Not a Dodo but definitely a bird

Yahoo! time for some needle felting.  I know I promised to show you how I needle felt a Dodo brooch, small change of plan … yesterday as I cast my eyes over the latest edition of Current Archaeology the cover photograph of a bird of an altogether different kind grabbed me. ca281_banner_280x165

Poignantly this small bronze enamelled cockerel was found along with a pottery feeding cup in the grave of a small child discovered by archaeologists in a Roman cemetery outside the walls of Roman Cirencester. It probably dates from the early 2nd century AD and was dedicated to the goddess Arcana by Ulpius Verinus a veteran of the sixth Legion. A gift for a much loved child to take to the afterlife.

While I thought that this would make a relevant edition to the brooches I make for Kendal Museum – they have a collection of local Roman finds – what most inspired me to create a brooch effigy was the pleasingly tactile shape and design of this small enamel  funerary offering. Here goes.

First I drew a template. DSCN0410

As you can see I had a bit of a struggle with the tail! I simplified things in the second version. So it turned a bit cartoonesque … Then I transfered my design onto fusible interfacing which I pressed with a hot iron onto a piece of felt fabric.

Now I was ready to needle felt my little not-so-feathered friend. I usually use locally sourced and dyed Merino wool tops but I also have some vibrantly coloured Austrian Merino tops that I bought at last year’s Woolfest.

Just a word of warning. Keep the needles out of harms way and watch your fingers while you are felting. Dry felting needles are barbed and they don’t half sting when you pull them out! I’m impatient so I always try to felt too much wool in one go. Best to remember ‘less is more’, you can always add wool its much more difficult to thin it out! Otherwise it’s a bit like colouring by numbers. Keep your needle straight, I’ve snapped several when trying to felt at an angle.

Still my little bird seems to be coming along. DSCN0440

Now all the felting is done. DSCN0442

I trim off the excess felt-interfacing backing, tidy up the rough edges

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and sew on a brooch pin. DSCN0457

Voila! DSCN0458

More Foghorn Leghorn in a beret than the grandeur that was Rome but still good fun.

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