Guest series :: Hobby turned business

by contributor on 07/06/2012

in Community + Creativity, Fibre+Needlework, Guest series 2012

Guest series 2012: I asked fellow bloggers, makers and creators to write on their creativity and focus their essay on one of four topics: creativity and health, creativity and business, creativity and parenting or creativity and process. I am very excited to have a wonderful lot of fellow creative folk guest posting here at whipup.net over the next couple of months. Please welcome…

Laura Malek is a felter and sells her creations on feltjar. When she isn’t felting she is found behind a camera. Her work can be seen at www.lauramalek.com and in the book, 1,2,3 Sew by Ellen Luckett Baker.

Thanks Kathreen for inviting me to share my creative process with your readers today.

Five years ago, I was parenting a toddler and eager to find something to do besides day to day mom duties. This is when I began to felt. My good friend Ellen Luckett Baker from The Long Thread had found her place and much success in the craft world, creating a blog, selling on Etsy, and writing a book on sewing. I found myself inspired by her work along with the countless other moms who were sharing their hobbies, work, craft and parenting through blogs. It was here that I discovered the beauty and originality of felted items. My curiosity led to searching the internet for how to’s, which then led to lots of practice, blood and broken needles. After five years, I can say that there is far less blood and I rarely break a needle.

It was just over a year ago, with Ellen’s urging, that I decided to sell my creations on Etsy, opening up feltjar. It was exciting to take something that started out as a handmade hobby and turn it into a super part time job (financially) but with full time hours. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

But what I really fell in love with is the wool and the idea of sculpting simple, modern designs. With just a needle and a penchant for poking something for sometimes hours on end, I am able to create just about anything. And because wool is a natural fiber – tactile and colorful – it is only natural that my work would be inspired by nature. Most of my inspiration comes specifically from the change of seasons which serves as an invite to design something new.

Before I delve into felting an object, I create several sketches – deciding on size and color options. Most of my work is quite small except for a very large nest that I created as a prop for newborn baby photography. Fortunately, because felting does not require much space, my studio is my home – but more specifically my couch – in front of the television. I love that I can sit just about anywhere and create. Although, I do find that any sort of distraction will usually result in injury (ie. a real good finger poke).

While I have the privilege of working anywhere, I do require a lot of storage space for the pounds of wool that I have amassed over the past few years. It is easily uncontrollable and is spread out between closets, storage chests, and scattered here and there throughout my house. Because each creation may require a different type of wool (ie. coarse vs. silky), I buy from a few different online shops. Besides the wool, a felter requires either a barbed needle (for needle felting – I prefer Wizpick) or hot sudsy water for wet felting.

My day to day work schedule no longer consists of obsessing over a clean house, but revolves around parenting, felting, photographing and promoting my work through various Etsy teams. I am constantly inspired by the variety and amount of talent I find on Etsy, and the pleasure of creating relationships with others whose days look similar to mine.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 start your LLC in California June 7, 2012 at 1:10 pm

I know my Mom has considered selling on Etsy as well. She works full time but wanted to bring in some extra income, she sews well, and had a great idea (which I won’t share here ;)). I think it’s cool to see people having success with it and loving what they do.

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2 Catherine June 11, 2012 at 6:15 am

thanks for this great post, I popped across and bought three gorgeous little pincushions! very cute little shop, thanks for the interview, Cat.

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