Making Of: Cccats

Maybe it’s their simple shapes, bright colours, or general fan fair; but somehow I’ve managed to add a good handful of Cccats to my portfolio of completed works.

These alien like creatures were created by WellHidden; a successful and wildly creative artist generally found on Deviantart. Their group, founded 6 years ago, houses 3,538 members (including myself) and over 1,500 unique Cccat designs! As far as Closed Species go they easily fall under the larger successes and maintain a strong community.

Of these species I own one – Dango. As his name suggests he’s themed after the popular Japanese treat by the same name. For nearly 3 years he has been an incredibly important character for me. Purely out of the happiness I feel from his design. Given how sought after he is and how much I could stand to profit if I were to voucher him away it seems silly to hold on – but for some reason I can’t seem to part with the strange creature.

Dango has been the subject of a great many doodles, and one of my most loved Needle Felting projects.

He has become a staple in our home despite being a little difficult to explain to those who might look at him and not understand the species. Done simply as a personal project meant to clear my mind and get my motivation back on track in between commissions, but ended up sparking a whole host of different projects in the future! His easy design and perfectly palm sized form brought interest and I ended up creating a few more Cccats for people with a very similar formula.

Needle Felts: Buddies for a Bit

Cccats in general come in a variety of sizes and styles. Bean and Dango match (shown above) but another displays Chinese Dragon style anatomy.

Desired to be a good deal larger than the others and taller, Branch broke more of the mold.

At the end of the day however the style of Cccats remains recognizable as the same species. No matter how different the outside, the base remains the same. Spherical head, long neck, tall stature, and thin waist. Along with ‘crowns’ or a few sticks of various design coming from the back of their heads.

A more recent addition to my repertoire of Cccats was Jacq. I had not done a Cccat in quite some time before jumping into this commission but turns out it’s like riding a bike.

The Process

With Dango I took photos along the way so that I could share them with others looking to get into the craft, or just people who were curious to see it. The photos I took did a better job of explaining my thought process which helped a great deal!

Keeping the Balance

Recently, there has been talk in the fibre art community that there’s an imbalance between how their digital and needlefelt work is received by their audiences.

There is a change depending on what you upload, because you have different audiences for different styles of artwork. If you put a lot of thought and work into one, naturally your audience is going to be larger! Therefore you’ll get a larger reaction.

For example; for the longest time I was only the Bounce Pixels artist.

Little 50×50 pixel icons that I did on the cheap for years! So much so that majority of my online galleries are these. Once I started needle felting, I saw some overlap in the audience but the love for the pixels didn’t fade. I just got new watchers who only came to see the felts – because perhaps they just liked physical crafts more than digital art. Digital art has always been broken down to a whole range of different sections and communities.

And there’s nothing wrong with that. Understanding that people are unique and have different interests is as important as understanding that you have different styles that represent who you are as an artist. It’s unfair to demand an audience disperse their attention to things they may not be interested in. I question why it’s taken so personally when it’s still love for your work and talents.

In the end it’s important to stand alongside your art, no matter the medium. Keeping up with works that excite and entice you while engaging others is a wonderful balance – no matter which audience within your audience you engage.

Self Motivated Learning

Starting out with a new hobby or attempting a new skill is hard enough. Doing that without any learning, training, or general direction is much harder. It takes far more self generated motivation, drive to learn more, and of course – that ability to force your way through failure and focus on turning it into growth.

When I started out Needle Felting, I did it on a whim. There was no real plan, no real understanding of how it worked aside from ‘Stab’, and make the thing. I wasn’t any good at sculpting, had no patience for sewing – so this could be the next best thing right? Possibly. I only had a very small bit of wool and no real direction, so in reality I started out just going for it.

This was the first ever needle felt I had ever done. The majority of it is Polyfill since I didn’t want to practice with the small amount of wool I had. It was rough, incredibly rough – but it was recognizable! That was enough for a little spark to continue on.

From this little felt I learnt not only to not jab myself with that needle, but also how much pressure was required, how each size affected the wool differently, how I could continuously poke and prod at certain places to get them to indent and form a shape. Which, lead to a head, ears, body and small tail. A tiny little approximation of my boy Smudge.

To Continue Forward

From this point I had that little bit of a spark to try again, with something new and to learn more. I found a few videos of the processes other felters went through and moved onto another project and another.

