Posted 19th Mar 2015
From a part-time hobby to a business based on what she loves, we spoke with felting artist Lucy Pendrick to find out what it takes to turn a craft into a dream career
Based on the Devon/Somerset border, felt artist Lucy takes inspiration from the environment around her, creating gorgeous felted sculptures of the wildlife she sees. Using local wools, some that she dyes herself using plants found in the hedgerows, Lucy spends hours with her needle and wool, pricking away to felt it into exquisite works of art.
Having turned her hobby into a business three years ago, Lucy initially didn't have the confidence to show off her work, but when her husband left for Afghanistan it gave her the nudge she needed to do something to keep her busy, and she hasn't looked back since. Last year Lucy was awarded an Emerging Artist Bursary as part of Somerset Art Week and was picked for the award due to the unusual scale of her work. We caught up with Lucy to find out more:
Where did your love of art begin?
I have loved art ever since I was a child. It was the landscape that surrounded me that really set the fire alight. I was lucky enough to have a family that would let me collect pocketfuls of crimson leaves and buckets of iridescent shells. I would then spend hours at home just admiring them and dreaming of projects to show them off.
How did you first become involved with felt?
I can't put my finger on when I became a felt artist but I can see the path I travelled to get me there. Like most children I enjoyed art classes, but found it difficult to connect with an art form. Like most of my life’s light bulb moments it found me by chance. My sister gave me a teddy felting kit and the second I began I fell in love. Since then my felting has been constantly evolving.
Why does nature inspire you so much?
Wildlife is in my heart, it's the one thing that can make me smile and fill me with hope and inspiration. I love all aspects of it; birth, life and death. I admire the ruthlessness of a stormy sea in mid-winter and the peacefulness of a grassy summer meadow. I feel privileged to witness it every day.
Describe a typical day in your studio...
I would love to tell you that I have a picturesque studio at the bottom of the garden trailing with ivy (and one day I hope that will be a reality) but so far my life has been one house move after another. For a long time I yearned for my own little space but in moving I found another glorious secret of felting. It can be picked up and travelled with. With little more than my felting block, a needle and some wool, I can sit out in a field – weather permitting – and create. What could be better? I'm always guaranteed to find fresh inspiration.
What projects are you working on right now?
I have many exciting new plans for the year ahead. As well as my usual on a whim creations and new commissions, I have plans for foraging and felted workshops which I hope to be running by the summer. It will involve being outside to gain inspiration before finding a cosy space to felt.
When I began felting I bought my wools from online shops, which is great, but I realised some of the wool comes from abroad, so I decided to research local rare breed farms and now have my own supply of beautiful fleece. I now care just as much about where my wool has come from as the finished creation. To actually see the very sheep your felted animal came from is humbling, so to share this I will be selling hand-dyed and carded wools as well.
What do you enjoy felting most?
I go through periods of favourite fleece to work with, at the moment I am a little crazy about the fleece from the Castle Milk Moorit sheep. The gradient of colours is astonishing and lends itself to so many of my felted animals. I enjoy felting all animals; however British wildlife holds a special place in my heart.
How did you get started selling your crafts?
I have never been a confident person and found it very hard to show my work to anyone. Then one day someone who I love dearly was faced with the challenge of a lifetime and they didn’t shy away. The bravery they showed inspired me. If they could do something that challenging then maybe I could put my work out there for all to see and in doing so my confidence is building every day.
Do you just sell online or do you have a shop?
I mainly sell online through my Etsy shop and via my lovely Strawberry Glen community on Facebook. I hope to build a personal website soon too. I also have my work in some galleries across the country. I take part in small art fairs local to me, including The Frome Independent.
What advice would you give to anyone else thinking of selling their work?
Do it! Otherwise you will always wonder ‘what if?’ Never compare yourself and your work to other artists. You offer something truly unique because you alone have made it. It’s come from your imagination and has been created by your hands, and people can see the beauty you put into making something.
To find out more about Strawberry Glen Crafts visit www.etsy.com/uk/people/StrawberryGlenCrafts