Cute and Cuddly Mutant Zombie Squirrel of DOOM

There’s a sort of unofficial mascot on the indigodragonfly forum called the Cute and Cuddly Mutant Zombie Squirrel of Doom (CCMZSOD). The concept was the result of a sort of mind-meld between Maget and indigodragonfly. Apparently they were planning on naming a new colorway “Zombie Squirrel” or something similar and then Maget mentioned something about mutant zombie squirrels of doom which were not only evil, but cute and cuddly, so the colorway name ended up being “Cute and Cuddly Mutant Zombie Squirrel of Doom” and Maget got the inaugural skein! Then she knitted some Cute and Cuddly Mutant Zombie Squirrels of Doom and sent them on adventures around the world. After that we all just sort of ran with it…

For the last Ravellenic Games Heather of Joey’s House drew a CCMZSOD for the indigodragonfly team to use as our Ravatars.

Screen Shot 2013-12-04 at 4.54.12 PM

I used this drawing as inspiration for needle felting a CCMZSOD to give to Maget!

First I started roughing out some shapes that could be used to build the squirrel. After only an hour I had the basic outlines for the body, head, and hindquarters started.

IMG_7066

Then I attached the hindquarters to the body, made a tail, and started to add some shape to the head. The basic head shape in the illustration is sort of triangular so I started to add some corners to the top of the head where the ears would go. After adding the corner for the first ear I stopped and thought, “What if the other ear is missing? It is a mutant zombie squirrel after all…” I decided to leave the head misshapen and see how it would play out.

IMG_7249

My initial attempt at the tail was too small so I added a lot more bulk to it before I attached it to the body. Then I started felting brown wool on top to smooth out the shapes and lay down a nice base color to build on. As I started coloring the head I decided the missing ear could actually be turned into a more gruesome exposed brain, so I left that spot black in preparation for that. Once I had the base coloring down I started shaping the hind legs out of the dark brown wool.

IMG_7346

I attached the legs and arms, but the squirrel still wouldn’t sit up at this point. Luckily, I learned from my experience in felting Ducky that it was way too early to worry about it. The head could drastically affect the balance, so if it was still unstable after the head was attached I could work on adding some more bulk to the base of the tail to make it sit up straight. I also learned from Ducky that for fine details like faces it is really helpful to be able to manipulate the head freely, so I should wait until I was finished with the detail work before I attached the head.

IMG_7351

At this point I was ready to start adding detail and I made a breakthrough! I had recently visited my local yarn store Canvas Works and discovered that they had some needle felting supplies there! One of the things they had was a pack of needles that came in multiple sizes. Until I saw those I had never even considered that different sized needles might exist for needle felting, but in hindsight it makes perfect sense – use the larger needles for building larger shapes, then switch to medium-sized needles for the smaller shapes and contouring, and use the smallest needles for the fine detail work.

IMG_7243

I put the smallest needle to the test for creating the exposed brain. First I covered the hole in a nice deep bloody red and then I mixed a bit of pink wool with some tan wool to create a brainy color. I spun the brain colored wool between my fingers to create a thin snake-like cord and started folding it back and forth across the red wool as I felted it into place with the small needle. It worked great! I was able to create some really tight curves by taking advantage of the precision of that small gauge needle!

IMG_7384

I also started experimenting with some color blending to create a suitably mutant-zombie-esque look for the squirrel. I had a multi-colored blend of purples, blues, and reds that looked great when lightly layered on top of the dark brown base color. I also was able to create a nice rotted look by blending dark green with the dark brown. For the belly color I  blended some orange wool with a lighter brown wool. Then I added a neck so I would have something to attach to the head to later.

IMG_7385

I finished the brains and made an ear for the other side of the head. At this point I held the head on top of the neck to see how it looked and realized the tail was still too small. I tried to make the tip of the tail taller and fatter to balance out the size of the head.

IMG_7390

Once the tail size was corrected I went back to focusing on the head. I added the eye and started working on the teeth. With the small gauge needle I was able to create some very fine black lines to draw the teeth!

