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A SHORT UPDATE ON MR. MER

A SHORT UPDATE ON MR. MER

I was surprised (and pleased) at the interest in the crown needle post I just did. It is a cool little needle unequally suited to shallow detail work. Its low barb number, having only 3 in total all by the tip, does make it a slower needle but it’s not always a good idea to be in a rush.

The “not in a rush” has been impressed upon me again this past week as I shifted from needle review to a photo re-cataloging project for my husband. Nothing big, or heavy like arranging just the correct angle to capture in photographs his collection of Anvils (he is down to 3) or forges (he has 2, both on the back patio)!

What I was working with were Many, Many, Many tiny light objects. Unfortunately, I needed to sort through all of them, then spread pre-specified groups of them out to photograph.  The best spot to work for light was on the bed by the window. This put me in a working position of standing and bending forward. That is precisely the same position that I used to work in, which did not go as well as I had hoped. (Neuropathy is a neve yelling at you. It can scream –searing pain, it can lie to you –give false information, or it can refuse to talk to you –numbness or lack of proper function) the type of nerve and the location of its irritation give the location of where their displeasure is felt.  A nerve once annoyed can hold a grudge =this means if you irritate it then re-irritate it, it usually will take longer to forgive you and heal after each re-irritation.

I got help yesterday and am well over halfway on the first part of the photography project. Unfortunately, my leg is still intermittently lying to me even this morning, so no standing photography or poor ergonomic felting until that stops.

SO my plans for today’s blog are a bit on hold. I can bring you up to date with the project I had started with Mr. Mer. “The Quest for Hair”!  I have reminded Mr. Mer that Twist Fiber Festival in Quebec is only a few weeks away (Aug. 12th to 14th) https://festivaltwist.org/en/twist-fibre-festival/ .  If he would like to accompany me, he would have an even bigger selection of long locks to choose from. (I hope I can find vendors with 9 to 12-inch die or undyed locks that would be fashionable for a modern Mer person.) He seems very smitten with some of the locks from Bernadette’s stash but I think I can persuade him to wait till just after Twist.

Mr. Mer would like to send his thanks to Bernadette who raided her stash to help alieve his follicular challenges.  This is some of the fibre he has sorted through;

long fibers greens yelows long fibers Greens Purples long fibers with ruler1-3 sorting through the fibres from Bernadette

He has collected a small bag of fibre that he hopes goes well with his Northern pike lower half.

Mr. Mer (Merman) holds bag of long fibers in shades of green4 Mr. Mer’s Selection

Once he has a bit more he will have to decide on the hairstyle he wants. I am suggesting long since It would flow wonderfully as he swims. (vary Fabio if you are old enough – think historically inaccurate romance novel covers with beefy guys with long hair).  If he spends a bit of time online, he may find the Drummer Toll Yagami, from the Japanese band called Buck-Tick. He has an extra-long Mohawk hairstyle, it’s terribly impressive! I am not sure the ingredients to keep a Mohawk up would work in water. I may have to investigate if Mr. Mer seems interested. (There may be some Magic Mer hair gel I don’t know about.)

I got up extra early to work on my blog post and look who I found doing research on my computer! (Why does my computer freeze when I use it but he can spend all night browsing?)  I will show you what he was up to.

5 Compilation of research by Mr. Mer

Mr Mer thinks he should keep researching. It is a big decision and he is a bit overwhelmed with all the options! For now, he is on his way back to sitting in his project bag, clutching his bag of fibre, in deep contemplation.

Mr Mer with his bag of fiber ready to go back to his project bag and think

6 Ready to go to his project bag and have a think.

After all his research and contemplation he will likely want eyebrows and ears too! I will keep you updated on his progress.

 

Have fun with fibre and keep felting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Update on Mr. Mer Part 2

Update on Mr. Mer Part 2

As I had mentioned before I had started the Mer-Family from Sara’s Mermaid-felt-along.  She had used 14 ga armature wire. I had not yet investigated armature wire when I started or I would have upped the wire strength since I had scaled up the figure. I also suspect I am working more firmly than she had intended.

I was finding the wire was unable to hold articulation at his waist. This could either be from the wool overpowering the gauge of wire used or the 14 ga wire may have broken at his waist. I am not sure that it has broken since it doesn’t feel like a bake. I have had a broken wire on another sculpture which might have been from metal fatigue but I hadn’t finished making it, so it should not have been tiered. For that one I did surgery, creating an incision and inserting a new wire. The incision was worked, with a course felting needle, diagonally across the incision to create the equivalent of scar tissue. Finally adding a surface layer to finish hiding the post-surgery look (you don’t want to leave a scar!).

This worked but I wanted to try something less intrusive. I was quite pleased with the glutes and lumbar spine /sacrum so did not want to do the incision. Instead, I decided to try arthroscopic surgery! (Without a license!!! Don’t tell!!)

