Today, I’m happy to show how I made this rooster, which will be used as a spot illustration in my upcoming picture book, MY BED. The story about children’s sleeping places in different cultures around the world is written by Rebecca Bond and will be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in Sept. 2020. A touring exhibition of my original embroidered artwork for the book will travel around the United States. Salley Mavor: Bedtime Stitches will debut at the Cahoon Museum Of American Art in Cotuit, MA from Sept. 11 to Dec. 22, 2020. The tour schedule is listed here.
In addition to creating full page illustrations, I’m making a series of animal icons that will appear on the adjacent text panels throughout the book. The miniature stuffed animals relate to the geographic area of each corresponding scene. Posts about other animal icons I’ve finished making for the book include Elephant and Goldfish and Parrot, Sheep, Camel, Persian Cat, Bunny, Duck, Crocodile, Giraffe and Dog.
When researching Slavic folk art for the Russian scene, I noticed how often a rooster image appears in painted objects, textiles and sculpture. So, I thought it would be an appropriate animal to include, as well as fun to try my hand at making.
After sketching some basic shapes and designs, I cut out a piece of felt and embroidered the curly tail with lines of chain stitching. The inside structure of the head is a wooden bead with a pipe cleaned neck. The bead is covered with a felt hood, with a red comb stitched to the top. I made the beak by wrapping wire with thread and sewed on a black seed bead for the eye.
I blanket stitched 2 body/tail pieces of felt together around the outside edge.
Then, I sewed the head in place and stuffed the body with wool fleece. The rooster is stitched with DMC flower thread, which I’ve previously mentioned is no longer available. Since then, Catriona from Dutch Treat Designs contacted me to say, “We still sell DMC Flower Thread. We have available for purchase almost 1/2 of the colors DMC made. DMC discontinued the manufacture of their 180 colors of Flower Thread in 2003. We bought the remaining inventory from a large DMC distributor, and offer those colors here for your convenience to purchase while they last. We don’t have every color, but we have many of them.”
The wing is a separate piece of black felt, embroidered in red flower thread.
I shaped the legs and feet out of wire.
I then wrapped the wire with regular embroidery floss for the feet and flower thread for the reddish brown legs. After inserting the legs, I sewed up the bottom and stitched the wing in place.
With the last addition of some fly stitches on his feathery chest, this rooster is ready to cock-a doodle-do!
I hope that this post inspires you to make your own designs with felt, wire and thread. My how-to book of doll projects, Felt Wee Folk provides patterns and directions for making a variety of figures. To find out my philosophy about sharing my process, please read this post: When to tell how and when not to.
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