Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Rural at Art! Interview with artist Sara Renzulli

Sara Renzulli has always had an innate love for all things rural. Even as a little girl growing up in the city. Today, Sara works from home in rural Elkton, Maryland with her two young boys and many critters dotting the hillside and underfoot. I am a self taught painter and needle-felter.

Sara has an intrinsic need to know animals and to create that has followed her her entire life and she "expects it will never leave." Her childhood bed was a nest of stuffed animals, Sara says "the more realistic the better. I would cut off their tags to erase any sign that they were actually made in China." A no-pet policy household drove little Sara to try any angle for every little critter I thought I might stand a chance to convince my Mom to keep. All the while, I was drawing, drawing, drawing.

My art has been shown at sporting art venues across the country for over 10 years. Recently I have branched into landscapes and portraiture. The wool critters are a new endeavor but, I am sure, one that I will elaborate on for the rest of my life. When I am not taking care of boys, horses, donkeys, dogs, or chickens, I am painting or felting them!

Needle felting is growing in popularity as well as many other arts and crafts mediums. Why do you think this market is so popular.?

I only began needle felting two years ago. I had never heard of it. Most haven't. I think as a craft it is bound for great things (someone should jump on it with an info-mercial) because it is inexpensive, few tools, lightweight, and extremely forgiving. As for those purchasing needle felted items - each is its own special, never to be duplicated, piece of art. (Did you know there is no word for "unable to be replicated?" I tried to say "irreplicable" in a description on my etsy store but my family gently informed me that it was not a word.)

As a child you had many stuffed animals, any favorites?

My Mother, who could hardly be called indulgent, bought for me a stuffed horse (a sleeping foal to be exact) that I remember seeing in a gift shop while we were at the beach. It was $44. That was A LOT for a stuffed animal in the 1970's. I think that horse finally met its end a few years ago. I also loved a monkey, too embarrassed to tell you his name, that my sons still play with. And the bears. Loved the bears. Still have those too.

Tell us the life story of the Snow Hare? Where is she from, what is her house like, her family etc.

I have stories for many of the critters but the hare is more of a spirit or soul type creation. My mother sent me a link with a picture of a snow hare. I sat down to make him immediately. I have since made larger critters but he was my first of that size. As I was making him I kept thinking "this is going to be good." I was inspired in every sense of the word to make that rabbit; by the picture, the wools, the angora, the challenge.
How did you begin needle felting and how does needle felting work?

My sister bought a few supplies. We were using wool fabric and wool roving (loose wool) and felting two dimensionally - like painting on the fabric with colored wool. I then bought a kit to make three mice. Once I learned how to sculpt the wool I was hooked. I thought, "Well, if I can make a mouse than I could make a......" I have been collecting supplies ever since.
Wool and some other animal fibers have a property that allows them to be felted. (Cotton and other fibers can not be felted) Both wet felting (like when you put a wool sweater in the dryer) and needle felting cause the wool fibers to hook and not pull apart. Needle felting uses tiny barbed needles. The felter just stabs the wool over and over to sculpt and shape it. Most of my critters have an armature made of pipe cleaner or wire. Then I use various rovings and wrap, bundle, roll, and stab them on.

What CD is in your stereo right now?


Tell us about your gnomes?

One of my favorite artist is a Rein Poortvliet. He was a Dutch illustrator. He is famous for his "Book of Gnomes." (But illustrated many books; my favorite is "Noah's Ark.") The first time I saw the gnome book I was very young. I fell in love with the world and culture that Rein created. I'd say the inspiration for my gnomes is steeped in that book.

Sara, Thank you for the interview. I loved that book as a child too. It nurtured my sense of fantasy and mythology as a child and inspired much of my playful nature now.

Please visit Sara's site to see more of her beautiful work.

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