Me and how it works and what I do
Karin Celestine lives in a small house in Monmouth, Wales.
In her garden there is a shed and in that shed is another world.
The world of Celestine and the Hare.
It is a place where kindness, mischief and beauty
help people find the magic in the ordinary.
Karin is an artist and author, who creates needle felted animals of charm and character, including the stars of her own delightful stop-motion animations and her series of children’s books published with Graffeg.
Her joy in the world of nature is also reflected in her sculptural copper pieces which complement her feltwork.
Karin runs popular needle felting workshops, inspiring others to find their creative spirit.
I am an artist and author/illustrator. I needle felt small creatures, make copper boats, moons, nature finds and tell stories from my little shed workshop in Monmouth, Wales. I like to be outside and barefoot and I think I am part mermaid and love to swim most of all, usually in the sea or a river or a lake.
I share my home with more cats than some would consider decent and a lurcher puppy. I have been making since I was old enough to pick something up, at my mother's knee and have never stopped since. I did a degree in biochemistry and history of art and have always found a way to combine art and science. You don't have to not do art if you are clever!
Each creature I make has a unique character, charm of its own. I have a sense of fun and nostalgia and a love of the forgotten, small, passed over and missed things. I love folklore and stories of hidden worlds, that idea of small creatures living a life we could see if only we were quiet enough to look. Being small and shy I've always cheered on the outsiders, the quiet ones.
Each copper boat , moon and charm I make has a whisper of the old times, folklore, hidden stories, moons and dreams, quite creatures who work steadfastly while we sleep. They link to the ancient wisdom of the seasons.
I write children's books of small acts of kindness, hidden themes of friendship, kindness, acceptance, a gentle look at life which are published with Graffeg.
I also make short stop motion animations of the creatures living in the shed with me and we dance a lot and eat a lot of choklit. The films and photos I post on my facebook page, twitter/instagram where is a lot of silliness and joy and a gentleness of life.
One of my joys to get me out of the Shed, is to run needle felting workshops where people can come and learn the techniques to make needle felted animals in their own style. Not to copy mine, but to find their inner style and to develop it. I run one day workshops at various venues and galleries to make simple creatures such as mice, and then two day workshops which are more of a masterclass learning to make wired armature creatures and all techniques to make detailed animals at home.
I also do events with my books for chidlren and adults in schools, libraries and literary festivals.
My current ponderings:
The line I always say about Celestine and the Hare is kindness and mischief. I love that duality. I've always loved opposites, loved doing this and that, these and those. We as a species seem to like to pigeon hole and make people choose and tell them they have to be a scientist or an artist, silly or serious... you can't be both. I've always wanted to be both. Being clever and good at science I was discouraged from art and told to do science. I wanted to do both. I got my own way and studied science and art, even combining them in my degree! I love them both, I think they go together, they aren't opposite actually, just look at Leonardo. Study the Golden Mean, Islamic art and see how artists use science and maths. I know that can get confusing sometimes and I know my mind jumps from one thing to another and I can't expect others to know what I'm thinking or what sphere it is coming from.
Whilst I love this duality and love to switch, I do tend to get obsessed and lost in things. I am a melancholic, I get lost in an idea like entering a snail shell, spiraling in and in and find it hard to come back up for air, Whilst I love the duality, sometimes when I am lost in dreams, like Panda, I find it hard to wake up out of that dream and you must always be gentle with dreamers...
I am currently lost in copper boats and dreams, it is a serious gentle dream of ancient moons and wishes, it came out of working with the enamelling I used to do. I was trying to make bases and boats for the creatures to keep them unique from other felting that is springing up. I refound my love of copper work after years of neglect and I am exploring new techniques too which is rather exciting. There are stories brewing and new ideas and creatures to go with the boats and leaves. The sycamore seeds were for the boats but I had so many requests for pendants that I am now starting to make a few each month. I am collecting treasure when on my walks and making moulds of them to cast with copper. Seeds, feathers, leaves, they will change as the earth turns and the seasons move through the year. I am loving the extra connection with nature.
I have an idea to do with moons, the wolf moon, hare moon, old myth and new myth, folklore, kind of what I was talking about at the book launch, something in tune with the Lightbringers. I am hoping to work on collections linked to the full moons. There will be felted creatures, copper moon boats and charms and other related pieces, some in wool, some in copper and maybe some other natural materials too. I am enjoying my new dreaming and hope that you will join me on this journey. There will still be norty weasels and the like and there will be more books being written too but I am excited to try a slightly new path for a while combining the creatures and copper. It takes time to dream new dreams that come from the soul but they will come when the time is right.
Take my hand and walk with me for a while, we shall dream beautiful ancient dreams... there is a new story brewing too to link to the moons and the Lake of Dreams...
Most creatures and copper work are made to order. My commission list varies in length so it is difficult to give a set time for making. Usually 1-4 weeks but best to ask me if in a hurry or for an anniversary etc. Some creatures are quicker to make than others. Smalls, baby weasels and badgers for example may be able to be sneaked in over an evening if you need an emergency badger for someone.
