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orang behind the scenes

Wow. What a response! Thank you all for your comments – it means so much to me that you like my most personal work to date 🙂

crocheted orang utan by planetjune

Okay, so now you’ve seen the finished product, but I think I need to share a little of the insane amount of effort that went into making my orang utan! I would guess we’re looking at about 100 hours of June time, of which the actual crocheting that you see is less than half of that. Aside from that, highlights include:

  • sculpting the hands and feet from pipe cleaners
  • snapping and unsnapping armature parts to get the skeleton proportions right (literally hours of struggle, one pinched fingertip and one hugely bruised knuckle to show for that)
  • sewing cushioned sleeves to cushion the skeleton and keep them in the right place inside the body
  • the previous 2 heads that went wrong wrong wrong
  • creating a wire base for the head so it wouldn’t sag

Here’s a glimpse into a little bit of the work that you don’t see in the finished orang:

orang utan hand in progress
left: pipe cleaners formed into shape of hand
middle: beginning to crochet over the form
right: finished hand with arm attached

orang utan limbs in progress

left: a finished arm and leg
middle: the spine (this is the plastic segmented poseable armature I used)
right: quilted covers for the armature limbs so he wouldn’t feel too bony

I didn’t take any pics of the inside of the body or head, but that should give you an idea – there’s more than meets the eye to this little guy! But the result is that he is infinitely poseable and feels very realistic, thanks to the weight of the armature and the ‘backbone’ bumps you can just feel when you stroke him.

I’m so flattered that some of you would like a pattern, but, as you can see from the above, this wouldn’t be a crochet pattern – it would be ‘how to make a plush art sculpture (oh yeah, and you’ll need to crochet too)’. And that’s one reason why my orang utan is art, not craft – it’s not something that can be reproduced. So definitely no pattern (sorry!).

But there may be a way you can own a little piece of him, even though you can never make/buy an original: I’m thinking of selling high quality prints of a really good photograph of him. I tweeted the idea yesterday and had some good responses – I still need to investigate the logistics but I think it would be doable.

So now I’d like to ask you: would you buy a print if they were for sale? Would you prefer something more ‘useful’ like a blank notecard or postcard, or an art print that you could frame? Or something else again – I’m open to all ideas. If there’s enough interest I’ll get some printed and put them in the shop.


  1. wendy said

    that is sooo cute. and the pictures are cool and sweet of you to share them. was just wondering what the body it made with inside to get that shape ?

    • June said

      Wendy, if you look at the last photo in the above post it shows you the plastic armature I used as a skeleton. Apart from that, the pipe cleaners in the hands and feet, and a wire frame I made to go inside the head as a skull, it’s just made the same as a regular soft toy – yarn and stuffing 🙂

  2. Dan said

    What a great idea to add the movable limbs.
    I know it was quite a few years ago now, but do you remember how many balls fluffy of wool it took you to make him?

    • June said

      Somewhere around 2 to 2.5 balls, I think – I didn’t keep track of the exact amount.

  3. Elise said

    Wow! Beautiful work. What kind of yarn did you use for this project?

    • June said

      Thanks, Elise! The yarn is called Gedifra Tecno Hair 🙂

      • Elise said

        Great! Thanks so much for letting me know. I’ll have to go on the hunt for it. It looks fantastic.

  4. Sue Gorman said

    This is such a lovely creation! Thank you so much for sharing the photos and story. Did you make the furry “skin” from fabric or did you crochet it from furry yarn?

    • June said

      It’s all crocheted (apart from the armature inside) – everything you see in the finished orang utan, except the eyes, is crocheted 🙂

  5. nia said

    yes yes yes I like it and sure I would like to buy your pattern. Very very very much,

    A fan from the Netherlands.

    nia koolhaas

    • June said

      I’m sorry Nia, this was a one-of-a-kind art project, so there will definitely never be a pattern for my orangutan, I’m afraid! But I do have lots of other lovely animal patterns in my shop 🙂

  6. Crystal said

    This is amazing!! i actually dont like monkeys but this one is cute, if you made the pattern for sale i would buy it and make one for my neice 🙂

  7. Dusty said

    where did you get those pvc connectors?

  8. Liz said

    OMG, YES YES YES is the answer to your question if I would by a pattern. That little guy is amazingly cute!

  9. Kara said

    Thanks so much June for the “view inside” your wonderful orangutan. I appreciate how much work (and love!) went into this extraordinary art piece.

  10. r.pinnegar said

    Thank you for sharing the behind the scenes pictures! I’d probably be interested in a small print of the Librarian (for my husband and librarian friends). I’m thinking postcard size or 5″ x 7″

  11. This is amazing!!! The backbone and the structure make it look so real!!!
    My Malaysian readers emailed me and feedbacked that they were so touched to see this little OrangUtan, the endanger species in our contry’s and neighbouring contry’s wild forest, made by you!!!!
    I am going to donate for the Nyaru Menteng OrangUtan clinic and will also post a link in my blog to spread the news. Richard, thank you for the link. Without the link, I wouldn’t know that there is a Orang Utan clinic in my neighbouring country and was hitted by malaria. I was in sobber to see little Angely case!!!
    June, I would proposed that you should make some of these crochetted orang utans for charity purpose. Just my 2 cents!

  12. June said

    Christina: Yep, it’s the same kind of PVC connectors that are used in fish tanks 🙂

    All: please read Richard’s comment above! Orangs are critically endangered and there is a very real risk that they will die out in the wild in the near future. If any of you can spare a few dollars to help save this amazing species, it would be money well spent. Thank you.

  13. becky said

    I love it. that makes me want to make some type of bigger project. WHile I am still working on smaller ones. But I think you could make some of your cards with the orang utan. I would probablly buy a print of him just bc he is soooo life like.

  14. Your orangutan is adorable, June! I want to remind all your fans that orangutans are critically endangered in the wild! They can learn more about them and even help them on the Orangutan Outreach website.

    Thanks!!! Rich

    Richard Zimmerman
    Director, Orangutan Outreach
    Reach out and save the orangutans!
    Join our Facebook Cause:

  15. Christina said

    I’d love prints of those pictures!! Postcard size would be fabulous…The spine thingy, did you use the PVC type connectors? I think my husband uses those for his fish tank.

  16. SiSi said

    Wow, great job June! it’s tooo cute 🙂

  17. Misty said

    Wow, I am absolutely in awe of your artistic abilities! A fantastic creation!

  18. futuregirl said

    p.s. Those hands are fantastic!!!

  19. futuregirl said

    Holy smokes! I wondered how you got such wonderful photos!

  20. Rebekah (BekahJan) said

    oh, my goodness! Simply Amazing! I cant believe how creative you are! This is definitely a work of art! Carina said it perfectly in one word, genius. 🙂

  21. Carina said

    Nothing short of genius. The skelton is kinda creepy though. (-;

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