I invite you to see the progression of a needle felted leopard pillow from start to finish. It's pretty amazing for me to get this many photos of the process. Normally, I get so engrossed in the needle felting, there's a huge gap from photo number one to photo number two, meaning too much progression in the work to show any work in progress pictures. These leopard pillows are so labor intensive that I need to take a lot of breaks. This time, I remembered to take photos as I went along.
Do you know what needle felting is? If not, I am happy to tell you! I create these wool portraits by using loose wool fiber, barbed needles and a natural fiber backing which I sew up from felted sweater wool. First, I create a background for the wool portrait from a patterned patchwork of felted wool scraps to set off the portrait I'm creating. Then I begin mixing colored fiber to create the colors I want to work with in the portrait. In this case, I looked at many photos of leopards. Here's what my computer desktop looked like during the several weeks it took me to work out the design. See the leopard photo on the upper left? That is a picture of a previous leopard pillow I created. It looks so lifelike, doesn't it? :o)
Using the colors of fiber I mixed up, I begin laying out the colors on my felted wool backdrop according to the photos of the leopards. I use the barbed needle felting needles to attach the loose wool securely to the backing. The more you needle felt the wool with the needles, the more bonded the wool becomes to the backing. Once you are finished with the needle felting of the portrait, the two fibers are inseparable from each other.
I pay careful attention to making sure the symmetry and proportion of the figure are just right. My background is in drawing and painting. This is a skill I've carefully developed. Once honed, it's a skill that has served me well.
I love the medium of needle felting because I can easily move or "scoot" fiber with the needles whenever I need to make an adjustment to the portrait.
I feel the eyes really make the portrait come to life. I spend a lot of time working on adding the right colors and shade the colors so the eyes look round and alive.
The spots... Oh my golly, these leopard portraits spots take almost as much stress and time as the whole face! They take all my concentration and patience. On this piece, I worked extra hard to get the spots symmetrical. I really think the attention to detail shows in this amazingly lifelike face, don't you?
Finally, I'm ready to add the whiskers.
He is so regal! I just love how this beautiful leopard turned out!
Here is the finished pillow. It's already been packed up and shipped off to its new owner. She will be displaying this in her African themed room. I hope she likes the pillow!
Thanks for following along!