IMG_7392

Considering a large portion of the squirrel’s skull was missing, I figured the eye socket was probably unstable so the right eye would be missing. Initially I had intended to have both eyes and just have them be different sizes, but in the end logic dictated that I should stick to the illustration. I put on the nose, re-colored the tip of the tail and attached the head.

IMG_7395

The squirrel still wouldn’t sit up so I did end up having to bulk up the base of the tail so it wouldn’t keep falling backward. I made a few final finishing touches including moving the ear (I had initially put it too far back), and smoothing out some of the joins.

IMG_7405

I could have called it done at this point, but I had one more dreadful thought that kept nagging at me – what happened to that other eyeball? I decided the squirrel still had it with him, so I took some red embroidery thread to represent the bloody muscles and nerves and tied a length of white wool around the middle. I tied it several times, front and back, until it had formed a rough ball shape around the middle of the thread. Then I folded the thread in half, wrapped the remaining wool around the end and started felting a ball around the thread.

IMG_7416

Once the eyeball was large enough I added a black pupil to the end. Then I loosely braided the strands of the embroidery thread together and threaded them onto a needle so I could attach them to the hand. Once it had been threaded through the top of the hand I made a knot so it couldn’t be pulled back through, then I fed the ends back through the hand so they stuck out the bottom. I cut each strand of the embroidery thread irregularly so it looked like it had been ripped from the head. With that, the Cute and Cuddly Mutant Zombie Squirrel of Doom was finished!

IMG_7424

It’s so horrific it’s adorable!

IMG_7428 IMG_7433 IMG_7429 IMG_7436 IMG_7438 IMG_7443 IMG_7446 IMG_7448 IMG_7450 IMG_7454 IMG_7432 IMG_7458

Needle Felted Earrings

I needed to whip out a quick gift for a friend so I decided to make some earrings. I wanted it to use as little wool as possible, so I cheated. I got these needle felted balls in a grab bag from one of the knitting events I’ve attended lately. They have Canada in the name so I’m guessing it was from Knit City in Vancouver, but I’m not really sure. Apparently there’s a lot of cute stuff you can do with these balls and you can check them out at Honey Canada’s Etsy shop.

IMG_6877

Unfortunately, the ones I had were all different colors, so I had to fix that.

IMG_6879

Once I covered the balls in coordinating wool I went through my bead stash and found some beads that looked nice with them. I strung them together, tied them to some earring hooks, and before I knew it I had made some earrings!

IMG_6915

The great thing about these is that even though they’re on the large side they’re made of wool so they’re super light!

IMG_6932

They were so quick and easy to do and I think they turned out looking very pretty. I predict I will be making more of these in the future.

Monster BFFs

A while ago I was working on a monster. Then I started to see the light at the end of a tunnel with Ducky and just worked on that until I finished. Well, I picked up the monster again and gave it some horns!IMG_6610

Then I gave it a tail so it could sit up easier. The monster was a bit small though, so I decided it needed a buddy.

IMG_6616

I started shaping a lumpy blob body based on another illustration my sister made for me.

monster2

I gave it some legs.

IMG_6705

Then I added a belly button and finished the face. I made a horn for this one too and started attaching it.

IMG_6723

Before I knew it, I had made a second monster!

IMG_6805

Now the purple monster won’t be lonely!

IMG_6813

Best friends forever!

IMG_6957 IMG_6960 IMG_6961 IMG_6965 IMG_6940 IMG_6970 IMG_6969 IMG_6944 IMG_6950 IMG_6953 IMG_6973

Drumroll Please…

Last time I updated you guys on Ducky I had just started coloring the face. Since then I’ve done a lot more work. I finished coloring the brow bones and the cheeks.60 Ducky finished coloring brow and working on coloring cheeks

Then I worked on coloring the rest of the head.

61 Ducky working on coloring back of head

Once the coloring was done I was able to attach the crest to the top of the head. That was one of the very first pieces I made and I only needed to add a bit of bulk on the bottom to get the proportion correct! I also defined the nose shape a bit more and decided on the ear placement by sticking pins in their place and adjusting them until they looked symmetrical.

