A Curlique Ewe ~ Teeswater sheep

I’ve been busy…..   Yes… I have so too!  Really.   Blogging delays indicate I’ve been up to my neck in House and Yard  chores & repairs since Black Sheep Gathering.   Repairs are ongoing (cue loud hammer on outside wall, even as I type).   But a crafty gal has to maintain sanity amidst the chaos, and the BEST way to do that is to…go CREATE something…

Nearly football size at 10″w x 10″t.      More photos below

A big sheep would be just the challenge I needed.  How about a Teeswater?  These sheep are uniquely beautiful, with their extra long curls hanging freely on the body like so many silky tassels.

Browse Teeswater links to learn how the purebred sheep cannot be imported from Britain, but must be ‘built up’ genetically thru artificial insemination ~ upon another type of sheep as the initial foundation.  It’s a time-consuming years long process to build a flock to a high % Teeswater genetics.  And, each ‘base’ sheep (be it Wensleydale, Blue faced Leicester, etc) lends differing characteristics to the lock structure as the breeding program progresses.  I’ve got locks that are kinky and some an intriguing spiral structure.  I love them both.  Can’t wait to use them to create beautiful needle felted sculptures!

My friends at Looking Glass Loft provided me with a few gorgeous fleece, each slightly different.  This sheep sculpture will be one of 3 or 4 total, with the others already in preparation.

Now… avert your eyes if you choose ~ since I’m about to show a naked sheep!  This is how they look in-progress.  Paring the many steps down to just a few =  Step 1:  Skipping the skeletal view, suffice to say a solid wet-felted core skewered by wired legs is too ugly to post a pic.   Step 2:  wrap layers of core wool & needle into place to form a shapely body.  Step 3:  color of face & leg wool applied.  Step 4:  a ‘skin’ layer of whatever the final fleece color will be, and….we have a naked sheep with good strong guts.

Legs need thickening & dark color. Face skin needs tweaking. Ears are wrong + need dark center.  Pins mark eye location

Sweet cheeks!  And she’ll need a tail, even if it’s hard to find after she’s got her curly coat.

I realize I could leave the body a felted BLOB ~  saving all the pretty details for just the head & legs~ but I am convinced that a correct sheep-shaped base will lend authenticity to the finished critter, even after it’s covered with curls.

Improved ears & legs, tho I may thicken legs still more.

Much better

The Teeswater fleece was oh-so-cautiously washed in order to best retain lock structure.  Such luscious curliques they are too,  and surely magical in origin?   It stirs the imagination to conjure up fairy folk sacrificing their exquisite locks  so the Teeswater sheep may sport it as finery ~for a season~ before the human folk sheer them of their prize coats!

One handful at time, the clean wool is gently teased apart, each lock separated and laid out according to length, thickness and type of curl.  The dainty thinner locks are saved for the head & face.  The ‘messy’ locks can be needled into crevices to lend support there.  Shorter locks are saved for ‘filler’ spaces.    The longest locks with the best structure form the main body & of those, the best of them are the last applied, where they’ll show nicely.

Every individual lock on this sheep is painstakingly applied 1 at a time, with thought given to it’s best placement before it’s securely needled onto the body.  Could it ever be torn loose?  Well sure….. but we’ll agree it’s best not to let the sheep fall into the clutches of cats, dogs or rabid toddlers who’ve been known to eviscerate wooly creations!  With normal handling, petting and cooing, the sheep is in no danger of falling apart.  They are quite sturdily constructed.

This lovely Ewe ~ and more like it ~ will make an appearance soon at Oregon Flock & Fiber Festival 2012.

A few days of meticulous work and “Ta-da!  We have a Curlique Ewe!  I like the way she flirtatiously peeks out thru her forelock, with just the hint of a sheepish smile.

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