Thursday, May 7, 2009

I want a Red Suede Kitten!

Normally the mere thought of a cat makes my eyes start to water and itch and I start reaching for a pack of sudafed. But the name RedSuedeKitten conjures up such warm and luxurius images I completely forget my allergies. Even more intriguing than the very cool name is the wonderful felt jewellery creations that Melita of RedSeudeKitten makes.

I love the bright colours and completely tactile nature of Melita's work, and I also LOVE the fact that she has taken some time out to answer some questions about her art.

Where does the name RedSuedeKitten come from?

I have a cat called Marcie, who is a black and white tuxedo cat. Her black fur reminds me of black velvet. One day I was commenting on my "black velvet cat" and for some reason the words "red suede kitten" just came into my head, as a variation of this phrase. I used the name as an internet ID for a while, but always thought it would be a great name for a craft business. When I started the business about a year and a half ago, I decided to use the name.

How long have you been felting, how did you get into it?

I've been felting for about two years now. I've been a knitter for about 5 years, so anything to do with wool and fibre excited me! I found out about wet felting on the Craftster forums and decided to give it a go. I tried simple felted beads at first, and then progressed to "sushi" felt, felted vessels and scarves.

Without giving away any 'trade secrets' can you explain the process of felting, you mention 'wet felting' in your listings but I don't really know what that means.

Felt is created from wool tops (also called roving). This is the fluffy, fairy-floss-textured wool fibre that yarn is spun from. You lay the tops out on a surface such as bubble wrap, or a sushi mat (something with texture), spreading the fibres out so that the layers are even. Often multiple layers are used and are laid out at right angles to each other. To these layers you add hot water, with dish detergent, by very gently sprinkling it onto the surface of the tops. There are little scales on each wool fibre that are like hooks, and these open up when the hot water and detergent is applied. The next step is to agitate the wet tops. This helps the little hooks in the fibres lock and shrink together, creating a matted finish. You agitate by rubbing very gently at first, and add more and more pressure gradually as the felt comes together and hardens. This is a time consuming process. You can also roll your felt piece in the bubble wrap or sushi mat, which helps to shrink and harden the piece further. Once it's quite strong, a cold-water rinse can help "shock" the fibres into a harder state, as can throwing the felt against a hard surface.

The colours you use are gorgeous and vibrant - do you also dye the wool?

No I don't dye the tops myself. I'm fortunate enough to have found two tops suppliers that have a gorgeous range of colours. Maybe one day I'll learn how to dye the wool, but I fear that it will become yet another craft obsession!

I have never seen anything like your cocoon pieces before, they are very cute! Are you very organised and structured when you design a creation like that or do you begin working and see what evolves?

I had to think and plan a fair bit to create the cocoons, but when it came to the execution, it was an experiment. Lucky for me, I somehow devised a technique that worked straight off. It was an intuitive process, working out how to mold and shape the cocoon, but it worked! As for putting objects inside the cocoons – that was not my original plan. The empty felt sphere seemed to invite this though, so I went with it.

My work is often rather intuitive. I'll come up with part of an idea before I start a piece, and then just put things together and see how they go. My Buckle Bug Brooches are all one of a kind – I design these as I go along, working out which colours, buckles and buttons work together, and how to cut and layer the wings. I find this intuitive process both liberating and challenging.

Do you have a favourite piece among your works?

Roger the Owl in his red felt cocoon. I really must make one for myself! However, I do have a few Felt Clouds that I wear often, and I also love the Buckle Bugs.

Thanks so much Melita for taking the time out to answer my questions. Don't forget to check out Melita's store and you can also stalk her on twitter!


  1. Great interview - she's so talented!

  2. Lovely interview, Melita's work is amazing, I saw some at the melbourne stitches and craft show!

  3. Very interesting to find out more about the background of a fellow crafter and team member!:)

  4. Great interview. I love finding out about how people craft.

  5. Great interview, nice to know how the process going on behind the art.

  6. Lovely interview! I instantly recognised RedSuedeKitten's pieces at the Brisbane stitches and craft show.

  7. I've always wondered how she makes those things :) Great post!

  8. Thank you for sharing with us the RedSuedeKitten 's art!

  9. Oh lovely to find out more about Melita! Great interview. :)

  10. Thanks so much for featuring me Erika - it was really fun to talk with you! And thanks to everyone else for all the lovely comments! You are the best :)

  11. What a great interview. Melitas pieces are wonderful and it's nice to know a bit about how they are made :)

  12. Love her stuff! Nice interview!