I checked my options for wire. Since 14 ga aluminum was way too light, I suspected that either the 10 ga or the 9ga might work. Since I knew I wanted to position the Herring-ton rods (this is a fishy procedure) down each erector spinae, I would not likely need anything stronger than the 9ga. I checked the samples I had made during the wire study group and decided that 9ga should work.

21 Tools to sharpen the end of the 9ga aluminum wire

I cut 2 lengths that would reach from lower quads to upper back. I used the rasp and nail file to sharpen one end. I used an awl to make the insertion then worked the wire through the glutes and down the hamstrings.

22 insertion of the lower section of the first Harrington rod

I could easily feel where the end of the wire was through the wool (that Registered Massage Therapist career is still useful!!). I could rotate the wire to keep it more centrally located. As you may have noticed, the glutes are more posterior than the hamstring muscles so the wire needed to follow the couture of the body.

23 The white line indicated the approximate path of the 9ga wire.

The awl allowed me to insert the wires to either side of the spine, where the original twisted 14ga aluminum wire was located. It also allowed for an angle of descent into the glute so I could rotate the wire and get it to dive into the lower leg. I was sure I would need to cross the point of articulation (his waist), with enough length that the wires would stay well embedded and allow not only flection and extension (bending forward and backwards ) but, with this lateral placement should allow for lateral rotation!  When he had a single point spine (and less wool), he could bend forward and back but his rotational movement was minimal and not pose-able.

So the steps I took for this operation were:

  • Select the gauge required by reviewing my previous sampling,
  • Sharpen the aluminum wire with a file then refine and smooth the point with a nail file
  • Arthroscopic insertion (with an awl – I am sure it was well sterilized since it was brand new!)
  • Work the wire through the glutes rotating it to descend into the lower Hamstring muscle while palpating to keep track of where it was in the leg. Then repeat to this point with the second wire leaving the upper end loose and out of the body.

24 the insertion of the awl at a shallow angle

I check that the patent could do full flection at this point to confirm the operation was proceeding well.

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25-28 Mr. Mer shows off his new flexibility

There is also confirmation that some rotational movement is already possible, I suspect he will have more once the surgery is complete and the upper rods are inserted.

For the second half of the operation;

  • I bent and tried to determine the best angle and location for the wires. *remembering that there is a triangular frame in his torso that is allowing some shoulder curvature (Protraction/ Retraction) and rotational posing. So I chose to position the wires more along the Erector spine (located to each side of the spine) and then redirected them into the lateral part of the lats (latissimus dorsi).

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29-31 upper wire placement

 I trimmed the wires to a bit closer to equal length and sharpened the superior (upper) end of the wire.

I curved the wire to insert it but could not find my big pliers to straighten it out properly once the insertion had been made. I used one of my metal chopsticks to push against the wire to straighten it and it worked.

32 the skin graft to cover the inserted wire

For the skin graft, I took a section of the dark green fibres and needle felted a section down the center of the fibres leaving wispy edges for attachment on either side of the wire. (You can see the first part of the graft in the lower spine). I added more fibre to build up the Erector spinae muscle over the wire. (You can see that in the upper section of the lumbar and lower thoracic region). The wire is very close to the surface at this point so I need to make sure the fibre above this point is well secured so there will be no exposure of the surgical rods. (That would be embarrassing!)

I used the cop stick again to flatten the second wire and finish embedding it into his upper body.

Adding more wool fibre, I continued to contour and build up the muscles until the wire was well buried on both sides of his spine.

Mr. Mer is quite pleased with his operation and wants to show you how discreet the scaring is.

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33-36 Mr. Mer shows you where the wires are and how discreet the post-surgery scaring

Mr. Mer insisted I neaten up his hands before the photoshoot so while listening to an audiobook (a werewolf romance this time) I pulled out my 40ga crown needles and got to work. It took most of the 8-hour book to get the hands tightened up and reduce the fuzzy halo on them. I will want to go back later and trim them with scissors ( I have ordered a pair with curved blades that may work well with his fingers.)

 37-38 working on Mr. Mer’s hands

I also worked on his head a bit more giving him a bit more cranium and a better jawline. I am still working on his face but it’s coming along. I have found him hair, but it is still with Bernadette (the truckers in Ottawa interrupted its arrival on library day.)

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39-41 continuing to work on Mr. Mer’s head and face.

He has also had a bit of work done on his chest and I am back to working on his arms again.

42 a post-surgery treat

I gave him a chocolate for his post-surgery recovery but he seems to just want to hold it. Probably for the best, since I didn’t felt any internal digestive organs for him….. and he only has teeth in his lower jaw. Let’s not think about that too much….

Now on to his photoshoot!

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 43-52 Mr. Mer shows off his progress so far

Mr. Mer is quite pleased with his progress and is sure Mrs. Mer will be happy too. He would like a bit more work on his human muscles (I have no objection, you should see my photo reference pictures!!) I think I may make the integration from his fishy under-section to his knees a bit more elongated too. Otherwise, he is almost done.

