Although it has its roots in a centuries old form of cloth making, needle-felting is a relatively new art, an off-shoot of industrial felt-making from the nineteenth century. Woolen fibres are bonded together using specially designed barbed needles to form a firm material which can be made into 3-D shapes.
I began felting around five years ago, and am now selling my creations world-wide, and running courses near my home in Gloucestershire and elsewhere in the country. I am also available for private parties.
I was lying in bed one Saturday morning, reading a magazine while my husband plied me with coffee and biscuits. I chanced upon an article about a woman who made wonderfully realistic models of dogs by a process called needle-felting - something completely unknown to me. Being a ‘doggy person’ I was fascinated, particularly by the individuality and character she gave each one. After a few hours investigation on the web it was off to my local craft shop to buy my first batch of supplies. By the end of Sunday I had learnt two things - that the needles hurt and that it wasn’t as easy as I had hoped. My creatures had a shape, but no soul.
Bloodied (literally) but unbowed I persevered, and spent the next few months practicing, reading articles and watching You-Tube videos by women from the mid-west USA with monotone voices. Whilst not exactly a ‘Road to Damascus’ moment, somewhere along the line the whole process suddenly clicked. I found that the animals were seemingly developing a character of their own accord, whilst I was just an accessory to the process.
Suddenly feeling confident I opened a shop on Etsy, the internet craft sales website, and within a week had my first sale. That was in April 2014, and sales have slowly picked up, including commissions to make sculptures of real animals. My shop has been viewed by people all over the world, and my Furzie friends are now living in such diverse and exotic places as California and Berlin, New Mexico and Swindon.
I may never make my fortune felting but I love the process and watching them evolve before my eyes. Tools required are few, and the materials relatively inexpensive. I buy needles in bulk, wire for the ‘skeleton’ from a hardware store, and go to local farms to buy my wool straight from the animals back, so to speak. In a way this makes my creations even more like living beings, as in many cases I have met the animal which produced the wool from which they are made. My current favourites are Gotland wool and Alpaca fibre (did you know that there are over twenty different colours of Alpaca?)
Once you have become confident in using the basic skills and techniques you are only limited by your imagination ...
... FURZIE (aka Michelle)