For May’s kit we’re going to be crafting with felt… we'll be revealing all soon!
We got in touch with Sophie Wheatley, a needle felting artist whose work we really admire, and founder of All Things Felt and Beautiful. Sophie's work is inspired by people’s love for their dogs; she can recreate any dog so accurately that her felt sculptures serve as a lifelong reminder of much-loved pooches.
"My whole passion for needle felting and subsequent business idea is COMPLETELY Kirstie's doing and I’m eternally grateful to her for that."
How did you first get into felting?
Am I allowed to say that it was all thanks to Kirstie Allsopp?! Because it’s true – my whole passion for needle felting and subsequent business idea is COMPLETELY Kirsty’s doing and I’m eternally grateful to her for that.
I was by chance watching one of her programmes about 5 years ago when she made a little felt robin for a display. I was both intrigued and then hooked once I had a go at it myself. I have a huge soft spot for Kirsty and think she’s done such an incredible job for the hobby craft movement.
Can you tell us how your first felting project went?
I taught myself to felt and one of my first projects was a VERY primitive looking skinny dog (below). I think it’s supposed to be a greyhound or whippet – I still have him and show him to everyone who comes to my workshop to show them where I started. I’m actually really fond of him and I’ll never part with him as it’s a lovely reminder of how far I’ve come.
"I’m actually really fond of him and I’ll never part with him as it’s a lovely reminder of how far I’ve come."
What do you love most about the needle felting process?
I can’t break it. I’m immensely clumsy and if I was working with ceramics I’d most likely be bankrupt! Also it’s such a versatile craft – you can put it away and come back to it, it doesn’t take up much space and as long as you keep it out of the sun – it keeps forever.
Ialso love how you can go from having a bundle of loose wool into a firm and sculpted model – it’s a little bit of magic when those fibres felt together!
“To actually make a physical memory of someone’s dog to handle and love is a nice thing to be able to do.”
Where do you draw your inspiration from for your work?
I was inspired to make dogs because first off I love dogs and I enjoyed sitting and making dogs all day. But it quickly became clear that when I was making dogs and selling them at craft fairs people wanted me to make their exact dog.
They would pick up the felt dogs off my little table so gently and adoringly – as if they were real – and something in that moment triggered an emotional response in them. And to actually make a physical memory of someone’s dog to handle and love is a nice thing to be able to do. Especially if they’ve lost their dog, somehow it brings a little bit of them back into their life. That’s what keeps me inspired.
What would be your best advice for those starting out to work with felt?
A workshop is a good place to start as you’ll quickly get an idea for the action of needle felting with someone guiding you. You’ll most likely progress more confidently and not worry you’re not doing it right.
But really – if that’s not an option and you’re just keen to get going – then just have a go! There are NO RULES to needle felting and when you teach yourself, you quickly develop your own style. And as long as you’re having fun that’s all that really matters. Oh and take regular breaks too. HOURS can fly by if you’re not careful!
“There are NO RULES to needle felting and when you teach yourself, you quickly develop your own style.”
What’s next for you, any new projects you’re working on?
I’ve just launched a website of video tutorials of me demonstrating how to make my detailed needle felt dogs. These are great if you can’t make it to my workshops in person and are step by step guide with me showing you everything you need to do from start to finish. They are detailed and full of tips and advice from me. The cost varies from £6.99 to £30 for HOURS of easily digestible felting and there’s also a load of free videos on the website which can be downloaded and kept. Here’s the link.
Sophie also delivers workshops on needle felting so you can develop your skills further!
We'd love to thank Sophie for this lovely interview. Has it inspired you to have a go at needle felting?!
You can see more of Sophie's work and find out more about workshops here.
Sophie's digital learning tools can be found here.
As well, Sophie is holding a sake for the month of May on her online tutorials for Craftiosity readers, just head on over to her website and use the code FELT10 for 10% off!