Friday, April 16, 2010

Pixie Play

I have been working on a commission piece the last few months.  The client wanted a piece similar to "Pixie Capers" . 

We talked about the elements she wanted in the piece, which were:  3 pixies wearing acorn cap hats and a tree.  "Pixie Capers" has a knothole in the tree. I need to make a similar piece but not a copy, so I decided to make a hollow in this tree, for a hiding place.

The tree form is created from cardboard and wire, covered in felt.  Here are the three pixie bodies with the tree.

 I thought of making a silk fusion tree.  Silk fusion works very well for bark, as in "Every Acorn Has to Fall".  But I know she wants a piece very similar to "Pixie Capers", so I went with the needlefelted bark.  Here I am beginning to needlefelt.  I start with a layer of chiffon, cover it with felt, then add bits of hand dyed scrim and dryer sheets.  This process takes several days.......

Adding more layers.......

Adding even more layers.....

Needlefelting from the back "pushes" the chiffon through to the other side, creating an even more textured surface.

I cut the pieces apart, needlefelt them even more to blend, and burn the edges.  It's important to do the burning in a well ventilated place.

Now it's time to sew the bark onto the tree form.

This is starting to look like a tree now.

Below are some of the fabrics used on the background of the piece and the pixies'  clothing.  I mixed up a nice mossy green and dyed these three different fibers in the same dye bath.  Now they are drying outside in the sunshine.
It's always fun to see how the different fibers take the dye. 

Cotton yarn on the left, silk habotai in the middle, nylon on the right.  Isn't it interesting how the cotton is so much greener, and the nylon has more brown in it!

Now it's time to work on the acorn caps.  I had a little trouble finding what I needed.  The first ones used in "Pixie Capers" were a gift.  They were found locally, but not this time.  I tried several local sources with no luck.  Then I found a place to order some online, which were supposed to be really big but when I received them I was disappointed in their size.  I ordered from another source, and this time they were big enough to work.

I need to cut them and remove the acorn inside.  I use a dremel tool for this part.
Here is the acorn cap that I just cut.  Now I need to scrape the inside so that it will fit my pixie's head......

And here is the cap scraped and ready to become a hat.

Tiny fingers need tiny fingernails.......

The tree is sewn to the embellished background fabric, so that it will be secure.
I use a circular needle.  This helps me maneuver around the curve of the tree.

At last, the piece comes together!  My task was to create a piece similar to "Pixie Capers" without being a copy.  The hollow in the tree is a perfect hiding place for a pixie.  If there is a hiding pixie, then they must be playing hide-and-go-seek.  To convey the idea of hide-and-go-seek in a small space I came up with the idea of "blind man's bluff".  The pixies all wear scarves sewn with silk habotai leaves.  The one who is "it" wears his as a blindfold.   Here is the finished piece.

I noticed that the colors aren't true in this photo.  They seem washed out and over exposed so I took the piece outside to see if I could get truer colors with daylight.

The colors look a little better now. 
Below are some detail shots.

Pixie hanging from the tree.

Hiding Pixie

Blindfolded Pixie


  1. Janet, these guys are delightful and the tree is very realistic! I know the recipient will be pleased!! Joyce

  2. WOW!! I just happened upon your site and I am in awe!! Amazing.... The work you do is absolutely .... well just really impressive.

    I have always loved fabric art, but have always had a concern. Witht he dust problem where I live (rural roads and living on a hill) how do you keep them clean....??? Or am I just being OCD?

    Do you give classes in doll/environment making??

  3. Thank you Joyce & Marky! We don't have that problem in Houston - no dusty roads here! I haven't taught a class like that yet, but that's an idea to think about. :)