Posted 1st Jul 2015
Bridgette Jones has been creating felt masterpieces for the past year, having just set up an online shop, we sat down with her to find out what it's like changing career and moving out of your comfort zone to follow your dream
Tell us a little about you and your background.
I have always been interested in art. After completing a HND in illustration at Hereford I left college and flitted between an eclectic range of jobs. I was handpicked as an in-house artist for Bulmers and also worked in a pottery studio where I worked on commissioned pieces. Everything seemed to be panned out for me – I worked long hours with tight deadlines. Unexpectedly something happened to change my perspective, children! My life changed dramatically. I chose to slow down and to enjoy my family. It wasn't an easy transition but it was right for me. I realised that all the things in life I had been to busy to appreciate were in fact the most important.
With money a lot tighter I learnt to sew. I taught myself to quilt, buying cotton shirts from charity shops which were transformed into bedcovers for my children and eventually friends children too. Knitting was learnt from an elderly neighbour in exchange for a little bit of gardening. I became enamoured with textiles, stockpiling little scraps of pretty fabric, old buttons and trimmings, all the things other people would through away appeared to me like rare treasure. I squirrelled away cupboards full waiting for 'a rainy day'.
When did your love of felting begin?
It was a rare trip to a performance of the Snow Queen by the Warldorf School one Christmas that introduced me to the world of felting. I was transfixed as to how one tiny needle and a little pinch of raw roving wool could be transformed to create such beautiful things. I scratched together enough to buy a tiny blackbird and brought him home to sit on my windowsill – I still have him and love him as much to this day).
Why did you first start making your felt masterpieces?
It was a rainy morning in February 2014, after spending several frazzled hours searching for a Valentine's present that actually meant something, I resigned myself to the fact that the mass produced gifts in the shops weren't for me. Thoroughly fed up, I trudged home, put the kettle on and plonked on the sofa. The first thing to meet my eyeliner was my blackbird! With a ridiculous amount of ignorance in the subject I decided to give it a go. I have always loved the romance behind the 'owl and the pussycat ' and decided on that as a theme... and that was that! With roughly a couple of pounds worth of wool and my salvaged bits and bobs, two weeks later (and just in time for Valentine's Day) I had my gift and I was also hooked!
How have you found the transition from hobby to business?
My first attempt quickly became a talking point among visitors. I realised my new found hobby might possibly become something more when I started to get requests with many neighbours and friend wanting a similarly personalised item. Not having a business background, and wanting to combine my hobby with my job, I didn't want to sell at craft fairs as I couldn't spare that much time. A well known shop offered to stock them for me until they told me they would require 45 per cent of the sale price. I carried on crafting, not sure where each finished piece would end up just enjoying my craft and indulging myself in the pressure free pace.
You can buy Bridgette's pieces from her online Etsy shop, WhatBigEyesYouHave. Each piece is unique and made using entirely British materials. Commissions are completed in a one to two week period depending on size and complexity of the design.
By Lauren Morton