Meet Mel, whose shop Felt Me Up Designs is home to some of the cutest wee birdies on DaWanda. Mel uses needle felting to bring her creations to miniature life – each one has its own personality, capturing the essence of the bird family which inspired it. Mel talks about how her inspiration, her work process and more in our interview – check out her shop then pop back for a read with your afternoon cuppa.
Please tell us a bit about yourself:
I live in the UK in Scarborough, a seaside town on the beautiful North Yorkshire coast, with my partner John. We live 2 minutes from the beach in a very cluttered top floor flat which we have dubbed Felt Towers. I studied multimedia textile design and graduated from Loughborough University in 2001.
How did you discover that you have creative tendencies?
I have been creative for as long as I can remember, I grew up in a creative home. Mum ran her own craft business and Dad trained as an architect so from an early age I was encouraged to create arts and crafts.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I know it’s a cliché but I am inspired by nature. Most of my work is about birds and I love observing them and watching how each species seems to have its own particular personality which I try and capture in my work.
Do you have any role models/inspirations in the area of Design? If so, who and why?
The people who inspire me tend to be artists and designers who can do things I can’t do or have styles which are radically different from my own so it’s hard to see their influences in my work. I am however a huge fan of Abigail Brown, who makes fabric birds from sewn scraps. I love how she captures their personalities.
How did you come up with the ideas for the products in your DaWanda shop?
My birds were inspired by a lovely little old lady who used to live above me. She would feed the birds on her window sill and the seeds would patter down on my porch. I made my first bird as a gift for her and haven’t stopped making them since.
Which materials do you use to create your products?
I make my birds using organically farmed fleece, mostly merino wool which is very soft. But I also love sourcing speciality fleeces from local wool producers for my owl babies so each one is made from wool from a different breed of sheep. The process I use is called needle felting, which involves stabbing raw wool with a special barbed needle to sculpt it into solid forms.
Please give us a brief summary of your creative process:
When I am getting ready to make a new bird I spend lots of time flicking through bird books. I have a large collection of vintage and modern bird books which I use for inspiration. I work intuitively and very rarely draw designs out. I like to think of my creative process as drawing with wool as I will sit down with a pile of fleece and just work and rework a bird until I am happy with the design. Often this involves making several versions of a bird until I am happy with a final design.
What characterises your products/your style?
I like to think that my birds all have a charming quirkiness and sense of fun. I try to give them all distinct personalities.
Who are your customers?
My customers are varied, I sell to young and old, male and female and all over the world. What they all have in common is a love of birds!
What do you want to achieve in the future as a Designer/Creative?
My main goal was to be able to quit my day job and be creative full time, which I finally achieved last year so at the moment I am just enjoying the freedom that comes with being my own boss. I have lots of plans for the future but at the moment I am focused on expanding my product range and honing my skills as an artist/maker.
How has your life changed since you opened your DaWanda shop?
Dawanda has allowed me to present my designs to a much wider audience across Europe. I’ve enjoyed the challenge of communicating with people who speak different languages to me. This has led to some interesting conversations since my language skills are only at a basic school level for German and French, but it’s amazing how patient and understanding people can be.
P.S. If YOU would like to be considered for one of our Monday seller interviews, then please send a filled-out questionnaire to english[at]dawanda[dot]com!