CRAFTING A WOOLY FLOCK FOR CHRISTMAS:
Humble shepherds keeping watch over their flocks by night were the first to hear of the birth of Christ that night in Bethlehem. For this reason, little lambs and fluffy sheep are pictured in nativity sets and have a place in our Christmas decorations. This season, I had a lot of fun creating these little ones from raw lamb’s wool.
1. Begin by gluing together a large cork for the body and a smaller cork for the head. The smaller end of the corks face forward. Glue on natural twigs for the legs. I cut into the cork to be able to insert the legs with hot glue. Your frames will look like this:
2. To cover the basic body, choose a length of natural wool to wrap around the form. Use sharp scissors to cut wool. Tac in place with a little hot glue as you wrap, being careful that the glue does not show through the wool. Continue wrapping until the coat is about 3 layers thick. For a smooth coat, wrap fairly firmly. You may wish to wrap the body separate from the head. To define the head, tie a short length of twine around the neck where the corks meet and knot or tie into a bow on the back of the neck. Add a small bell to the cord to hang from the neck of the larger sheep.
3. Use a sharp manicure scissors or small craft scissors to shear the sheep slightly after wrapping to even out bumps and define features. Make sure the figure stands securely with the added weight. Use black boutonnaire pins for eyes. [These sheep are decorations and NOT recommended for children.] Cut a small fluffy tuft of wool and glue on top of the head for a top knot. Cut small petal-shaped ears from cream felt or corduroy and glue in place just below the top knot on either side. Crease the ears before gluing for a more realistic ear.
4. Form a tail by either rolling a small length of wool between your palms for a long tail or by rolling a piece of wool into a ball. Glue in place. Balls work well for the sheared sheep.
5. To make the fleece, roll as many balls of wool between your fingers as needed to cover the top and sides of the sheep. Dipping the wool into a bit of water makes it easier to roll. Glue balls individually onto the sheep. Determine the size of the balls according to the size of the sheep. For lambs, you may also leave them plainly wrapped without the fleece. A little shearing with the scissors gives them the look of newborns or newly shorn sheep.
Find raw wool where felting supplies are sold or buy it on-line from a sheep farmer. These hand-crafted ornaments remind me that Christmas is all about celebrating the birth of our good Shepherd, Jesus the Christ. MERRY CHRISTMAS!