Meet the Author
Hey there, can you introduce yourself?
We are ‘The Makerss': Steffi Stern and Sophie Buckley, authors of 'Making Needle Felted Animals'.
Steffi was born in Germany and, inspired by her mother's passion for knitting and crochet, has been handcrafting from an early age. Now a mother of four, she owns Mother Goose, a thriving craft shop right in the heart of Nailsworth near Stroud, Gloucestershire, an area renowned for its creative arts.
Sophie was brought up in Staffordshire and studied Contemporary Crafts at Falmouth University. Now a practising crochet and needle felt artist, she lives in the Cotswolds and runs workshops for people of all abilities. She is inspired by the natural world, and her work and the materials she uses reflect her love of natural forms.
Tell us a bit about the book?
The book is published by Hawthorn Press and contains over 20 different animal projects for a variety of ablities. There are detailed explanations with photographs of the techniques and materials required, and it takes the reader through every stage of each creation. There is a range of projects for different skill levels, and the reader will find that even if they are a beginner, they'll be tackling the more advanced projects in no time. With tips and advice on how to correct common problems, the reader will soon be creating their own needle felted animals. The projects in the book cover a variety of creatures from popular garden visitors, such as the blue tit and butterfly, common wild animals including a fox and badger, loved pets (dogs, cat and watch out for the ferret!), as well as animals that tell a story, a unicorn and characters based on Wind in the Willows, to name a few. As authors, we have enjoyed seeing people spot their favourite animals in the book. The beautifully captured photographs (by Sylvain Guenot) of the needle felted animals in their natural settings as well as the artwork in the book makes peoples fingers itch to start creating. Whether the reader is a total beginner, or a seasoned crafter who might want to run their own workshops, there is something for everyone in this book. We hope the book becomes an essential for any needle felter.
What was the inspiration behind it?
We love making and helping other people to make! From our combined experience (Sophie running needle felting workshops and Steffi providing people with materials and ideas) we wanted to bring together our knowledge and share it with a wider audience, and that is how the book 'Making Needle Felted Animals' was born. We felt there was a niche for a book that not only has step by step animal projects, but also gives more choice of techniques from basic to advanced, which you can mix and match, for example there are three different methods of making eyes. Our own love for animals comes through in the introduction to each project with a personal anecdote or encounter of what makes the animal special to us. We hope that the reader will be inspired by our book to create their own meaningful animal.
Which is your favourite project?
We have found it difficult to choose because we loved making them all, they are all favourites for different reasons, for example Steffi making the dachsund in memory of her pet was very nurturing, making the hoglet because of being one of the cutest baby animals it felt like being able to hold a real one, or making the unicorn, which clearly needed to be set free and just happened intuitively after a difficult day at work. For Sophie, one of the favourites is the giant slug which one a prize at a village fete, where it was displayed amongst the lettuces; the larger than life butterflies are fun to make because of their interesting and challenging details, and the fox because it has been mistaken for a real life cub.
What is your craft space like?
A complete mess - creative chaos! Thankfully, we had people at the publishers to help bring us to order when editing the book!
Have you always been creative?
Yes we have been lucky enough to be allowed and encouraged to be creative as children, giving us lots of experience with materials and ideas. We passionately believe that every single person is creative, and it is just a case of unlocking that to begin to create, particularly when creative confidence has been knocked in younger years.
When did you first start crafting?
Neither of us can remember a particular first thing, just a general sense of doing things with our hands, which probably means we were crafting before we were old enough to be fully concious of what we were doing.
One of Steffi's later favourite hand made memories is a colourful coat that she designed and knitted herself. For Sophie, when she first learned to knit around age 6 she remembers knitting a tiny yellow rucksack for a doll she had, which she filled with hamster food for his travels.
Who are your crafty heroes?
We are both in agreement that our Mums and Grandmothers are our crafty heroes, as they passed on skills, set examples and provided encouragement to our early crafting careers. Sophie remembers making lots of soft toys with her mother, from a book called Easy to Make Teddy Bears. She still has one of them, and by a serendipitous coincidence, she now works with the author Jill Plank.
Where do you find inspiration?
We are both inspired by the natural world, and get constant challenge and inspiration from people visiting the shop and workshops, as well as Pinterest.
Steffi has been inspired in the past by making practical things for her children, such as crocheted sheepskin slippers and hand sewn dolls.
What's next for you?
We have enjoyed working together and have created a business around the book, called The Makerss (two s's one for Sophie, one for Steffi!). We are making craft kits based on the book and also are booking workshops and wool shows (details on our website www.themakerss.co.uk ) ...
Watch out for another book!
This book is an essential guide for anyone interested in the popular craft of needle-felting. Whether you are completely new to needle-felting or an experienced felter, this book has something to offer, from precise instructions to creative inspiration. Written by two authors, experienced in making and teaching crafts to students of all ages and abilities, instructions are easy to follow and include practical yet creative ideas to fix common mistakes. Projects arise from a genuine love of the natural world and animals, whether they be family pets ('Our Friend Dexter') or wild animals whose widespread ill-treatment has brought them into the limelight. Requiring no experience other than an interest in working and playing with wool, projects progressively build on skills throughout, and will transform you into an avid needle-felter in no time at all.