Elizabeth Exley, from Crane, MO, found her artistic niche in needle-felting. The artform involves the clever manipulation of wool to transform it into a delightful 3D creation. Elizabeth weaves together her community and her faith with the art she loves.

 

 

By Sandy Selby

Elizabeth Exley didn’t always see herself as an artist. “From the time I was a little girl, I thought I was completely unartistic,” she says. “Yet, I loved beauty and noticed beauty everywhere.” Her interest in art began to grow along with her daughter, who showed an early inclination for artistry. Mother and daughter began to explore art together.

Inspiration struck again when Elizabeth came across some beautiful, needle-felted dolls. “They were sort of expensive,” she says. “So, I thought, ‘I can probably do that.’ And thousands of dollars later, I joke that I should have just bought the $50 doll.”

Elizabeth’s medium of choice is needle felting, which she describes as the art of agitating wool with special needles to make shapes. “Wool fibers are shaped sort of like Velcro, with tiny hooks. When those fibers are agitated, they hook together more tightly. The agitation can happen with heat, like in a dryer with a wool sweater that shrinks, or with special, barbed needles.

 

She uses that process to make a variety of 3D creations, including whimsical animals, wall art inspired by florals or the Psalms, seasonal items, and stylish decorations on wool hats. “I think what makes me ‘me’ is that I tell lots of stories with my art and really try to connect with others.”

There’s no room in Elizabeth’s small house for a dedicated workspace, but she can often be found in a cozy spot, working at her kitchen table. “I’m sitting under my herbs that are drying with wool around my feet that needs to be moved before we eat dinner!”

And that’s exactly where you’ll find her on her perfect day. “My perfect day would be to wake up and have time to make several ideas I have in my head while sitting with my daughter—she likes to do embroidery—and talking.

Her advice for artists just trying to break into the professional realm: “Your friends are not your audience. You have to find your audience and create a connection with them. That connection will come organically if you are authentic and care for your art and people.”

Elizabeth has found her authentic niche. “I like to say that I try to weave together faith, fiber, and community.”

Explore Elizabeth Exley’s art on Instagram@ginghamtrundle, on Facebook @ginghamtrundle, and at GinghamTrundle.com, or visit the Missouri Life Mercantile in Rocheport or online at MissouriLife.com/shop.

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