I recently made this denim whale and flock of felt seagulls for our baby. The whale was based on a design by a talented Finnish woman, and the seagulls were inspired by some artwork I purchased from a clever friend, Greg Straight. See the mobile I made using the seagulls, here.
When we discovered a baby was on the way I thought (for a very brief moment) “ooooh … I can do an ocean themed nursery!”. I’ve got a thing for ocean creatures. Then I came to my senses and realised that a) we don’t even HAVE a nursery yet, baby will sleep in our room and b) even when baby does have its own room, it won’t be about a whole ‘decor theme’ anyway. It will just be full of cool shit, that we like. Such as whales and seagulls and wooden trucks and Waldorf dolls and tree-houses and football. See? No room for a theme there.
I followed these instructions to make a denim whale, kindly shared by Finnish blogger Mevrouw Wallis. My whale seems to be longer and skinnier than hers, but that’s cool with me. Blue whales are long and skinny.
I really like his eye and mouth and tail.
My friend Greg Straight is a super talented illustrator and designer. We used to snowboard and drink lots of beer and dance badly together on snowboard club trips, many years ago. He has a really clean, graphic style that I love. When he posted up the image “Grey Day at Maori Bay” (below) on Facebook, I was totally into it and scored the first print. Check out Greg’s online store for this and other cool designs, many of them with a beach/bird/NZ theme.
Greg’s print got me into making seagulls. I blogged about the first felt seagulls I made here, and now I have a flock of five. My plan is to turn the flock into a mobile to hang above baby’s bassinet, but first I need some driftwood – two or three lengths of smooth, bleached-out wood – so we’ve got to get to a surf beach soon.
I kept messing with the design as I made each one, and settled on a few features I really like. Firstly, it became very clear that woollen felt is far superior to synthetic felt for its shape and texture. I guess I knew that already, but making a repeat design with different materials clearly confirmed the difference. Secondly, I prefer the flat-end tail, with texture stitched into the whole length using white thread, not grey. Thirdly, the bodies looks better stitched and turned (even though its fiddly), rather than un-turned and blanket stitched. Finally, using pipe cleaners to stiffen the wings was a great call; the wire allows the wings to be shaped and the tips uplifted.
I’m still undecided as to whether its better to have one or two layers of grey felt on the wings; two layers can be blanket stitched on the back edge for texture, but a single layer can be stretched and shaped a bit more.
If you’re into the idea of whales, polar bears, seagulls and other cool ocean wildlife, check out my Pinterest board on that theme. Lots of cool graphics, illustrations, ceramics, woodwork, sewing patterns and other ideas.
Thanks for stopping by! Give me a shout in the comments if you have any questions or feedback, and check out the mobile I made with the seagulls here.