Joy Dawes, Blackbird Textiles


About Joy (Blackbird Textiles)

Textiledermy is a celebration of animal life in fabric where my ideas evolve. I recycle fabric and even cut up items of clothing for the right colour or texture (as my husband has discovered).

My sculpture is based on a Welsh mule seen grazing next to a derelict barn we are converting into our home (and my workshop) in Kerry, Powys.

This has been a wonderful journey of discovery for me, learning from the farmers of this amazing area, the landscape and the vast variety of breeds around us. I used to see sheep, local farmers have helped me to understand, observe and appreciate that sheep have personalities, idiosyncrasies and a natural intelligence, like people.

Making for the Challenge

Photographs taken on St David’s Day, inspired my creation. I set about developing a basic head in polyester felt and stuffing.

I then sculpted, using needle felting tools. Adding glass eyes in felted sockets, stitched with wool and threads to achieve detail, texture (even wool eyelashes) allowing the personality to develop.

Ears are needle felted and stitched with ordinary sewing threads to achieve colour and detail. By hand appliquéing the head with Cambrian wool fabric and wool tops I was able to create the character of this breed.

The ewe’s nose and mouth were covered in black fabric and hand stitched just as a painter would use a brush to blend his paint. The separate woollen skin used floor grade tops, and needle felted into place. Celebrating hand stitching, traditional skills for a modern world.