I do a lot of different commission work in needle felting, it’s usually a doll or a mask or a beloved pet. I’ve made puppets for educational aides in the past but recently I was asked to do a bust of a multi-ethnic young girl; the customer wanted the doll’s mouth to be able to open and close and her tongue to be movable. The customer is a speech therapist who thinks that demonstrating how to move and place your tongue will help her young patients to better follow her instructions. I tried to stay away from the ventriloquist-look as much as possible because I think ventriloquist dolls are scary looking. The very unique thing about this therapy doll is that you can place the tongue in different areas in the mouth to show children more easily how to make specific sounds:)
From the commentary I’ve received concerning this bust, the speech therapist is onto something!
Bęc Smith I’m a speech pathologist and think this is so cool!
Imagine looking chic outside in the cold, even in a hat!
The girl who’s always on her A-game wears a 1960’s needle felted/embroidered hat!
Straight out of Mad Men, the 1960’s Doo keeps you warm because its lined in fluffy fleece and keeps you looking gorgeous inside and outside this winter!
The 1960’s Doo is needle felted from wool, the details are embroidered and beaded onto the wool hat.
Wear a piece of art!
This needle felted hat took so long to make I lost track of the hours! The hair shape was felted and then hours and hours of embroidery started. I used varying colors of yellow and ochre to give the “hair” depth. The fancy headband was also embroidered and beaded. The interior is lined with fleece so that the hat is actually usable in cold weather!
Arts Business Institute | Artist Profile: Laura Burch
June 3, 2016
Fiber artist Laura Burch presents her delightful portfolio. We spoke with her about building a business, and her advice for others.
ABI: How did your move to Israel change your life and your art business?
LB: Moving to Israel changed my life completely; I had to adapt to things like the metric system, using Celsius instead of Fahrenheit, using a different currency, a different language and make peace with living as a foreigner.
When we lived in Chicago we bought a lot of Disney costumes because the girls loved to play dress-up and wear pink, sparkly things and those types of beautiful, quality items didn’t exist in Israel. I started making the girls’ costumes as well as classic style dresses for birthday parties and special occasions.
Other parents noticed the costumes and beautiful clothes and asked me if I would make these things for them too; this is how my store, Burch and Daughters, came to be and my entrepreneurial life started. We created a magical store filled with handmade treasures for children. I also wrote two craft books (with patterns) showing how to make some of my most popular toys: Sew Magical for Baby and Sew Magical for Kids.
ABI: You have a new studio and a new direction. Tell us about that.
LB: We bought and historically restored a home in Jaffa, Israel. The building is at least 150 years old, its architecture is Ottoman and it used to be a barn. I have my studio in our home, it has stone vaulted ceilings, stone walls and arches divide the large spaces and serve as the shape for the windows. I am in the process of “fixing” my studio; it is an overwhelmingly ancient looking space balanced out with very modern elements such as the cement floors, modern furniture and modern decorative pieces.
As the girls have grown up my interests have changed; I still make some of the things I used to but now they are more geared for adults. I base my artwork on the dry-felting, textile technique of needle felting. I’d like for my work to make a difference; I’ve recently become somewhat of an animal rights advocate so I’d like to make a body of work to promote awareness about animal rights and I’d like to show it in galleries.
There are many needle felted dogs and animals on my studio shelves, I’ve been needle felting these miniature sculptures, selling them and taking custom orders on my Etsy and Artizan Made sites. I donate proceeds from specifically designated sales of the dogs to my favorite animal rescue organizations.
ABI: Given your extensive background as an entrepreneur selling her art and other products, what advice would you have for new artists who want to follow their dreams?
LB: When I was in university, business of art classes weren’t offered. I would highly recommend learning the ins and outs of business pertaining to art. I’ve found that Etsy has many helpful postings on all business related issues for artists. Business skills are not only knowing what to sell, how to sell, negotiation, how to price your work, where to find the best sources, how to deal with business loans, what the difference between a C corp or an LLC is. It’s also knowing what your rights are as an artist and how to protect yourself.
Copyright your work, negotiate royalties and make contracts at the beginning of business ventures. Also layout your goals and course of action in writing. The more experiences you have, the smarter you’ll be (art contests, art shows, classes, seminars and lectures on your chosen subject, attending and/or participating in craft trade shows and jobs).
Learn everything you can about your chosen medium! Most importantly: participate in everything you can because you will become recognized and doors will open because “one thing leads to another!”
