Huge Needlefelt Jacob sheep in progress

Quick and dirty photo montage of a large needle-felt sheep sculpture in progress. No fancy portraits.

SCROLL FURTHER DOWN for finished sheep photo

This Jacob is entirely made of….yes, all Jacob fleece!  He’ll sit to spin at a rather sizeable 14″ miniature wheel.  It will be on display at Oregon Flock & Fiber Festival 2018.  If you don’t do Facebook anymore (like me: “grrr”) the location is: Clackamas County Event Center  (Canby Fairgrounds) 694 NE 4th Ave, Canby, OR 97013.   September 22 ~ 23.Paper sheep at SHORT WHEELPaper mockup sheep is posed at a sweet Saxony wheel (meant for yet another large sheep-in-progress).  Mr. Jacob sheep will (maybe….) spin at the upright wheel – scroll down to see.

Wire armature in progress.  Sometimes I mockup the armature in an easier-to-adust softer wire to get the proportions, before cut & twist the stronger wire.  This version worked, but afterthought:  twistyness translates thru wool as lumpy limbs (which was hard to overcome), so I won’t repeat.  Next time I’ll go with straight wires overlapped, ends wrapped with thin wire.
Upright wheel temporarily disassembled, but does have it’s flyer, bobbin, axle, etc.
Wrap wool snug around wire armature.  Needle it firm.  Add pads of needled wool – wrap those and needle whole thing to firmness.  HOURS are spent on this part…. days even…
Wrap wool.  Pad wool.  Needle wool.  Repeat.  Repeat.   Oh drat – I forgot the horns.  Brain surgery necessary to firmly secure wire for horns.  Suture wool, patch it and needle firm.  Cover with a “skin” of the crimpy white Jacob wool.  The white covers the mixed coarse wool of body core, looks more tidy and makes a nice base before attaching prettier topcoat locks.
You’re looking sharp there, Mr. Jacob.  Hooves, Horns and spots to map the fleece colors.  Glass hand-painted eyes secure and eyelid details happening.  Slender body because I know your fleece coat will bulk you up considerably.
WASH the raw Jacob fleece.  SORT the colors.  PICK CLEAN the locks.  TRIM the locks.  Begin laborious needling effort to secure the base of each lock.  LAYER the locks alongside each other, row–by–row–by–row (fast forward 6 hours later…..still at it…..).  I watched an entire season of Outlander (again).  And some Netflix….  Attaching fleece alone took 3 + days.
Begin to attach the trimmed locks.
Run out of white locks (argh…really?!)  and begin using the mingled colors to fill between dark and white spots.  One must accommodate surprises.  Oh, and must remember tail.
Still adjusting horn & hoof color;  horns too reddish, hooves too yellowish.  That will change.
I love this fleece – it’s so soft and full of bouncy sweetness.  The sheep wearing the original coat must have looked adorable.
Now to work on the spinner’s chair.     {{{ off she skips…. “La la la la dee dah!” }}}
Update:  Much improved horns – less red tone – and the darker hooves more appealing.
Fast forward to August 4:  A completed Jacob, with it’s own custom made chair.  Here I show the original wadded paper mock-up for concept and proportion – – alongside the finished sheep sculpture.  Pretty darn good result.  What do you think?

6 thoughts on “Huge Needlefelt Jacob sheep in progress

    • “Eeeee! ” {{ she does a happy dance }}
      What a generous compliment. Thank ewe ever so much. I am content to run a micro-business which keeps dear hubby & I busy in our retirement. You would be able to view our items in person at our favorite local fiber festivals: Black Sheep Gathering (BSG) and also Oregon Flock & Fiber Festival (OFFF) annually. Occasionally we venture out to a smaller, local Spin-In event (generally last min decision doesn’t always make it onto blog calendar).
      Otherwise, I try to share my delirious enthusiasm for woolly pursuits here on the Blog. That’s the whole reason for it’s existence: to put more fiber fun goodness out into the world.

  1. I love your creations!!! I found your Balwen Ewe while searching for this breed and then started to surfe your great sculptures – I myself started to produce far less costly little sheep (more wrapped than felted so far), only since last year also rare breed for local markets, combining my creativity with raising awareness for rare breeds…

    • Hi Lydia, I’m glad to learn of your interest in ~ and support of ~ rare sheep breeds. You are a fellow fleece enthusiast. Through a decade of belonging to a spinning guild I have read with interest about many uncommon sheep breeds. Browsing through numerous festivals such as Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival or the 3-day Black Sheep Gathering, I have been fascinated to see sheep such as Valais Blacknose (Swiss mtn sheep) or California Variegated Mutant (CVM), or Jacob – with their spotted coats and 4 horns. I have enjoyed being able to obtain and create yarn from their fleece. Only last week I was carding and spinning the natural colors of some CVM wool for a shawl. I’ve held and worked with marvelous wool from Black Welsh Mtn, Wensleydale and Castlemilk Moorit. Rare or uncommon sheep names can be found on the Livestock Conservancy List, or in Britain, the Rare Breeds Survival Trust.
      I’d love to see some of your needle felted sheep creations. Send me pictures? (yay)
      Nothing wrong with “mostly wrapped” floofy sheep that many customers love to buy, and they make charming ornaments. Keep wrapping – that’s how my sheep cores are formed, just they get needled to reasonable firmness only because I personally prefer it. Eventually you’ll find yourself needling the wool to sculpt and shape the bodies and then you’re off into wonderland of creation.
      Thank you too, for your kind compliment about my work.

    • Thank you, Susan, for your nice comment, and I’m sorry I hadn’t seen it earlier.
      My poor neglected blog…. In this year of Covid virus pandemic, with canceled festivals and nowhere to go since we are self-quarantining so much at home…. well the blog has gone neglected. Early in 2020 we somehow managed a house purchase and move – so that ate up months of attention while we were trying to adjust to all the societal restrictions and changes.

      Here we are in spring of 2021 – – pandemic still in progress but vaccines helping us get closer to normalcy. I keep thinking I should at least dye some wool on these sunny days – that usually sparks the creative flame and gets me going again.

      I suppose one benefit of having no festivals to attend, is the extra time now available for my own projects: like felting a rug. I’ve long wanted to try that. I spent winter months cleaning and carding a whole wool fleece in preparation to make that kitchen rug. Ya know…. I should blog about that.

      Take care during these hard times to find your own creativity. It’s gonna help us get through this rough time.

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