Behind the Scenes with Fiber Artist Jose Heroys
Hi! I’m Jose and I’m based in south-east England, where I make life-like bird sculptures out of wool and other natural fibres. I make each bird by hand using a mixture of crochet, needle-felt and embroidery.
I have a real passion for birds and spend a lot of time watching them in my garden and when I’m walking out in the beautiful countryside that surrounds us. I’m lucky enough to work from home - my studio room is quite small, but the light is lovely and it’s bright and peaceful. It overlooks the garden where I have a great view of our bird feeders, that bring in a wonderful array of birds - and inspiration!
If I’m starting a new bird design, I usually start with sketches to get a sense of personality and proportion. I aim to make them as life-like as possible and try to capture a sense of aliveness and play in each one. For that reason, research is also an important part of my process, and I use books, wildlife documentaries and internet searches to make sure I get the close-up details right.
Once the sketches are done, I choose yarn colours and textures to suit the bird I’m making - I need lots of different wool! - and start crocheting the body. I only use natural fibres in my work and the birds are filled with pure carded sheep’s wool, which lends a wonderful warmth to the finished bird. The face, tail and legs are added separately and I use needle-felt and embroidery techniques to bring out the fine details.
I always ring my birds with a genuine metal bird ring as a finishing touch; I used to breed budgerigars when I was growing up and it seemed like a natural extension to ring my handmade birds too. I’m something of a perfectionist and it’s a labour intensive process, taking anything from a few days to several weeks to finish a single bird.
I hope you enjoy this peek behind the scenes at my creative process. I love bringing my birds to life and hope they make you smile!
All images (except the bluetit in blossom) are courtesy of photographer Sussie F Bell photographer, and LandLove magazine.