For the holidays, I’ve designed a needle felted winter scene and several needle felted ornaments that utilize NEW FELTING TECHNIQUES!!! The first needle felted project is a winter scene…..
Needle Felting with Angelina fiber
This beautiful winter scene of three pines trees and two snow covered deer use Angelina fiber in the creation of the needle felted trees.
Angelina Fiber: This fiber comes in all different colors and can be blended with many types of textiles; when heated it bonds with the fibers creating a beautiful shiny, sparkly effect. You can find this Angelina fiber here or here. These shiny fibers are the perfect extra little something to make your felted creations festive!
Materials list: 25g. green wool, 4 felting needles, sponge (felting surface), .05 oz. green, .05 oz. white, heat bondable Angelina fiber, felting handle, 100g. poly fiber-fill stuffing (pillow stuffing), thread, iron, glue, paint brush, white glitter.
1. With sewing thread, bind poly fiber-fill stuffing into a cone shape.
Approximate Poly fiber-fill/wool breakdown:
Large Tree: 45g of poly fiber-fill/ 9g green wool
Medium Tree: 30g of poly fiber-fill/7g green wool
Small Tree: 17g.of poly fiber-fill/5g green wool
2. Cone ready to felt with green wool.
3. Felted cone (tree). Needle felting is the art of sculpting raw wool with special needles. The needles mesh the wool fibers together, creating a firm and durable form. This craft is surprisingly simple and fun!
4. Felt (poke continuously ) the wool covered cone with the Angelina fiber; it takes patience to felt the Angelina into the cone because it’s a little unruly.
5. Felt the white Angelina fiber (snow) on last.
6. After the Angelina has been felted into the pine trees set your iron to the silk setting and use an ironing cloth while ironing the Angelina fibers. Iron for only a few seconds.
7. Felted, ironed Angelina tree; the fiber changes color once it’s ironed. The finish is stiff and a little “crispy”.
Felt the trees in different shades of green for a more interesting look.
8. Paint a little glue onto the deer; sprinkle with white glitter.
Add white or silver glitter to a few deer, rabbits or other foresty friends to make the winter scene come alive 🙂 Put them on a silver platter and use them as a holiday center-piece.
I made several hand knotted rugs and wall hangings about 9 years ago; they were useful but seemed to be more artful than utilitarian. In my sewing studio I had accumulated many fabric scraps, organized in bags by color. When I looked at the pallet of colors and textured textiles they seemed like pots of color ready to be woven together to create something beautiful! I was never able to accurately calculate the number of hours it took me to make one 1m. x 1m carpet but I’d guesstimate around 20 hours to cut strips of fabric, knot them onto a plastic grid and trim the fabric.
Because of my earlier foray into textile carpets, the Ryijy (rough and shaggy pile) Rug Exhibit in Budapest last summer interested me. The early Ryijy carpets (as early as the 9th century) weave alternates a knotted pile with a tapestry weave; these carpets are the most famous Finnish textile. Ryijy carpets started as black, gray and white, later plant dyes were used to add color and it was only in modern invention of synthetic dyes that the carpet colors became brightly colored. Ryijys carpets were originally made for a brides trousseau, as coverlets, bedding, prayer carpets and pieces for special occasions that were later hung inside the house. As the carpet evolved it’s beauty and artistry brought it into the realm of home decor. The carpets are works of art, detailed, tactile and colorful!
Early Ryijy carpet
The folk art and Geometric patterned themes of Ryijy carpets of the 1920’s and 30’s was changed by several innovative artists. Eva Brummer was originally a painter, she made water color paintings as preliminary designs for her carpets, she chose the threads and closely monitored the carpet weaving by professional weavers. Ms. Brummer wanted to show feelings and sensitivity, she used soft forms and colors in her carpets. Long and rough piles helped to give the carpet surfaces softness. Her favorite subjects were hour glasses and crosses. Another style changing artist was Uhra Simberg-Ehrstrom, in her artistic infancy her carpets evoked dreamlike feelings, later she wove large strips of rich color, she used many shades of a hue which made the weaving difficult. The artist Ritva Puotila also changed the look of Ryijy carpets by using new materials in her weaving such as paper string, silk and metal. Ms. Puotila often used Finnish folk designs as a motif but made them look very modern, she designed for the Finnrya company who used machines to weave Ryijy carpets. My favorite fact about the Ryijs carpets stated that the longest of the carpets were often hung on the wall, overlapped onto a sofa and continued onto the floor; an interesting look!