I met Kate through her husband Tilman, with whom I once worked at LAIKA Animation. They kindly took me on a favourite hike in Wellington, New Zealand when I was traveling there and Tilman was at Weta - I remember the stunning views of the bay that day and how strange and fun it was to meet up with someone I knew from one context (working together in Portland) to another (meeting up in a great little coffee shop in Wellington, all the way on the other side of the planet). I think that was also the first time I got to meet Kate in person - it was a lovely day!
Kate shares some of her beautiful felted creations on social media and I am always struck by their gentle, whimsical observation and the amazing skill with which she captures the creatures she makes. When I decided I wanted to share the work of other makers, she was one of the first craftspeople who sprang to mind and I am so grateful she's agreed to contribute!
S: Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
K: My name is Kate Paulin, my pronouns are she/her. I'm 44 years old and have been needle felting since 2013. The majority of my adult life I have moved around the world and lived in 6 different countries. Currently I am living in Canada and volunteer my time with seniors helping them get their groceries.
S: How did you get started making....
K: While living in Germany I attended a craft evening at a friends workplace. That evening they were doing needling felting. We made a little sheep. I had a good time and thought it was fun, however after that night I simply forgot about felting. I had in the meantime moved to England and then moved to Portland, Oregon. All of our things were put in storage. As our first Christmas in Portland was approaching I realized I had nothing to decorate the house with. I was feeling somewhat lonely and wanted to at least make the house cozy for winter. That's when I remembered the evening of needle felting. I bought some supplies from a local yarn store and decided to make the snowmen from Calvin and Hobbes. Things took off from there.
S: What's the thing you love most about what you do?
K: I love the individuality of it. I love being able to have an experience in the real world and come up with a way to express that in felting. For example while living in Dublin, Ireland we lived right across from a park with a lot of dog walkers. While out on walks I would see quite a few elderly people with their elderly dogs. Observing them was so precious as you could see that both dog and owner were struggling with their age. Sometimes the human was faster and had to wait for the dog, sometimes it was the dog waiting for the human. Both parties extremely patient with each other. A kind of knowing and understanding the aches and pains the other was feeling and putting no pressure on either to move faster. That's when I made my creation Patient Companions.
S: What's the biggest challenge you feel you're up against (if there are any) with this work?
K: Artistically speaking...the uncanny valley. I want to make things look real, however there is a point when it's best to back away of from reality and start felting as a representation. Attempting to get the personality of the animal across and focusing less on photo-realism. That can be a bit of a struggle.
S: What's the one thing you wish people understood about what you do?
K: As this is mainly a hobby for me I haven't come across any issues where people would need to understand what I do. For some needle felting isn't their thing, they aren't sure what to make of it and I completely respect that view.
S: What is your hope or plan for your work going forward?
K: Right now it's a hobby. I've been working on some christmas ornaments that maybe I could sell at a local crafts fair.
S: What's your favorite kind of cake?
S: That's a tough question! My favorite kind of cake changes with the seasons. In the fall I love a carrot cake and a german plum cake, in the winter brownies, tiramisu or a cinnamon nut bread I bake would be my preferred dessert. The spring is a good time for rhubarb cake/crumble and the summer would definitely be strawberry shortcake made with lemony (american style) biscuits.
S: so there with you on the carrot cake! Yum!
Is there anything else you'd like to share right now?
K: Be kind to each other. I've lived in 6 different countries and it's truly amazing at how people all over the world are so different and yet so alike. I believe our similarities outweigh our differences.
S: Beautifully-put; I couldn't agree more.
Could you tell me any website/Etsy shop/Instagram addresses you'd like me to share?
K: Here is a link to my Flickr account in case people wish to see more of my work