Needle-Felted Wool Sculpture
Written and Posted by Sarah on March 4, 2014
This is my attempt at making a needle-felted doll of Lord Elrond (as he is played by Hugo Weaving in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Adventure). I've been working on this since the Fall, and he was actually Elizabeth's Christmas present --- which she has known about all along.
Elrond is the largest doll that I've made yet, standing at a very lofty 11-1/4 inches tall. Of course, weight goes hand in hand with height, so he is also the heaviest of the dolls that I have made. He weighs 4-1/4 ounces (including jewelry) and took approximately 69 hours of felting to complete. There is another five hours of work (on Elizabeth's part, as she's the jewelry expert!) in his crown and jewelry, so that brings him to 74 hours. The second longest doll yet.
Because of his regal robes, height and weight it was obvious from the start that Lord Elrond would need some form of a stand. So, Pop and I came up with an ingenious idea which ended up working very well. I took some of Elizabeth's heaviest jewelry wire and made what looked sort of like the top of a doll stand. This is wrapped around his waste and comes down behind his right leg. This is all hidden by the back of the dark purple tunic. We then bought a dome with a wooden base and a doll stand, removed the "stand rod" part of the doll stand and screwed that into the wooden base. Now, Elrond's wire stand slides into that rod on the base and he can stand in the dome on his own. All that said, none of that shows in any of these pictures.
Elrond is made of merino wool roving, while his variegated robe is a merino/silk blend. His skin is cotswold roving. Elizabeth made the jewelry from gold-colored jewelry wire, and his pin has two crystal studs in it. His hair is dark brown mohair.
Elizabeth has wanted a needle-felted doll of Elrond ever since I started making dolls back in 2010. For years I have been saying "nope, he won't work in wool". Sis just kept on wishing, though, and it paid off. When The Hobbit came out last year, things began to look very promising. A "stand up" of Hugo Weaving in the Elrond costume was released, and the outfit actually looked like something that would be a lot of fun to work into felt. Then, we saw the movie and noticed that his second costume was all different shades of purple. That did it! I've wanted to make a purple doll for years, and this was going to be a fun chance.
Finding the right color of mohair for this doll was quite a challenge. Realistic straight brown mohair is something that is harder to come by than I would have guessed. We bought one hank of brown hair to start with, but it turned out to be too light a color. Elrond's hair is definitely darker in The Hobbit than it was in The Lord of the Rings. After about two weeks of plowing through sites and listings online, we were able to find a real dark brown color --- and it couldn't have been better! In fact, it was the nicest mohair that I've ever worked with on a doll. The hair-do itself was pretty challenging, since there are four braids and three plaits of hair intertwined. A long evening and a late night saw it finished, though.
Elizabeth did a great job on the jewelry. She has made wire jewelry for a couple of years, as well as making bangles for the Carmen Miranda doll. Elrond's crown was quite a challenge. She made one crown, but it ended up bent in the wrong spot, so she had to start all over again with a thinner wire. His pin is made of wire and two crystal "studs" (a.k.a. earrings), and the bottons are some kind of jewlery finding.
I've included lots of photos in the column at right, as well as a final shot showing the doll before the outer robe and jewelry were attached. Elrond has deep purple pants, thigh-high dark brown boots, three pale "under skirts", a dark purple outer tunic and the variegated over robe! The photos were hard to take, since his robes are a dark color. None of the pictures show him as he actually looks in real life!