Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Shetland ponies and the problems of photographing wool

I haven't been able to completely finish my big Shetland stallion model yet, alas, as I am waiting for more wool to arrive. So I've settled for a baby version, in colours of wool which I do have.

This model is smaller (maybe even about the actual size of a foal compared to its daddy, though I wasn't consciously trying to make it so). It has a wire armature, which gives it structural stability and also enables me to give the model skinny baby legs.

I have out more effort into the face than into the hooves. But wool, while ultimately mouldable, is not so easy to photograph. It always just looks woolly! Really fine wool like merino or corriedale can be very firmly needle felted to a smooth finish, which I always aspire to. Coarser wools like Shetland wool usually has a few fibres sticking out even after felting, which is suitable for wiry terriers, but not so good for sleek cats, or human skin. I am very pleased with the finish of my pieces as I look at them with the naked eye, but through the eye of my digital camera they always look too bushy and woolly, and just not as good as they do in real life. The camera seems to highlight bits of wool that my eyes have airbrushed out. I suppose making a photo look as good as the real thing + my perception of it is what makes a good photographer.

So you'll have to take my word for it that this baby's nose is as soft and kissable as the Shetland foals in the photographs that I have used as models. Frances' photographs are truly amazing, and her descriptions of her animals bring them to life. The more I look at them the more I want to cover my walls with them, especially these ones. (When I do cover my walls with them, I will be able to buy them from Frances' From the Wilde shop, by the way.)


Monday, 11 June 2012

Work In Progress - Shetland Pony

I have been planning to make something a little bit more gobsmacking for ages, and at last I have begun it.

I love Shetland wool, and I also love reading this blog http://shetlandponyeverything.posterous.com/ by Frances Taylor of Thordale Shetland Stud. She takes the most amazing photos (which you can buy), and her ponies are just begging to be made in felt.

So this is my half-finished large model of a Shetland pony, made in Shetland wool.

It is the first model of this size I have made, so it is a bit of a learning process. I underestimated the strength of the wire I already had (actually I was too impatient to go out and buy more), so I now I have the tricky job of making the legs stronger a posteriori. And I have almost used up all of my freshly-acquired black Shetland wool, so I will have to recalculate how much wool I buy in in the future.

But I am very pleased. This is the first rough sketch of the horse, minus ears, eyes, mane, tail, round tummy, with palsied-looking back legs and a bit of a fat bum.... But after a few days he will look just like this incredibly handsome boy.