Obsessed with birds

I’ve been working away on the marsh harriers for the last few days and I’m defnitely getting obsessed. I made the prototype in black to help me see the shape and practice my technique. Then I did it in browns with wire in the wings. If that wasn’t enough I’ve done the female twice more since then. Nothing wrong with the finished items I just couldn’t get the size small enough.

On Saturday, I started the birds again. One of my main worries has been the shade of brown to use, every image I look at seems to show it differently. But, at long last, I decided on the shades and got on with it. I cut the wires, blended the colours and needlefelted the shape ready for wet felting. Yesterday I wet felted and finalised the shape of the birds and left them to dry.

This morning I should be attaching them to gloves ready for presenting tomorrow. So, do you think I’m doing that? NO. Instead I’m needlefelting the male some more as I’m not happy with the head shape. I really hope this works because I don’t want to start again. Any more practice runs and I’ll have a flock. Plus, it really does need to be finished and dried today or I’m up the creek without a paddle. Wish me luck, I’ll show you the pictures later.

Harrier’s Progress

I decided to have another go at a Marsh Harrier model with wire in the wings. There was no suitable wire in the house so I went to the local florists and chose from within their stock. It’s not a covered wire so the fibres might have slipped off it whilst I was trying to wrap them around. To counteract this I covered the wire with masking tape after twisting them together, it gives the fibres a little grip.

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I used a mix of norwegian and merino fibres. the norwegian is very easy to needlefelt and the merino wet felts well. Ths may be the best combination of fibres for me to use as I intend to use both dry and wet felting techniques. Needlefelting allows me to sculpt the shape and place the markings exactly whilst wet felting will consolidate and strengthen the felt.

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The wire in the wings has worked very well and shows no signs of piercing the felt, which had been a concern. I’ve improved the shape and the size is right. I need to fatten the body out and shape the beak more but I believe the next bird might be a finished article.

Another felt bird!

I don’t know what it is about me and felt birds, remember the Curlew Diaries?, but I now have two more felt birds to make. This time it’s a commission to produce a pair of birds, Marsh Harriers to be exact. They’ll be used as educational aids and I need to ensure they’re the right colourations for the male and female Marsh Harriers. Fortunately they’re not full size, they’re about 1/3 actual size with a wingspan of 14″ (35cm). During the breading season the Marsh Harriers perform an aerial dance and the felt birds I make will be attached to gloves so that the dance can be replicated.

It’s a different technique to felting around a mould as these birds will be solid wool throughout. Some years ago I made a white fantasy bird i.e. it doesn’t look like a specific breed, by wet modelling the fibres. Beside it you can see my first attempt at a Masrh Harrier.

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There’s quite a lot wrong with the prototype but the angle of the wings and overall size is quite good. The more observant amongst you will have noticed that the bird is black and Marsh Harriers are not. I made it in black because it allowed me to focus on technique and enables me to see the shape without being distracted by colouration. It was also a good way of practising wet modelling.

One of my concerns over the finished birds is how strong the wings will be. They will need to retain the wing shape in flight and not go droopy. The prototype has poven that the wings will need reinforcement in the form of a hidden wire. The next step is to make a second model wired and with some colour and I’ll show you the results here.