Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Moby Rising

I thought one of the ways I could introduce myself would be to introduce you to some of my past pieces. This is Moby - he was worked over several months in Delica size 11 seed beads. Mostly peyote stitch, with a little bead embroidery and some flailing thrown in for good measure. I made a "stuffie" out of muslin for the base; he's about 12 inches long, with a stand made from a stump I pulled out of the Connecticut River. I have entered him in the Beaded Book contest Interweave Press is sponsoring. I have no illusions about his chances of winning, but he was a genuine pleasure to make. Most surprising: my view of the book has changed as a result of working him. I've read Moby Dick several times, including with my book discussion group at the local library, so was familiar with the material; but as I worked on this figure, I had to reassess what I thought not just about the Beast, but also Ahab, Ishmael, and even Melville. I've always like Good versus Evil themes; the fun bit is, neither is clearly defined in this tale.



Scars from a longago battle with a giant squid:

His teeth are wooden Tuga beads that I had to saw in half. Did you know most male sperm whales have teeth in their upper jaws that never erupt? While researching this (what fun! Hooray for Marvel Classics!) I realized that 99% of Moby illustrations are just plain wrong!

I made the harpoons out of a birch branch; I whittled them, stained them with husks from my black walnut tree fruit, and had hubby drill a teensy hole in each for the eyepin harpoon. His blowhole is an off-center "S" shape as described, but I just couldn't bear to tear a hole in his fluke; I had come to like him too much by the time it was appropriate to tear him up!

If you'd told me 25 years ago I would actually like Melville's work I would have looked scornfully at you from behind my kohl-smeared eyes, blown smoke in your face, put a defiant hand on hip, and told you to bug off. Now he's ... not a hero exactly, but certainly someone whose mind I have come to respect. And the Whale has become one of my favorite literary characters.


  1. What an amazing piece! I've never seen anything like this. How long did it take to finish?

  2. Gosh, Feather, I promise I wasn't blowing you off, I didn't know the comment was there! I have alot to learn! I started Moby in July 2008, and finished at the beginning of December. I have no idea how many hours went into him, but it was a good few!