• By Walkertown Branch
  • Posted Wednesday, March 13, 2019

How to Make Animals Appear: Needle Felting Exhibit at Walkertown

A needle felting exhibit by Laura Frazier of FarmGirl Arts will be on display in the the lobby of Walkertown Branch Library through the end of March. The exhibit shows how Frazier brings pets and animals to life using only wool and wire while also displaying some of her finished creations.

To learn more about the artist and her work, visit her website at www.farmgirlarts.com.

Below is a transcript of an interview with Laura Frazier of FarmGirl Arts conducted by Natalia Tuchina, Branch Manager at Walkertown Branch Library on March 6, 2019.

Natalia Tuchina: How many animals do you have on your farm?

Laura Frazier: The sheep are actually my brother-in-law’s. He has Suffolk and Hampshire crossed sheep that the kids also show at county fairs. There are 12 breeding ewes that will be having lambs soon as well as some yearlings and two rams. There will probably be 6 to 10 lambs this year.

I help my brother-in-law shear them and I send the wool away to a fiber mill in Frankenmuth, MI. They wash it and comb it out and send it back to me in a form I can use for needle felting or spinning into yarn.

Tuchina: How long have you been doing needle felting? Is this an art or craft?

Frazier: Since my goal is to accomplish a realistic look-alike with the character of someone's pet, I consider my work to be art. I started in 2008 when I saw how much wool my brother-in-law had from the sheep and I wanted to do something with that.

I had already been sculpting and someone briefly showed me the technique of using a special needle that’s barbed and stabbing the wool to make shapes with it. I applied my sculptural skills to that and started making animals.

Tuchina: So you’ve learned on your own?

Frazier: Yes, it was before YouTube! The people who are starting now have so many more resources than I had. I found a person in England whose technique I really liked and I got a grant from the Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County to study online with her. She taught me how to use the wire armature. I was already accomplishing the sculpting in a way I was happy with, but the armature made it go a little faster because I wasn’t having to pack a ton of wool on to make it sturdy enough to stand up.

Tuchina: What do you like the best about needle felting?

Frazier: It’s amazing to me that I can start with this fluffy stuff and using a needle, make animals appear! It’s just kind of miraculous. So, I like the magic of it and creating. I like working with people and getting to know them and their pets. We send photographs back and forth so they can see what I’m doing as I’m doing it. They can tell me stories about their pet that helps reveal their personalities.

Laura Frazier is available for commissions and is also at the Cobblestone Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings in Old Salem.