Left: "Sage Bunny" holding a pussywillow staff (wood and wool pussywillow buds), approximately 4 inches tall. Needle-felted wool figure by Karen Engelbretson. Click on the image to view an enlargement.
Karen Engelbretson of KJE Felties™ has done it again with new needle-felted animals for spring—bunnies, chicks, and crows.
If you want to acquire one of these figures you can find the bunnies at the Textile Center featured in their shop. (Each animal or bird is so expressive that I think of them more as friends than objects.)
If you don't live in Minnesota there's no reason for you to miss out on these lively critters because Engelbretson has opened an Etsy shop: KJE Felties.
I have to admit that I have quite a collection of KJE Felties™. Since Engelbretson started with birds it seemed like a no-brainer as I love birds. And her approach to needle-felting birds combines not only a rich base of observed detail but an artistic editing eye which imbues each of these handmade characters with attitude and personality. I think they are little works of art. I've found them to be the perfect gift for anyone who loves birds and art—and now bunnies. It has been exciting to see how Engelbretson has grown her line of birds and animals always finding new ways to express her love of the natural world.
I don't like sweet, and I don't like cute (Dottie being the exception to the latter). I have to say that these small figures may have a touch of both but their real appeal is in their individuality—no two are exactly alike. Whether the birds hang as an ornament or the bunny sits on your desk, they all invite conversation and interaction. They want attention.
With her line of bunnies Engelbretson has allowed just enough anthropomorphizing to shape a unique collection of individuals while not losing the naturalistic and observed details for which her work is noted. (Engelbretson's daughter has a rabbit and I'm sure close associating with Benson over time has given her insights that we now see in these small figures.)
If you would like to see how some of Engelbretson's work is literally growing, she has a pair of crows—"Two is for Mirth"—in the Seasons on St. Croix Gallery's Wit and Whimsey Show. Her not quite life-size crows converse with each other while balanced on a branch. She has explored numerous approaches to capturing the texture of "not-simply black" when rendering this talkative pair through needle-felting.
The show at Seasons on St. Croix will be up until April 2, 2013. You can find details for hours and directions to the gallery at the link.
You can also read a review of Engelbretson's needle-felted birds at "Felter Skelter: Creature Felt" by Zoe Williams.
Get out and notice one of these creations today. You might come home with a new friend.