Needle felting as a craft is growing hugely in popularity at the moment. When we met to work on the latest chapter of our new book, Julia mentioned that there was a felting studio near where she lives and she volunteered to go and check it out for the blog. Here’s what she found…
Bellacouche – which means ‘beautiful resting place’ – is the studio of Yuli Somme, a hugely talented half-Norwegian lady who makes wonderful things out of felt. The range of things she makes is startling – from quirky fun tea cosies to burial shrouds – no, seriously!
Yuli says: “Wool is my raw material, which is made into felt, and from this is crafted a unique range of lovingly hand-made products including bags, tuffets (seat pads), tea cosies, woollen insoles, hot water bottle covers, hats, little decorations, wall hangings, felting kits and Leafcocoons – a unique soft wool eco coffin, designed for natural burial.”
The pieces are all hand made, motifs are either sewn or needle felted in and dyes are always natural resulting in gorgeous subtle shades.
“Dartmoor is where I live and work – a beautiful and wild landscape – and this is a great source of inspiration. I am deeply mindful of our environment and the preciousness of nature, so everything I do or make bears this in mind and I keep my impact on the planet as small as possible.”
The needle tool she uses on the felt (pictured) is very sharp and each needle has small barbs on it so, as you plunge the tool in and out of the felt (taking care not to stab yourself in the process!), it tangles the felt fibres and enables you to join, or graft on, other colours and shapes. It’s incredibly simple and is a way of creating clothes, shoes and decorative items that go back thousands of years.
Yuli’s studio is housed in an old chapel that is somehow the perfect backdrop for the beautiful things she makes. Her tea cosies and hats are sold widely and are wonderfully warm and tactile, as well as beautiful. It was really inspiring to look around the Aladdin’s cave that is her studio, with beautiful things hanging up, draped over sofas and in the process of being made. Her small shop area is crammed full of lovely things, her chicken tea cosies being a firm favourite of mine. She even has a felt chest of draws – yes, seriously!
Yuli also creates and sells felt kits so if you feel inspired, visit her website and perhaps have a go at making something? I haven’t ‘felt’ so enthused by anything for years and will definitely be having a go…