I am a needle felt artist, children’s book author and illustrator. My wildlife and pet sculptures are noted for being realistic and soft, with expressive faces. I create wool paintings, primarily of children and nature, as well as fairy tale interpretations. I have illustrated four books using needle felt as my medium. “Seasons of Joy: Every Day is for Outdoor Play,” is my first book as both author and illustrator; it is illustrated with wool paintings.
As a child, my mother taught me all the handwork arts – sewing, crochet, knitting, embroidery. I never liked following patterns, so I would just figure out how to make clothes for my dolls. I spent hours drawing, especially horses. Later, I dabbled in watercolor painting and colored pencil drawing.
I never dreamed I would someday be a full-time artist. I had planned to be a veterinarian or a forest ranger and work in national parks. I did get the opportunity to immerse myself in nature by working in three national parks out West in my 20’s. I returned to the Midwest believing writing was my strongest skill and became a journalist.
Years later, as a parent, I sent my son to a Waldorf school where I rediscovered knitting and crocheting. When I finally discovered needle felting, I knew that was what I was meant to do. I was awed by the possibilities. I bought a book to understand the basics of needle felting, and, from there, taught myself. When I was laid off from my journalism job, I decided to devote myself entirely to needle felt art.
My inspiration is nature and the outdoors. If I am creating a wolf, I spend hours studying images of wolves from every angle and I try to capture the spirit of the animal. I believe working with animal fibers helps me do that. I pour my love for animals into every sculpture.
In my work, I use a variety of fibers. While wool is usually the core, the animals are coated in soft, luxurious fibers such as alpaca, llama, yak, and mohair. With the animals, I like to use natural hued fibers, but I will dye to get the right shade.
My wool paintings start with wool fabric. I add thin layers of wool that I have hand-dyed, usually Romney, to create the background. I apply glass from a picture frame and press the wool to the fabric. When the background is complete, I start to needle felt the details, trees, flowers, children and animals.
I continue to be motivated by the joy my work brings to others and by my next challenge.