Louisa Rull, the clever mind and skilled hands behind Felt shop FeltSoapGood, was born in Russia and came to New Zealand eleven years ago. She lives in Auckland with her family of four, her cat and her craft, creating warm, colourful and original things to wear and to share.
What do you make?
I make felted items from wool, silk and fabric. I started with felted slippers and hats for my family members as all of us find felt very warm, light and comfortable. Later I started making bags, scarves, cat caves and felted pictures.
How did you get into your craft?
When I grew up in Russia, wearing felted boots (‘valenky’) was just an ordinary thing for us suburban kids. The boots were always factory made, but warm and comfortable. My parents used to have 2-3 sheep on our little farm and my mom took care of them; she sheared them, cleaned the wool, washed it, spun it and knitted warm socks and mittens for our family and for almost all of our relatives.
I learned to knit and crochet when I was six years old so I have got a long craft experience, however, I only discovered felting two years ago through the internet and was overwhelmed by the endless possibilities of felting. I started from making felted soaps for my family and childcare teachers. I have been felting ever since.
Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
No, I have a university degree in Mathematics.
Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
I admire any wool which comes to my hands – carded and dyed with bright colours or humble and unwashed straight from the shearing shed. This summer I have done a bit of pot dying with natural materials – harakeke, walnut husks, onion skins and even some strawberry. The possibilities are endless but time is limited.
What inspires you?
I take my inspiration from nature – like making felted pictures of landscapes, flowers and animal pictures for kids. Also, raw wool – its natural curly locks of fleece and dyes are wonderful. I am still in the process of the finding my way using these materials.
Is there a philosophy behind your work?
I like using New Zealand wool – local people can tell me the stories behind their fibre and I can see sheep grazing on lush pastures. Sometimes the people involved in the process become my friends or the other way around. Even being Russian-born, I find this land fascinating and its natural resources and beauty unmatched.
Describe your workspace:
I keep my carded wools and fleeces stored in plastic bags. Thanks to my husband I can put the ever-expanding collection on shelves, where I can easily see all of it and make my choices.
The felting itself takes place either on my kitchen bench, as there is running water which I need for felting, or in my garden where I can go wild splashing water everywhere around me when doing some bigger projects.
Five words that describe your mind: Creative, busy, inquisitive and ever-learning.
Your favourite feedback from a customer:
“Absolutely fabulous slippers, so comfortable and pretty. Girls wear them every day. Very very friendly seller. A+” From K.H.
Do you have any pets?
My lovely, smart cat Lucy often watches me felt in the garden. She was my inspiration for the felted cat caves, and she is still my model for some of them.
What was the last handmade item you bought and what attracted you to it?
The last handmade item I bought was from Ireland, a hand knitted lace mohair shawl, feather light and very warm and cozy.
Make sure you check out all Louise’s fabulous felt creations in her Felt shop. Louise has also kindly offered one lucky Felt blog reader the chance to win one of her very useful felt laundry dryer ball sets. Wool dryer balls are the eco-friendly alternative to chemicals in liquid fabric softener and dryer sheets. They help fluff up your laundry as they bounce around in the dryer with your clothes – nifty huh?
Just leave a comment below, telling us what inspires you about Louise’s lovely work and why, and you’ll be in the draw. The draw will be made on Friday 23 May and is open to New Zealand residents only.