta. The Mer’s tried out the teal chaise longue before checking out the window view. Once the Mer’s were happy, I got to work on finishing the Chickadees.

5)Mr and Mrs Mer, Necking on the chaise longue5) Necking on the chaise longue

Mrs and Mr Mer standing on there fins looking out window through trees to lake

I had gotten all three armatures wrapped in wool and to the point that they were ready to have their top coat added before leaving Ottawa.

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7.1- 7.5) Adding tail colour and underwing detail

One of the beaks was not behaving as well as I would like. I noticed the wool on the top upper end of the beak was just a bit looser than when I had wrapped it and was looking a bit fuzzy.  This suggests I either did not use quite as thin a bit of fibre or I had not kept wrapping and rubbing the fibres long enough after running out of wool on the beak. Under the wool is floral tape which is embedded with wax but I found it was not quite as sticky as other times (it may be the section of the roll or its age? I don’t do a lot (or any) wrapping of flowers so I’m not sure of all the factors. It could be that I just didn’t pull that section quite as enthusiastically and did not activate the stickiness correctly.

If I have a bit that should be tight (tips of claws, beaks) and is not up to what I would like,  I can add a bit of conditioned wax.  Wax on its own can dry too brittle or not penetrate the wool, so something that makes it more pliable when dry is preferable. I did not have my wax mix from Sara (Sarafina fibre arts) so I resorted to a dip of wax from a blue candle that was conveniently sitting on the hutch. I first tried using the end of a felting needle to transfer the wax but found the wax cooled too quickly and did not penetrate the fibres, instead sitting above the felt. I cleaned off the unhelpful wax and finally just put the tip of the beak into the wax puddle, which worked.  I rubbed the wax as it cools and found it had penetrated into the wool nicely.  (I bet the little bird will not be looking for seeds in wax candles again!)

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I don’t think I have shown you this, it’s another way to make a line on the surface of your felt.  I wanted a line on the back that was visible, but not as hard-edged as one that is created by tacking down at one end and then drafting out. (I did use that technique along the wings.) For this I started with a wisp of fibre blended to the colour of the line I wanted, laying it over the area the line would go.  I used a needle (I think it was a T-36 or T-38 ( a finer gage would not entrap as much fiber so it would just take more poking and could make a finer more wispy line.)

lay a whisp over the area to add a line and (poke/stab/impale) embedding the fiber in the general line-ish shape you want9) Step 1 lay a whisp over the area to add a line and (poke/stab/impale) embedding the fibre in the general line-ish shape you want.

Lift the fiber up (vertically) away from the felt10) Lift the fibre up (vertically) away from the felt.

If you were wanting a semi-hard edge colour change you could flop the fibre down on one side of the line and blend away, but I wanted to see a slightly indistinct line so I lifted both sides up and used my curved blade embroidery scissors, you can see on the table, to remove the excess fibre.

 11) the excess fiber from the whisp has been cut away leaving a line embedded in the surface of the felt 11) the excess fibre from the whisp has been cut away leaving a line embedded in the surface of the felt

You may already know this way to make lines and have used a similar technique when adding fur to a sculpture but without such enthusiastic trimming.  I figured I should mention it in case you had not yet investigated further and seen further possibilities.  The only drawback to this form of line making is that the wisp can obscure where you are laying the line if the “wisps” is not as wispy as a wisp of fibre should be! (Well, that is the start of a good tung twister I am sure one of you can expand on that thought!) I have been finding the curved blade embroidery scissors work very well on curved felt surfaces. This red handled pair I found for sale online out of China.

When I had the backs ready I created little wing shapes in 3 pairs. I added detail. I had made a special trip to get a brighter white fibre. When I tried it on the first wing, I found that it looked very odd compared to the other tones. So, I went back to the off-white/natural white which looked much better.

12) Once I was pleased with all the wings I added them to the little bird bodies.12) Once I was pleased with all the wings I added them to the little bird bodies.

13) Here all the wings are on and looking good.13) Here all the wings are on and looking good.

One last step to do, now where is the thread, giant bead needle and the little black beads go? Ah! Not to panic the thread and needle were in the bottom of the little toolbox and the beads are in the bottom of the box marked Chickadee!

14) Eldest Nephew of brother #4 joins the Mer’s admiring the lake (through the trees)14) Eldest Nephew of brother #4 joins the Mer’s admiring the lake (through the trees)

Saturday afternoon Brother #4 and his family arrived and were impressed with the cottage. (Thank you again to my brother and his family!)

15) I had just finished putting on the eyes and tucking each bird into his little box when the new members of the family arrived.

I am not sure we were quite what they were expecting. (I hope we didn’t disappoint them too much!) I think my new sister-in-law may have been a bit overwhelmed but they were all fabulous!

