Small scale farmer and artist Kiyoshi Mino pays tribute to animals big and small with his amazing needle-felted sculptures. These detailed plush replicas of farm and wilderness creatures are made from balls of natural wool, a needle, and many hours of precision work. These expressive sculptures rival the detail of taxidermy, but without harming any animals.
Kiyoshi’s collection of eight animal sculptures are now offered through the Chicago design shop ODLCO. Each bear, lamb, pig, cat, horse, duck, chipmunk, and bird sculpture is started with the face in order to capture the animal’s expression. As Kiyoshi completes the body, the exquisite details of feathers or fur are added.
In 2011, Kiyoshi and his wife Emma started Lucky Duck Farm in Forest, IL. Kiyoshi learned needle felting as part of a farmer training program they attending prior to opening shop. Kiyoshi likens the creation of needle felt sculptures to drawing in three dimensions. “I loved to draw as a kid but had never tried any form of sculpture before. It was very exciting to me to be able to draw in three dimensions with nothing but a needle and a clump of wool.”
Kiyoshi uses fine wools such as merino for the animal sculptures, explaining that with this type of wool he is able to achieve the realistic fur and feathers of the animals.
Before Kiyoshi and Emma founded Lucky Duck Farm they had careers in international development and library preservation. The couple was drawn to farming, and to sculpturing in wool, because it allowed them to work more with their hands. Operating their business locally, the couple sells meat, eggs and veggies at farmers markets in Chicago. The launch of the sculpture collection at ODLCO is similar in that it is another local partnership with a business that shares Kiyoshi’s interest in small scale production.