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F is for Felt

A to Z of Craft

Welcome back to our ongoing series A to Z of Craft! This series showcases the different materials, tools and techniques our artisans use to create their one of a kind pieces. From traditional to innovative, by highlighting how our makers create, we are here to celebrate craft in all its wonderful iterations.

This time we spoke to Katy Montica who has been exhibiting at the One Of A Kind Show for three years, her astonishing work with felt creates unique animal figures in a practice she fondly refers to as ‘vegetarian taxidermy’. Combining her love for fine art with her excitement for craft, Katy’s creations are fun, unique and full of personality. She tells us how she developed an interest in the material, her making process and how she is inspired to push the boundaries of her craft.

Could you tell us a little about your craft?

Felting is an age-old process of transforming wool roving into decorative or practical items. There are two main methods: needle felting and wet felting. I specialize in needle felting. Needle felting is the practice of matting wool fibres by poking the wool roving with a barbed needle. The barbs cause the fibres to knot together.

What inspired you to start creating?

I was curious about the craft and happened to find a DIY kit at a craft show. I was instantly inspired and visualized numerous possibilities, one of which is the idea of taxidermy without the cruelty. I began a series of large, mounted animal heads. It’s my humane alternative to trophy killing, a technique I now call vegetarian taxidermy – no animals are harmed in the creation, just a few sheared sheep.

In the beginning my intention was to push the craft beyond anything I had seen. I was drawn to the voluptuous mane of a lion which I achieved using the roving as is, the effect is incredibly realistic. I developed a technique that simulates wrinkled skin. I chose to make the rhino head to encapsulate this technique.

These pieces are so amazingly detailed, could you give us an insight into your making process?

You don’t need a lot of supplies to start needle felting – just a barbed needle, a surface to work on to protect the needle (foam or sponge) and wool roving. Roving comes from mainly from a variety of sheep breeds. Alpaca is also popular. I even used real camel hair in my camel sculpture. My preference is Corriedale sheep’s wool from New Zealand. Corriedale is slightly coarse with a 3-4 inch staple length. The needle catches the coarser fibre more easily than a silky fibre like merino but still produces a soft, smooth finish. I’d say 80% of my output is Corriedale that I source from a Canadian distributor. I create my sculptures by building up layers of wool in different colours to create characteristics and depth.

Some of my work takes only an hour to complete and some of my pieces have taken up to three months (it all comes down to how fast you can poke).

Tell us why this process is One Of A Kind!

My background is fine arts. Painting was my main focus. I find that I apply the same painterly approach of realism and layering to my felting.

Tell us you favourite aspect of being a part of the One Of A Kind community

What makes OOAK so special is the people who come to the shows. They really recognize and appreciate the skill and talent of all the makers!

Like what you see? Shop Katy Montica here!


Follow Katy Montica on Instagram.

Would you like to have your OOAK craft showcased in this series? Click the link here to submit your entry!