The only thing that really stood in my way was that nagging feeling in the back of my head that this would be another project I dropped for not functioning how I wanted it to. This had happened before with so many new hobbies as it does for everyone, but this was a little different.

When you catch onto something quicker it’s like everything clicks. I had that drive to do more and gain more – I just had to figure out how to properly direct it to actually improve.

My Steps Towards Development

  1. Basic Shapes: I started figuring out the basic shapes. I know this is so overplayed by just about anyone that starts to get into any form of art, but it worked well. Figuring out the shapes of heads, limbs, bodies – all these would come together no matter what type of creature I worked on.
  2. Plan It Out: Then came the planning. Now, with a lot of things I do I never really focused on the planning aspect; which is a mistake. Planning helped a good ton more than just winging it (surprise surprise). I went from sort of figuring out the shapes to:
    • Sketching out the separate shapes
    • Putting together an armature to stay within the proportions
    • Sticking to the specific Sketch.
  3. Keep it Simple: Bad habits die hard, and I’ve certainly deviated off these steps. Especially given my constant predisposition for taking on more than I should and over complicating things, simplifying things became step three. Sticking with what I knew and figuring that out before I went and tried anything crazy

4. Don’t Stress: With most things it was easy to get discouraged, and I definitely did – but the thing about needle felting is that you can literally chop the head off whatever you were working on if you didn’t like it and start anew! Once I had that figured, it suddenly became a lot easier to feel some confidence come through.

5. Don’t Stop: Keep trying. Keep working on new things, working on old things, and practicing. Even if something hits a block and it can’t be finished; seeing it as a waste is a waste.

Anything done is practice, and any practice is valuable!

Starting Off: How One Bored Decision Sparked A Lifestyle

Some people are said to be born with a talent or fixation towards some hobby. There are those who’s parents unconsciously push them into one thing, and others who just grab and go the first thing that catches their attention.

For me, it was something of a combination between the two. I’ve always been that “artsy” kid. You know the one, turned every class into art class with sketched over homework, enjoyed cartoons a bit too long after the age range, was always volunteered for creative projects. For a lot of artists, those early school years were the beginnings of what could be called a hobby, but to them – was a lifestyle.

There’s certainly something to be said for the artist life and how it takes hold of you. Whether you’re painting, knitting, drawing, sculpting, or otherwise; it never seems to just exist on the edge of your attention. It’s a constant flowing thought and a constantly revolving door of ideas. But there’s usually something that gets you there. One little decision that takes an idle action and turns it into that fully bloomed life.

It All Started With A Sale

Scrolling around Prime Day like the online window shopper I had become, I spotted a little starter kit. Having never heard of it before aside from perhaps once or twice scrolling through Pintrest – I was intrigued. Why on Earth was Prime suggesting this to me? It must have something to do with the things I do right?

Turns out, it wasn’t anything close to the digital artwork I had been doing. But nonetheless, I was curious. I had always wanted to try my hand at plush making, but couldn’t afford a sewing machine. Always wanted to get back into sculpting, but couldn’t seem to nuance to anything I liked. I had tried cross stitching, but the slow progress for even just a small result drove me mad. This Needle Felting kit seemed to be the perfect combination of them all. I could take my character concepts and bring them to life in a sculpting manor, with that soft sewn feel as a plush or stitch – but in a totally different way.

For $10 and free shipping – how could I say no?

As someone with what seems like a million hobbies, it wasn’t a big deal to try something new. However what made it a big deal was how easily I found my hands getting into a rhythm. Sure there was a lot of stabbing and my first felt wasn’t anything to scream about, but without any tutorials and just feeling it out as I went – it was a quick start.

The First Felt

This little creature, affectionately named Fawn, was something of my own creation. Not quite a deer, not quite a fox, some amalgamation of the two mixed purely because it was cute. I had some close colours and she seemed easy enough so within a few hours I had done up a cute little chibi or bean of her. July 15, 2017.

Even though it wasn’t the one to one representation I was hoping for, I was hooked. Immediately and definitively – I needed to do more.

Working up and forward, I continued my stabbing for months until I felt confident enough to not only do it for others; but to try it for myself again. October 2, 2017 and the improvement was explosive!

A Hobby Gone Wild

From that point on any time felting was dedicated towards improving, which turned into taking commissions and improving my name. It’s gone from simple beans to anatomical creatures with posable limbs and expressions – the road has been a long one and it’s still going.