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detail of Leucetta corticata (after E. Haeckel)
detail of Leucetta corticata (after E. Haeckel)

Recently, I was scrolling through "Die Kalkschwämme. Eine Monographie" by Ernst Haeckel and have since become giddy over sponges. They are amazingly varied, and simply bizarre little animals. Soon, I will be exploring glass sponges through my art, and the list of inspirational images is long!

Many of the source materials come from this amazing site of archived scientific publications: .

Haeckel's monograph can be found here. His book gives a broad overview of many kinds of sponges. Texts on specific types of sponges can be found on the above website.

For now, I just thought I'd share some of the progress pics of this new piece, inspired by Haeckel's illustration of Leucetta corticata.

Shea Wilkinson Шиа Вилкинсон

This piece was a tricky one to start, due to the continuous weaving of its branches. First, I machine stitched interweaving lines into the background. Then, I roughly laid down wool in a light tone and a shade, in order to keep the branches organized as being "over" or "under" one another. Once all the branches were arranged, I could start to bring it all into order and smooth out the coloring. The last 20% of the piece took 80% of the effort, as they say. There were so many cycles of deepening and blending midtones into the shadows and highlights. I could have kept going on and on, but at a certain point, you have to put your foot down and call it done.

Felted artwork, Leucetta Corticata
Leucetta corticata, 29.5 x 17 inches

This piece is the first experiment with using relief-type sculpting to create a 3D effect. It all happened sort of by accident, but when I noticed what was happening, I ran with it and accentuated it.

This is also a piece that is felted onto artificial hobby felt, as I knew that the entire background was going to be covered with a thick layer of wool. I figured that here was my chance to save my back a little pain, and save some time to boot!

See how this piece developed in the photos below:

I'm building up the first layer of puffiness with my coarsest wool. I'm working on my favorite tool, one that is now indispensable. It's a piece of soft styrofoam that I felted with wool, and has become my trusty felting pad. I intend to make a post about my various homemade felting tools at a later date.

It looks pretty cool just like this!

I added some more fluffy texture and then started to cover everything with colored wool.

Originally, I had planned to include figures. In the end, though, I decided to leave it empty, with only the "light" shining from within the form.

And here's the finished piece:

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