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Ever since she was a young child, Joan has been pattern making and drawing. At the age of 6 she was drawing hand made cards for friends and family, and virtually every Christmas was an opportunity to get new pens, pencils and paper. Born to a Swiss mother and English father in Leamington Spa in 1966 Joan spent much of her childhood up until the age of 7 in Switzerland.
In 1972, Joan returned to live with her family in Devon, with the exception of a period in France, up until the present day. Joan qualified with a degree in three-dimensional design, and spent most of her post art college life fighting to keep the artwork going as too often life got in the way and the need to bring in a regular income became the first priority. Most of her work during this time was in animal portraiture commissions in water colour pencil and pastel, and she was able to get a contract with a fine art publisher. Joan became a Christian in 2007 which hugely influenced her way of working and introduced her to the wonderful medium of wool. Joan worked with young adults with learning disabilities enabling them to create artwork and do activities with a Christian charity called Prospects for 5 years.
During the first 2 years with them I didn't get one commission until one day I came to realise that the “gift” of creativity was not my own, but something to use for higher purposes. I had almost given up on doing any artwork of my own, but suddenly I began to get images that I knew had to be created and I had no idea how to do them. I began the journey of faith as I tried to find the direction and methods I needed to create the pieces I saw in my mind and that led me to discover needle felting.
I began to bring into being the image I saw without knowing its purpose. Once completed the “tree of life” piece was shared with people. One lady I showed it to said nothing which was in itself strange, but I dismissed it until the following day I received a phone call and she said she had been profoundly touched by the picture, and that it was hers and she needed to pay me a sum for it. What an amazing way to work – from that point on, God got my attention as I earnt much more than I would have if I'd done it my way. The large pieces continued to be created in a similar way and the lion and lamb piece was only the 4th piece I had ever done in needle felting. As I began to teach and share needle felting with others, I realised that there was a need for good quality kits, materials and equipment, and that is what inspired me to develop the Joan Prowse Collection which started my relationship with World of Wool as I became a trader and retailer as well as remaining an artist.
Apart from the occasional free raw fleece, they are now my sole supplier of merino and jacobs fleece. At the time of the initial development of the JP range, there were few suppliers as needle felting was only starting to gain popularity. I am an avid advocate of keeping the standard of work and product quality high when it comes to all aspects of my work, but especially needle felting as an essentially simple technique has sadly led to a profusion of bad teaching technique and kits that leave the buyer disappointed with results.
Joan Prowse B.A. is a professional artist designer maker, and works in many different media, of which wool is one. She specialises in needle felting and has been working with wool for 6 years. During this time her pieces have been heavily influenced by her Christian faith. She gained her degree in three dimensional design specialising as a furniture designer/maker. Throughout her life she has worked primarily in illustration, and continues to produce pieces for private collections in and around Britain and Europe. Having worked as an artist in France for three years, she returned to Devon where she now undertakes private commission work and gives needle felting tuition both as an optional extra to the Bicton Fibrecraft course, and independently.
I always want to give people a fun and pain free experience of needle felting as wool is such a versatile and forgiving medium which I believe still has undiscovered potential. Following the death of my husband through MS. I am now entering a new phase in life and needle felting is part of that. Most of my time is now divided between commission work, such as Craft4crafters and the ICHF stitches events and teaching. After having to take a break from giving workshops, I intend to start them up again doing masterclasses as well as make and take sessions at the craft shows. I am planning to get married later this year which will give opportunity for expansion and creativity to the next level, so watch this space.
Joan is a member of the Devon Artist Network, the IFA and fAB, and exhibits at various events, giving talks and demonstrations to groups as well as individual tuition if required. Joan is also a retailer of needle felting equipment and supplies. “I am inspired by the beauty in the creation I see around me, and by the power of the Holy Spirit who works through me. My aim is to bless and encourage others on their own journey, and to inspire them, through my work, to have a deeper relationship with the ultimate Creator.”
What do you enjoy most about your craft?
I have a passion to use the ordinary to make extraordinary things. I love the colours and sculptural qualities of working with wool.
What is your favourite fibre?
Jacobs for 3D, and of course merino for variety of colours!
What is your favourite breed of sheep?
I love them all, but my favourite has to be the Bluefaced Leicester
What do you like the most about the company?
I love the selection of products and fibres. World of Wool provide an efficient and friendly service.
Do you have a top tip for your fellow crafters?
When working on larger pieces (as I do with the lion and lamb 1.2m sq) do each element in sections and then mount them onto the final backing. This has two advantages - 1, you can get the composition exactly right before committing, and 2, if an element is not as successful as you'd hoped, you haven't ruined the whole piece.
If you would like to view some of Joan’s work you can do so in our gallery below. Current work and works in progress can also be seen on her website www.joanprowse.co.uk
If you would like to see all of our previous featured artists click here.
Pamela is a retired middle school art teacher from the USA who began felting in 2004. In 2009 she taught her first national felt workshop and currently she is teaching out of her studio and creating exhibition work.
From landscapes to detailed floral wool paintings, Louise Hancox has blended her set of skills to produce stunning art pieces.
Creating needle felted, framed landscapes and seascapes from on and around Anglesey, Award Winning Helen Dolling is the superb artist behind Felt Inspired.
Specialising in hand dyed yarn and woven textiles, Salisbury based Emma Baker is a life-long knitter and the owner of SpireCrafts.