Maker's Spot Light: Kathy James aka aquirkoffelt

This month's spot light interview is with Kathy from A Quirk of Felt. Kathy makes a whole range of felted delights and creates the most amazing felted people, each with their own charming personality.

Kathy begins our interview with a brief summary of her background and where she is up to now in her felting journey...

'I am a well travelled State Registered Nurse, married with one son who now lives in Canada. I was a carer to my mother for 20 years after my dad passed away. My son and myself were lucky enough to travel the world by sea with my husband who was in the Merchant Navy. I always have crafted in one form or another from an early age but I'm afraid that Needle Felting has gripped me and is my passion. I do both 2 D and 3 D sculptures, from nature to whimsical. I was holding classes at a local tea-room but the pandemic has paused that for the last year.'

Read on to learn more about what inspires Kathy and hear her helpful hints and tips for needle felting.

How long have you been needle felting?

I have been needle felting for 11 years now

What inspired you to take up needle felting?

I saw a little needle felted cat on a friend's profile on Facebook, and I just had to try to find how to do it. I had to do a lot of research as it wasn't a craft that was well known in the UK. I eventually found a lovely lady in Alaska who was a master of the craft.

What was the first thing you made?

The first thing was a caricature called Shy Timmy and unfortunately he still isn't dressed.

What has been the most challenging thing you have made and why?

I think the most difficult was a life size blind Siamese cat sculpture. Cleo belonged to my friend in Germany, we met through Needle felting. She is a real treasure and gave advice on the shaping of the cat in all the stages. I was delighted with the outcome, she now lives in Germany.

Which piece of work are you most proud of and why?

I am proud of all my work and it is difficult to choose. I'm thinking Meille, she is a bee whisperer, I cannot draw a face but this little lady just morphed out of the fibre and she makes me smile.

What do you enjoy most about needle felting?

I find it very soothing and I adore the crunch. It's not very often that I visualise what I am making unless making a commission. My characters go their own way and will be what they want to be and are usually a surprise.

What’s your favourite fibre to felt with?

I prefer to work with carded batts and am enjoying the carded Corriedale I recently purchased from you.

What is your favourite needle?

40 Triangle is my work horse followed by a 38 star. I am still using needles from when I started, it pays to purchase good needles.

What has been the most important lesson you learned so far on your needle felting journey?

I think it is very important to keep upping my skills taking note of other crafting disciplines which can improve my work, i.e. sugar craft and clay sculpting. Where as with clay work you add and carve away material, with needle felting you add fibre and sculpt down.

Who are your favourite felting artists?

Oh, so many master crafters, here are a few :- Silke Sordyl of 'Fairy Felt by Siso' as I adore her little Giebling characters, I love little wrinkly faces. Anna Potapova makes the most wonderful and detailed dolls. Mikaela Bartlett of 'Mikaela Bartlett Felt' her woodland creatures and dogs are a delight to behold. Alison Rumbles makes the most delightful pet portraits, they look like they would just jump out of the screen and play catch.

What are you working on right now?

I have been making Earth Mothers very much in the style of Waldorf dolls, unfortunately I haven't taken any progress pictures as of yet.

What would you like to make in the future?

There is so much I have so many ideas. Maybe a needle and wet felted picture of the local moors, a picture of the Northern lights.

Do you have any words of wisdom for newcomers to needle felting?

Take your time, learn your craft by starting with something small to learn how to use the needles and fibre, make basic shapes. Learn as many techniques as you can as it will help you to get your own style, even looking at clay tutorials and sugar craft as the skills are inter-changeable.
Don't expect to turn out something spectacular in your first make, many experienced needle felters have hundreds of failures behind them. With time you will gain the experience but please don't be afraid to try. Buy good needles, fibres or kits. Try not to put up a barrier by saying I can't make that, you will never know if you don't try.

Is there anythung else you would like to add?

Don't be afraid to ask in a needle felting group or a supplier for advice on any of your makes. Also don't be scared to post photographs, we all had to start at the beginning and most of the time fellow felters will help with tips of the trade.

Where can we learn more about your work?

On Instagram @ aquirkoffelt, Facebook, Twitter

& website


Finally, to round up this interview, I had a sneek peek at Kathy's Facebook page and found some amazing and really cute felted sculptures that I just have to share with you.

If you would like to commission Kathy to make something special then head over to her Instagram page and message her directly.

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

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