For the rest of the Mer-Family; Shark Boy needs his hair and maybe a bit of a touch-up with the 40 or 42ga needles. I have had a trip to the local purveyor of wool (Wabi Sabi) to pick up Corriedale for the Mer-Ladies. I am considering Goldfish /Koi as inspirations so have a lot of body reshaping to consider. I have contacted Adel about long locks for their hair and she will watch for some in the right colour and length. Adele does fabulous dyeing of locks and roving (Adele Forward on Facebook) just don’t buy the one that looks like goldfish when she posts it!!. She use to go to a lot of the fibre festivals in Ontario but has been working from her home and shipping out during the pandemic.

While I am waiting for Mr. Mer’s hair to arrive, I will keep working the intersection between the fish and man and adding a few more muscular details.

If you would like to create a Mer-Person (or family) for yourself, I would suggest checking out Sara’s mermaid felt- along on YouTube to get you started! (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hljS4YRmz9w)  What type of fish will your Mer-Person be related to? Will you stay more traditional? Or will it be a non-fish aquatic species, maybe a Mer-turtle? Whatever you chose to inspire you have fun and keep felting!

Update on Mr. Mer part 1

Update on Mr. Mer part 1

For those of you who have not met Mr. Mer, here he is last year as I was working on his anatomy.

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1-2 Mr. Mer 2021

Mr. Mer was underwhelmed with how I had left his basic under-structure of his fishy bits.  I agreed with him that he was not quite as pike-like as I would like. The fish part of the body needed to be thicker and more muscular when compared to my photo reference. How can you fight snapping turtles with such a scrawny lower body?  I still liked the vestigial knees but felt the idea had not yet coalesced into a good integration between man and fish.  I will think more on this as I add bulk to his fishiness.

3 parts of the green fibre collection.

I dug through the greens I had been using, I was almost out of one of the colours I had blended and will have to blend more of it! I was using the large ball of “Olive” Corriedale as the base and adding other greens to mottle and create the colour for the under-structure.  The darker top that I was blending with the olive I am pretty sure some was the Superwash I had bought from the Black lamb.

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4-5 blending wool to build up Mr. Mer’s fish body and tail.

Since I needed a reasonable amount of fibre to build up his fish end I used the hand carders to partly blend the colours. (Nature tends not to have flat colours.) Although I usually hand blend small amounts for details, using the handcards or even dog brushes is easier on the hands and wrists than working with the same amount of fibre hand blending.  When I take the fibre off the cards, it is still quite a long staple. For the under layer and blocking in the basic shape this will work. However, as I get closer to the final shape I tend to tear the fibre into pieces from half an inch to an inch long.

Although I started with the armature and adding shapes build-up of fibre as per Sara’s instructions I have deviated well away from her original Mer-Maid design. She tends to work by adding formed shapes, but for this one, she added a wet felted skin layer to put over her under-structure. I have had more fun using a more blended approach of both additive and subtractive sculpture.  (Adding pre-formed shapes and felting them into place is a lot faster than what I tend to do with using layers and small amounts of loose fibre to sculpt into the desired shape).

You can see I have moved from legs with a tail shape Mer-Man to the beginnings of a more human-fish hybrid.

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6-8 upgrading Fishy-bits underway

I like the direction but need to increase the height and a bit more width of the fish section. I am investigating the popliteal space (the area behind the knees).  I like the angle of the intersection but want to raise the fish spine a bit higher.

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9-10  Needs a bit more

Oh no,  he is not going to like the way that tail looks, it’s a bit bear. I over fanned the armature of the tail and then added wisps of full-length staple. I added a bit to each side using a variety of needles and finally the punch tool (fake clover tool). so when I adjust the tail to the correct position the webbing should ripple like partly closing a fan.

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11-12 Working on the tail

That seems a bit better so I switched back to the body again.

13 elevating the top line of the fish body

I have made both the top line higher and am investigating the angle of integrating behind the knees. Tomorrow Is Library Day for the guild and I will ask Ann what she thinks. So it’s time for Mr. Mer to get into his project bag (not that I expect to have any time to work on him tomorrow) but I am sure he will enjoy getting out of the house and Ann will like seeing how he is coming along.

14  On Library Day, Ann Checked out  Mr. Mer’s Progress, she had a few suggestions.

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15-17 Ann critiques him

As we got the library ready for book pick up, Mr. Mer took up position on top of a small 8 harness loom to watch for guild members wanting their requested books.

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18-20  Mr. Mer is watching for Library patrons

 I noticed he was having trouble bending and has to maintain a push-up to allow him to look out the window.  I have to see what I can do to help him. I will start with an assessment of his ROM (Range of Motion) particularly at his waist but that will be in my next post.

I will hope you are not getting bored with the fishiness of my posts and promise to try to work on something different, but the next post will be part 2. There may be surgery involved!

Have fun and keep felting!!

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