By Josh Saunders
Crafty canine lover creates DOG-ELGANGER real life replicas of dogs that are so lifelike people can’t tell they are made of felt.
Linda Facci, 56, of Upper West in Manhattan, New York, USA, spends up to six-hours on each canine creation – matching the colours and patterning from pictures of people’s pets.
She started six-years-ago, after attending a ten-minute felt-designer’s workshop and now has made over 100 creations, referring to herself as the ‘dog felterer’.
The process that requires her to prod wool with a barbed needle has amusingly being confused for ‘voodoo’ by passers-by.
She has received 125 orders this year for her barking mad creations ranging from replications to those longing for miniatures of their deceased dogs.
Along with unusual requests for the recreations to be made entirely of the dog’s hair and even one for ashes to be sewn into the design.
Her creations that are sold for up to $400 (280GBP), are so realistic that people can’t tell pictures of the pets and felt creations apart.
Linda, owner of Facci Designs, said: “It’s funny when I tell people what I do and when I show them my work they can’t believe the images are not real dogs.
“When they see them people say ‘Oh my god’, and tell me they can’t believe how realistic they are.
“I look for individual nuances and see it like a painting, there’s a little grey or black there, whether there are darker spots around the nose or eyes, some pink in the ears.
“I get people believing they are real dogs a lot, which is always what I’m striving for, I’m always wondering how can I make them even more lifelike.
“I want people to see their dog when they look at it, so it takes a while. I don’t want to and can’t rush it.
“It’s a mixture from replicas to memorials, another asked me to put dog hair into it, someone else asked me to include the ashes, which I could make by creating a small pouch for the ashes.
“I’ve been told that I really capture a pet’s spirit and one person told me they started crying when they opened the box and saw their dog again.
“The most unusual is someone asking to include the ashes, but someone also asked for a life-sized item, which I had to reject as I’m nowhere near that level yet.
“Another asked for the whole thing to be made entirely of the dog’s hair, which I couldn’t do, but can incorporate the hair into the wool.”
After a ten-minute workshop of needle felting, Linda says she was ‘hooked’ and ‘fell in love with the craft’.
She believes it appealed to her as she comes from a sculpting background and at one pointed wanted to work as a hairdresser – with her hobby she is able to mar the two together.
Linda said: “They are created by poking a very thin, sharp barbed needle into the wool. The barbs pull the wool in but doesn’t pull the wool back out.
“I start with a ‘blob’ of core wool and with the needle I start to form it into the shape of a dog’s head.
“I do that by stabbing or poking the wool to form the shape, imagine the wool is clay and the needle is a sculpture’s tool or finger, I then take different colors of wool and add the details.”
The make the dog replicas she starts by asking her clients to send as many images of the pet as she can, in an attempt to see the dog from all angles.
Linda added: “I bring up all the photos on my computer and study the breed through google too.
“I want to make sure I get the markings all from right, from the back to the tail, I’m a stickler for detail.
“At first I had a hard time doing bulldogs and pit bulls, anything with a squishy face was a challenge for me.
“Over time I have gotten better and faster, before it would take me days, but I’ve cut down on my hours.”
Her canine creations have been featured on TV show The Chew, after chefs Michael Symon and Clinton Kelly requested mini-versions of their pet.
Linda added: “That was really fun, I didn’t appear on the show but my dogs did, it was fun making celebrity dogs.
“My dreams to have more celebrities to order a dog, maybe the new Princess of Wales Meghan Markel or for a TV commercial.”
Since then, her business boomed, with her making more in the past two months than she did in the year previously.
For felt dogs ranging from thee to four-and-a-half inches she charges $280 (GBP), and four-and-a-half to six inches she charges $400 (GBP)
Linda said: “It has been crazy, I make sure to tell people theirs is a nine to twelve month waiting list, because it’s just me making them. I put my heart and soul into each one.
“I mainly work on smaller dogs, a lot are rescues, I haven’t done a Dalmatian yet and mainly have pets like poodles, Yorkies, pit-bulls, bulldogs and others.”
To ensure the fragile felt-creations keep their carefully styled looks, she uses hairspray and styling lotion on some of them.
“I’m very passionate about it”, Linda said, confessing the only thing to stop her would be health problems. “If my hands start to go arthritic or my eyesight goes, it’s a lot of a detailed work.
“It is a little overwhelming knowing what they mean to people, it’s been great and really makes me smile.
“It’s so nice to hear those compliments for a little hobby, especially as I’m self-taught.”