I started an apprenticeship with Denise Richard this september. She is creating costumes for the mice in Dance Frederictons production of the ‘Nutcracker’. I’ve come in partway through as Denise had felted the head during the summer, but this will up date the progress as it goes on.
Sponging around the eye holes in preparation for applying silk fusion
After I got the eyes holes good and wet on the inside and outside I would hand the mask to Denise who would apply the silk fusion. This was too keep all the fibers in places so it wouldn’t tickle the dancers face.
After Denise finished with the silk fusion I went back over the eye holes with a felting needle to push the fibers covered in the medium back into the felt.
The final touch; sniping away all the stubborn fibers that would not felt in.
Altogether! All 8 of the mice and the Mouse King in the middle!
The kings crown! Made from moulded leather. Denise is truly amazing.
The next step in the process was to go to the dance studio and take measurements of some of the dancers. Denise had to go to Moncton for other business so she sent me in her place. During the time at the dance studio I also had to measure how well the mouse kings mask fit and measure the averaged sized dancers. From those measurements Denise made a pattern for the bodies and a tail prototype.
Covering the paper body pattern with masking tape.
Denise makes a prototype tail. It turned out to be to fat and dyed too dark.
We now have all the mouse bodies felted and ready to be cut and stitched. The process took about an hour for each body.
First step was to lay out cheesecloth, 2 layers, then cut it in the pattern shape.
Layered on the cheese cloth is first white Merino and then all over top Grey Icelandic.
Around the edges Denise placed Black Norwegian Top.
The body wet out and the edges flipped under. The colour is dramatically darker.
Me felting away
All together now!
Next was task to complet: the tails!
Denise did the initial needle felting but then she handed off to me to make sure there wouldn’t be any cracks in the tails.
All finished with the needle felting. Hurray!
Denise rolling the tail on the table to get it to hard felt.
All the felted tails! But oops we forgot to make the kings…
We finished all of the mouse bodies now. I hand-stitched a hem from one side of the chest front to the other. Then Denise stitched and pulled to make the belly pop out a bit. Denise sewed and needle felted the tails into place and needle felted some curly locks around the neck line. We then added grommets to each costume so to attach the tunic at each side.
One finished costume, just missing the elastic ties through the grommets.
Close up of the neckline.
Close up of the tail.