Sometimes it seems that needle felt is the exclusive domain of kitsch and pet portraiture. To be clear, I don’t dislike pet portraits – I’ve done a couple myself and I enjoy the opportunity to immortalize a beloved animal friend – but in this post I want to highlight a few examples that break the mold. These artists use needle felt to render realistic sculptures of creatures of all sorts. Perhaps most impressive is the way in which they are able to adapt the material to approximate fur, feathers, skin and scales.
These first three are the work of Japanese artist Miki Ichiyama. Although I can’t read the descriptions without the help of Google Translate, I think the photos speak for themselves. These are some of the most lifelike needle felt sculptures I have seen and I love the variety of animals represented. The fine detail in texture, color and even facial expression is exceptional. Find many more at http://www.geocities.jp/mekr200/hakoiri/index.html
The next three are the work another Japanese artist – sadly I wasn’t able to find her real name, but she goes by the nickname “nosonoso”. The pieces shown above are complete animals, however some of her other work depicts disembodied heads and even bones. Many of her creations are also intended to be worn, which only adds to their strange appeal. You can follow her on flickr at http://www.flickr.com/photos/nosonoso
These three are from San Antonio, Texas-based artist Leticia Rocha-Zivadinovic/CreturFetur. While I am partial to her bats myself, her portfolio is also full of intriguing, unfamiliar creatures like the axolotl and the chevrotain (first and second photos above). Her pieces are fantastically detailed and her thoughtful use of clay for things like hooves and ears provides an excellent contrast to the fuzzy texture of the wool. You can find more of her work on Etsy at http://www.etsy.com/shop/CreturFetur
Finally, these last two are the work of Karen Engelbretson/KJE Felties. Her technique is wonderfully reminiscent of watercolor painting – soft and delicate, but perfectly expressive. The contrast of that softness with the twigs and bark upon which the birds seem to have alighted gives them a precious quality, as if they may fly away at any moment. You can see more of her work at http://www.facebook.com/kjefelties
Are you a needle felter with a portfolio you’d like me to consider for the column? Or do you have a hot tip on some amazing work being done by someone else? I’ll be sharing more of my favorite artwork in the coming months, so please feel free to contact me!