Monday, June 5, 2017

Claudia's Needle Felt Pet Portraits of Dogs, Pet Memorials

I have always loved dogs, so it makes sense that dog pet portraits are among my favorite needle felt sculptures. I have been told often that my pet portraits were the best gift ever. Clients often buy pet memorials to remember their dear ones that passed over the rainbow bridge.

sheltie pet portrait

Needle Felt Shetland Sheepdog Pet Portrait

I have created many breeds, golden retrievers, shetland sheepdogs, siberian huskies, shepherds, labradoodles, collies, poodles, min pin, corgi, yorki, boxers, westies, bully breeds and on and on.

I had a lot of fun illustrating "Prince Preemie: Tale of a Tiny Puppy Who Arrives Early," as the book is illustrated with numerous dog breeds. The giveaway is a softcover copy of Prince Preemie, signed by the illustrator, me. It's a sweet book, check out the trailer on Youtube.

 "Prince Preemie: Tale of a Tiny Puppy Who Arrives Early," 

wool dog pet memorial

Merle Collie Wool Pet Portraits

Shetland Sheepdog Pet Portrait

I like to create my pet portraits by obtaining numerous photos. I study the photos and I also study images of the breed standard. I spend many hours getting to know the breed and the dog. Usually by the time I'm done, I've fallen in love with the pup.

Wire-haired Pointing Griffon Pet Portrait

Min Pin pet portrait

Miniature Pinscher Needle Felt Sculpture

I use a variety of wool fibers as well as alpaca to create my dogs. Sometimes I'm able to use natural hues; other times I need to dye the fiber to match the dog's coat.

Poodle pet memorial sculpture

Custom Needle Felt Poodle Hugging Stuffed Toy

Needle felt boxer dog

Boxer Pet Memorial 

needle felted dachshund

Needle Felted Dachsund

Tripod dog pet sculpture

Needle Felted Shepherd Tri-pod

The most popular size of dog is 5-6 inches in length, but I have made larger and smaller dogs. If you are interested in a needle felt dog sculpture, summer is the best time to order. I usually cut off orders of pet portraits early in the fall, which is my busy season.

If you'd like to keep up with my new designs, books and other Claudia Marie Felt news please sign up for my newsletter. 

Monday, April 17, 2017

How to Needle Felt a Tiny Cardinal or Tiny Bird

I use tiny birds to decorate branches and little felt trees and some of my treetopper Waldorf angels hold little red cardinals. I created many little birds for my picturebook Seasons of Joy: Everyday is for Outdoor Play. 
In this blog post, I'll explain how to make a tiny red Northern Cardinal. You can also watch me make the cardinal in the YouTube video.

seasons picturebook

Learn to make the tiny cardinal like the one on cover of Seasons of Joy: Everyday is for Outdoor Play


    felt bird
  • orange wool
  • red wool
  • grey-brown wool or alpaca
  • black wool
  • toothpick
  • felting needle 38 or 40
  • sharp scissors

Wrap orange wool tightly around toothpick.

Wrap red wool over orange, wrapping in same direction.

Carefully slide off toothpick, felt with needle, and bend wool to shape bird.

Wrap small piece of red wool around head, and felt in.

Cut head crest to shape like cardinal.

Wrap tiny piece of black wool around beak and felt in, add red wool to create tail.

needlefelted bird

Blend red and gray wool, fold a tiny piece of the blended roving and felt in as wings.

Watch me make the cardinal in this YouTube video:

Waldorf angel with cardinals

Another angel tree topper with cardinals.

snowman building

The tiny cardinal in a Winter illustration from Seasons of Joy: Everyday is for Outdoor Play.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

How to Create a Waldorf Wool Seasons Painting

Children playing throughout the four seasons is a theme that speaks to our hearts. Childhood as it should be, outside in the fresh air.

four seasons painting

Waldorf Seasons by Claudia Marie Lenart

I originally created my Waldorf Four Seasons wool painting as a commission for a kindergarten class at Da Vinci Waldorf School. I have recreated the image numerous times for art patrons around the world. There are subtle differences in the recreations and some of them have been customized to include the customer's children.  The characters, trees, and animals are all created from needle felted wool. 
The images I created of children playing throughout the year have been so well received that they inspired me to write a book with 12 illustrations created from wool -- "Seasons of Joy: Everyday is for Outdoor Play." 

