I don’t know if I could survive a year without hunkering down in my studio during the cold months of January and February. It’s like a gift of time, when you can focus and get things done, without warm weather distractions. My plan is to make as much progress as possible on my picture book My Bed: Enchanting Ways to Sleep around the World. The summer deadline looms large and no matter what I do, the process cannot be sped up. So, that means stitching in front of the fire in the evening, too. I’m not complaining – this is my happy place! For the past year or so, I’ve been sharing photos of the book’s progress on this blog, with more frequent updates on Facebook and Instagram, which a follower called “a daily dose of eye candy.” The story, which features children in different cultures and living environments, was written by Rebecca Bond and will be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2020.
Today, I’d like to show how I made a two hump, or Bactrian camel, which will be a spot illustration to go with the North African scene.
UPDATE: I am thankful to Anna from Alaska, who pointed out that African camels are the dromedary or one-hump type, which shows sloppy research on my part. So, I’ve just transformed this guy’s two-humps into one! It’s better to find out now, before the book is printed and smart little kids write in to correct me!
For a guide, I used this wooden toy camel that I made in the mid-80’s, when I went through a period of cutting out shapes on a jig saw.
The legs were made by wrapping embroidery floss around a bent pipe cleaner, just like the dolls’ limbs in my how-to book, Felt Wee Folk.
Here, I’m stitching a blanket with fringe to the simple cut-out felt shape of the camel.
The chain stitch is becoming my favorite way to “draw” and “color in” with thread these days.
I stitched the front and back pieces together with a blanket stitch. But before that, I sewed the seed bead eye in place and embroidered the heavy eyelid. The bead is probably set inside a small slit, cut into the felt. Sometimes, I can’t remember exactly how things are done, which is why these peeks behind the scenes are really too vague to be tutorials.
I cut out a felt ear, outlined it in blanket stitch and and sewed it to the head. I like to add details, even in the smallest of figures and thought that a little hair on the head and neck would make this camel more distinctive.
Here’s an even smaller camel, which will be included in another scene in the book. I think I’ve reached my size limit with this one!
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Its face has so much character.
Just what I wanted to say!
Wow! Thank you so much for sharing this with us. When I first saw the picture of the camel I wondered how you made the hump. Thank you for explaining. It´s an amazing camel. I loved it.
Seeing your work always brings a smile to my face. Thank you!!!
I love the camel, but more than that I love the picture of you by the fire. That’s one I can walk right into. I remember how you said winter was a wonderful time to work for you. Now, I can begin to understand why.
I am so excited to see the completed bed book – and so are my kids!
Your Bactrian camel is so beautiful, but I wanted to suggest you double check its presence in North Africa. I am fairly certain that Bactrians are native to Asia, and dromedary camels are native to Africa. I live in Alaska and we are lucky enough to have a Bactrian, two hump camel at our zoo – it is actually hardy enough to live up here in the cold!
Good luck with all of your illustrations! Anna
Thank you for this information Anna, which shows sloppy research on my part. I may have to redo the camel to a one hump variety. Better to find out now, before the book is printed!
So good that this involved simpler embroidery! This character is a keeper, to be put to other use – it’s true the camel of Africa is a dromedary, one-humped. Maybe you could keep this camel for Africa, by just filling in the gap between the humps, by adding a red felt carpet-covering, above the fringe … same for the little titch? or could that one stay a Bactrian camel?
Yes, my thoughts exactly. I am reconstructing the camel into a dromedary at this very moment.
I’m glad you made a smiling camel. They always seem a bit mischievous to me.
What a handsome fellow he is! I love your critters, every one has it’s own distinct personality.
I so agree with you. I love this period of rest and renewal before the distraction of spring and summer. I could not do without them and I’m sad that they fly by…
Love your camel and this wonderful time to work on these important stitcheries!
Whether 1 hump or 2, that camel”s a beauty! Love its colors and texture.
You know, it´s all those fine details that make your work so special.
I love this little camel. Great to see your process, too. Thanks, Salley.
Yes, I think that’s small enough, after that, your lovely skills are diminished.🤗
This is gorgeous! Thank you for sharing this! Planning to make it as one of our Jesse tree ornaments this year.