Updated: Oct 20, 2020
This month's spot light interview is with the very talented Anne Sleight. Anne has been needle felting for two years now and has her own Etsy shop which you can find here called PoppetCraftsByAnne. Read on to learn more about Anne's journey where she shares what sparked her initial interest in needle felting and her words of wisdom to those who are newcomers to felting.
How long have you been needle felting?
I have been needle felting for just over 2 years now
What inspired you to take up needle felting?
My interest was sparked originally because I used to make Waldorf style dolls and I wanted to move into soft sculpt faces, where the face is needle felted onto to head then the fabric skin applied over the top. The results weren’t bad but I was never going to set the world alight with them. Then in November 2018 I found a YouTube tutorial for a felted ballerina mouse and I was hooked. I stumbled on pet portraits at the beginning of this year because my brother sent me a picture of his new puppy, a French/English bulldog cross. He was so cute I decided to try making a portrait as a surprise present for my brother’s birthday.
What was the first thing you made?
So my first make was this little ballerina mouse and I was thrilled with how it turned out. Also in November 2018 I attended a felting workshop at the Knitting and Stitching show in Harrogate where I made an owl, although he looked more like a worried penguin !
What has been the most challenging thing you have made and why?
I find a challenge or learn something new in every piece I make, but one that stands out was being asked to make a crested gecko. I had to devise my own methods of making their unusual toes and of course the eponymous crests along its back. If I was making it again I would do things differently as I now have more materials available such as silk clay, but my customer was delighted with the result.
Which piece of work are you most proud of and why?
I think my first portrait, of my brother’s dog Norman is one thing I am most proud of. I devised my own technique which I call a “contoured” picture, so it stands out from the black cloth but isn’t full 3D like a trophy head. My brother was so delighted with it, and sharing on social media resulted in my first orders. More recently I did a portrait of a white Staffordshire Bull Terrier, which turned out to be anything but white - it contained about twenty blended shades. I was so happy with the final result though, it was worth all the fiddling about.
What do you enjoy most about needle felting?
There are many aspects of felting that I love - but I think one of my favourite things is that sometimes it is the wool that decides what it is going to be . One time I sat down to make a little Easter lamb hanging decoration and ended up with the head of a lioness. As far as the portraits go, many of them are memorials for departed pets and it is very rewarding to be able to bring back good memories for the client.
What’s your favourite fibre to felt with?
I love Corriedale slivers for wrapping armatures and core in general. I also like New Zealand batts and Merino tops.
What is your favourite needle?
38 twisted star - it’s my go to needle for pretty much everything except final finishing.
What has been the most important lesson you learned so far on your needle felting journey?
Not to compare myself to others - be inspired and learn from others, but let your own style emerge.
Who are your favourite felting artists?
I am really inspired by artists such as Victoria Seddon, Mikaela Bartlett, Dayna McFadden and Cindy-Lou Thompson, to name just a few who do ultra realistic models. I also adore Nikki’s work at Feltmoon_uk, and Loubilou Miller. They have unique style and great presentation , something I’m not skilled at.
What are you working on right now?
I have just completed a 3D model of a Papillon. It has been refreshing to get my 3D head on after a run of portraits.
What would you like to make in the future?
I will definitely continue with pet portraits, not only dogs, I have done cats and rabbits too. I hope to spend a bit more time on developing Cranberry Dell - my own collection of whimsical woodland characters and the stories to accompany them.
Do you have any words of wisdom for newcomers to needle felting?
Don’t expect perfection. Use finger guards for the fiddly bits and don’t lose heart - every piece goes through an ugly stage. Just keep adding and stabbing the fluff and something lovely will come.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I hope you have found Anne's work inspiring! Anne has perfected and honed her skills over the last two years which shows what can be achieved through practice and dedication. It has been fun learning about Anne's journey, who has inspired her and seeing how her style has developed from her first pieces of felting to where she is now. I look forward to seeing her Cranberry Dell collection in the future too.
Finally, here are some more examples of Anne's work, I especially love the two 3D dog portraits.
If you would like to be featured in the Maker's Spot Light interview and have made creations using wool purchased from The Woolly Rabbit, then get in touch via email here