Featuring Suzanne O’Brien from ZanieCrafts
~ by Linda Richards
Suzanne’s craft is felting. She creates her stunning pieces using the wet felt method.
I asked Suzanne how she became involved in this craft and where she first learned the process.
“I learned about wet felting while we were living in Christchurch, New Zealand for my husband’s job.”
“While attending a weekly knitting group, several knitters decided that we should form a crafty co-op for a time, to share other creative skills that each possessed. Learning how to make wool felt via wet felting was one of these lessons. I was so amazed with that lesson that I knew I wanted to continue doing more felting projects."
“Soon after that first lesson, Christchurch began its long period of geological activity, (Christchurch earthquakes, 2010 & 2011.) During this time, I turned to felting as a means of channeling my energies and nervousness into an active occupation of my free time. Making felt really helped me to cope with being in an earthquake zone, forcing me to relax in between all the thousands upon thousands of aftershocks.”
“Ever since those early days, I have been experimenting and mastering new wet felting techniques that I read about in books, on blogs, through Facebook, watched on YouTube, etc. I have been felting for four years now, and selling my creations at handmade markets for three of those years.”
Certain crafts like felting can require more than one area to complete the project.
Suzanne explains how she manages to do it all within her home.
“Currently, we live in a small two bedroom house, so my work space is anywhere I can find the space at any given moment. Where I work greatly depends on what I am making. All the purses that I make are lined with coordinating fabrics, so sewing happens on our kitchen table. Our basement has a second kitchen, that I call our Krafty Kitchen, because that is where most of my felt-making and lately dying my own wool for felting projects occurs. My husband also makes use of the kitchen when he makes his batches of home brew. I’m quite happy to share that space with him.”
“I do have a little corner set up in our lounge where I keep all finished product for Etsy and craft shows. My sewing machines (yes, I have two.), fabric, idea/reference books, and all of my stitching supplies are kept there in as organized fashion as possible.”
I think most artisans have many ideas of what the perfect workspace would be like. What would your dream studio look like?
“My dream space would someday consist of an enclosed space or dare I say, a crafting room, where I could store supplies and finished product and not have it imposing on the rest of the house. (My family puts up with it now, because they love me.) The room would be decorated with fun organizational things and contain lots of inspirational color. Making felt would probably still be in the basement or somewhere else with long table or counter tops near a kitchen because of the wet and soapy nature of things and needing access to warm water."
This craft is so interesting. I imagine there are all kinds of materials, tools and equipment involved in felting.
“The materials I use to make felt are very simple. Bubble wrap, natural soap, a water bottle that sprinkles (I use a large garlic powder container from Sam’s Club), a flexible plastic resist for 3D objects, and a felt-able breed of wool roving. There are tools that people use to help speed up the process of felting, like electric sanders, hand held palm washboards, swimming noodles, old pantyhose. It’s magic, I tell you!”
“Sometimes I add other things onto or into my felting work like: silk fibers, silk threads, Angelina fibers (synthetic glittery strands), glass marbles, rocks, seashells, vintage silk scarves, unique secondhand buttons, etc. The possibilities are endless. That’s what makes it so fun and unique!"
Besides your Etsy shop, you also display your work at shows throughout the area. How do you manage to keep your workspace organized?
“ZanieCrafts is still a fairly new business (opened Oct. 2013). I have only done a handful of markets in the US so far, but I’m starting off on the right foot by keeping all of my packing supplies together in one container for shows. I have gift boxes already assembled, tissue paper on hand and shopping bags all ready for packaging up purchases.”
“I like to incorporate secondhand and vintage into my creations and I use a lot of repurposed Salvation Army Thrift shop finds for my table display. I package my online orders with my leftover hand dyed sock yarn from my personal knitting stash, and my earring and brooch cards have been printed by a friend on leftover stationery that was purchased for our wedding invitations. I like the idea of reusing and repurposing something for a different use. It’s creative, unique, and good for the environment!"
Suzanne is such a talented artist. I can’t wait to see what she creates next!
Find Suzanne’s work at: https://www.etsy.com/shop/ZanieCraftsFeltedArt
Photos by Suzanne O’Brien
Linda Richards Design