Friday, February 17, 2017

Needle Felting

This week I want to share my goals as they relate to needle felting. One of my challenges in dreaming is feeling drawn in too many directions, so I have more prioritizing left to do, but for now here the goals I've brainstormed for 2017 (I’ve organized them loosely according to how they fulfill my Values and Inspiration).


Since I began needle felting last spring, I’ve been amazed by the number of people either who have never heard of it or who have asked me what exactly it is. Telling them that I take fluffs of wool and stab them into shapes doesn’t really demystify much, so I’m working on sharing more visuals of this process. My goal is to better explain needle felting by sharing my work in progress, by airing more live Instagram Stories, and by hosting some felting workshops. 

I’ve already started sharing some works in progress on Instagram, but I plan to do more of this. I love not only that this shows the progression of my work, but also that it works against the social media norm that everything be perfectly styled and edited. Instead, I want to share the story of my work and be transparent about the challenges and victories I experience creating each piece.

In addition to sharing photos of my works in progress, I’ve also hosted two live Instagram Stories (InstaStories? InstaStories Live? Someone please help me!) so far, and I’ve had so much fun with them! I just set up a camera to live stream as I felted, and I so enjoyed answering questions in real time and talking a bit about what I was doing and why. Thank you to those who have joined in to watch! I will do more of this. 

Finally, I’m exploring the idea of hosting some in-person felting workshops to help others discover this craft. I have some research and prep to do before then, but I’d like to offer several events in the fall, when wooly projects will be especially cozy. Toward this end, I also plan to add felting kits to the Etsy shop so that others can purchase them for a workshop or explore needle felting on their own. I’ll keep you updated as this progresses, but right now I’m thinking I’ll start with party animal kits.

Thrift and Environment

As I worked through my goals for building and sharing my work, I found myself returning to the values of thrift and environment and considering ways I could further my commitment to these values by using more secondhand and sustainable materials. Currently, I thrift and repurpose as much as possible, but this can be challenging with felting. I use vintage fabrics for party hats and thrifted lace for details like bee wings and mermaid shirt collars, but secondhand wool roving is something I have yet to encounter at Goodwill. So my goal is to find a local source for ethically produced and naturally dyed wool so that I can know, engage, and honor the entire process of my craft, from source to finished product. As part of my desire to share stories, I want to understand the origins of my materials, and because I care deeply about preserving the environment, I want to use resources that are renewable, sustainable, and thoughtfully produced. I have a few potential leads, so I plan to connect with them soon and get started on this goal this year. 


Finally, in addition to discovery, thrift, and environment, I have set goals to become more aware, both internally and externally. I have grown a lot in my knowledge of needle felting since I began, but most of it has been instructional – when to use different types of wool or how to sculpt without armature. This year I’d like to dedicate more time to learning about the history of needle felting to better understand the tradition in which I'm creating. So in addition to reflecting the stories behind my process and materials, I want an awareness of my place within a larger context to inform the story of my work as well. 

I also want to become more aware of and engaged with my community. My goal is to participate in several craft fairs this summer and winter and potentially a farmers market as well. I plan to spend this spring and summer submitting applications and building inventory, and I'm hopeful at least a few will work out. In the meantime, I have become a member of a creative business group, The Academy of Handmade Artists and Supporters, so I'm building relationships in creative communities and have applied for a mentoring opportunity to help me grow. I'm excited for where this all will take me and how it will help me further connect here in Seattle.

All in all, I have a lot of work ahead, but it's work that brings me joy, and I am beyond grateful for the privilege of completing it. 

- shelley

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