Happy Monday, folks! Today we have the pleasure of speaking with Jody Richards of
Penguin and Owl Acres! Jody needle-felts incredibly lifelike animals made from
colored wool, designs & sells needle-felting kits for making your own sweet critters
at home, and also handmakes sweet Waldorf dolls. Grab a cup o' Joe and enjoy! Lesley
|gorgeous needle felted Blue Jay by Jody|
Tansy Dolls: Tell us a little bit about yourself! When you’re not busy working on your beautiful felted friends, what are you up to? Jody: I have a beautiful, quirky and delightful 2 and a half year old and a loving sweet partner. So, a lot of my time is spent enjoying their company. I live on Vancouver Island in Canada and we spend a lot of time camping and time at the beach. In other parts of my life I do some gardening and I am a Doula. Mostly though, you will always find me with wool in my hands.
Tansy Dolls: Vancouver Island - beautiful! And what about your background -
What path led you to the work that you do today? As a child, what did you
wish to become when you grew up? Jody: Eight years ago I was in a car accident which left me with a brain injury, since then I have had great difficulty holding down a conventional job. I am still more than capable of finding creative ways to support myself and contribute to my family's finances. Also, I find a great amount of peace and contentment when I am being creative. My love affair with wool began when I started making waldorf inspired dolls, then one day I picked up some wool and some felting needles , sculpted a funny lil blue bird and I was hooked. As a child I wanted to be a veterinarian, kinda funny since I make all sorts of critters today. Sometimes I feel like I am operating on them with my pokey needles.
|Needle Felted Tree Frog|
Tansy Dolls: Your critters are so beautiful, it's obvious a lot of love goes into
each one. What are your dreams for the future of your business? Jody: I have endless dreams of where I would like my business to go. The most important one for me is to have it further support my family financially. The really dreamy stuff though, would be to meet just the right person, or people ,and team up to make things together and combine talents. I also want to get more into selling at craft fairs and markets and get to know the crafty community around me. I also want to have time to make more dolls. My biggest dream is to make penguin and owl acres a real place where I can have crafty retreats and get togethers... but lets not get all crazy now!
|Jody's lovely doll, Presley, and her sweet kitty|
Tansy Dolls: Okay, deep question, What role do you think 'handmade' plays in our society? Jody: To me handmade is art and art is an essential part of a meaningful existence , whether we are creating it ourselves or enjoying what others create. Some of us are compelled to make our imaginations come to life through our art, and some of us are stifled and depressed when we don't let our creativity blossom. Supporting handmade is a part of creating a rich and dynamic society and takes us away from the drab reality of mass produced stuff that ends up as unwanted junk. Also, when you are buying handmade, you are directly supporting families. I grew up with a very crafty mom, who also had a very crafty mom, I hope to do the same with my daughter.
|an absolutely amazing needle felted Peacock|
Tansy Dolls: I totally agree. What's your favorite thing that you have made? Jody: My kid! That is tough to say, I think today I would say the second needle felted peacock. I also have an unfinished Giant Pacific Octopus, I think that will be my best piece.
|the talented Jody Richards|
Tansy Dolls: A Giant Octopus sounds amazing! What's the one crafty thing you
can't live without? Jody: Wool , of course! Thanks sheep and sheep farmers :) Tansy Dolls: Any favorite inspirational quotes?
Jody: Here is a fun one that I think fits well here: “That's the thing with handmade items. They still have the person's mark on them, and when you hold them, you feel less alone. This is why everyone who eats a Whopper leaves a little more depressed than they were when they came in. Nobody cooked that burger.”
|a beautiful needle felted crow - so lifelike|
Tansy Dolls: What product or offer are you the most excited about in your shop right now? Jody: I love getting a custom order for a needle felted creation, one that I never would have thought to make. I love the challenge of trying to come up with something that will push my creative limits and make my customer happy to receive a truly one of a kind keepsake.
|Anastasia, a needle-felted friend|
Tansy Dolls: Do you have any advice for those just getting into selling handmade? Jody: I have learned the hard way, if you set your prices too low , you will get a lot of work , but you will work too hard for very little pay. If what you make is really time consuming, like needle felting, you may never get compensated for the work you put into it. I have increased my prices to be fair to myself and custom orders have slowed drastically. However, I make more money per piece so it should balance out. You have to be fair to yourself, I am still learning this. A couple of other tid-bits. Firstly, be yourself and let your authenticity be your biggest asset; show the person behind the handmade and be as unique as what you create. Secondly, don't be competitive with other handmade sellers, it is best to join forces with them, you will go so much further with each other than on your own.
Tansy Dolls: That is wonderful advice, Jody! Thank you for such a thoughtful
interview, it is so fun to learn a little more about an artist I admire so much.
To see more of Jody's amazing sculptures, here are the links to her work:
Have a wonderful week, everyone!