This month's spot light interview is with Sarah Richards from 'I Felt Fantastic'. Sarah runs needle felting courses for all abilities where you can make a wide range of creations to include animals, decorations, artwork and wearable items. Sarah's focus is on providing a safe, supportive environment promoting mental wellness through craft.
How long have you been needle felting?
I have felting for over ten years, and a tutor for the last five years. I Felt Fantastic got going in January 2020, so it’s been an interesting year so far!
What inspired you to take up needle felting?
I was looking for a craft that was quick and easy to pack away, without leaving a mess. My son was a toddler back then, and I needed something that would give me a bit of creative time during his daytime naps. A friend emailed me a video and thought I would be interested. That was the beginning of everything I do now.
What was the first thing you made?
The first thing I made was this owl. I had some sheet felt left over from my daughter’s school project, and so I combined it with my basic needle felting supplies.
What has been the most challenging thing you have made and why?
My most challenging make so far is my miniature barn owl. Working on such a small scale required lots of patience, plasters for my fingers, and a magnifier. The feet alone took two hours, as I had to wrap and shape each wired toe. I’m really pleased with how he turned out, and I’ve gone on to make more miniature felts since.
Which piece of work are you most proud of and why?
I’m most proud of my rainbow wall hanging (shown at the start of this interview). It is a project that I get asked about a lot, especially since rainbows have become such a symbol of hope this year. It cheers people up, simple as that. I’m hoping to write up the instructions to make this, which will my first ever downloadable tutorial.
What do you enjoy most about needle felting?
I love that each time you make something, it’s different. Needle felting never gets boring; it’s so versatile. I do get quite excited in my classes to see what the students make; there’s always such variety and character in each piece, even though they all began with exactly the same supplies.
What’s your favourite fibre to felt with?
The best fibres are the carded batts and slivers. They felt well, and offer a fantastic colour palette. The slivers are particularly easy for me to portion up for workshop kits. I’m keen to try the new range of blends from The Woolly Rabbit too.
What is your favourite needle?
I have two favourites; a 38g star for shaping and structuring, and a 42g twisted/spiral for adding fine details and getting a smooth finish.
What has been the most important lesson you learned so far on your needle felting journey?
To look after you felting hand and arm! I learned the hard way after I kept getting a sore shoulder. Keep your arm and elbow close to your body, and just use your wrist and fingers to work the needle. Take lots of breaks and don’t overdo it.
Who are your favourite felting artists?
I love Mikaela Bartlett’s realistic nature sculptures; she has a wonderful eye for poses, and adds a great humour to her work. I also really admire the 2D work of Delphine Brooks and Nicky Heard, who use very different subject material, but are both masters of detail.
What are you working on right now?
I’m working on a sample for my upcoming Hellebore (Christmas Rose) workshop. The students will be using carded slivers from The Woolly Rabbit in White and Tadpole melange. Flowers are great for improving your needle techniques as you have to make multiple petals and leaves.
What would you like to make in the future?
I haven’t made many mice, so I’d love to have another go. I have a idea for a themed series of little mousey characters; but I need to practice first!
Do you have any words of wisdom for newcomers to needle felting?
Don’t be afraid to take things apart and start again if it’s not working out. Wool is very forgiving. I’ve lost count of the number of times I have chopped off ears and tails, and pulled out legs, eyes and whiskers! You can easily cover your mistakes.
Where can we learn more about your work?
Finally, to round up this interview, I had a sneek peek at Sarah's Facebook page and found some delightful needle felted creations that I would like to share with you. I love the little tea cups and the hare on a swing!
Sarah's workshops are running over Zoom (at the time of this interview) so why not had over to Facebook and treat yourself to one of her amazing workshops making a Christmas wreath!
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