62 Ducky crest attached nose shaped and decided ear placement

The ears were a bit small at first so I added just a tad bit more wool to bulk them up before attaching them. After that I worked on the most nerve-wracking part of this whole project – the eyes. All along I’ve been telling myself that as long as I get the eyes right all the other imperfections will be less noticeable. Of course the converse of that logic is that if I DON’T get the eyes right the while thing will look like a mess. Fortunately I think I nailed it! I finished the eyes and started working on the eyelashes.

63 Ducky ears attached colored eyes and working on eyelashes

Once I got the eyelashes done I added the nostrils, and with that Ducky’s face was done!

64 Ducky eyelashes and nostrils done

All that was left to do was the arms. I left that step for last because I thought they would get in the way when I was working on the fine detail work on the face. I did end up needing to manipulate Ducky quite a bit in order to get the details right, so my instinct was spot-on. I used pins to work out the arm positions and started building the basic shapes for the shoulder joints with some yellow wool.

65 Ducky decided on arm placement and started building shoulders

I attached the arms by making a doughnut shape on the body and then inserting the end of the arm into the middle and felting it in place. By alternating between stabbing the end of the arm directly into the body and stabbing the raised parts of the shoulder into the arm I was able to make a very secure connection. Due to how thin the arms are they still can be moved around a bit, but they certainly aren’t going to fall off. Once the arms were firmly in place I started coloring the shoulders with the last bits of light green wool.

66 Ducky arms attached and coloring shoulders

I finished coloring the shoulders, made some final adjustments to the angles of the arms and ankles, trimmed off any fly-away bits of wool and with that Ducky was finished! She even stands up!

67 Ducky is finished

It’s pretty damn close to my reference picture too!

I learned a ridiculous amount from needle felting Ducky and she was well worth all the time and effort. Now that I’ve finished Ducky I know I can make anything. BOW TO ME FOR I AM THE GOD OF NEEDLE FELTING.

I took a ton of pictures in the light box, so here is Ducky from every angle possible:

Ducky 1 Ducky 2 Ducky 3 Ducky 4 Ducky 5 Ducky 6 Ducky 7 Ducky 8 Ducky 9 Ducky 10 Ducky 11 Ducky 12 Ducky 13 Ducky 14 Ducky 15 Ducky 16 Ducky 17 Ducky 18 Ducky 19 Ducky 20 Ducky 21 Ducky 22 Ducky 23 Ducky 24 Ducky 25 Ducky 26 Ducky 27 Ducky 28 Ducky 29 Ducky 30 Ducky 31 Ducky 32 Ducky 33 Ducky 34 Ducky 35 Ducky 36 Ducky 37 Ducky 38

WIP-Cracking Wednesday: Zooming, Bombing, and Sculpting

WARNING: This post contains a ridiculous number of pictures.

Part 1: Zooming

The photo prompt today was “extreme close up,” which is what I frequently seem to do anyway. This time I decided to see just how close I could get.

Staging and lighting: While I was out and about I decided to zoom in on an art installation. It was about 3 pm and partly cloudy. I took the photo about an inch away from the surface of the piece.

IMG_5273

Just for fun, I Instagrammed the full photo of the art piece too. I like it better than the reference photo.

IMG_5277

Anyway, back to the actual challenge photo…

Instagram edits: Lux, Mayfair filter and border

Computer edits: cropped, enhanced, increased definition and sharpness to the max

edited with iPhoto

edited with iPhoto

It’s hard to go wrong with something this abstract, but for the Instagram version I went with the filter that gave the biggest range of colors without darkening the photo. For the computer edit I wanted to bring out all the cool bubble shapes in the glass, so that’s why I pumped up the definition and sharpness. They both turned out awesome!

