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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Number 2: Tatting Flamingos

First Flamingos in the tatting firing line were from Martha Ess's book 'New Critters on the Block'. This is a super little book of block tattered little cuties and this one is a real cutie.
This one was made with Flora 10 thread and is about two and a half inches tall.

This inspired a whole line up of tiny flamingos that are certainly destined to make a picture whenever I have time.
These were made in variegated Flora 20 and Altin Basak 50. and are about one and a half inches high. The variegated threads work really well.
The long neck lends itself to posing in different positions and I made some without feet as they were wading in the water.

Next I was looking for something a bit more realistic and where else would I look first but on Jane Eborall's site. In my opinion Jane just has to be one of the best tatted animal designers out there. She studies the animal in question carefully to make sure she has gets most of the characteristics right within the confines of tattings limitations, and is constantly developing new methods to overcome problems.

Janes flamingo is a smasher. I was so proud of my first attempt, showed it to hubby who always truthful,(well he is a zoologist) told me that it didn't look like a flamingo because one of the the characteristics of flamingos is that they have very, very long, very, very skinny legs!

On closer examination Jane's legs were indeed not very, very long, neither were they very,very skinny!

But with a little, well a lot of leg pulling and blocking, the legs became skinny enough to satisfy. The neck also needs stretching and blocking to shape. the body is really good and the best thing I like is the head. She has miraculously captured the essence of a flamingo head with the large black beak.
This one was made in Altin Basak 50 and is 4 inches high.

Flamingos feed on brine shrimps which they strain out of the water with the beak. They walk along head bent with the beak held upside down in the water. It's the pink colour of the shrimps that give the flamingos their colour. We have a wild life park near where we live and the flamingos have to be given additives to the diet to maintain their colouration.

Thinking about flamingos brought back memories. While living in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania 1968-70, during college breaks we would go on safari. One of the most memorable was to Ngorongoro Crater. Down at the bottom of the extinct volcano is a soda lake just seething with flamingos, as well as hippos and loads of terrestrial stuff. Access was only by 4 wheel drive, open top landrover and boy was it exciting.
Just had to go dig out the slides and take another look.

One of the poses I really love in flamingos is when the stand 'at ease' for hours on end with one leg tucked up behind the other, so I thought it would be nice to change Jane's pattern a little and this is the finished result.

This was made in Flora 20 and is five and a half inches high.

Jane didn't mind having her 'leg pulled'! In fact she likes my version so much that she has put the pattern up on her website alongside her original. Thanks a million Jane.

The two versions made in Altin Basak make a lovely pair.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Number 1. Snakes

I started tatting this snake in October in Chicago surrounded by reptile lovers, (so engrossed they never even noticed me tatting!!).

I can't say that I like snakes very much having had a few close encounters with spitting cobras spitting at our car headlights in when we lived Tanzania. Thankful to be inside the car and protected at the time. Glad the puff adder that I had to walk past frequently was in a glass tank. It gave me the shudders every time it puffed up as I passed. I wont go into other experiences of escaped snakes, suffice to say the my dearly beloved's mother always told him to choose a wife that wouldn't mind waking up in the morning to find a snake curled happily around the window opener!!!!(twas only a little harmless grass snake! but thank goodness St Patrick drove all the snakes from Ireland!)

But if I had to choose one snake to like apart from the gentle boa constrictor our friend owned, I think it would be these very well cared for green tree boas that we saw at the reptile show.
I love the way they curl themselves around a branch with a little persuasion I am sure they could make a double stitch!! and so this is the snake that I decided to explore for my challenge. Snakes really do have such pretty markings.

The pattern is Dianna Stevens Snake Bookmark

First attempt in variegated Altin Basak thread, it was amazing how those stripes worked out so well.

Second one was in Flora 20 a bit too gaudy, better for a chamealeon or a parrot.

Beaded version in Altin Basak with beaded eyes, has a nice shiny snake look to it.

My finished piece and the one I think is most snake like, uses one of my favorite threads, a variegated Flora 20 (sadly discontinued) with opaque yellow lustre beads. I made the snake a teeny bit longer (not long enough) with gentle curves and finally got the eyes looking 'snakey'. thank you Dianna for a fun pattern.

And finally absolutely nothing to do with tatting,but give me a break.. I am learning bobbin lace and my first real project was guess what...a snake!

And here he is in all his glory, a great use for a rather strange Altin Basak thread.
the pattern is from Claire Burkhard, 'Lace for 10 pairs'.

My Challenge

I finally have to give in and join the 25 motif challenge, to tat 25 motifs in a year.
Thought hard about what I should choose and decided to tat 25 animals. There is such a tempting array of them out there and many are working their way up to the top of my to-do list. Now they will get there quicker!

As I have a background in Zoology(long time ago!), I love animals. Married to a Marine Biologist whose hobby is Herpetology animals are a part of our life.

What am I looking for in a tatted animal??

Well, it needs to be anatomically correct, that is a spider should have 8 legs, an insect 6. Wings and legs should come from the thorax and so on. A bit of a tall order given by someone who can't design I know.

The design should capture the 'essence' of the animal in the same way that a cartoonist can capture a person in just a few brush strokes. The animal needs to shout..."Look at me I'm a ........!"

And lastly the animal must have a hint of fun and be 'cute'!!

Thank you all who design animals, for making tatting such a lot of fun, watch this space for number one.

I would like to explore the designs of different designers so may do more than one of each animal, so if you know of more versions of an animal I choose please let me know, tho' time might not allow me to tat them all. Life is just too short.

Maybe I will also post some photos we have taken.