Needle felt artist brings comfort to pet owners with woollen sculptures

Needle felt artist brings comfort to pet owners with woollen sculptures
Fiona Finlayson creates woollen animal and pet sculptures for customers in the UK and beyond (Fiona Finlayson/PA)

A needle felt artist who creates woollen sculptures of animals and pets who have died has said she “didn’t realise how much it would mean” to her customers, after selling her artwork internationally.

Fiona Finlayson, 53, from Livingston in West Lothian, started making animals through the form of needle felting as a hobby, and the craft involves sculpting shapes and figures using wool and special felting needles.

Ms Finlayson said she felt as though “something had been missing” until she started making animals using the art form, which led her to begin making pets and taking commissions from customers in the UK and beyond.

After starting out in 2018, Ms Finlayson is now accustomed to creating around eight animals or pets each month to ship to her customers, many of whom ask for a depiction of their deceased pets.

A dog created by Fiona FinlaysonFiona Finlayson said she didn’t realise how much her artwork would mean to her customers (Fiona Finlayson/PA)

She told the PA news agency: “I didn’t really appreciate when I first started how much it would mean to people.

“I’ve got a dog, I’ve always loved animals, and for some people losing a pet is horrible.

“If there’s something you can have that makes it a little bit easier, then it’s nice to be able to help create that and give it to somebody.”

She said as well as receiving orders from customers in the UK, she has also shipped her woollen sculptures to people in Australia, America, Canada, France and Norway.

Having studied at the Edinburgh College of Art, Ms Finlayson said she has “always had an art background” but ended up pursuing a career in finance, saying she fulfils the commissions alongside her full-time job.

A dog created by Fiona FinlaysonFiona Finlayson started needle felting as a hobby (Fiona Finlayson/PA)

She recalled: “I’d seen an advert for a class to needle felt and I thought that sounded quite interesting and we had to make a hare’s head.

“As soon as I did that, it was almost like something had been missing.

“I ordered wool the same day when I got home.”

Ms Finlayson said it will take between four and 15 hours to make each piece depending on the task, creating sculptures measuring around 20cm.

She has often incorporated the fur of her customers’ pets into the woollen sculptures, as well as collars, to allow them to feel as though a part of their animal is there.

Two dogs created using woolEach sculpture takes between four and 15 hours to create (Fiona Finlayson/PA)

“There’s been some where I’m able to put some of the dog’s or cat’s fur into the portrait as well, so they know there’s something there that’s actually from the pet,” she said.

“I can add collars and things like that.

“I just really want to capture the character of the pet, that is what is important to me when I’m making it.”

Ms Finlayson said she had created a Bichon Frise dog portrait for one customer whose pet had died, saying they would speak to the sculpture in the morning and “it was almost like it was the dog”.

The artist added: “She had a puppy which destroyed the one I’d made for her.

A sculpture of a mouse wearing dungarees and a sweaterMs Finlayson specialises in pet portraits but also creates other animals such as birds, sheep and mice (Fiona Finlayson/PA)

“She wanted another one made right away because she couldn’t cope with not having it.

“It’s really nice to know that you’re making something that means so much to people.”

As well as making dogs and cats, which cost around £130 including postage, Ms Finlayson said she “always likes to try different things” such as sheep, owls, robins, mice, squirrels and horses.

“I feel such a responsibility making the pets and you want to get it just right,” she said.

“But once you do, it’s just such a nice sense of satisfaction.”

To find out more, visit:

The Conversation (0)