What is the sincerest form of flattery for an artist with a micro business? Repeat customers.
A little while ago, I made a sculpture of Percy the black and white whippet.
I had lots of fun copying Percy’s body marks, and making her sitting down was a special treat (not a lot of people ask me for that). When she arrived in the US I was very happy to find out she had been a success among her humans.
A few months later, I got asked if I could make Percy’s sister, Jules. Another dog commission, you say? Yes, please!
Now, Jules isn’t another whippet. Her hair isn’t short and her colour isn’t a straightforward black and white. Her ears aren’t devoid of long fur, either. In fact, Jules is possibly my favourite type of dog ever – a sandy-coloured shaggy one, with a sort of comical look to her.
If Percy might be the canine impersonation of poise and elegance, Jules has that air of comic clumsiness to her, as if you could find her in a sitcom doing all sorts of silly things that get her in trouble. Jules is the shaggy punk-rocker of dogs, which is excellent. It is also a lot more work to felt, it turns out.
I’d previously done other sculptures of dogs sporting longish hair, so I already knew what to expect. What I wasn’t expecting however, was that this type of hair, which I knew would be slightly more complicated to emulate, turned out to be a mammoth task of almost as many hours as the rest of her.
My initial plan was to make the whole body, then proceed to use a reverse felting needle to get the fur out of the basic shape (pro tip: if you use another colour for the core, it’ll come out when you reverse felt it, adding depth to the whole of the fur). It looked good. It looked quite okay. It didn’t look Amazing. I wanted amazing.
So what does a crazy person like myself do? I braced myself for many more hours of work and proceeded to meticulously felt tiny slivers of wool with my hands and then attach each to her body, one by one. I may have popped on Magic Mike XXL for company (and then forgotten all about some wool I was dyeing on the stove, almost burning it – I’m sure it was the felting that was to blame, not the half-naked men; I am a professional, after all).
In the end, the extra fiddling was absolutely worth it. Shaggy Jules does indeed look shaggy, and I could finally look at her and see the silliness and fun nature of her original.
She left this week on her overseas journey to America, so wish her a speedy and safe trip, and fingers crossed her human loves her as much as she did Percy!
Have you ever gone the extra mile to satisfy your inner critic? Tell me all about it in the comments section.