Monday, April 4

meet a maker

being the inquisitive little feltmaker that i am, i thought it might be interesting to hear about other maker's stories. if you would like to be featured, please leave me a comment and i'll get in touch with some questions for you.

so, grab a cuppa, put your feet up and lets meet deborah of felters journey ...

Please introduce yourself …
I am Deborah Allen ... a 37 year old wetfelter living in Halesowen, West Midlands.

How would you describe your work / style?
Wide ranging, I get bored making the same sort of thing too often.
Who, or what, inspires you?
The natural world is a big inspiration. From land & seascapes, the heavens, weather & the changes that brings, to things that grow, and birds & animals . We are lucky to live right on the edge of the urban sprawl – through the front door are roads, town hustle & bustle. Out the back door lies miles of beautiful greenbelt countryside, woodlands & streams, fields & hills.

I'm also very much inspired by history. Ancient art, myths & beliefs ... in particular of our ancestors here in Britain.

All of these things speak to & soothe my soul ... guess thats how they find their way into the things that I make. And then sometimes its all about colour and form ... what is pleasing to my senses – I love the tactile nature of felt as much as its appearance.

Do you sell your work? If so, what helped you decide to start selling your work?
My dream is to make a modest living from selling my creations & passing on a love of felt to others through workshops. About 3 years ago someone suggested selling my felt on Etsy. I already had an Etsy account so I put my first ever Feelin’ Sheepish bag up for sale and it sold really quickly. This was encouraging, so I made more ... After about a year I decided on the name FeltersJourney, and opened an Etsy account and shop in this name. I also decided to start selling some felters embellishment supplies; sari silk fibres, dyed silk caps etc. I am currently stocking my Folksy FeltersJourney shop with these supplies.
Where can I buy your work?
From my Etsy shop - I do occasional craft fayres, usually in the West Midlands & put a notice on my blog for any upcoming events I will be attending.

Do you have a website or blog address?

How did you learn your craft? How long have you been creating?
I have been creating pretty much my whole life – as far back as I can remember. When I was a little girl, on Friday nights I would sleep over at my nans house. We always had a grand time, she taught me how to knit, sew (by hand and on the machine), darn socks, cook, dance & sing old songs. My mom made lots of soft toys; rag dolls and things, and often let me make things from her scraps. Creativity was all around me..

I got interested in the fibre arts about 7 or 8 years ago when Debbie at Mulberry Dyer taught me how to spin on a drop spindle. After a wonderful day playing with wool I was truly addicted ... that was the day when I first heard of felting. My first felting experience was from an extremely basic kit bought on ebay a couple of months after I learned to spindle.

I am a self taught wetfelter; I read books and got stuck in. I’m a bit of an impatient person; the problem I have with doing courses is the baby steps ... once I have got a feel for what I’m doing, I want to dive in and make what I really want to make and learn as I go along. For me this works well.

I would still like to do the C&G feltmaking courses some day (when funds allow) ... I think I will have the patience to do it now – I won't feel like rushing on ahead because I’ve aready done so much felting.
Is there any other craft skill you would like to learn?
Not at the moment ... I’m pulling my fingers out of various crafty-pies lately so that I can focus on my felt (I was hand-sewer of cloth dolls / art dolls many of my own design for a few years) I still also spin, crochet.

My most recent temptation was Silversmithing. I seriously considered taking a course just over a year ago ... but decided not to for 2 reasons – I wanted to stay focused on my felt, and the aforementioned impatience with learning at someone elses pace I may very possibly still do this in the future ... I'm also quite interested in hot glass.

Anything exciting planned for 2011 you’d like to share?
I’m hoping to organise some beginner/improver feltmaking workshops locally this summer and I have just started up the Woolgatherers a few weeks ago! That's pretty exciting for 2011 – regular meetups with fibre fanatics. Other than that we shall see ...
Have you had any work featured in magazines/books/galleries?
I was featured artist on Wingham Wool Works website in Autumn 2010 – that was pretty cool!

International Day of Felt 2010 I did a workshop with the Primary School next door. The children each felted a sea creature, which I assembled into a HUGE mobile with driftwood & shells – this was exhibited in our local museum, featured in the local paper & in the FeltUnited online exhibition. So not my work being exhibited, but I was really excited to be part of this project & the kids were absolutely thrilled! A wonderful experience

I couldn’t do this if it wasn’t for …
My lovely husband who has always encouraged me, and even manages to keep a good sense of humor over the fluff that fills the house (I often blame the dogs for the fluff bunnies on the floor.. but when those ‘bunnies’ are green its a dead giveaway!)
Describe your perfect day.
Any day spent out and about with my family & our 2 dogs ... my favourite days are spent walking along cliffside coastal paths and beaches in Cornwall. The sound and smell of the sea, wind blowing my hair ...

Describe your proudest moment.
All of my proudest moments are to do with my 2 beautiful children.

What do you do to relax?
Make felt :) while listening to; a good audio book (Harry Potter read by Stephen Fry are my favourites) in the winter, or birdsong through an open window in summer

Marmite … love it or hate it?
How do you keep motivated?
By only making what I want to make, when I want to make it.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
- Buy Uniquely Felt by Christine White, its the best all round feltmaking book I have seen, it`ll give you a taste of all the different techniques with insights and tips that come from experience. I wish this book had been out when I started felting.

- Be sure that you are using a fibre that felts easily when you are starting out ... save the more challenging stuff for when you are a hopeless felting addict & are willing to rub & roll the whole day away lol.

- Have fun with it!

- Dont be scared to push yourself.

thanks for taking the time to chat deborah, i had a wee giggle when i read about your fluff bunnies ... i have the same problem but unfortunately no pets to blame it on, congrats on being a featured maker on wingham!


vilterietje said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mattie van den Heuvel said...

Oh Wow! I would LOVE to be featured. I'm a needle felter from Germany.
This week I don't have much time, but as from next week...
Love Mattie (Filz10A)

narkeymarkey said...

thanks riet, i've sent you some questions by email - sorry for deleting your comment but after i published it, i noticed it also had your email address and didn't know if you minded it being published online :)x

narkeymarkey said...

hi mattie and welcome to my wee blog :) i'm so pleased you would like to be featured. please can you send me your email address as a comment on this post so that i can send you some questions. thanks :)x

Kelly said...

I love Deborah's work! Her bunny doorstops are fabulous!

Angela said...

What a great range of work Deborah has.

narkeymarkey said...

hi kelly, aren't they gorgeous?!

hi angela, you're right, such a vast range and each piece wonderful :)