Thursday, March 31, 2016

March 2016. Felted Creatures. day 31. Blue Crab (work in progress)

Blue Crab ready for colors (work in progress)

Right now, I'm living in place where Blue Crabs are very popular. You can find them everywhere, from restaurants to works done by local artists. Interesting creatures, blue crabs, with their colorful exoskeletons and all those moving parts. Thought it might be a fun challenge to make one out of wool.
This one will take a few days, so I've assembled some pics of the process. As I haven't done a crab before, it'll be an experiment as I figure out the order of the steps in constructing it. There may be some backtracking, as I discovered last night while working.
Shell armature, wrapped in pipe cleaners and wool
Initial step was to use fabric covered wire to make a shell shape. Purchased this online from a local supply shop. After forming the initial general shape, I wrapped the wire with white chenille pipe cleaners. This makes a good surface for the wool to grip. Next step was to pull small tufts of wool tops and wrap tightly around the frame. I used the felting needle to make a few jabs to keep the wool attached to the frame.

Adding more wool to armature
Next, I wrapped more wool around the frame, jabbing with the needle to keep the wool in place.

Continuation of wool wrapping on frame
Continue wrapping the wool around the frame. Now would have been a good time to cut wires for the all the legs and attaching them to the shell frame. Follow the same process for the legs, attaching firmly to the initial frame, wrapping with pipe cleaners and finally, adding a thin layer of tightly wrapped wool,jabbing into place.  My goof here...getting so caught up in doing the shell in 3-d, that I forgot to attach the legs in the early stages. Not a big issue, but I did find it tricky to add the legs AFTER I had already filled in the body frame. Experience has been my greatest teacher.

Needle felting brushed wool to the frame
 I used a suggestion I saw somewhere a while ago...using new wire dog brushes to comb the wool before doing felting. This has worked quite well as it gets the wool fibers out of alignment and fluffs them up. Their volume is much greater after brushing and it actually takes less time to do the needle felting by doing the brushing first.

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The out of order step (Note to time, add legs to armature before doing any felting). I needed to make the legs and then add them by cutting into the felt. Tricky, but not impossible. That is what I love about the felting process. It is both very forgiving and changeable.  Very handy when you discover, like I did, that a goof has been made. Wires here were poked through and wrapped around crab body shell shape.

Adding pipe cleaners to wires on legs

 After leg wires are firmly attached to main body shape, wrap pipe cleaners around the wires. This gives the wool something to grab onto.

Wool wrapped around legs and jabbed into place

 Next, wrap tufts of wool around the legs and jab ends into place to keep from unraveling.
Blue Crab ready for skeleton, colors and leg shells

 Here is the semi-completed crab, ready for the next steps.

Blue Crab (17" x 13", 43 cm x 33 cm) is made of needle felted wool over wire armature and is part of a larger sculpture. 

Happy last day of March (already!!!!!).



  1. Précis comment: wow.

    Really. Wow.

    Fascinating to see the process.

    Loved seeing the steps, loved reading your post, loved hearing the words of your craft and art, loved the invitation into your world.

    Thank you.

    17x13"? Yikes!

    So eager to see your next post!

  2. Thank you, Dotty.
    I love reading about your process and watching how your paintings go through transformation. Sometimes, they are completely unlike what was originally there.
    Will see where this one goes.


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