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Interview with Wool Comes Alive

Natural Kids: Interview with Wool Comes Alive

Friday, June 13, 2008

Interview with Wool Comes Alive


Today we bring you the first in a series of interviews with members of Etsy's NaturalKids Team. These will be posted to the blog every other Friday alternating with with features on creating a
natural playroom. Our introductory interview is with Jen of the shop Wool Comes Alive, known affectionately on the team threads as "Lively". Her beautiful shop is full of delightful needle felted characters full of whimsy and charm.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and how and when did you get started with arts and crafts?

According to my family, I have had an artistic flair ever since I was in diapers. I grew up in a close Italian family in Brooklyn, NY and for every occasion I always made handmade cards or little treasures for my relatives. Many of them are still on display to this day! Aside from handmade holiday gifts, my primary art forms as an adult had been dance, puppetry, and storytelling, but I recently discovered fiber arts. I love working with wool and sculpting it into life! My passion for creating something you can hold in your hands is rekindled.

What is the main thing you make and sell in your store?

I create unique dolls, animals and accessories by sculpting wool with barbed needles. The technique is called needle felting and I discovered it just this past October (2007). I took one class at the local fiber shop and came home and made two more dolls that night, trying my own design for the second one. Then, I realized that I could make anything I could imagine if I had enough patience! My first animal was a weasel, and he is now the star of many Redwall reenactments played by my stepson. I have always loved wild animals, so it comes very naturally to me to sculpt them. I take out my field guides from my days as a teacher at a Nature Center and mimic the markings and proportions, letting the animal’s essence be conveyed through a simple Waldorf-inspired style. Plus, I like to be silly, hence my colorful sheep!

Who if anyone has been instrumental in helping you hone your craft?

The one class I took was at Ewetopia Fiber Shop in the small town I live near in rural Wisconsin. Kathryn Ashley owns this shop and vends and dyes beautiful wool, which nurtures my craft immensely. Diana Horan taught that class I took and has kindly encouraged me along the way as my unique style emerged. And of course, my loving husband is very supportive and enthusiastic of my work, even when I talk to my animals and dolls, cooing and telling them how cute they are as I make them.

Where do you get your inspiration?

I am inspired by the joys of life - loving connections between people and nature. Ideas for creations burst into my mind and I can’t possibly keep up with them! The wool really has a vitality as well, and it helps in the creation of each piece. Sometimes I think I am making a moon goddess doll, but she somehow conveys that she’s meant to be a jazz singer! I never argue with what the wool leads me to. I am also deeply inspired by the Waldorf tradition and the wonderful friends on the Natural Kids Etsy street team. The team brings so much joy, meaning, and energy to my work. Oh, and did I mention that I live on the farm where Magic Cabin Dolls started?!? That has to help somehow!

What are your favorite materials?

There is nothing like wool! I adore it! I also have a sewing machine and use it to make various functional things out of upcycled and remnant fabrics. I do still enjoy making and using polar fleece pillowcases during the cold WI winters too, but don’t tell anyone ;)

What advice would you give other Etsy sellers and those interested in opening up a shop?

The best part of Etsy is the community! Find a team with folks you connect with and have fun! It makes those times in between sales shorter, plus more enjoyable! And super photos make all the difference!

What advice would you give to beginners in needle felting?

Don’t be shy to try something new. It is such forgiving technique and there is so much beautiful wool to choose from. Let your imagination soar! That is what I encourage in my students when I teach needle felting to children and adults at Ewetopia Fiber Shop. I just taught a class this morning making mermaids like the ones in my shop. The student’s mermaids were all so different, and each one was fantastic! I love teaching classes for that reason.

What is your Etsy shop address and name? Where else can we find you?

My Etsy shop is called Wool Comes Alive at http://www.woolcomesalive.etsy.com

I also vend at the occasional craft fair, including the Madison, WI Craftacular and the Pleasant Ridge Waldorf School Holiday Faire in Viroqua, WI. Some of my work is for sale at Ewetopia Fiber Shop, and I offer classes there regularly.

8 Comments:

Blogger WoolComesAlive said...

Oh fairesnest, thank you so much for interviewing me! I am so honored to be featured in this way among such an incredible team :)

June 13, 2008 at 8:34 AM  
Blogger germandolls said...

Great interview! I am shy too! Thanks for sharing!

June 13, 2008 at 10:21 AM  
Blogger TheSingingBird said...

Thanks for sharing Lively, and for the great questions Fairiesnest! You're both great team members and bring so much to our group! :)

June 13, 2008 at 10:42 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

It was fun getting to know you a little better, Lively...thank you for being so friendly and encouraging in your interview...I am sure it'll make others want to try needle-felting who are wary of it.

June 13, 2008 at 10:46 AM  
Blogger about denise said...

What a great interview Lively. Thanks for letting us see what makes you tick. ;)

June 13, 2008 at 12:29 PM  
Blogger oritdotandolls said...

I enjoy every word!
Thanks!

June 13, 2008 at 2:06 PM  
Blogger cozycottage said...

Yeah, Lively! I loved reading about you. Thanks for sharing yourself with all of us! I love how you said "I never argue with what the wool leads me to." How true! You're a great teacher!

June 13, 2008 at 9:46 PM  
Anonymous nushkiesmom said...

Just got a chance to read this. Excellent!!!! Jen (Lively) hail to my fellow recovering New Yorker. I was born in Brooklyn! What are you doing in WI?? I also identify with your background as storyteller and dancer...I wonder if we crossed paths in "the City."

About the article itself...Fairiesnest, you are a wonderful interviewer, and Jen, you are so eloquent. Both of you are an inspiration!

June 13, 2008 at 10:10 PM  

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