I recently visited fibre artist Carla Taylor of the Mousehole Woolery in Dorset, and captured some images of her at work, creating her wool sculptures.
The Mousehole Woolery is nestled in the heart of the Dorset countryside and is the home and studio of fibre artist Carla Taylor, who creates contemporary sustainable wool sculptures inspired by the wildlife and conservation of the British countryside and coastline bringing a little piece of nature to your home. Each sculpture is hand crafted using the technique of needle felting where special barbed needles are used to repeatedly stab and sculpt wool fibres together to form a solid mass. Each sculpture is created with many layers of wool and can therefore take many hours to complete transforming fleece in to a sculptural work of art! As an official supporter of the Campaign for wool, Carla likes to work closely with local Dorset farmers promoting the use of local and British wool and will often refer to conservation awareness within her sculptures as well as incorporating vintage pieces in to her work, reflecting her lifetime passion for collecting antiques, recycling and the history of each piece. Carla exhibits her work at both galleries and contemporary and country shows across the South West as well as running needle felting workshops and is soon to be featured in “Craft It Yourself” on More4 where she shares her love and passion for needle felting and British wool!
I asked Carla how it all started:
It only feels like yesterday that I was rolling fleece in the sunshine of the rolling fields of the beautiful Dorset countryside with the lovely smell and feel of the lanolin on my hands and the beautiful textures and colours of the wool calling out to me to make a connection with the land and use them in a creative way. It was 2013, my partner’s job in farming had brought us to Dorset to a rare breed farm where they had the most beautiful White Park cattle, Hebridean and Portland sheep. It was my first experience of farming but I think I had always been a country girl at heart, always exploring nature on family walks as a child and working with animals throughout my adult life, feeling happier in a pair of wellies walking my dog than I ever did a pretty dress! Our wool at he farm was sent off to the British Wool Marketing Board a wonderful organization that operates a central marketing system for UK fleece wool with the aim of achieving the best possible net return for our farmers but I was surprised at that time to learn that it cost some farmers more to shear each sheep than the return they received for each fleece and that some were in turn occasionally burning their fleeces as they were almost classed as a by-product to the meat. As someone that likes to recycle items I found this a great waste of an undervalued resource and wanted to raise awareness of the topic and showcase British wools versatility, beauty and worth as well as supporting my local farming community. I researched the internet for different uses of wool, came across needle felting, taught myself and the rest as they say is history! The Mousehole Woolery established in the fields of the Dorset countryside!
What inspires your work?
Working with animals throughout my life and living in a farming community in the Dorset countryside provides me with a great source of inspiration for my sculptures as well as incorporating vintage finds of an era past reflecting my lifetime passion for collecting antiques, recycling and the history of each piece. An ammonite collected from a walk along the Jurassic Coast to a magical sighting of a fox cub in the garden can all be sources of inspiration captured on my iPad or camera, recorded as an everlasting mobile reference that I carry with me throughout the ever changing seasons of the year. Conservation awareness is also featured in many of my sculptures as I believe we are all guardians of our beautiful British countryside helping to conserve the wonderful environment that we share with our wildlife for future generations to come. I don’t usually tend to make sketches before I start, I prefer to physically handle objects or visualise images in my mind and then refer to my ever growing beautiful collection of wools, pondering over the colours and textures to inspire me further. Natural, undyed fibres are usually my first choice to work with such as Blue Faced Leicester, Manx Loaghtan or Shetland but I have recently taken a liking to some of the bright Merino variations with silk and dyeing my own locally sourced Dorset wool with natural plants.
What are your plans for the future?
Oh our future plans at The Mousehole Woolery now that’s a great question! We have so many things planned for the future but we couldn’t possibly spill all the beans right now otherwise there would be nothing to look forward to now would there! But if you fancy joining our woolly community and hearing all about our latest news and offers first then please do pop on over to our website at www.themouseholewoolery.co.uk and subscribe to our new monthly newsletter!