Mr Wolf…

There is no doubt that my decision to make wolves as the most recent addition to my ‘Woodland Animals’ collection and as this Winter’s special is directly related to my slightly obsessional reading of ‘A Song of Ice and Fire‘ by George R.R. Martin.  The book reading was prompted by a mixture of my need for a fun new series to read, my love of sci fi and fantasy and a slight addiction to American TV programs, resulting in the rather late discovery of the ‘Game of Thrones’.  I bought all the books available on my kindle and happily worked my through them, it isn’t the best writing I’ve ever read but it is throughly entertaining and totally addictive.  I got to the end and then looked up when the next installment might be due, apparently it took Mr Martin 5 YEARS!!! to write the last book.  I was just a tiny bit gutted.  Still, whilst I wait to find out what will happen to the many characters I’ve come to love, I thought I might like to make some wolves.

As a general rule, I try to stick to ‘British’ animals when I design, it just feels more correct with my shop and although I don’t often see a wolf wondering through my garden, they did once live here so I think this is OK.  I noticed that my winter board has rather a few wolves on, above is a postcard by Hidden Eloise and to the left, my main inspiration, some fabulous wrapping and card in the form of ‘HUNTING WOLVES WRAP PACK’, by Zoran Pungercar which I bought from Wrap a year ago.  If you’ve never checked out Wrap, you must, they produce magazines based on a theme, containing fabulous illustrations by talented artists.  I’ve just ordered the new ‘Nordic’ version and can’t wait for it to arrive (I own all the back issues, but refuse to use them for wrapping as suggested).

I’m sorry, I keep rambling, but there is so much to write.  As with all my designs, I try to keep continuity by using a pattern that is already in production, in this case the body of the Foxes and Badgers, so it was just a case of re-designing the head.

I always work my patterns on brown paper, in fact I even do this for dress patterns, it’s just how I was taught and I don’t get on very well with that flimsy tissue stuff.  I tried out some different ears.  At this point I’d normally work up a fabric toille in calico and draw all over it, but I was feeling rather confident so I went straight to the final wool (which I braved washing in the machine to soften it, luckily a decision that paid off).

I find dark tweed and wool very difficult to mark on so I often use paper templates to sew around, or inside, as was the case here with the eyes.  They just had to be yellow, with black pupils.

I was rather pleased with myself at this point, the eyes worked, the tilt of the head was looking good and I felt really happy with the grey/black mix.  I had to stop myself adding another layer of ‘fur’ in another white grey around the neck, I so nearly did but I knew it was an unecessary step that would take a lot of time and was rather over complicating things.

Oh dear.  Makes me thing of Monty Python and lots of ‘big nose’ jokes.That’s better.  Should have done a calico toille after all!  Still, it was easily fixed.  It shows how differently things sew up to paper, once they are stuffed.

The clothing was led by my stash of Liberty Tana Lawn, namely the lovely berry ‘Wiltshire’ pattern.  This is one of my favourite designs and works perfectly with a nice red suit.  The red linen is the left over from a batch I dyed for Red Riding Hood mice some time back (one of which is back in the shop this year), it’s a mix of Dylon’s ‘Tulip Red’ and ‘Rosewood Red’ which make a nice deep scarlet, actually a little darker than it appears in these photos.As with the Badgers, I wanted to add a little brooch, which just had to be a berry one so I dragged out my beads one Saturday afternoon and rather quickly the final version appeared.  I do love just playing sometimes, the idea of bead berries has been rolling around my head for a couple of years now and it was fun to put it into action in such an organic way (ie just playing and not over planning them).  I do quite often work this way, although I do use sketch books, I also ‘make’ things in my head, I am the kind of person who lays awake at night ‘making’ a mini animal dress from scratch in my head, over and over to get the best process worked out.  I’m pretty sure I’m not the only person who does this….I hope!And here he is, the first Mr Wolf in a Dandy Red Suit.  As always red is very difficult to photograph, it is definitely a little darker in real life, but doesn’t he look smart.

I so enjoyed spending some of this morning (in a rare pocket of brighter weather) photographing them.  The best bit was dressing each one, although I started the bodies back in October I had left the noses to last, they always seem to give a different character to each wolf, something I really enjoy, then putting the final outfit on really was a rather nice moment.

A little pile of wolves, to be found here.  I hope you like them 🙂