Part 2: Bombing

You may have noticed that for once my challenge photo is not in my house or my backyard. The reason I was lured out of my cave in the first place was because I needed to do a fitting for my yarnbombing. I have a whole section seamed together at this point, and many more pieces pinned together, but I needed to actually put those pieces up on the light pole to see how they all might fit together and how much more I need to do.

IMG_5261

The main section I have seamed together fits on the lower part of the base quite nicely. I just need to smooth out the edges.

IMG_5257

I purposefully did not seam together enough pieces to fit all the way around the pole yet. I needed to figure out where I would stitch up the piece when installation day comes. I think I will stitch it up along the corner to the right of the tentacle.

IMG_5259

So now I just need to add about 7 inches worth of pieces to the other end of this section so it can reach the tentacle corner.

IMG_5263

This strip of swatches should help pull the bottom section in tight around the middle of the base and prevent it from slipping down.

IMG_5265

I had another strip of swatches that I wanted to use for the top of the piece to hold the whole thing up, but it didn’t quite fit around the rounded section I had initially intended it for.

IMG_5267

It fits perfectly above the rounded section though, and it should help hold the piece up even better with that lip in the way!

Part 3: Sculpting

I made a LOT of progress on Ducky this week! I worked on filling in the holes around the left cheek.

IMG_5172

Then I smoothed out the shape of the cheek.

IMG_5186

I filled out the head shape some more and started building the brow ridges.

IMG_5203

Then I attached the brow ridges and filled in the eyeballs. And with that, the sculpting of Ducky’s head was FINISHED!!!

IMG_5207

I started coloring the nose and the brow ridges.

IMG_5253

Ducky is really starting to look like Ducky!

Multiple WIPs Are Cracked and a Confession

Let’s start with the confession just so we can get it out of the way and hopefully you’ll have forgotten about it by the end of this post. Today’s photo prompt was “guilty pleasure.” I could have thought of some BS guilty pleasure to show everyone, but I was just too lazy for lies. I actually photographed something that makes me feel a little bit dirty every time I do it.  So, since that’s what I used for my Instagram photo I guess I have to fess up here on the blog too.

I’m a rubbernecker. There are all kinds of rubberneckers, the most well-known being those who gawk at car-accidents, but I’m a very specific breed of rubbernecker. I LOVE reading drama on the Ravelry forums. People behave badly on the internet all the time, and Ravelry is no exception, so when a throwdown starts in a thread I want to read every juicy second of it. It’s like watching a slap-fight on Jerry Springer. I’m not alone in this. There’s a whole group dedicated to locating drama and poking fun at the sheer spectacle of it, so I took a photo of the group page on my computer screen for the Instagram challenge. I’m not going to link them here for your own good. If you really want to find them you can look them up on Ravelry yourself and then figure out a way to live with your shame.

Staging: This is probably the weirdest photo I’ve ever taken…I just pointed the camera at my computer screen. I did expand the screen so all my bookmarks aren’t visible and zoomed in to the group header so it was easier to see what was going on, but that’s it for staging. Just point and shoot.

Instagram edits: cropped, tilt-shift horizontally, Sierra filter and border

Computer edits: cropped and enhanced

kind of edited with iPhoto

kind of edited with iPhoto

I only did the computer edit for the sake of continuity. There was really nothing to edit. I have no idea what to do with a picture of a computer screen. That being said, I like the Instagram better. The filter and the tilt-shift added some interest to it.

On to the WIPs!

I did some more work on the yarnbombing this week. I have quite a few fragments made at this point and yesterday I started piecing some of them together. Here are just four pieces pinned together and two more fragments waiting to find their neighbors. See how they’re kind of like a puzzle? That’s basically how freeform works.

IMG_5106

Ducky is also inching closer and closer to completion! I finished coloring the upper jaw.

IMG_4980

 

Then I attached the upper jaw to the head and started using some of the pre-felted pieces to form the cheeks.

