Have you wondered, too, what it might be like to live in a little house like this?
As a piece of felt becomes a little mushroom house I tend to go into flights of fancy.Making these is a joyful experience, the process, the materials, the dreaming and the stories they inspire. If they give pleasure and inspiration to someone else it is a rich reward for the many hours it takes to complete.
Welcome your dreams. Explore and enjoy the creativity they can unleash.
There is a slight difference, as this time the little owl that is sitting on the hollow log is hand is stitched rather than needle felted. The owl resulted as a happy accident, rather than intention, as a result of finding felt scraps that wanted to be an owl.
This small mat lends itself to story telling as well as being suitable for gentle play and as an accessory for the nature table.
As in most of my other scapes, water is a feature. In ancient times water was regarded as a sacred and precious gift, the lifeblood that flowed from the womb of The Great Goddess, The Mater or Mother, creating and sustaining life.
The right of all living things to clear air, clean water and pure food seems to be more and more disregarded. Waterways are used to dump toxic waste and human waste, as well as being contaminated with chemicals from industry, mining, fracking and agriculture.
Privatisation seems to regard water, that essential component for life, as a commodity to trade, to control, to withold and to abuse. Samuel Taylor Coleridge remarked, in his poem “The Ancient Mariner, “water,water everywhere and not a drop to drink”, sadly this is becoming the reality of our world.
This scene has another layer of meaning. The owl as symbol of the Goddess , of wisdom and of seeking for the core truth that is held within, sits still, gazing at a small pool that could even be an ancient healing well or spring.
Working on this piece made me think deeply about these issues, reflecting, and wishing that all mankind realises we need to work together, care deeply for each other and for Mother Earth.
Portrayed here is the greening of the earth and the arrival of spring lambs. The sheep has long been a symbol used in mythology, religion and in sacrifice.
Sheep are not silly creatures, as seems to be a fairly widely held misconception. Rather those I have observed, known and cared for have proved to be intelligent, funny, loving , endearing creatures who make great and loyal friends.
My beloved lamb, Mary followed us on walks and adored our duck; the two became inseparable friends. This needle felt rendition is a first attempt by me to create a wire framed animal but also a piece that remembers a beloved friend who was such a good and loyal companion .
These past days have been devoted to creating some small mats that can be used as story props, yet this mat, although completed, lingered a few days in need of a a story theme and its characters.
Quite unintentionally a little felt figure emerged when a knotted piece of fleece needed to be untangled. Could that be a head perhaps? If this scraggly bit is twisted a bit more could that make a body? Now if this strand is wrapped around some wire and needle felted then maybe a character might happen.
Yes! a little figure has emerged. But who is this?
This little character, it seemed, needed a folksy shirt and trousers, as well as a hat. He opted for a gnomish one as he claimed his garden.
All that was needed was to create a small plot for him to tend.
As well he insisted that he he needed to show the results of his patient care, so miniature vegetables were placed in his tiny trug.
As all gardeners dream fresh, flowing , permanent, clean water is on hand. A stream runs through the garden and plants thrive.
Content, the gardener tends his garden and plants seeds of wonder that grow into objects of beauty . As he digs stories unfold and together the plants and imagination flourish.
The intent of this mat is so children can interact and learn that gardens need water, sunshine, attention and love to nourish the plants and soil, just like people. It might encourage them to make their own garden, to grow their own organic produce, to learn about healthy food and lifestyles. It is designed especially to reveal that gardens are places for dreams, play, peace, wonder, and provide invaluable experiences to discover the magic of nature.
The garden we have is mainly straggly bush but recently it has rained and the garden has offered such loveliness, like the jacarandas that form a delicate, mauve arch over the driveway and rain lilies that pop up so miraculously.
On nearby Mount Tamborine the flame trees are in bloom as well as jacarandas. The purple and red bursts of colour seem to explode in the rainforest and mingle creating a vivid and uplifting display.
Perhaps one day they too will be forever captured in a tiny felt garden giving delight and fascination as well as inspiration and encouragement to nurture and care for the earth.
Aah the joy of a garden! As the ancients realised a garden is a place not only to provide food for the body, but the beauty of flowers gives food for the soul.
Back to work in earnest now. This piece returns to an Australian theme, depicting the habitat of a little animal that was thought to be a hoax when first discovered.
It does seem to be a caricature with its duck bill, webbed feet and torpedo like body. As well it lays eggs and suckles the young from milk glands. All in all unique, utterly fascinating and such an important creature to preserve and protect.
This small nature scape is intended to be a teaching piece to create awareness that the platypus, like many other species, has a struggle to survive as habitat is reduced and polluted. Dams, use of chemicals,l and clearing as well as a host of predators have had a significant impact. In-breeding and environmental stress have led to disease. No doubt his companion, a river turtle, has similar problems.
A recent visit to the Coomera River to observe the turtles brought to mind that this also must have once been a place where many platypus had lived. Occasionally some are spotted in local creeks and streams, which gives hope, but also awareness that so many have disappeared. This area of South Eastern Queensland is one earmarked for intensive development and yet has significant flora and fauna that seems to be destined for extinction.
