As I frenetically prepare for my Crouch End Spring Market, allow me to introduce you to Chilli, the Chihuahua.
Chilli is going to be an anniversary present from my customer Mark to his wife Jane, and needed to be finished by June. Learning from my previous experiences (in which time just flew by and I started to get more and more delayed in my work), I decided to tackle this girl with plenty of time to spare. I think it took me around two weeks, between fair preparations, to finish her. I really should start tracking the total number of hours it takes me to finish a dog sculpture.
The original Chilli is now advanced in her years, and has the distinct white muzzle and eyebrows to prove it. Their owners didn’t mind it showing, so I added a subtle lighter detail in those areas. Unfortunately, the camera didn’t quite pick up on that.
Chihuahua’s eyes are notoriously bulgy, so my regular glass eyes didn’t work. I tried creating needle felted eyes, but they also looked wrong. I plucked those out and decided on plan B: I had some polymer clay eyes I’d made a couple of years ago for another project, and they seemed to be the right shape for her.
If you’ve never made needle felted dogs before, one of the things you need to get right is the position of the eyes. It’s crucial to have them as symmetrical as possible, as well as in the right place in relation to the rest of the face. I had to be careful with these new eyes I was using, so they’d bulge out just enough, and stay in the right spot. I already had the sockets shaped for the previous eyes, so it wasn’t hard to adapt them to these new ones. I’m glad I never took a picture of mini Chilli without her eyes, it looked spooky and slightly disturbing.
As a bonus, I had a tiny bit of soft, soft cashmere from a previous spinning project that was the exact same shade as the felt I was already using, so I added that to the top of her head. I’m not encouraging my customers do that, but once in a blue moon isn’t going to hurt…
Ok, confession time: the original Chilli has a slightly darker brown undercoat, but I so wanted to add the cashmere that I only used the light colour. I’m very glad this girl’s humans were alright with that.
I really enjoyed this challenge and working with slightly different proportions than those I’m more used to. A huge thank you to Mark, for commissioning me to make her!