IMG_5109

 

Before I attached the cheeks I decided to work on the nose. I decided to just start slapping random colors on at this point to stretch the wool supply. As long as I use light colors or other shades of green it should all be pretty easy to cover. I put the basic shape of the nose together and then needed to add a bit more around the edge. Once I attached the middle of a long piece of felt to the front of the nose it looked like Ducky had a moustache, so I decided that was the perfect time to pause for a picture.

IMG_5114

 

Then I attached the cheek shapes and started filling in some of the gaps with green.

IMG_5120

Ducky almost has a face!

WIP-Cracking Wednesday: Ducky Progress Report

You know, when I posted this morning I forgot that the sun rising means that it’s tomorrow. Or today. Whatever, the point is, it hadn’t hit me yet that today is in fact WEDNESDAY and not still Tuesday. Let’s have a Ducky progress report!

When we left off, I was coloring Ducky’s spine. I stopped bothering to update you on it because it took approximately eleventy-billion years to finish it. It would have been easier to cover the little spine bumps if I had made them in the dark green instead of black, but at the time I was worried about running out of dark green wool. In retrospect I would have had plenty of wool to work with. Covering all those bumps with green while maintaining their shape is HARD. Even as I continued outlining the rest of the dark green area and filling it in I kept coming back to the spine bumps and finding areas that still had black peeking through.

IMG_4276 IMG_4348 IMG_4351 IMG_4368 IMG_4372

Finally after I finished coloring the body things started to get interesting! I began building Ducky’s lower jaw. Partway through this process I realized I had sort of unconsciously been building it anatomically. I started with the bone structure of the jaw.

IMG_4391

Then I started connecting it together with tendons and muscle.

IMG_4401

Next I made the tongue and started on the skin.

IMG_4404

Until finally I had a complete lower jaw!

IMG_4409

At this point I had to pause and consider how I should proceed. I had two options that I could see; build the rest of the head on the lower jaw and attach it to the neck when I’m done, or attach the lower jaw to the neck now and build the rest of the head from there. If I built the head first and attached it to the body later I would have more freedom to manipulate the head as I add in more detail, but I might have trouble making a solid bond with the neck and I would run the risk of screwing up the proportions. If I attach the lower jaw to the body now and build the rest of head while attached to the body the head was sure to be attached to the neck in the most stable way possible and it would be easier to maintain the correct proportions, but it may be harder to get the level of detail needed if I have to fight with the whole body rather than just a small head.

I decided the risk of having a disproportioned head that wouldn’t stay up was too much to bear, so I attached the lower jaw to the neck and started building up the back of the head.

IMG_4556

For the base of the head I had used a core of white wool because it’s so much easier to layer color onto than the black wool. I started running low on the white wool though, so for the crown of the head I decided to use some of the leftover dark green wool as the core. I also started filling a few of the gaps with some previously felted bits of white wool.

IMG_4564

For the upper jaw I went back to using the black wool as the base because for this section I knew I would have to layer on the final colors pretty thick anyway.

IMG_4609

So there you have it! I’ve set the other felting projects aside for now because Ducky is coming together pretty quickly now that the body is finished!

WIP-Cracking Wednesday: Quick Ducky Update

I’m gonna make this quick, ’cause I’m sick and my brain doesn’t like forming sentences when I’m ill. I’ve been coloring Ducky’s body, and it’s going well. So well that I’ve been focusing mainly on Ducky since the last time I checked in. Prepare for pic spam.

IMG_4241 IMG_4254 IMG_4261 IMG_4267 IMG_4270

WIP-Cracking Wednesday: Against All Odds

This has been one of those weeks. It seems like the universe has just been conspiring against me and throwing all kinds of drama my way in an attempt to disrupt my workflow – family drama, tech drama, hell, even the electricity has been giving me attitude. Despite all of that, somehow progress has been made.

The monster has a face!

IMG_4161

Now I just need to add his horns and a tail! I may even consider giving him arms.

I worked on Ducky’s back ridges some more.

IMG_4156

Once I finished with that I breathed a sigh of relief because Ducky’s body is finally the shape I want it to be! Now I’m working on coloring. I concentrated on the tail first, so this is what it looked like after adding the light green on one side.

