Mr. Rat, a crafting adventure of the felting type

Mr. Rat ~ a crafting adventure of the felting type

My kids are home for the Holidays (Love it!), and we've all been rounding up presents; doing a little shopping; searching for that perfect something for someone. Sometimes those "perfect" gifts can be quite elusive. Over the years, I've always enjoyed when one of my children would come to me asking for advice, or even asking if I could make something special for them to give as a gift. I relish the challenge of creating something tangible from a thought or idea, crafting into existence a gift that begins in imagination, but happily made, given and received with open hearts.

It was in this spirit that my son was bandying about the idea of a gift for a friend that likes rats. Now, rats are not one of the cute fuzzy critters that seem to be nestled happily on the display shelves for the Christmas shoppers to exclaim over. No, they are more in line with Halloween-themed decor, something macabre and rather nasty. But my son didn't want some leftover gray, plastic rat, nor the dead looking drowned type, nor the beady-eyed, yellow-toothed evil looking rat. He was reaching for something heartwarming and sweet, what a real pet rat would be.

I remembered that my friend had felted a very realistic rat. It was so realistic that the cat did not want to be parted from it! So I thought, a-ha, perhaps I might make such a felted, fuzzy creature as this. Immediately, I did what I almost always do when embarking on a new crafting adventure, I went to Pinterest, and began my research in earnest. My, my there were quite the array of felted rats ~ some sweet, some burly, some steampunk, some cartoonish, and some so very realistic. I started my "Felted Rat" board, and added pins left and right. I liked the size of this one, the eyes of that one, the color of another.

Then a quick search over at youtube to see if there were any tutorials. After viewing a few,  I happened upon Sara Rensulli, and I knew I had hit the motherload. Sara has been quite the busy felting wizard! She has made dozens of amazing (and I mean AMAZING) youtube videos on how to felt beautiful, tiny critters. Her videos are easy to watch, concise, filled with uncomplicated directions, with a generous flow of useful information. Her website is Sarafina Fiber Art. If you are thinking of felting a tiny animal, are looking for any felting supplies, please visit her site. Her ample selection of videos are organized and sequenced all together, in one tidy location. She sells supplies, and even complete kits with all the bits and bobs that you'll need to finish your project. It is so convenient having all pertinent and quality supplies in one place.

I, being a bit of a self-admitted craft hoarder, had many felting supplies on hand. I adore going to yarn stores. I look forward to our annual, local fiber festival with much craft-geekiness.

I watched Sara's video on armature and decided that I was going to attempt it. I'm glad I did. It took much less time that I thought it would, probably half an hour. I really like that Mr. Rat can now be put into different positions and poses, giving him quite the personality.

Armature of Mr. Rat

The actual felting and sculpting of Mr. Rat took many hours. There were a few tricky parts, but again, Sara's videos took me through the whole process step by step. It was almost as easy as doing a paint by numbers picture. I watched her mouse series, and tried to make the face a little more elongated and rat-like. For a first attempt, I am satisfied. A tiny bit ratty, but mostly cute.

Here is Mr. Rat au natural.

Mr. Rat's eyes lacked definition, so I rimmed the eyes with cream yarn. I think it helps a little bit.

Mr. Rat with rimmed eyes.

I liked the overall look of Mr. Rat, but I thought a few additions might be fun. My son's friend is a glass blower, so I made a tiny glass pendant of millefiori and copper wire, and hung it on leather. Mr. Rat is holding a glass stringer, and what is supposed to be a tiny torch (a little stretch of imagination here, please). Of course he needed safety glasses, so I made some in a funky, steampunk fashion. A tiny wool robe has finished his ensemble nicely. I'm sure my son's friend will add his own flourishes when Mr. Rat arrives at his new home.

Mr. Rat, the glass blower.

I had so much fun making Mr. Rat that I now can't wait to create more critters. My only problem is which one to choose? There are so many possibilities! Please visit Sara's website. I know you'll be enchanted by all her creations. And don't be afraid to give it a go. She makes it all very accessible. Thank you, Sara!

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