I feel a bit awkward, I mean I was introduced to the Mistress when I was researching the work of Jon Burgerman, yes it all sounds a bit seedy and sinister but hold your horses, she’s the FELT MISTRESS!! Yes the lady is a mistress of that adorably soft and fun fabric felt. For many people, boys and girls, felt is experienced during craft in schools because of its comparative versatility. To become a master of any technique or material you must practice, practice & practice and it is completely evident from the quality of craftsmanship that Louise Evans aka the Felt Mistress knows her stuff(ing)
The character development is obviously crucial to the building of the quirky creatures and the inspiration for that comes in droves from collaborative projects with artists like Jon Burgerman, Jon Knox (Hello, Brute fame) and Pete Fowler and mostly from her partner Jonathan Edwards. I often wonder if living with someone in the same field of work (ie. creativity) is a help or hindrance, imagine the inspiration posed directly against the interference!!
I’m not gonna pretend that I’m not put in mind of the muppets when I see the Felt Mistress’ work but its completely different because of its context, its crazy characters and also the art content. The line is crossed from mere design for fun squishy creature type characters to a much stronger art content, there is a delicacy and consideration above practicality.
I personally find the Beetle collection the most attractive but I am a taxidermy fan and I can also see the beetles sliding seamlessly into being a home accessory.What inspires you?My partner Jonathan Edwards is an illustrator and we work together on designs. Inspiration comes from lots of different places, sometimes it starts with a piece of fabric, sometimes a sketch in Jonathan’s sketchbook and other times they are based on real people we have seen when out and about, we will nudge each other and know exactly what each of us are thinking. We like to travel and we were lucky to spend 5weeks in Japan earlier this year so that as you can imagine was very inspiring. I am surrounded by very talented friends all creating amazing work, which is also very inspiring. Cartoons, fashion, films, music, nature, totems, tribal masks, the list is endless.
Where do you produce your work? ie home, studio, officeMy studio is in my house, I share it with Jonathan and we are slowly running out of space.How is your work produced? ie the process, traditional or modern construction techinques?I don’t really have many specific fancy tools, really only a sewing machine. I prefer to hand sew details and I never use glue. (my elderly millinery tutor would drum that into me, she hated the fact that some hats had the trims glued on instead of stitched and I feel the same way now, never glue if it can be stitched)
I worked as a couture dressmaker for 18 years and I still make dresses but just not as many as the character work keeps me busy. I loved the challenge of pattern cutting for lots of different shapes and sizes, learning about how balance, carefully placed seams and corsetry can make a big difference to how a dress looks and feels on an individual. These skills have also proved useful when making the characters.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am working on pieces for a solo show coming up next year, and more collaborations with both Jon Burgerman (for a gallery show) and Pete Fowler (more work for The Stuffs puppet show)