IMG_4169

Then I added the light green to the other side of the tail and started filling in the hip area.

IMG_4173

Not nearly as productive as I wanted to be this week, but there’s only so much I can do in the face of total chaos. At least the lights are on again.

WIP-Cracking Wednesday: Un-Felting

Last time I updated you on Ducky I was starting to cover a small styrofoam ball for the upper body.

Ducky - upper body started on styrofoam ball

So, I set to work attaching that ball to the lower body. After about an hour and a half of work it looked like this (pardon the mess, I was crafting away from home).

Ducky - upper body fail

Ducky – upper body fail

The upper body shape itself looked great…but something was off about it. Here’s my reference photo again. See if you can spot the problem.

image from TV Tropes

image from TV Tropes

Do you see it? The legs look too small for the body. Or conversely, the body is too big for the legs. It looked fairly proportional before I added the upper body, so I decided the addition of the ball as the upper body was the problem.

How do I fix it though? You can’t actually un-felt something. Felting is kind of a permanent process. It locks the wool fibers together in a death grip and takes a lot of force to pry them apart. I had two options: I could try to cut the top off with scissors and be left with clean-edged areas of wool that are REALLY hard to felt into (believe me, I’ve tried it – it looks like crap), or I could try to pull off all the black wool that I used to secure the ball in place and risk distorting the top half of the lower body in the process.

I decided to try the ripping-it-apart-with-my-bare-hands route. It took some serious pulling, but I did finally get the upper body off with minimal damage to the lower body. I learned something it the process though – that styrofoam ball that I used to build the upper body didn’t hold up well to all that stabbing. The ball pretty much disintegrated inside the wool! I couldn’t really tell until I had to manhandle it though, so I guess it could still work as a core to build on as long as I don’t squeeze it too hard. I wonder if the larger egg-shaped ball that I used for the lower body is suffering the same fate? I’m not going to squeeze it to find out…

After having to rip off all my work it took a loooong time before I figured out what I should do next. I would just pull Ducky’s lower body out and stare at it every now and then, hoping an idea would come to me. Finally one did – why don’t I just try shaping the top half of the lower body so it looked like the upper body and then stick a neck on top of that?

IMG_4109

That looks better! I was even able to re-use some of the pre-felted clumps that I had pulled off the failed upper body to shape the neck. You can see some black fuzz along the top of the body leftover from the tear-down, but that will all be covered when I color it in. You can also see where I started adding in some of the back ridges on the base of the tail. I continued that across the rest of the tail.

IMG_4122

Now that I’m more comfortable with the overall body shape, I think I have a plan for how the rest of this project will go:

  1. Finish shaping the back ridges.
  2. Apply the final colors to the body.
  3. Shape the lower jaw and attach it to the neck.
  4. Color the inside of the mouth on the lower jaw.
  5. Shape the rest of the head, coloring the top part of the inside of the mouth, and attach to the lower jaw.
  6. Finish shaping the head and add in detail work
  7. Attach the arms.

That’s still a lot more work ahead, but it’s smaller pieces so hopefully it will go quicker? Or I’m having delusions of efficiency again… I’m still a bit nervous about how it will turn out because at this point it will NOT stand up. Not even a little bit. I’ll figure out how to deal with that once it’s done.

In between my staring contests with Ducky, I started on another project. Someone requested a monster. My sister creates illustrated characters all the time, so I asked her to design a monster for me. This is what she sent me:

IMG_4077

Cute, huh? I decided to experiment with a fluffier style of needle felting for this one. I’m not going to make the monster super dense – he’s going to stay a bit squishy and fuzzy looking.

First I shaped the body and started on one of the legs.

IMG_4115

Ula kindly lent me a paw for scale.

IMG_4114

Then I finished up the legs.

IMG_4120

It’s a bit small as you can see from the cat-assisted photo (though to be fair, Ula is a Ragdoll, which is a large breed of cats – think Maine Coon size), so I might want to make a buddy for this little guy. We’ll see how it goes.