16) New Neffue #1, New Ant!, New Nefue #216) New Nephew #1, New Ant!, New Nefue #2

They did seem quite interested in the needle felted birds (as well as the Mer’s and Miss Manta (who seems to have dodged all the photos), so I sent both my new nephews off with a bag of felting needles carefully labelled with gauges for them to try. I am determined that there will be a next generation of felting, spinning or weaving but I had thought it might be my nieces on Glenn’s side or maybe a niece on my side. This is fabulous I may have two more nephews to confuse with fibre!! I wonder what their thots on spinning wheels are? Maybe next visit! (I don’t want to frighten them!!)

It was fascinating to suddenly notice similarities between the nephews and their new uncles. I think nature is winning out over nurture again but all in a very good way.

17) New Sister, New Nephew #2, New Youngest Uncle, New Nephew #117) New Sister, New Nephew #2, New Youngest Uncle, New Nephew #1

We had a wonderful visit on Saturday afternoon and evening, then they returned on Sunday morning for breakfast. It was sad to see everyone headed home, but I am hopeful we will get to see them again soon.  We lingered to do a final clean-up of the cottage. While we were sweeping, vacuuming and collecting laundry, we found the Mer’s were cavorting or maybe that was air swimming, it’s hard to tell.

18) the Mer’s having fun at the cottage.18) the Mer’s having fun at the cottage.

Once we had persuaded everyone into their project bag, we took a moment just to enjoy the quiet (ok there were sea-doos and the loons and some other birds and that daredevil squirrel…) for a moment, before heading back to Ottawa.

19) Hubby taking a moment to relax and read his book.19) Hubby taking a moment to relax and read his book.

The lighting was truly fantastic and the living room made a perfect chickadee finishing spot.

20) one last look before heading out and back to Ottawa.20) one last look before heading out and back to Ottawa.

As we got closer to town, we noticed that haze was back, and then that the smell had returned …. More forest fires still burning. I was hoping so much that all the rain would have dissuaded the hungry flames.

It was a memorable weekend, it’s not every day your hubby and his brothers get a new sister and two adult nephews! They definitely seem like part of the family, Art, Music, and I suspect a lot of reading! I hope they will get to meet the other brothers/Uncles soon. In the meantime maybe I can distract them with a bit of needle felting! Or maybe they would prefer wet felting? Or maybe both!! I have pointed them to the blog, and Sara and Marie’s YouTube felt-a-longs, I can’t wait to see what they make! Maybe some more Mer-People? The Mers should have relatives too!

PS Happy 4 of July to our southern nabours and family!

15 thoughts on “3 New Chickadees for 3 new relatives

  1. Oh Jan, what a fantastic tale of new unexpected additional family, the making of more beautiful chickadees, the amazing cottage (for us that would be a mansion!) and of course, the antics of the cavorting couple!

    It sounds like you had a wonderful time, in a perfect setting that also brought back many happy memories.

    Your chickadees are amazing, I’m sure they were much appreciated and will take pride of place in their new homes (I know they would here)….particularly, in the knowledge that each family member has their own special chickadee which links them all.

    It sounds like you have inspired a new generation & hopefully gained two new recruits….keep us posted.

    Hopefully the rains will come and the fires die out soon. Xx

    1. it was an amazing weekend!
      the cottage is a bit more rustic than it looks, it has one temperature of water, (but it is running) what ever the lake temperature is. it has 3 vary tiny bedrooms. two are only big enuff for a duble bed and the therd has space for bunkbeds and a dresser. but you only sleep in a bed room the rest of the time your outside harrasing (catching) wildlife which has to be released again. the renovation of roof redirection and small expantion are all recent. my Brother has done an amazing job our Dad would be amazed and prowd..
      i did notice the Mers were particularly happy there, (they may be sulking in there project bag, i will check later.)
      Sara has a feltalong for MEGA chickadee if you scale down the armatrue and switch to a cuple gauges of floral wire (20 and i think it was 26 for the tows it gives you the size i am working on). you can adjust the armature to have a longer tail or legs or shorten them up a bit which will cover most of teh small birds. if you keep to her original size, you could make an american Robin, or with a bit of adjustment, a blue jay, cardinal or add a bit and you could make a crow.(its all in the refernce photos!) it would be fun to make a totaly unnatural coloured bird soime time. Ann would probubly have a purple one!
      i wish i had taken a few more pictures, i was focused on finishing them in time and had abandoned the camera. then it was all excitement of family and the little birds in there travel boxes (with sunflower seeds) didnt get rephotographed! but it was a fun weekend!

