Pooch Portrait Gallery

Remember my first forays into 2D needle felting and, in particular, dog portraits?

I thought you might like to see how I’ve been getting on since I started at the beginning of February.

My dog Stan was my first go but I could see room for improvement.  Which was just as well otherwise why pay for a course?

The next one I did was a Trailhound.  I don’t have a Trailhound, and don’t know anybody who has but the photo was in the course for us to use as a practice piece for a smooth coated dog.  Even though he was only my third go – I did a practice Jack Russell too which I showed in an earlier post – I think he’s still the best thing I’ve done so far.

I was really pleased with him and the practice will come in handy for when I do a portrait of my girl Flo as she has a similar look.

Next I did another practice piece, copying the Lhasa Apso photo on the course to try out a longer haired dog as I wanted to do my sister’s Westie for her birthday.

The long hair was difficult but I think I made a passable portrait and I was pleased with the collar.

We lost Phoebe, our lovely German Shepherd back in 2013 and I didn’t have that many suitable photos of her to copy but I used what I had and I’m quite pleased with the result.

I’m sure those of you who paint will already know how many different colours are present in things you previously thought of as comprising only a few.  I used so many colours of fibre in those ears and, close up, I thought it looked ridiculous but, once you stand back, it all seems to work.

Then it was time for the Westie.  He’s called Harvey and my sister adores him so I wanted to make my first portrait for somebody other than myself a good one.

Again, the long hair, going off in all different directions, was difficult but hopefully she’ll be able to recognise her beloved fluff ball.  To be honest, I think most Westies look the same but I’m sure their owners don’t think so.

I won’t be framing my practice pieces, but for the others I found some good frames in Ikea which are perfect for textile art because you can sink the image quite a way down from the glass.  At least it was glass when I bought this one to frame Phoebe but when I ordered another four of the frames online the glass had been replaced by some sort of polycarbonate.

I still think they are good though and very reasonably priced if you are thinking of framing any textile work.  The model is called Ribba, they come in both black and white and they cost about 7 euros.

Next up, will be my beautiful Flo

I’m still really enjoying myself with this and working with lovely pure wool fibres is a treat.

Thank you for visiting my gallery.

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  1. #1 by thecontentedcrafter on May 23, 2020 - 08:50

    Standing applause! I never want to hear you say you can’t draw a stick figure again. These are lovely. I used to have two Westies – way back in the days when the world was young – and the one you have done looks exactly like my boy Simon – now long, long departed, but not forgotten. I agree with you that the Jack Russell looks as if it is, thus far, the best of your work – but that could be the angle of the photo and does not detract from the fact the others are very good too and showing an upward trajectory in the improving scale 🙂 I have found doing portraits of people (or animals) I know and love rather daunting and much prefer to draw people I don’t know or imaginary people. Less pressure!

    • #2 by tialys on May 23, 2020 - 10:24

      Thank you Pauline. I am hoping the trajectory will continue to be upward – practice, practice and more practice is the key I’m sure and, while I’m having fun that’s fine by me.
      I still say I can’t draw by the way as I start by doing a transfer of a photo and work on that.

  2. #3 by Wild Daffodil on May 23, 2020 - 08:50

    I have only done a tiny bit of needlefelting and know how satisfying it is to lay down the colours and blend them, but I don’t think i would ever gain the skills you have with these amazing portraits.
    I see that some of them are on a felt background and some on woven fabric. How do they differ in the working of them – I am fascinated – I hadn’t realised you could felt onto other fabrics.
    And then holy revelations , just last night I came across a machine that does felting with 5 needles at a time! A Janome Embellisher.
    I was up far too late watching videos on You Tube. I am itching to have a go but they cost over £300 and it would probalby be just a passing obsession for a few weeks – I am itching to have a go though!

    • #4 by tialys on May 23, 2020 - 10:42

      Thanks Sandra. Really, you can needle felt on to any fabric you can get the needle through but felt is a good choice as it speeds up the felting process at the beginning until you’ve got the first layer of fibres down. I also like linen – the looser weave helps and I like the ‘finished’ look it has but I usually lay a piece of scrap felt underneath when I’m working on it. Lately, I’ve seen people using things like Harris Tweed and other 100% wool fabrics which look amazing but I only have dark pieces in my stash and worry the portrait won’t stand out so much. I’ve discovered my woollen pressing mat – usually used for quilters pressing small pieces of fabric – makes a really good base to support the work.
      I usually use just one needle at a time but, for landscapes, there is a punch with about five needles in it so, if you’re doing large areas at a time, they are useful. I do have one but don’t use them in the portraits as the dogs’ coats generally need more careful manipulation to get the texture looking right and the features such as eyes and nose need ‘tickling’ as our tutor calls it rather than the stamping motion you get from the punches.
      I watched a couple of those YouTube videos of the felting machines and can see they would be useful for some projects. Knowing how those little needles can hurt – albeit momentarily – when you stab yourself with one, I found the five needle machine stabbing away at speed very scary, needle guard or not. Also, I was surprised that fabric other than wool was being used as I thought wool could be the only thing that could be felted. Some interesting results are achieved though aren’t they? Really useful for anybody interested in textile art.

