A few weeks ago I was contacted by the wonderful Joy Liddy, the Newsletter Editor for the Canadian Doll Artist Association, to do a feature and interview with me and my felted Santas for their November issue. As you can imagine I said yes, and was very excited to be included with other such wonderful doll artists. Below is my interview! It was an exciting day and I'm still walking on Cloud 9!
A Fabulous Felter of Santas
Tell us a little about yourself. Hi! I'm Bella.... the girl next door, a former botanist, lover of all things pink, caretaker of two cats, one husband and too many felted creations to count. I love the smell of old books and the written word. I am a work in progress, an animal lover, a lover of nature, passionate and fiercely loyal. I have expensive taste but am very careful with my money, I need my solitude, I am a terrible speller, I am extremely resourceful and I am really good at finding lost items.
Tell us a little about where you live. I was born and raised in the same small community that I live in now in southern New Brunswick, Canada. I am very fortunate to live in such a beautiful part of the world with my entire family living only a few minutes from me.
How Long Have You Been Making Dolls? I started down this path of making Santas, gnomes and other little creatures just a few years ago.... and haven't stopped since!
Why did you start making Santas? In my early 20's I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and over the years I have fought this tooth and nail and have struggled to find a proper balance. Because of this, working outside my home became more and more difficult so I needed a way to supplement our income, and give myself a creative outlet. I've always wanted to have my own business and finally decided that time passes no matter what, so why not give it a try! And as to why Santas? Who doesn't love Santa Claus? Everybody needs a Santa Claus, right?
What do you enjoy about making Santas? I love the challenge of coming up with new ideas and trying to translate that into the raw wool. It's amazing just how many different styles of Santas one can come up with! Each of them is unique and takes on its own personality. I also love to write little stories to go along with each listing when I sell them. Sometimes I get carried away with their descriptions but I think it adds magic and life to each of them.
What type of media do you use? I make my Santas from a technique called needle felting. This involves poking and prodding different colours of wool with a very sharp barbed needle until you reach the perfect shape. It literally takes thousands of pokes, hours and hours and sometimes days to reach just the right one-of-a-kind soft sculpture.
Why did you delve into the designing side of doll making? I just sort of fell into it. My mother-in-law gave me a felting needle and some wool and the rest is history! I'm entirely self taught and I've never been very good at following directions or colouring inside the lines so the designing side of it just came naturally.
What tips would you give to those looking to designing their own? Whatever medium you are using, let the medium tell you where it wants to go. Don't follow a picture but let the medium work as it wants to. Sometimes it will come out exactly the way you see it, sometimes it will come out different but better than you expected. You will only get frustrated if you try to force it into something it does not want to become.
What challenges have you had to overcome in your doll-making career? The toughest challenge is that my fibromyalgia affects my doll-making career in a number of ways. One of the ways is that my hands get really sore and I have to really limit my amount of time needle felting. The other thing is that I get extremely tired very quickly so doing any kind of show to sell my work is just about impossible. I sell online but do miss the personal contact that comes with selling in a show. However, if it weren't for my health problems then I probably would never have started needle felting in the first place!
What are your goals as a doll maker? To continue learning and to continue having fun!
What recognition have you received over the years? The best recognition is a sale! The fact that I live in a remote area and am able to connect with people all over the world through my work is the best recognition I could receive.
Where has you career as a doll maker taken you both professionally and personally? Professionally it has allowed me to start that business that I have always wanted to start and personally it makes me just plain happy! I'm my very happiest when I'm creating!
What has influenced you? I come from a long line of resourceful and artistic women and creating is simply in my blood. I feel a drive to create something from nothing and that challenge also really influences me.
What words of advice would you give to us? Don't do this unless you love it... and stop doing it if it's not fun anymore. If this happens don't be afraid to stop and try something new.