This month's spot light interview is with Lisa from The Feltie Gang on Instagram
'Hello, I’m Lisa Brambani and my Felting account is The Feltie Gang. I make all different types of felted creations but also share my page with my mum, who’s 87! She makes wonderful crochet animals and toys. In ‘real life’, I am better known as a professional road cyclist. I’m an Olympian (Seoul ‘88 age 21), I won silver medal at the Commonwealth Games Road Race in ‘90 in Auckland and I was four times British National Road Race Champion.'
Read on to learn more about Lisa's work, what inspires her and hear her helpful tips for needle felting...
How long have you been needle felting?
I have been Felting for 2 years...very much ‘still learning’ and I have to keep reminding myself ...it’s just a hobby !
What inspired you to take up needle felting?
I visited a Christmas fair and saw some wonderful felted creations which totally inspired me. I mentioned it to my friend Bev, who lives in the village, who said ‘I’ll teach you’ and so she did ! After one evening lesson, I was off and hooked from there on in.
What was the first thing you made?
A grey penguin Bev who taught me is a ‘proper artist’, she is a card illustrator and a lot of her work is seen on high street cards. The penguin was inspired by one of her cute Christmas designs for a client.
What has been the most challenging thing you have made and why?
I find ALL dog commissions a challenge. Working with felt isn’t like painting a picture and some clients are looking for an exact copy, which isn’t my style. I prefer a more characterful design. It’s sometimes difficult to capture the clients knowledge of the dog from a few snaps. It’s much easier if you have good quality photos to work from. Even though I have a poodle myself (Ralph), I find poodles very difficult and also Spaniels. But my absolute nemesis are CATS! My cats look like dogs dressed up as cats...see photo !!
Which piece of work are you most proud of and why?
I was asked by an Instagram ‘friend’ Lauren @wearemoutpads to make Feltie versions of Gretel & Strudel, the famous dachshund of Harriet @spacemasks I really enjoyed making those and they were quite a breakthrough for me. Following on from that Harriet contacted me to make her 2 Jeremy Fishers. I thought I could never do that, but didn’t want to let her down. They turned out great and she was throughly delighted.
What do you enjoy most about needle felting?
I started making and selling my work to raise money for a Breast Cancer charity. Since then I have raised over £5000 for various charities, from dog rescue, cancer support, British Legion, autism to motor neurone charities. I still regularly donate to charity from the money I make selling mine and mum’s work. This gives me a great sense of satisfaction.
What’s your favourite fibre to felt with?
The most recent wool I bought from you has got to be an all time favourite. An absolute delight to work with Cheviot sliver in natural white. It’s a beautiful core wool and makes a great base. I also love your colour ‘Dune’, it’s so versatile and works well for a lot of dog coats
What is your favourite needle?
I prefer the thicker gauge needles to really get stuck in. Having said that I usually have about 6 on the go and never know which is which!
What has been the most important lesson you learned so far on your needle felting journey?
I think high percentage of art is all about observation.
Whether it be painting, acting or felting it heavily relies on observation of your subject. So study the photo you are working from.
Are the eyes in relation to the ears ? I don’t associate myself as an ‘artist’ so I find this aspect quite difficult. I have to constantly remind myself....’look at the photo’.
Work from good quality photos and always get a good base. If your base is sound it’s easy to build up from that. A good wool is essential for a good base, which is why I choose your wool to work with.
Who are your favourite felting artists?
Well I have to say my mentor and tutor Bev, @bevandted She is an amazing artist and felter ...but she’s rubbish at Instagram ! Also the person who first inspired me at the Christmas fair was Von Allen @heartfeltdogs I love her quirky designs and dogs clothing. @thegentlemanfelter and @mikaelabartlettfelt WOW, I can only bow to their greatness!
What are you working on right now?
I always have a dog commission on the go but inbetween that, right now, I am making 3 bunnies in chicken outfits...I know !! Haha
What would you like to make in the future?
I just really want to improve my skill level. Maybe work a bit more with wire and improve my ‘paws’
Do you have any words of wisdom for newcomers to needle felting?
You WILL prick your finger...it doesn’t hurt for long!
Where can we learn more about your work?
Finally, to round up this interview, I had a sneek peek at Lisa's Instagram page and found some beautiful needle felted dogs that I would like to share with you.
If you would like to commission Lisa 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