I just discovered the amazing needle-felting work of Tanglewood Thicket, and I was delighted that Kasey (Ms. Thicket, herself!) agreed to do an interview with me! Her work is astonishing: using fluffy bits of wool, she dyes and felts whimsical creations that can be 2 feet tall!
I have to admit: I’m a total needle-felting newbie… I’ve seen the tools sold in the store, but that’s about it. I had no idea that you could take little fluffs of wool and make sculptures as large as Kasey does. Fortunately, Kasey fills us in a bit on the process!
At the bottom of the interview, you’ll find links to follow Tanglewood Thicket and purchase her one-of-a-kind designs!
onto the interview…
How did you get started with fiber sculpting? Did you start with needle felting designs by others, or did you start with your own creations?
Two years I owned an operated an Interior Design firm in down town Victoria BC. When I had my first baby I had thought I could just bundle her up and take her to the studio with me, being I was the owner. I was so wrong. I found myself at home more and more and was bored while babe was napping. (I miss those days) Before and during Design school I had really into sculpting fairies and mermaids from polymer clay which I had sold on-line. I had loved it so much I had thought I’d get back into it to fill my need to keep busy. That’s when I found Etsy and all these crazy felted wool balls…I had to know what they were and how there were made. I went to a local Yarn-Wool shop in Victoria and bought a couple ropes of roving and some needles and just starting stabbing..and stabbing and more stabbing. I say stabbing instead of poking because I had very sore bloody fingers the first few months as I was self teaching and learning. The very first thing I made was not a ball actually, it was a little goblin. I loved it so much I have not stopped for more then a day since.
Could you tell us a bit about your process? Do you sketch, or just sculpt as it comes to you? Where does your inspiration come from?
The process of Needle Felting to me is basically I ball a clump of raw wool in my hand and start to poke and stab with a single needle. I am not graceful at it in the least. Like I said I injure myself a lot and I break a ton of needles. All my creatures are a spin off the very first goblin I made. Always getting better and becoming more evolved. Since last August I have been non stop working on custom commissions. When I get these commissions, my customers give me hints on what they want..like color combos, horn types etc. I am inspired by colors, Candy, Rainbows and many Fantasy artists. I love Jim Henson, The Frouds and countless other amazing artisans. I never pre-design the goblin unless I need to get in the mind of the customer and show them a quick sketch of what I think they are asking me for.
The colors on your work are amazing! Do you dye the wool before or after needle felting?
I do dye my own wool. When I first started though I would use Ashford roving, but then I discovered you could dye your own wool with Wilton’s Icing Dye and Kool-Aid. My Daughter and Pug are always playing in my wool and I thought that having something safe and edible (not that wool is edible) for these creatures is just amazing. I go to town with both kool-aid and Icing Dye..I mix both to get crazy colors. I use a lot of Wilton’s Icing dye to get very bright vivid colors. I’ve been known to use a whole jar in one single pot. Just recently I have also tried Acid Dyes for the colors like Red and Black that I can’t get vivid enough. I dye all my wool before felting, although once I left a little goblin in my sun-room and it was so faded from the sun instead of adding more teal, I mixed the Icing dye in a spray bottle and “Airbrushed” the color back on his body. It’s something I will experiment with when I am off the hook for commissions. By dying it myself I can make tones and shades of each color which help me to color blend and create amazing gradations.
How much does a finished creation weigh? Where do you get your wool from? How much do you buy at a time?
I guess it depends. The larger goblins which are Toddler size have been anywhere from 1.5lbs to 2.5lbs total. doesn’t sound like a lot of wool but it is. I buy 10-15 pound boxes at a time. I buy most of my wool locally right here in British Columbia. I go through a lot of wool. 15 pounds every couple of months.
What are your future plans? Any new techniques you want to learn? Any creatures that you want to create?
My future plans are made up of dozens of custom orders I have taken this last year. I work continually on them, but can never catch up. I’d like to put a hold on custom orders when I eventually reach the end of the line, this way I can go back to the creative freedom process of discovering new creatures. I have a huge bin of body parts and creature limbs and heads started which I always get excited about making and then stop because I feel guilty that there is someone somewhere waiting for their order. I have a 3 foot Dragon in the works, Mermaids, Sea Monsters, Cupcake Goblins, and other crazy creatures waiting for me to pick them up and finish them off. I also will be doing a little more Fan Art too. Last summer I did a Goblin inspired by Jim Henson’s movie the Labyrinth…Chilly Down Fiery. He was a huge hit.
I’ve seen photos of your daughter with your work… are the sculptures alright for children to play with? Or, has she learned that she needs to be gentle with them?
The Sculptures are safe. They are 100% wool dyed 95% with Kool-Aid or Icing Dye. The only Goblins and Dragons that may not be that great are the ones with wings made of wire and film. Just because they usually have glitter on them which is not great in little mouths and eyes. My Goblins are also jointed. I use a very strong waxed thread. Bailey has yet to pull a leg off, but you never know. I have had a ton of people buy them for their kids. While they are safe and kids go crazy for them, they are more a keep sake or something for very light play. They are felted with one needle entirely and rough play can make them fuzzy and matte their silk hair.
Where can we find your work?
You can find my Blog: www.tanglewoodthicket.com
My Etsy Store: www.tanglewoodthicket.etsy.com
I’m on Raverly: TanglewoodThicket
Tanglewood Thicket Fan (lots of fun!) Page on Facebook
Thank you so much, Kasey!
all photos courtesy of Tanglewood Thicket.