We're obsessed with the weirdo creatures that artist Amy Coleslaw creates – baby doll heads on ice cream cones, a Barbie with a pink felt unicorn body and even trolls with octopus tentacles as legs...
She calls them "Needle Felted Creatures From Your Cutest Nightmares" and sells them under the name I Felt Kitsch. Just take a peek at these guys on Instagram, @i_felt_kitsch.
A 90s child, Amy grew up in the era of trolls, Polly Pockets and "weird creeps like Mr Blobby". They definitely inform her artistic style. At 36, she's finally starting to discover who she is. And we love to see it. She even sells the copyright for her work to be turned into tattoos!
We caught up with her to find out how she conjures up her magical felt creations...
Tell us a little about your life journey and inspirations...
As a kid I was always collecting stuff – pig statues, troll dolls, marbles, coins, stamps... I also loved animals (still do) and was always outside playing with bugs. I once kept pet snails in a lunch box. My sister and I also once found an injured stag beetle and took him home and hid him under the bed.
We also used to go to the pet shop and buy crickets to set free. I absolutely hated school – apart from art. I went on to college and studied fine art, then went on to study Book Arts and Crafts at LCC. After the first year, I dropped out – university just wasn't for me, so I went travelling instead.
What inspired you to set up I Felt Kitsch?
I started needle felting in around 2017 after a trip to Vancouver in Canada. I visited Granville Island Market where I met a needle felt artist – I was amazed by her work. I instantly knew it was something I wanted to try.
When I got back, I watched a bunch of YouTube tutorials and tried out a ton of different sized needles and fibres until I found what worked for me. I mainly made pet portraits for friends and family in the beginning, both 2D and 3D. Then during lockdown, I was furloughed from work and fond myself with lots of time to really experiment and have fun with it.
Where do you dream up these creatures?
I take a lot of inspiration from my childhood, I’m an 80s baby and 90s kid, so have a particular love of that era – it was a weird time full of creeps like Mr Blobby, Barney and the Teletubbies. I'm also a huge fan of artist Mark Ryden and I take a lot of inspiration from his cute but slightly creepy paintings.
Take us on a journey, how do you find the baby doll faces and does each one have their own unique personality that inspires the design?
The majority of my doll heads come from car boot sales and charity shops. I’ve also found a couple of lost dolls out in the street or in the park while walking my dog – I will admit that I’ve taken a couple out of the bins behind the back of a charity shop... I love the idea of rescuing them and giving them a new lease of life.
Lots of my followers comment that they look much happier in their new bodies. When I choose a head to work with, I very rarely have a plan of what I’m going to make. Instead I just start felting and let the face decide... The 4 scoop ice cream Barbie is probably my fave I've ever made.
Would you consider your creations to be art or object?
A bit of both. I have a hard time considering myself an artist as I started felting for fun but got really lucky in the amount of support I have received.
You sell "tattoo vouchers" so that people can get your work tattooed on them, what inspired this? And how does it work?
It was actually a friend of mine who suggested this, as I had a few tattoo artists using my designs for flash – which is super cool of course – but the voucher is just a quick and easy way to get permission for using my designs. That works for tattoo artists and also anyone wanting to get a tattoo of one of my dolls.
How do you feel about your creatures being tattooed on people?
I love it, it's literally mind-blowing. There really is no greater compliment than having my work permanently tattooed on someone’s skin.
Are you a tattoo collector yourself?
Yes, I have a fair few and I'm always wanting more. Most of my tattoos are by Chris Perchard of True Tattoo in Kingston. I love his bright, bold traditional style. I’ve also got a bunch of lovely delicate black fine line tattoos by my friend Phil Mann of Black Heron Tattoo in Windsor. I’ve been wanting a tattoo from Hannah Lunn for ages and hope to make that happen soon!
Tattoo by Chris Perchard
What's next on this wild I Felt Kitsch ride?
I'm taking part in an exhibition in July called ‘Textile Junction’ at Electro Studios in Hastings, which I’m really excited about. I’ve also got a couple of collaborations in the pipelines.
A lot of my followers are tattoo artists, so I’m considering getting a stall at a tattoo convention next year, also with my partner as he has a clothing brand called ‘Dynamic Style’ and has worked with lots of artists who have a strong influence within the tattoo community, such as Tom Gilmour. He’s also got an I Felt Kisch range of clothing and tote bags, which are super fun.
Give Amy a follow on Instagram to keep up with her weird creations, @i_felt_kitsch.
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