Happy weekending everyone! Today, I have something a little different: a wonderful interview with a needle felter, Megan Nedds, of The Woolen Wagon. I first saw Megan’s beautiful work via Facebook and decided on the spot that I had to learn more. She makes some of the most life-life and gorgeously crisp creatures I have ever seen: she captures personality, movement, and animal spirits in amazing detail. You will need to scroll down a bit for an excellent interview, because (courtesy of Megan) I have so many beautiful images to share with you first. Please enjoy the awesome sculptures–they really do speak for themselves! And then read on for some inspiring stories from Megan about felting, the artistic process, and how to find her work in the real world. ❤ At the end of the post, I have included a project gallery, so that you can see Megan work from start to finish. Enjoy!
How did you get into needle felting?
I discovered needle felting in the summer of 2012. I had graduated high school and was looking for a fun project to do over the summer before I started my college career. One day I was browsing online and I came across an image of a needle felted animal. I was fascinated by it, and I was curious. So, I ordered some supplies. I learned the basics by watching a few videos on YouTube, and then I began to experiment with the materials. I fell in love and have been needle felting ever since then.
What is your method for creating your amazing animals?
The first step in creating a sculpture is research and gathering reference. I start by looking at numerous photos and anatomical studies of the animal. Then, I continue by making the wire armature. This helps me create the initial shape with correct proportions, and it gives the sculpture support. In addition, the wire armature allows me to bend my animals into different poses. As I make an armature, I look at images of the animal’s skeleton so I can make sure I make the correct proportions. After the armature is made, I start adding thin layers of wool. I continue building up the layers until I reach the final shape. I usually start this process on the limbs and work my way up to the body. Then I move on to the face, and lastly I fine tune the shape of the entire body as a whole. After the shaping is done, I add the top coat of wool. This can either be smooth or furry, depending on the animal. I love blending colors and creating the patterns of the animal’s coat. After each animal is complete, I give it its own unique name. When creating sculptures, I also use glass eyes, and often use polymer clay to create details such as hooves, noses, claws, antlers, and horns.
Where do you find inspiration?
I am inspired by nature, animals, and life. My goal as an artist to instill in people a wonder and a curiosity about the natural world. I am fascinated by animals and nature, and it is this passion that drives my work. I have a strong interest in the natural sciences, and I am constantly learning new things. When I create a new piece, it is my hope that I can share this knowledge with others and spark an interest to learn. In all of my pieces, not only do I try to convey a sense of realism, but also emotion and expression. It is important to me that my work portrays nature and animals in a realistic way, true to their anatomy and features, but also in a way that people can connect with them on an emotional level. I strive to create character and personality in all of my animals.
Any advice for new felters?
I would encourage those who are just getting started in felting to just let yourself experiment. There is no right or wrong way to go about this unique medium, and through experimenting you may find an awesome technique to use in future projects. For those who would like to create felted animals specifically, I recommend thoroughly researching the animal before you begin to felt. It is important to figure out what makes each animal look like that animal. What features make them unique to any other species? Even once the project is started, it is important to always have reference photos near. I also suggest seeking out other felters, either in person or through social media. I have found that it is very inspiring to see and talk about different techniques with other felters. Also, as with any other new endeavor, practice makes perfect. I learn something new with every animal I make, and I am constantly adapting and developing my techniques.
Where can folks find your shop online?
The name of my business is The Woolen Wagon, I have a Facebook page and an Etsy shop. On my Facebook page, I post work in progress pictures of my animals. I also have albums with pictures of all of my sculptures, which serves as my portfolio. I also use my page for communication about my upcoming classes, sales in my Etsy shop, and as a way to set up commissions. In my Etsy shop, I sell supplies, kits, tutorials, and fiber, along with my sculptures. Most of the time, I work by commission and don’t have very many made sculptures for sale. However, I occasionally get the chance to make a sculpture that can be sold. I also accept commissions through Etsy.
What’s NEW on the horizon for you and/or shop?
Last year I started selling supplies and fiber in my shop. I can’t believe how much this has grown in the last year. I would like to continue adding new items and fibers to my inventory. I have also recently started teaching needle felting classes and would like to continue to develop new classes. As a felter, I would like to make more life-sized animals when I am not busy working on commissions. I have made a few life-sized parrots and a life-sized capuchin monkey, and I love the challenge they offered me. In the more distant future, I would like to combine my needle felting with illustration. In school, I majored in Children’s Book Illustration. I would love to illustrate children’s books and find a way to combine it with my sculptures. At the very least, my sculptures can serve as a 3D reference for the characters I illustrate.
Here is a Start-to-Finish look at Cece the White-Fronted Capuchin