  2. Yes definitely a mansion with those lovely double height windows overlooking the trees and the lake. It was nice to see the Mers again, I bet they would have liked a quick swim, though it may not have done them a lot of good getting soggy.
    A great post as usual Jan, and thanks for the hints about felting a line and waxing a beak. Lovely little birds which I’m sure will take pride of place in their new homes.
    I envy you the brightly coloured birds you see frequently; most of the time the only visitors we get these days to our feeding station are sparrows, starlings and jackdaws; and they throw most of the seed on the ground where at least wood pigeons and feral pigeons try to clean it up a bit.

    1. I am not sure Mr Mer is up to seeing the Pike in the lake yet, since his pike parts still need a tuch more yellow spots. and i am not sure he will let Mrs Mer out of his sight with other big fish in the area.
      i am impressed with the amount of work my brother has done. the increese in windows has changed the look dramaticly. it was a great vew (and before the trees got taller on the sloap you could see more of the lake) but now its fabulous, it feels like a tree house.

      the sparrows may not be as flashy as some of the finches and other small birds but they are hallarious to watch and can be just as demanding as the chickadees. have you tryed thissel seed? it can be messy if the feeder is over grass, but over a drive way or the corner of a patio its easyer to clean up and you dont get any thissels.(you need a special feeder for that kind of seed) i have only sunflower seeds in my feeder.(i got fed up with pulling odd plants that started to grow under the feeder. i can live with a sunflower popping up unexpectedly)

      re felting; there are usualy multiple options to do the same thing. (just look at my spelling!!) that way you can find the best way that works for you. there are some rules that are absolute (put the pointy end in the wool not your fingers and exit in the same vectore you insert rules) the felt must ultimatly be sutable for the perpouse it is being put how you acheved that could be more or less work, so its good to have options.

      i hoipe your local birds will inspier you, or you can look further afeald and borrow someone elses backyard birds. maybe if you display a cuple felted birds in your window you will atrackt a more colourful seclection in your yard? but the sparrows can be fun to watch even in there more subdued colour skeem.

  3. Jan, your Chickadee gifts to the 3 of them was a delight. And the weekend was magic. Big hugs to you and Glenn!

    1. Thanks Brian it was fabulous to see everyone. i wanted to make sure they also felt like family and since each of you boys got a checkadee it seemed rite that your sister and her boys should also have one.
      it was a suprize with all the mucial talent in the family. i am so impressed! i am excited to see what the new neffues make with the felting needles, i will have to get them wire for amatures and wool too!
      i hope once you both have retierd you will visit longer or maybe move back to canada? we have butter tarts and maple serup!!!(with french on the lables!!) Have fun it was great to see you and i hope we can see you again soon!

  4. What a magnificent cottage with gorgeous views – it looks so peaceful. Your chickadees are beautiful Jan and will be treasured for sure – it’s lovely to see the process photos. Mr & Mrs Mer are proving to be quite adventurous aren’t they? The smiles on everyone’s faces say it all – what a wonderful weekend

    1. thank you both!, it was a very small but comfy cottage than my brother did the extention and roof reorientation. my Dad wanted to do the extention but i dont think he invisioned the roof reangleing. its brilliant. so much light. there use to be more lake vew but the trees got taller and now we are hidden the lake will never find us! Dad planted lots of little pines on the slope to stabalize it (i think i was maybe 8 or 9 at the time?) they have done a lot of growing since then…. ok i feel old.
      i hope they will enjoy the chickadees, and knowing each of there Brothers/Unkles have one too. it was amazing to meet them too.
      the Mer’s were definatly enjoying the cottage, i am suprized i got them back into the project bag to bring them home.(they were probubly tiered with all the swimming around the living room!)

  5. What a beautiful place to spend the weekend. The chickadees are a great welcome to the family gift. I’m sure they will become a family heirloom. The Mers look pretty comfortable there 😎

    1. thanks Ruth, it is a wonderfull spot! the new windows make it so light it would be a faboulous studio, my brother has done a grate job! i hope they will enjoy the little chickadees and i worry the Mers will want to stay there and not come home!

    1. Yes the cottage is amazing, up on the steep slope has always given a good vew, its just a bit harder to see us from the lake now that the trees have grown in..

      i hope we will have new converts to felting!!! (its so much fun to make sculpures, pictures, and i will get back to the wet felted purse shortly.) they have the needles in lots of gauges so they will just need wool and wire. i am sure i can find some somewhere if i just turn around!yes and there is more in the basement! next visit i will get them more supplys! i hope they look at the Mermaid felt along with Sara on you tube. they can keep to her instructions or go way off topic and make fish-people who look like fish and people!

  6. How wonderful to find new family members (who are lovely) 🙂 I loved your expression of “confusing them with fibre,” I might have to steal that for my own family!

    That living room is dreamy, what a lovely view, and it looked really peaceful, even with the imagining of all the critters shouting in nature.

    Loved the birds, too! Wax is a bit of a hit-and-miss with me but the last time I made a bird (a raven) it worked really well for the feet.

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