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My wool felted animal collection and how I got them
My first Felted Animal!
My first felted animal.
Two things led to my decision to start collecting felted animals. I just finished reading the book: The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin and at the same time I was helping my girlfriend Riin Gill at a fiber arts show in northern Michigan. Riin is a talented artist who primarily dyes mill spun yarn, combed top and hand spins yarn. I had agreed to help by driving her and her wool products from Ann Arbor to West Branch, Michigan for a fiber arts show there. I had brought along The Happiness Project so I would have something to keep me busy. One of Gretchen Rubin's ideas struck me: start a collection. At this particular fiber arts show there were a few artists selling felted wool animals. The idea of collecting these appealed to me instantly. Most of the animals at the show were under $20; and quite a few of them were $10 or less. If you haven't ever seen them before they are really charming. There were a few of them there that really were talking to me; and most especially Lion. I had had a large stuffed toy: "Lion", as a child; and had given it away as an adult. So naturally I started my collection of felted wool animals as an adult with Lion. It's definitely a miniature version of the stuffed animal I had growing up. All my felted animals are small, a bit smaller than a coffee cup.
At the same time, I made a commitment to myself to purchase a felted animal at every show that Riin and I went to during the next 12 months. It's been a lot of fun collecting these overlooked artistic creations. Many hours go into making a felted wool animal. Some of them, like Lion as I later found out, are mass-produced. But many of them are made by individual artists living in the United States. Though you can spend as much money as you want on them, for the most part they are very affordable. I think I spent $20 on my most expensive one, and all the rest mostly cost $10 or less.
Fiber arts shows are one of two places I know you can get these critters. The other is online stores like Etsy. For me it's a highlight finding a great felted wool animal at a fiber arts show. An artist living in Greencastle, Indiana made my favorite felted animal, Owl. She is not online. My second favorite felted animal, Dragon, is mass-produced and probably can be found online. If you look on Etsy, you'll find lots of them!
A very style conscious Owl.
This is owl. He has lots of personality. He likes to dance, and he's a really good dancer. First he taps about on his left foot; then he hops over to his right. Then he does a quick two step! He's a good dancer, and he likes to dance day and night. Owl likes to dance! He's also a very style conscious owl. For several weeks he kept saying how much he wanted a hat. He said it so often that I took to saying: "Owl probably wants a hat" to Riin. After a few weeks, Owl went to the hat store and picked out a hat. (Well, actually, Riin felted him a hat). He likes his hat. It makes him look Amish; and in a pinch it turns into a flying saucer. Owl really likes his hat!
Owl has a lot of friends! He's really popular; and all his friends like one another too. Sometimes Owl is by himself, but usually there's another felted animal nearby.
Sam the Dragon
Owl's best friend is Dragon.
Dragon's name is Samantha; or Sam for short. Some of the animals get their name because they cause the GPS in my van to talk while I'm driving Riin to a show. When Dragon got in the van the voice coming from the GPS was Samatha's. The funny thing about Sam, is that she talks in a real deep voice, and I often call her "him" by mistake! How embarrassing! But Sam doesn't mind. She's always looking forward to the next meal. She loves to eat! She'll eat almost anything, cars, houses, yellow squash. Cookies. Definitely cookies. And she likes to sleep. Yes she does. Dragons like to eat, and dragons like to sleep. You know what else dragons like to do? They like to count. You can see a picture of Sam counting her gold and Owl looking over her shoulder, in the photo column to the right of the article. But there's one thing that dragon's don't like to eat, and that's really, really hot stuff. Like boiling gold or molten lava.
Who is Babi Lava?
Who indeed is Babi Lava? I got this unassuming felted animal in the shape of a robin at a show that Sam navigated us to. With some trepidation, I brought the defenseless bird into the van; afraid that Sam would eat (eat! eat!) it. To my surprise, the robin revealed himself as Babi Lava!
Brilliant! A robin made of lava certainly won't be eaten by Sam. I think maybe Babi Lava protects all the other felted animals from Sam. Another notable thing about Babi Lava is that he likes to bob his head back and forth, as is common in India. Whenever he does it, he insists that it is the divine hand of God (or the Goddess if Riin happens to be the one bobbing his head) who is moving through him and causes his head to bob. Sometimes I feel the divine spirit moving through me, but I don't think it's quite as profound as what Babi Lava experiences.
The last of Owl's close companions is Val.
Val is a chicken I got at a show near Kentucky, in Indiana. She seemed to be rather a plain bird. Then we stopped at a Chinese restaurant on the way back to Ann Arbor and I brought her in with us. When the manager came over to our table she recognized something special about the chicken that I'd overlooked; and next thing I knew, the whole staff sang her "Happy Birthday" and we all got to rub the belly of a Buddha statue (for good luck). This, by the way, is a true story. I'm looking forward to visiting that restaurant again, and most likely will, due to the wonder of my GPS device.
Felted animals are happy at my home!
The rest of the menagerie.
The other felted animals I've collected are not so distinct. At least, not as of yet. I am attracted to each one for it's own sake. I have Dolphin, Fish, Suri and Alpaca. There is also Goat and Lion. At one show I got Dog, but he's not pictured here, since he isn't a felted animal, but a different kind of wool creation. I got Dog because at some shows, there aren't any felted animals. They take a long time to make, and not everyone likes to make them. They don't sell for very much and I think that's why some people shy away from making them.
If you look closely at Fish and Dolphin, you can see that they are made from a flattened piece of fiber. They aren't as sculptural as the other felted animals. All the felted animals have a great deal of resiliency to them. I can put a lot of pressure on one of them, and it wont get scrunched up permanently. If the legs of Goat or Alpaca are bent about too much, though, they will break. That's because there is an armature made of pipe-cleaners in their legs. Not all the wool felted animals have an armature. Owl doesn't, nor do Val or Babi Lava.
With more than a half dozen shows yet for me to attend this year, I'm hopeful that I find another outgoing felted animal like Owl, or Sam. They all have a lot of character and are very endearing. They are inexpensive, and easy to find on the internet. Some are real one of a kind creations (like Owl) while others are mass produced (like Sam and Lion). If you get one, you are sure to enjoy it and can pass it on when you are through. Felted Animals are so much fun to collect!