My first official needle felted commission for 2015 was a lovely whippet named Logan, who is sadly no longer with us. Pet parents are very passionate folk, and Logan’s human was no exception – she loved her furry boy so much, she wanted a keepsake to remember him by, and I was trusted to make a needle felted sculpture to his likeness.
I take memorial sculptures very seriously, because I want to respond to the obvious emotional expectation that my customers will have upon receiving them. I am replicating a pet they loved a lot, but is no longer present to create new memories. Now, don’t give me wrong, all pet sculptures are special, but having lost pets myself, I know how important it is to have a memento of them.
Another possible problem with making memorial sculptures can be the lack of good reference photos – I need the images to be a certain way to get an accurate notion of proportions, colours, and posture, and of course at the time people aren’t photographing their furry ones with that in mind.
Fortunately, I didn’t have any trouble with Logan’s photos, there were plenty to choose from and I could focus on the best ones to work on.
Logan was mostly white. Monochromatic pets can pose an extra challenge, because then we can’t rely on colours to help define volumes and proportions – instead, light and shadow will have to do that. Photographing them is also a little trickier for me, because I favour plain white backgrounds, and I feared Logan might blend too much with it; fortunately, I don’t think that happened.
Whenever I’m done needle felting a commissioned work, I don’t consider it finished; I always send the photos to my customer and await their feedback, and only after I’ve gotten a positive reply do I get that happy, tingly sensation of a job well done.
This might sound a little strange, but I like it when I get an email back asking me to change a little detail or another, as opposed to an immediate reply that all is perfect. It’s, for me, a sort of confirmation that my customer actually took the time to look at the images and compare them to the original pet, and who knows them better than the humans who spent hours with them? Again, don’t give me wrong, I’m sure if you’ve gone to the trouble of ordering a sculpture – and spending money with it -, you’re going to make sure you’re happy with it, but… I’m weird that way, let’s leave it at that.
Logan’s human had very specific requests in regards of changes, and I committed myself to address them the best way I could. I might have gone to my inbox one time too many after sending the new photos, hoping I followed the instructions correctly – wanting people to be 100% happy with their felt pets is something I take very seriously.
I did get positive feedback this time, so I sent mini Logan on his way, and was more than chuffed when I got an email with these beautiful photos of him next to another memento (recognise the image? It’s a version of the first photo I posted.)
Now I can consider my work done, and can breathe than sigh of relief. Until, of course, I start the process all over again for another pet…