In today’s story, we are going to learn about crafting adorable wool felted animals. They are made by hand in a process you may not believe.
In the world of yarn and fiber crafts there are so many ways to express your creative self. The better known crafts are knitting and crochet, and of course, my favorite, pom poms. Today I would like to introduce you to something called needle felting, and it creates the most adorable, little sculptures. People generally use needle felting to make the most precious animals, and the artist I’m featuring today is brilliant at this. Michelle of Fudge and Mable makes the sweetest Wool Felted Animals you have ever seen. Today we are going to meet Alfie the Baby Alpaca.
I first met Michelle about a year ago on Instagram. I think it was during a March Meet the Maker Challenge hosted by the lovely @joannehawker who is a designer and illustrator. Her annual challenge allows all different sorts of makers to meet each other through daily hashtag challenges. I made a few friends doing this that I genuinely think of as friends. I hope to meet them someday in real life! I was and continue to be amazed by Michelle’s animal sculptures. So when she hosted a giveaway for an Alfie, I was first in line to play along. And much to my surprise, I won!
The prize came beautifully packaged, and I would imagine this is how she sends out all of her orders as well.
My next door neighbor and on and off photo assistant went with me to help show off Alphie the day I took the first set of pictures. My photo assistant and friend is crazy busy with being in 11th grade and having a job and now driving. So I hardly see her anymore. But she was around the day I took these pictures.
How cute is that little guy? SO CUTE!!!! Michelle includes a custom card about all of her handmade sculptures. It describes some of what goes into making them. I almost fell over when I looked at Alphie’s card
This Alfie required 9 HOURS and 90,000 needle sticks to create. Yeah. You heard that right! I was blown away it took that much time and energy to create this adorable sculpture. Wow. That’s what handmade is all about. The time and the effort and the expertise to hand craft something like Alfie the Baby Alpaca is mind boggling to me. Beyond Michelle’s skill at shaping these sweet animals is her incredible talent to give them real expressions and personality. I honestly don’t know how she does it. Look at Alfie’s face!
I keep waiting for him to talk to me! He’s so, so precious. His little curls and those big, dark eyes just melt my heart. I, of course, had to knit a cowl for him! It was a chilly winter and he looked like he needed something to keep his long, lovely neck warm and cozy. I thought red suited him well.
That’s not all the knitting he modeled for me. Get ready….
If ever there was a Magical Creature, Alfie is certainly one of them!
Now I would like to introduce you to lovely Michelle and her business Fudge and Mabel. We did this brief interview so you could get to know her and her lovely form of fiber crafting. Please go and find her online. Your day will be brightened! And now on to the interview.
1. What is your business all about?
I am an artist/ designer/ maker and I started my business, Fudge and Mabel, a few years ago after completing my first set of boxing hares, named ‘Fudge’ and ‘Mabel’. I specialise in 3-dimensional needle felted sculptures and now also sell a range of needle felting kits and supplies.
2. How did you become interested in this topic?
I started needle felting in the summer of 2013 and was hooked from the start! Oddly enough, I stumbled across it when I was doing some research on making a wool bed for my cat Pushkin. There was suddenly this whole sculptural side to wool that I never knew existed and I quickly realised there were no limits to what you could make using felting!
3. What is Needle Felting?
Needle felting is the art of taking natural wool or fibres and, using a special barbed needle plus a gentle “stabbing” motion, sculpting it into shape. Basically you start off with a very soft bundle of wool and the more you poke it with the needle, the firmer it becomes. It’s a bit like working with cotton candy (but without being sticky). Sometimes a single character can take me days to complete and I don’t use any stitching or framework, they are purely made from wool that is literally poked thousands of times to firm up!
* Alfie the baby Alpaca was made using a lovely Bluefaced Leicester wool – It took around 8 hours to make him, using more than 65,000 pokes to sculpt him into shape.
4. What are your favorite fibres?
I tend to work mostly in British wool, with a little bit of Merino wool for colour. There are so many beautiful breeds of sheep to choose your wool from and most felt quite well. My particular favourites are Herdwick (as a core wool), Shetland and Bluefaced Leicester (for softer, silkier finishes). I would also recommend experimenting with different fibres and rare breeds as they can be great fun to work with.
5. Do you have a favorite product or service that you offer?
Oh I couldn’t name just one, I am lucky to be able to say that I truly enjoy every character or sculpture that I make and feel blessed that I get to do this for a living. I do however prefer detailed/ intricate pieces, like adding a full set of woolly teeth to a sculpture to give it a super realistic feel!
6. Where do you live in the world?
I live in the United Kingdom, in a beautiful little village called East Grinstead, set in the lovely English countryside. I get to see so much wildlife just on my doorstep and draw inspiration from the animals around me.
I am currently working on a few exciting new characters/ projects and I can’t wait to share them with you!
I hope you enjoyed meeting Michelle and darling Alfie the Baby Alpaca today! I would like to do more interviews with some of the lovely makers I have come to know and love. If you have special techniques you are curious about, I would love to hear about them. If you aren’t already, please be sure to follow both @fudgeandmabel and me, @pattymacknits on Instagram. And be sure to sign up for my email list before you leave today so we can stay in touch. I just know you wouldn’t want to miss any posts.
Patty loves figuring out new ways to use pom poms, where to stash more yarn and is always wondering what to bake next...chocolate or lemon? When not dreaming up new things to knit (or bake), she loves riding her beach cruiser on the Boardwalk, escaping to mid week movie matinees, and planting new things in her container garden.