Making this tiny scene called for a something extra and the urge to make a duck. A tiny duck. And next an even tinier mouse. We are talking ultra tiny .
To be able to make these little creatures brought such and immense satisfaction and delight as both were free cut from the felt with no idea of how, or pattern or picture to follow. They had to be .
Once done it seemed that there was more. Investigating the symbolism of the duck, in the Encyclopaedia of Traditional Symbols, I discovered that an Amerindian interpretation suggested that the duck is mediator between the sky and earth. As it is together with the owl that seemed to be its function and the necessity to place it in the scene. All together it must be dusk with the duck heading off to s safe roosting spot and the owl just waking. That mouse is in risky territory.
This would be a good starting point to look at the chain of who eats who and how everything is so necessary and has a function in the web of life. It would also provide a stimulus for investigating the world that lies beneath the pond and the earth, such as the tiny micro organisms and the various insects and worms that all are so necessary in nature’s plan for survival and renewal.
Perhaps this scene holds the key to a story waiting to emerge, as well as stimulating curiosity about nature and the environment. As with all these little scenes there is space to add little bits, such as seeds and stones, to personalise and to interact.
Pictures alone present story making opportunities to stimulate the imagination and curiosity, to trigger awareness and to inspire.
“A picture says a thousand words”, or so old saying indicates. With this quote in mind, on offer are some images of recent work that reflects upon the ecological importance of hollow logs as habitat as well as an indicator of sustaining and creating new life .
What story do these pictures tell you? Who else might live here? Where is it? Why is it? How many things can you find? What are they? How many colours?
These are toys made from wool felt and designed for play while at the same time acting to stimulate imagination and curiosity, as well as conservation awareness.
Here is another piece that looks at fungi . It also focuses on the lesson of biodiversity and importance of logs to breakdown and act as a food source, as well as provide shelter to many tiny organisms as well as larger species. This stump is intended to encourage discussion about decomposition forests and composting. It speaks of sustainability and protecting our wildlife.
What other tales and teaching could these examples inspire? Perhaps poems? or songs ? or art? Would they motivate your family to go on a bush walk , or to take some nature photographs, or visit a museum to discover more?
Hope so and would love it if you were to share the results.
There are many versions of making a toadstool, especially the lucky or magic variety such as the one that is depicted above and also in my banner. Amanita muscaria, or the fly agaric mushroom, is often used in images illustrating fairytales. For some they are regarded as a goodluck charm. They are easy and fun to make using a variety of techniques and materials. For instance, they can be needle felted, knitted or crocheted, or stitched from any type of fabric, as well as carved or turned from wood, or sculpted from clay or the new synthetic modelling products.
Not only are they useful for adding to scenes but they can be also be turned into pincushions, if enlarged, or in a small size make decorative scissor fobs, as shown in the picture below. They could also decorate a key chain, become a Christmas ornament or serve as a bag charm. Perhaps you can think up some other uses .
This version resulted from a workshop given several years ago and is made from wool felt.
You will need some scraps of red and white felt, some filling material (I used wool roving) , a small piece of cardboard and the usual sewing supplies of needles, thread and scissors. For the circles I use whatever on hand seems the right size such as the base of a cotton reel, a lid, or a coin, or perhaps a small jar or glass etc. If one wanted to be ultra precise you can always use compasses to draw the circles. They can be made up in different sizes and colours for the different varieties .To get you started I have included a pattern which makes a small mushroom suitable to be used as an ornament or included in a nature project.img003
To begin you need to cut out your pieces,a larger red circle,a smaller white circle and a white rectangle. The stem is made from the rectangle which is folded in half, then rolled into a cylinder and stitched ,with an overcast or whip stitch. along the side. As you roll you may need to trim off a section at the end. If you would like your toadstool to stand alone I suggest that you place a small disc of cardboard, covered by a felt one on the base and stitch it around. However your toadstool is to be stitched onto a base, such as a naturescape, this is unnecessary.
At the centre of this circle make a tiny nick, then several little slits . Push this circle over the base of the stalk with the pointy bits facing down and a little section of the stem protruding at the top. Stitch it to the stem, just above the slits. You now have the frill and the white base or gills ready waiting for its red cap.
Next step is to make the red dome. First applique or needle felt some white spots scattered over the red circle of felt. To attach the appliqued spots you can use either buttonhole, or running or overcast stitches. Beads or french knots also work well . (You can do this after the cap is attached, either way works).
Then gather close to the outside edge of the red circle and start to pull up. Push in a little stuffing and pull in enough so that it fits onto the white circle. When the shape and size work for you secure the gathering stitches . Now stitch all around the two circles so that the top is attached onto the white base. (You can use buttonhole stitch or overcast(whip) stitch for this step).
To make it even more effective using grey, fawn or white thread make long straight stitches from the stem to the outer edge to represent the gills.