Here at Bear Creek, we strive to protect our planet and its wonderful creatures however possible. Locally speaking, we repurpose materials and recycle waste whenever possible, both in our shepherding and our fiber arts. Needle felting is innately sustainable as it repurposes fleece that we must remove from our flock every year.
Of course, conservation is a worldwide effort, and as a huge animal lover, I do all I can to help educate our community about Earth’s amazing wildlife and how we can protect it. This month, I’m eager to raise awareness about one of my longtime-favorite animals: the elegant, extraordinary giraffe! June 21 is World Giraffe Day, as declared by the Giraffe Conservation Foundation. This organization is dedicated to conserving the well-being of wild giraffe (yes, “giraffe” is plural as well as singular).
I felted my first giraffe 10 years ago. He took several hours to complete, but I was thrilled with the results. As with many of my projects, I used Romney wool, which is soft and pliable. My dear friend and partner, Chris Armbrust, processes all of our flock’s wool at her Dakota Fiber Mill. Once the fleece has been carded, it can be combed and straightened into roving. This is ideal for adding both structure and a natural fur appearance to my felted creatures!
It turned out beautifully for my first felted giraffe, and I have made many since, including moms and babies! Sadly, their real-life counterparts are in trouble. There are only 117,000 giraffe left in the wild. Because there are only four species, their genetic diversity is limited compared to their population. Everything from poaching to habitat loss to climate change is hurting these amazing animals’ wild populations.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature lists all four species on their “Red List,” meaning they are at risk of extinction. The Kordofan giraffe, which is my main inspiration for my felted creations, is Critically Endangered.
While many of us cannot directly help our giraffe friends, we can raise awareness and support the efforts of the Giraffe Conservation Foundation. And what better way to do that than to leverage our artistic skills to celebrate giraffe? The GCF notes that many people don’t know giraffe are endangered. Awareness is the first step toward saving these wonderful animals!
As you may know, I’m fascinated by megafauna such as elephants and bison — and I want to help prevent these incredible creatures from going extinct. I hope you’ll “stand tall for giraffe” with me by supporting World Giraffe Day!
Better yet, join me in July for a “Needle Felting Safari” to explore Africa’s wildlife through the fiber arts. You can needle-felt an elephant! We will be doing a Safari every year and hope to be making a giraffe next year! Register for the Needle Felting Safari here.
I hope to see you on safari!