Celebrate your four-legged friends this month with a pet-friendly walk, homemade treats and traditional crafts, says Emma Pritchard
Hanging on display in Newdigate Vets, near Dorking, is a pet portrait with a difference. The picture is by artist Sarah Vaci, who has swapped her watercolours for wool in order to create a range of fabulous furry-felted faces
A green-eyed Tabby, a wrinkled-nosed Pug and a playful looking Cavalier King Charles – each one intricately captured in felted wool by Sarah.
“Wool lets me portray the unique personality of pets and bring them to life,” she says as she sits surrounded by piles of her multi-coloured ‘paints’ in her home studio. Sarah been working with wool for three years, first using it as a way of capturing some of her favourite Surrey landscapes, including the view from Box Hill and the gardens of Priory Park in Reigate.
But when a cousin asked her to do a pet portrait of her dog, Sarah discovered a hidden passion. “It’s wonderful to work with cats and dogs through my work. I’m always touched at the stories I hear from an animals’ owner, and the bond they share.”
Using rhythmic stabs at the wool with a barbed needle, Sarah tangles and mattes her wool into artistic strokes, painting a whisker, a purring grin or a glistening nose. Her focus is capturing the true characters of her clients. “Every animal is different,” she says. “And no one knows a pet as well as their owner. I like to find out as much about the animal as possible before I start and often also gather some of the animal’s fur to felt into the portrait. It brings an additional dimension of realism to the picture – and a personal touch,” she says.
Each artwork takes around a couple of day to complete and, thanks to the quality of her work, Sarah has quite a following. “A lady from the USA has ordered five portraits of her lovely pet donkey Honcho,” she says.
- View more of Sarah’s work at sarahvaci.com and look out for her at pet shows throughout the county
Paws and pubs
There’s no need to leave your pooch behind with these three dog-friendly pubs and walks that lead straight to their door...
The Swan, Chiddingfold
Enjoy satisfying sandwiches – and dog biscuits – plus ale brewed at the pub’s own brewery in Upham, Hampshire. Work up an appetite with a five-mile walk through fields, downs and woodlands from Haslemere.
The Botanist, Farnham
The pick-and-mix deli boards will combat hiking hunger following a view-rich jaunt along the North Downs Way and around Puttenham Common.
The Stephan Langton, Friday Street
Doggie snacks, a menu of local, season fayre plus more than 35 gins and craft beers – the perfect award-winning pit-stop after a hunt for the waterfall on the Tillingbourne stream.
Rehome a greyhound
Support The Retired Greyhound Trust this month as it launches its ‘Let’s Hear It for the Boys’ campaign to raise awareness of the 8,000 greyhounds that retire each year in need of a home. A high proportion of these are males – hence the name of the campaign. “They make such wonderful pets,” says Karen Farley, a lead volunteer at the charity. “They love people, are non-aggressive, and need very little exercise.”
Show your dog you care with these protein-rich tasty tit-bits from The Woodland’s Trust chocolate Labrador blogger, Jess.
You will need:
- 125g wholemeal flour
- 125g peanut butter
- 75g mashed banana
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 60ml skimmed milk
How to make:
- Combine the peanut butter, banana and milk in a large bowl, until smooth.
- Add the flour and baking powder, and stir to create a dough
- Sprinkle some extra flour onto a clean surface and knead the dough lightly then roll it out until it’s 1cm thick
- Cut out shapes with a biscuit cutter and place on a greased baking tray.
- Cook in a preheated oven at 180C for 20 minutes until golden then transfer to a wire rack to cool. Store for up to a week in an airtight container
Check out another one of the pet-tacular pieces from our special March Pet Issue
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