Doggy Textile Taxidermy

Just back from the most fantastic workshop at West Dean.  Dogs and textiles, what more could I want?  OK so the dogs were photos brought along as reference material rather than the real thing but four days spent in the company of seven crazy dog ladies and the lovely and talented Donya Coward as our incredibly hard working tutor, was my idea of Arty Heaven.

The brief was to make a terrier head and as luck would have it I share a house (and often a bed!) with a smooth haired JRT so I had the perfect model on which to base it.  This was not a quick process and some of us were working up to 12 hours a day to get the job done.  However, after months of excited anticipation that I may have found the ideal way in to 3D work to suit both my skills and interests I was not disappointed.

"textile taxidermy first stages"

Day 1: A Gremlin

"Jack Russell Terrier textile taxidermy head"

Day 4: A JRT

She came out a little butcher than I had originally anticipated due to my use of bulky fabrics (recycled felted knitwear) but I am still really pleased with the end result.

"textile taxidermy JRT and her inspiration"

Nelly and her Alter Ego

I can barely wait for my bloodied fingers to heal before I start my next one!


5 thoughts on “Doggy Textile Taxidermy

  1. Hello Nicky,

    Ive just found your blog and am incredibly envious of the beautiful dog heads youve made with Donya Coward and since. I was actually due to take that class but at the last minute it wasnt meant to be. Anyway I was wondering if you could tell me how on earth i could start making one myself? Ideally what armature did you use. Ive got 2 gorgeous mini dacshunds im desperate to make.

    Huge thanks in advance for reading this and for any advice you might be able to give me.


    • Hi Dana
      I used a fox skull cast for the base which should work well for your dachsies. My versions use knitting (Donya’s use woven fabrics and felt), firstly a tight fitting sock-like cover for the base layer which goes over the cast. This provides a layer to stitch to as I don’t glue anything. Onto this gets stitched shaped pieces for the eyelids (upper and lower), the nose/jowls, a chin, a throat, an inner and outer ear. And then over everything goes the final external coverings. If you look closely at your dogs you’ll see the shapes you need. Donya is doing another dog head workshop at West Dean early next year so if you can go I’d highly recommend it. Good luck with your dachsies, I’d love to see a picture when you’ve done them. Nicky

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