My dad always told me that you should always pursue your passion in life – that way you’ll never feel like you’re working a day in your life. It’s solid advice, but for some people, it’s not always attainable. But for one 23-year-old artist from Washington, DC, it seems that her creative passion for creating felt replicas of pets is paying off as a successful venture.
Alyson Gurney first began to get into the art of felting after she saw it on Instagram. The process requires felting needles that then craft wool into various shapes and objects. As she started on her felting journey, one of her first projects was to create a small replica of Drift, her Carolina/husky-mix that she’d rescued.
When speaking with Insider, Gurney definitely listed him as the inspiration before her passion project. Pleased with how the work on Drift’s likeness turned out, she soon began to make little felt doggie models for her friends using their own pets as her inspiration. She quickly got swept up in her new hobby, and soon it transitioned from hobby to small business. That is when it became Little Felted Friends – the business that gives owners tiny felt versions of their pets.
Gurney has a pretty personalized way of crafting her commissions. She likes to get as much information from the owners as possible about their pets – not just their looks but also their personalities. As she stated according to Insider, “It’s fun to kind of get to know the dog if you’re making them.”
Besides asking after their personalities, she will also get the owners to send her several pictures of the animal from many different angles, as well as a video or two of the pet being active. All this helps her to capture the essence of the pet she’s recreating. It usually takes her between three and four hours to create one miniature pet. Her usual daily average varies between two or three pets per day.
The nice thing about her new job is that it’s mobile. As Gurney pointed out, all she requires in order to do her work is wool and a pair of needles – so she can literally take her work anywhere and everywhere with her. She appreciates that she’s not stuck in an office or in front of a computer screen for 8 hours every day. And we can only imagine that must be such a wonderful feeling.
All of her pet creations are made from around 3 ounces of wool. Because the demand is so high for one of her little felt animals, on her website, Gurney only releases a limited number of spaces for commissions. On the first of each month, at precisely 10:00 am, she’ll release the slots for that month – and they usually sell out within minutes!
Gurney has noted that she feels quite bad as afterward, she’s always flooded with messages from hopeful customers telling her that they couldn’t secure a space. She feels bad having to tell them to try again the following month. While Gurney does her best to get her felting projects done as quickly as possible, the process is actually quite time-consuming.
She shared the process with Insider, saying that the entire thing is basically the same as sculpting, only instead of working with stone she’s working with a ball of wool. This means that each little felt animal she makes has been created using thousands of needle stabs. But perhaps the sweetest, most personal touch that she adds to each and every one of the felt animals she creates, is a heart. As she noted, it might not be visible to the eye, but it’s nice to know it’s there, and she does it as a way of showing that she made each and every one of her designs with love.
While Gurney used Instagram to first come across her hobby-turned-career, she now uses it as a business platform to get her creations out to a global market. At the very start, when it was just a felting hobby, she used to post pictures of her creations to her Instagram page. Then she started gaining more attention as friends of her friends would see them and want some of their own. Seeing the popularity of her little felt animals rise, Gurney got the idea to then send her Instagram posts to different dog influencers. And it worked! Her page has accumulated well over 41,000 followers!
She’s quite active on her Instagram and will often showcase her latest creations through photos as well as videos. Sometimes the real-life inspirations for some of her felt animals will also make an appearance on her page. Gurney has noted that it’s really taken off as a business – something she never imagined would happen so quickly. But she is truly enjoying being able to do something that she’s passionate about.
Not only does Gurney do live pets for people, but she will also make replicas of pets who have passed on as a little keepsake for the heartbroken owners. Speaking about the grief that pet owners go through when they lose a pet, she said that she was happy that she could at least give them a little comfort in the form of a mini version of their beloved pet.
Gurney crafts mainly cats and dogs. However, she had ventured into new felting territory as she has explored making other animals such as rabbits, birds, and even some hedgehogs. While she is currently running her business alone, she is not opposed to either expanding in the future or taking on a partner artist if she needs the help. Either way, she’s just happy to be doing what she loves and seeing where this crazy felting adventure takes her!
Anastasia is an American writer and journalist living in Dublin, Ireland. Her Twitter is @AnastasiaArell5.
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