  3. #5 by cedar51 on May 23, 2020 - 09:17

    I agree with your comment, that when you crafting anything that has detail…as you work with it, close up, you think “this isn’t going to be looking good” but once you stand back and stop fussing with the tiniest detail, it looks great. And your dog portraits do so as well…
    Just be mindful of the wrist action – RSI and all that guff…

    • #6 by tialys on May 23, 2020 - 10:51

      The tutor tells us to stand back and, even better, regularly take photos of our work as we go along or even just hold it up to a mirror. It definitely gives you a better perspective.
      When I first started, especially as I had been doing a little bit of 3D felting, I stabbed far too hard and that ended up causing me some shoulder pain – although I’ve still to find a comfortable working position when I’m needle felting so that also might have something to do with it. I think I have developed a bit of a lighter touch with the needle now though – ‘tickling’ rather than ‘stabbing’.

  4. #7 by DawnGillDesigns on May 23, 2020 - 10:09

    now you’ve got so proficient, I think it’s time to introduce you to Steph. I follow her on twitter, as she a)is an awesome crafter/artist and b) makes up these hilarious little stories about her creations. I’m not sure how much she has on her website, she seems to sell very efficiently through twit, so much might not make it to the www, but take a look 😉

    • #8 by tialys on May 23, 2020 - 10:46

      Thanks for introducing me to Steph – I love her creatures and the little stories that go with them.
      I started out doing 3D sculptures but had only made a couple before getting sidetracked with the 2D portraits. I will definitely get back into 3D at some stage though as I would like to achieve some sort of proficiency with that too.

  5. #9 by claire93 on May 23, 2020 - 12:24

    oh wow! you never fail to amaze me! That trail hound is gorgeous. You have done some lovely portrait there, and eyes & noses all look so life-like. Is it easier to do short-haired dogs than long-coated dogs, I wonder?

    • #10 by tialys on May 23, 2020 - 13:01

      The short answer to your question is ‘yes’ – much easier. At least, I think so.

  6. #11 by kathyreeves on May 23, 2020 - 14:14

    These are simply amazing, Lynn! I love the Westie’s fur, it’s just wonderful! You have captured those beautiful eyes on all your subjects.

    • #12 by tialys on May 24, 2020 - 09:02

      Thank you Kathy. I usually start off with the eyes as that gives me a focus point and also connects me somehow with the portrait so I’m encouraged to continue.

  7. #13 by Laurie Graves on May 23, 2020 - 15:09

    Gosh oh gosh oh gosh. Wish there were a “Love” button on this! They are all fabulous, but the Westie is especially good. Maybe it’s because years ago we had a Westie. You got the eyes and nose exactly right. How pleased your sister will be to have this portrait of her darling dog.

    • #14 by tialys on May 24, 2020 - 09:00

      I’m glad so many of you like the Westie as it’s the first portrait I’ve done for somebody else and so I stressed about it a little more.

  8. #15 by katechiconi on May 24, 2020 - 04:42

    I think you’ve done a cracking job on all of them. Harvey in particular has lots of personality, so I have great hopes for Flo. I do see the difficulty in doing the long coat on hairy dogs; it’s like human hair, a flat colour is never enough, and there’s all that business about darker undercoats and so on.
    How are you going to manage the high shine on Flo’s glossy coat?

    • #16 by tialys on May 24, 2020 - 08:58

      Thanks Kate, it was difficult to choose a photo of Flo because I have lots but, also, she has many different faces and I’m not sure which one I want to capture. This might actually turn out to be a trial run as the green merino felt I’m using as a backing isn’t behaving as well as I’d hoped. The shine comes from laying down light greys, whites and even blues in the appropriate place using a light touch with the fibres so they look like shine rather than weird patches

      • #17 by katechiconi on May 25, 2020 - 04:27

        So, an awful lot like painting, using colour and thin glazes to achieve the effect 🙂

      • #18 by tialys on May 25, 2020 - 09:35

        Well, some call it ‘painting with wool’ so I guess some of the principles are the same.

  9. #19 by Loraine on May 24, 2020 - 08:49

    Wow, really impressed! What a good job you’ve done.xx

  10. #21 by Kim on May 24, 2020 - 10:40

    Just gorgeous! I’m sure your sister will be delighted 😍

    • #22 by tialys on May 24, 2020 - 10:56

      Thanks Kim. She’d better be! I’ll have to hold on to it for a while until I’m sure the post between France and Spain is fully functioning again.

  11. #23 by Moira on May 24, 2020 - 13:39

    Absolutely wonderful creations!

  12. #25 by Jamie@hookthisweavethat on May 25, 2020 - 10:00

    Wow! You should be proud of these portraits. They are amazing, even those that are from your practice runs.

  13. #27 by magpiesue on May 29, 2020 - 04:37

    I’m late to the party but these are fabulous! You’ve done very well indeed. May have to send you a picture of my current pup to give you another chance to practice long hair. 😉

  14. #29 by Dartmoor Yarns on June 1, 2020 - 22:06

    Wow! These are fabulous! You’ve really got the hang of this and you’re clearly enjoying yourself. I like the trail hound best too, but they’re all excellent. I hear what you’re saying about Westies – I think they must look different, but agree I always think they all look the same. Your sister’s going to be delighted.

    • #30 by tialys on June 2, 2020 - 10:30

      The only time I’ve ever been bitten by a dog – and I’ve been around a fair few – was a Westie. It belonged to the parents of my boyfriend at the time. I entered the room and it flew at my knee and sunk its teeth in whereupon they told me it was my fault for opening the door and coming in to the room! This same dog had taken the seat out of a T.V. repairman’s trousers on another occasion.

      • #31 by Dartmoor Yarns on June 3, 2020 - 20:34

        Ha Ha! Now why didn’t I think of training Mr Hicks to do that? He could have seen off a few daughter’s boyfriends.

      • #32 by tialys on June 4, 2020 - 13:16

        I just use the husband.

  15. #33 by Dartmoor Yarns on June 7, 2020 - 23:09


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