Artist Interview Series - ELF CREATES
Today, we begin our new "Artist Interview" series.
Over the coming months, we aim to publish interviews with various artists that we here at Blooming Felt absolutely love ! Some of them are customers, some of them are people that we admire and some of them are just because we love what they do.
Our first interview is with Jo Harratt of Elf Creates. I've known Jo for a number of years as she has been a customer of ours for a long time. We've kept in touch and I'm delighted that she agreed to become our first interviewee.
Do please read on to find out all about Jo and her lovely business.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself
My name is Jo and I'm a fibre artist. I work from home in my workroom, in Buxton, Derbyshire. I originally trained as nurse but decided after the birth of my children to take a career break
For those who don’t know your work, can you explain to them what you do ?
I'm a needle felter and I make a lot of “feltidermy” - mainly animals. I also make quirky characters using mixed media, the bodies are paper mache with needle felted heads and details. I also dabble in free motion sewing and wet felting. I get bored easily !!
When and why / how did you start your business ?
After I decided to take a career break from nursing I decided to develop my craft side. I've always been creative, from painting to sewing. In 2011 I went on a wet felting course. I loved how you can manipulate fibres and create literally anything. I made various things and did a few craft fairs. I then started to develop my interest in free motion sewing.
In October 2011 I competed against Kirstie Allsopp in her Handmade craft show. I came 3rd, after designing a cushion with free motion sewing and needle felted details. This was one of the first times I'd really dabbled with needle felting and I became addicted. I completely taught myself, playing with roving, reading books etc. Over the years my work has really come on, I get lots of commissions from people whose animals have passed away or are just really treasured. I sell to various shops and galleries up and down the country as well as via my website. I love my job.
What does a normal working day look like for you ?
Each day is very different. It can be working on a commission piece or researching for inspiration. I love creating my little characters - each one is unique. Starting with a papier-mache body, I make all the clothes from new and vintage fabrics and when I attach the heads, I feel like they've come alive. Each one stands on a vintage tin with verses or quirky sayings around the bottom.
Where do you find your ideas and inspiration ?
I love The Wind and The Willows and Brambly Hedge and anything that's a bit quirky and enchanting. When I'm making my animals, things just tend to come to me in the natural flow of creating. One of my recent cocker spaniel heads had a brooch on her blouse that was a shape of a dog biscuit (I’m not sure where that one came from!) and Mr Seagull has a cone of fish and chips in his mouth. I'm a bit bonkers !
Which are your favourite projects that you’ve created ?
Oohhhh favs - I've got so many. I think my characters that I've recently made are my favourites but I have made a boxer dog head recently that was very life like even the dog looked at it as if to say “what's that ?!!!!”
What are you working on at the moment ?
I'm literally just getting back into work after Christmas and celebrating my birthday (don't tell anyone but I was 40 last week, still feel 18 though!)
I'm working on the characters from Wind in the Willows - I've just got Toady left to make and I'm really pleased with how they've turned out. Can't wait to get them finished and start on some new ideas for Spring, which is my favourite season.
Do you exhibit at any crafts fairs / shows / exhibitions ?
I've done lots of craft fairs and shows over the last few years, but since I had my little boy 2 years ago I've not really done any. This year I've decided to get back into showing again and I've just started looking now. I'll pop details up on social media with my plans when I've decided.
Are there any crafters / blogs that you like to keep an eye on ?
I don't tend to read many blogs but I always read my lovely friend’s blog, Julia Crossland Art. Julia writes so beautifully, it's calming and inspiring. I follow quite a few creative folk on Facebook and Instagram – but there are too many to name
What are your plans for 2016 ?
My plans for 2016 are to continue to create, developing my characters and to try and get my work into a few more galleries. Life is busy with 4 children and a husband but I wouldn't have it any other way. I'm very lucky to do what I love.