What’s not to love with tiny felt animals and toys? Delilah Iris is a fiber and felt artist who creates adorable creatures with needle and thread. When she’s not designing felt patterns, you can find her exploring other creative mediums in her bright and cheerful home studio.
How did you get started designing wool felt creations? Always an artist, or was there a “moment”?
I’ve always been an artist. From as far back as I can remember! I recall in kindergarten creating paper dolls by laying down and tracing my own body on giant paper then drawing and decorating the pieces. I also used to cut apart old clothing to try to sew my own handmade teddy bears from a very young age. That’s just a couple examples out of many.
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I grew up watching my grandmother, mom, and aunt sew as well. So I feel like the creative bug was instilled in me very naturally.
Getting started with felt was an entire other story! I’ve always loved the texture of felt. The softness and its natural appearance. When my children were small I began designing toys for them. Friends would see them and marvel at the stitching. They’d tell me “you should sell these!”. I enjoy the designing part more than sewing them so I decided to turn them into patterns!
What different creative media do you use in your work?
I really love to incorporate other needleworks like embroidery or cross stitch into my felt creations. But I’ve even been known to use paint, chalk, and most recently dye. Right now I’m beginning to experiment with dying felt to use in creating pieces.
What do you do differently? What is your signature that makes your work stand out as yours?
I’m a child of the 80’s. I grew up kind of simultaneously immersed in video games and Saturday morning cartoons while also spending most of my days roaming the 100 acre forest behind the apartment complex where I grew up. My work is heavily influenced in both nature and cartoon.
My favorite things as a kid were Rainbow Bright, Care Bears, Sylvania Families, Super Mario brothers and Lisa Frank. It translates into my work being sort of Cottage Core meets Kawaii.
What is the most important takeaway you want readers to gain from your books, especially your new title, Tiny Felt Cuties & Creatures?
Well first and foremost it’s that making things tiny just makes them so much cuter! Everyone loves miniatures. But also I love that you can get started creating and sewing with felt, with very little money or resources.
The patterns in my book are specifically for making miniatures, which means one fairly affordable piece of felt could create many tiny creatures. You can even get started with a handful of scraps left over from other projects! A needle and thread is also very inexpensive. Really the average person can get started on less than $20.
When you begin to create, do you visualize the finished piece? Or does the work evolve?
I would say both of those things are true. I’m a huge animal lover. So I’m often inspired by animals I see locally in Maine wildlife. Often my designs are started with sketches which can often take on a life of their own. Then the sewing process tends to evolve that even further.
Can you share a bit of your process of bringing a new idea from glimmer to reality?
I usually begin with some sort of inspiration from life or just an animal that I find charming in general. From there I usually make inspiration photo collections and create sketches as well. It takes an awful lot of trial and error in sewing prototypes to get the 3D version of an animal to match my vision. It takes many hours of sewing and revising pattern pieces. My children enjoy keeping the prototypes though!
How do you manage your creative time? Do you schedule start and stop times? Or work only when inspired?
I work almost every day on some aspect of my small business. Creative time mostly happens when I’m feeling the most inspired. If I push it too hard then I don’t like the final designs as much.
How do you balance your personal life, work and creative endeavors?
Lol! I’m still learning how to do that. For me I can’t help but try to work creativity into almost everything. Art happens every day, whether that shows up in my cooking, or taking pictures on my phone, or decorating my home.
And I tend to work in other mediums in my spare time. I’m constantly trying to talk my friends into painting with me or doing pottery. Creative activity is just my default state of living.
What is your typical day like?
Slow and mindful. I start every single day waking up slowly next to my 2 dogs and spending my first hour of the day with them drinking coffee in the morning quiet. It’s breakfast with my teens every day, then days in my home studio working and creating while listening to music or watching shows.
Most days I’m assembling craft kits or sewing. These days my almost constant companion is a baby parrotlet named Sprout who insists on “helping” me work or sitting on my shoulder.
Do you have a dedicated space for creating? If so, what does it look like?
I do! I have quite a spacious home studio that I absolutely love. It’s my happy space! It has very big windows with lots of natural light and very high ceilings.
What plays in the background while you work? Silence? Music, audiobooks, podcasts, movies? If so, what kind?
It’s usually music or movies. I have a penchant for folk punk music lately so I’m usually playing something from that genre. My favorites are Holy Locust, Bridge City Sinners and Days n Daze. When I’m not listening to music I’m watching shows or movies. My biggest comfort show is Schitts Creek.
Are there any other creative channels you use to express your creativity?
OMG yes and they are always expanding. But I’d say pottery is my top favorite way to express creativity when I’m not working with felt. But I also paint, make digital art, mixed media pieces, and lino prints.
What do you do when you experience a mental block to your creative endeavors?
I take a break. If I’m not feeling it and work feels too hard then I step back until my motivation and inspiration return! It helps to often switch things up with work as well. Luckily my small business requires me to wear many hats, so it’s easy to switch to a slightly different sort of task and still be productive.
Is there anything that you haven’t done yet that you feel compelled to achieve in the future?
Yes, I’m really hoping to eventually be able to show bodies of work in art galleries. My biggest goal right now is to branch out into some different design concepts and even functional felt art.
How much of your creative ability do you think is innate? Or is your creativity a skill that you have developed?
Definitely a little of both. I was always very naturally drawn to creativity but I do think that you’re always getting better, evolving and honing skills. I also cannot stop myself from constant urges to try new crafts which always involves learning and developing new skills.
Tell us about your blog and/or website. What do you hope people will gain by visiting?
My website is where I sell all of my work – digital sewing patterns, DIY craft kits and even hand stitched pieces made by me. You can also have custom made pieces. Within the last year I started to add supplies as well. So you can now find really great quality wool felt, embroidery thread and more!
Check out DelilahIris.com
Interview posted March 2023