In this blog I will provide an explanation of how I make a wool painting. It is not a step by step tutorial, but I hope you will find it inspiring. 

blue felt

Newly dyed felt drying in the sun

The wool painting begins with a sheet of 100 percent wool felt fabric. I dye it blue, since a large part of the painting is blue sky. 
After dyeing, the wool gets a bit misshapen, so I measure and cut to the desired dimensions. 

Dyed wool felt ready to be measured.

I apply thin layers of Romney wool to the entire painting, blue in the sky portion and white over the ground. I needle felt along the edges of the painting, then place frame glass over the painting and gently rub the glass. This method is called pressed wool painting. The glass can be left on the wool for days.

blue wool sky

Layers of wool create the sky.

My trees are made of natural brown Corriedale wool. They are felted along the edges and then on the tree to look like grooves in the bark. I sometimes roll the branches so they look more solid and thinner. 

Three wool trees

I have used different types of wool for the grass. In this photo it is mostly merino wool. I usually apply a couple of layers of different shades of green. I lightly felt the wool in and then place the glass frame over the wool to enhance the felting process. 

merino green

Grass changing from Spring to Summer.

The tree leaves are fun to make. I usually use green locks for spring and white locks for winter. The summer and fall leaves are created from many different shades, built up in layers. 

Four seasons trees

Four Seasons Trees

To create the children, I study photos of children moving and then lay down a white wool outline. I create the heads separately and felt into the painting. They are dressed on the painting. 

girl running in spring

Children in Spring

I create the animals and flowers separately as well and then felt them into the painting.

needle felt cottontail

Cottontail running in Spring

felt robins eggs

Needle felted robins eggs

spring wool painting

Spring complete

The swing in summer is made from very thin yarn strung around the tree branch then attached with a sewing needle to the seat. The seat is very tightly felted wool that I cut into a rectangular shape.  The girl on the swing is a little doll which I attach to the swing. 

Girl on swing

Spring and Summer

Nuthatch in spring


Fall characters in progress

Children playing in fall leaves


tiny grey squirrel

Little squirrel

I spend a lot of time studying animals both in real life when possible and, more often, in photographic images. For the deer, I used a photo I shot while hiking last winter as my inspiration. The deer was created in layers directly on the painting.

Creating a deer

Winter sledding

Fall changing to winter

I hope that I inspired you to create your own wool painting. This image is copyrighted, so please do not create one to sell. 
If you would like me to create a wool painting for you or if you would like a print of my Seasons paintings, please visit Claudia Marie Felt on Etsy.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Wool Painting, Needle Felting Feature on Major Chicago News Station

An already busy holiday season became a bit more hectic, and a lot more exciting, when I was contacted by WGN news producer Pam Grimes, who was interested in doing a feature on my work. "Wool Painting: How a Love of Animals Led a Chicago Area Artist to a New Calling," was featured on the evening news, Dec. 21. I was pleasantly surprised that the feature was about 5 minutes.

Needle Felt artist
"Wool Painting: How a Love of Animals Led a Chicago Area Artist to a New Calling

Pam and photojournalist Steve Scheuer came to my home to talk to me about my work, photograph my winter woodland mantle display, some of my wool paintings and illustrations, and my needle felt animals. Prince Preemie also made the cut. He is from the most recent book I illustrated for the late disability advocate, Jewel Kats,  "Prince Preemie: A Tale of a Tiny Puppy Who Arrived Early." 

Dog fairy tale
"Prince Preemie: A Tale of a Tiny Puppy Who Arrived Early." 

Actually, it was interesting to see just how much of my story was portrayed in 5 minutes -- my summers working in national parks, my love of animals, my former career as a journalist.

My son's alma mater, Da Vinci Waldorf School was also featured in the segment. Very fitting, as my Waldorf connection was integral to my finding needle felting.  We drove over to the school where Pam talked to Kindergarten teacher Ieva Scoggin.  Ieva commissioned my Waldorf Seasons wool painting, which has become popular in my Etsy store and among Waldorf families. So many people have connected to the image, that it inspired my first picture book as author and illustrator, "Seasons of Joy: Everyday is for Outdoor Play," to be published in Spring 2017.

Waldorf school artist
The original Waldorf Seasons hangs at DaVinci Waldorf School. 

I was touched that the news segment captured my motivation for doing this work -- the joy that it brings me and the joy it brings to others.

Root children artist
My wool painting inspired by Sibylle von Olfers "The Story of the Root Children."

wool fiber artist
Claudia Marie Lenart of Claudia Marie Felt explaining and demonstrating needle felting on WGN.

A scene from my holiday woodland mantle display