10.7.09

Menagerie

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Do I still needle felt? Of course I do. It's my job; without it I have no money. I have tried a little experiment of making several things over a month and re-stocking my shop all at once. But I think I'll be going back to just popping things up for sale as I do them: I really missed what we used to call the 'retail buzz' when I worked in a Real Life shop. And my blog starts reading like a domestic bliss magazine.




I didn't get as much made as I hoped, it's taken me a while to get back in the swing of things after my mammoth trade order but I'm back in the zone at last and even started making inroads into my commission list. The shop which I am supplying wants more one-offs; they anticipate selling out of the ones they have as soon as their catalogue is published (which is flattering). So I need to clear my commitments.


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I've started making everyday little clips and ornaments which 'only' take a day or so to make and that I can price affordably; I had to raise my prices on my larger animals, just so that I wasn't working for myself for sweatshop rates.



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My geese take at least 3-4 days to make. It's hard to explain why unless you know how needle felting works. There is a lot of putting on and taking away. The final smoothness that I like takes hours of minuscule poking and trimming. I am often asked *how* I get the finish that I do (merino wool is very hairy and fly-away). There is no magic answer; just patience. It is, after all, a craft; I think sometimes the word has lost a little of its meaning nowadays.



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I've also been using my new-ish (Christmas present) wire twisters; oh how I love them! They came without instructions, so I had to trial and error, until I found a You Tube video demo. But the possibilities are endless, and they are so very pleasing to use.

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Thankfully, things are shifting steadily. My dwindling store cupboard breathes a sigh of relief; I can go shopping again.



31 comments:

Twiglet said...

You are so right - yours is truly a craft and your little clips are gorgeous - as are all your animals. We have had lots of fun "dabbling" and your blog has inspired us. Thanks.

Jessie said...

Hi Gretel, these are breathtaking!x

Meliors Simms said...

I love these sweet little quirky beasts. It looks like you are having fun. It is so hard to find the balance of wanting to make one's work affordable and yet not be a self-inflicted sweatshop.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Edward and I wish you mammoth success. You are our favourite toy-maker!

My Bella Bleu said...

I can't wait for my little pink swan! I just love her :) She already has a home ready- clipped ever so delicately to the curtain by my bed.

Mike Woodcock said...

Your geese are worth every second of effort, they are adorable!

Francie of The Scented Cottage said...

Ah me, I could have told you how to twist wire without a special tool..but I'm happy you've worked it out.
Am I on that list? You know I neeeeed a ginger kitteh.
(())

Helen/Dudley said...

I just love your stuff. As soon as I get some disposable "cabbage" I am going to order some of your friends to come across the pond.

natural attrill said...

Really lovely work Gretel, as always :)
I like the twisted wire incorporated into the creatures, and the little clips are a fab idea.
I do hope you are charging alot more for the one-offs and making a decent profit for yourself!
Penny.

Elaine (nannoof4) said...

I love your needle felting, you mentioned a video on youtube about wire twisters can you please send me the link I cant seen to find it. my email is elamer1@gmail.com
Thanks

d. moll, l.ac. said...

Oh!!! the clippy ones are terribly clever. Yes, do pay yourself a decent wage.

Chrissy P. said...

Your work is so beautiful! And I love reading your blog! Just wanted to tell you!

jfidz said...

Fantastic work Gretel. Stumbled across this the other day - wondered if you'd seen it.
http://www.chushka.com/gallery/toys/

the casbah kitten said...

What cute little animals you make! I love the clips!! You must be blessed by the Goddess of Patience though.....

Jackie said...

I couldn't agree more. Yours is a real craft . A specific skill carried out with an artistic eye and true integrity. I could go on....

janet said...

Gretel...your needle felting is the finest I have seen anywhere.....your super clean and smooth finish is amazing! Only those that have tried to NF know what patience and artistry it takes to achieve your results. You could double your prices and in my mind it would still be worth it to own a creation of yours...simply stunning! Someday in a perfect world I will achieve that elusive Parker finish!.......Yeah right!

rachel said...

Gretel, have you ever considered doing day-workshops - introduction to needlefelting? I'm sure you'd be overwhelmed with eager applicants. Including me!

Mlle Miracle said...

How are your fingers? I hope you do some stretching before for your wrist too ;0)!!
You're so right, needlefelting is not a joke. It's magic when you see the result, but as you said, it's also a question of patience, a lot of patience, and a lot of pricks too.
As for your blog, I disagree with you, it's a pleasure to read your everyday life as much as look at your beatiful creatures.
Muchos ánimos! (It's just the way to cheer you up in spanish)

Caroline B said...

Wonderful work as always - they are indeed the best finished NF animals I've seen. It annoys me so much when you have to explain to people why you have priced an item as more expensive than some Chinese knock-off - I always feel like adding a sticker to my little animals saying 'this took me 15 hours to make'. As it is, minimum wage is a far distant dot on the horizon....

muddy red shoes said...

I know how long it takes and your "finish" is superb, lovely stuff G, keep the faith and heres to the resurgange of real crafters/artists/illustrators (I think your work combines all three titles very beautifully!

Merisi said...

Arts and crafts, from a master in both, I dearly hope you get paid the right price for your works!

Sue said...

Fab work as ever, I adore the little terrier at the bottom of the post!

acornmoon said...

You are so productive! It amazes me that you produce as much as you do whilst keeping everything so original. I think you have taken needle felting to a whole new level.

Frances said...

You've definitely got those wires bending to your commands! These new felted creations are so splendid and full of personality.

Think that the one-off is a good direction to go. One one-off might suggest a close cousin, and that cousin could lead to another branch of the family. Percolating!

Best wishes! xo

BumbleVee said...

having poked a few little critters myself, I know exactly what you mean about there being no magic... I don't even call it patience in my own case... more like perseverance .. and, then, sometimes I even go the other way and purposely add extra bits of fluff plucked from mohair... I do like a fluffy look on some things...

love the little regal pink swan.... your have such great original ideas.....

Libby Buttons said...

Your creations should become characters in a wonderous childrens movie. You felt wool into enchantment.
smiles
DarLie
aka "LiBBy BuTTons"

spinyurchin said...

Well, I am in awe of your many talents. Taking these critters that you've either painted or straight from your head and making them three dimensional is truly amazing.
And now you have made the perfect gingerbread!!! What can't you do lady?? : )

p.s. have been really enjoying The Hermitage site (bookmarked). Thanks for that.

henzy said...

your creations are so cute.. and very well made.

miakodo said...

I agree with Sue, that terrier just grabs your heart and begs for loves! My son would be in love in a heartbeat. Especially if they're as soft and cuddle-able as it sounds like you make them.

I am loving reading through your blog!

fhiona galloway said...

i love your felt creatures Gretel-specially like the little white doggy (?) with blue spotted bow.

PussDaddy said...

Oh my gosh, those are so cute. Especially that mouse.

PussDaddy