Water voles and tigers take forever and ever to get those funny little faces and stripes just right. Prices reflect the time involved so you can get an idea from that.
I can work with you to find the perfect charms for your copper boat, that are meaningful to you, I can even cast your own personal nature finds if suitable. Happy to mull over some ideas with you such as a pendant of a leaf from the tree you proposed under, a sea shell from your holiday, reminders of your children climbing the apple trees in the garden... I can cast in silver or copper. See the case studies on the commission page to give you an idea of what I can do.
Commissioning is not something only rich posh people do. Don't be scared to ask. It is like buying in a shop. You can buy creatures I make often for a set price, some as cheap as £10.
Moon boats start at £32 and go up to £200 or more depending on charms... Custom animals vary in cost from £100 - £800. Usually about £80-300 for a generic custom animal such as 'can you make me a whale/armadillo/tapir" type thing.
Portraits of pets etc as in 'can you do a copy of my dog please' cost a lot more as it takes a very long time to get the look just right. It takes me a week or two of solid work to get them right, and a lot of emails and conversations with you, asking for photos and what colour is the tummy and such, so I have decided to just charge a standing fee of £500 for a pet portrait
I am quite happy for you to ask and then say oh no, too much or no thanks. Really I am. I know how scary it is asking an artist to make something and then worrying that you have spent your children's inheritence or the cat food money and daren't say no because you can't say no to a cat can you?
Oh yes, I ramble on a lot too.
I also do felt making workshops too. You can come and learn how to make your own woolly creatures. We chat and giggle and eat cake and drink tea too. Subscribe if you would like to be put on the mailing list for workshop days and events and check the workshop page for details of the ones coming up. I am happy to do workshops in other
areas of the country if there is a group and a venue willing.
Just contact me if you would to discuss it. I run one and two day workshops in needle felting and wet felting and welcome both beginners and experience felters. See workshop page for more details.
Books and Book Events
I have a series of books with Graffeg which are stories about small acts of kindness and a craft activity at the end... I also do greetings cards and calendars with them.
I do author events with my books where you can come and hear the stories and make crafts from the books. !I really love doing school events. I was an outstanding teacher for 20 years in a Steiner School teaching from primary through to 16 yrs teaching Crafts, Chemistry, History of Art, Ancient History... amongst other things and love working with children.
See the author events page for details of school visits, skype talks and other book related events.
I also do events for adult groups, e.g. Forest School Groups, School Inset Days etc where I can address either a particular topic you have in mind or I will read you a story and we will do the crafts whilst discussing how the books and crafts can be used in your teaching. I am happy to do local evening events for groups at a reduced rate.
Facebook and Social Media Fun
My Facebook Page is where we play. Videos and silliness and the tribe of the Celestiner Impossiblers Chokliteers reside there and you are most welcome to join in the fun. There's a button on here to find us. And twitter too. I have two pages on Instagram. One for just the art metalwork @karincelestineart and one for Celestine and the Hare fun
Oh and some films make it to you tube when I remember to do it.
I also misspell words. Rebellion of being kept in at school to learn spellings when I could have been outside playing. I have the brain the size of a small planet but i can't spell so I make words up. Much more fun. Like norty naughty and choklit chocolate and squizzers are squirrels.
I have a Tribe Membership you can join to help fund the films I do. There are badges and sekrits and hidden pages and facebook groups and fun. Like the Tufty club but no one gets run over.
All of that is on the pages of the website, so wander and have a look... there's loads! Even a blog too because I haven't used all the words up yet it seems.
Stop Typing and Using all the Words
Is that enough? Hope so. I make stuff, write stuff. I'm half Swedish. There. Oh and yes, Celestine is my Swedish great grandmother and my namesake. Karin is my grandmother's name, and my mother's and now mine. Celestine is my great grandmother. Her bust (as in her portrait head not her boobs, that would be weird) um err start again... I have a sculpture of her in my studio. I used to use her as a hat block till I could afford a real one. A line of ancestors, creative women all standing behind me, looking after me. The Hare was the first creature I made properly and guards us all. I love hares. They are magical. Hence the name Celestine and the Hare.
Royal Warrant Holders and Friends and Relations like wot Rabbit has
Max Low Illustration My son and amazing illustrator.
Graffeg publish my books and let us be silly and are publishers to the King Norty
Kenilworth Books We adore Tamsin and the shop and they are
not only super supportive to authors and illustrators but they also always
have cake and biscuits in the shop. Yum
Jackie Morris artist, writer, and very dear friend.
Official court artist drawer of royal warrants and crests to the Royal Court of King Norty
Monteas Tea Shop They make our Chokliteers tea for us and do mail order. It is very yum!
Purveyors of Fine Teas and teapots to the King and Emily Bear.
Awards and Galleries
Needle felted and copper Sculptures
*I was chosen to exhibit as part of the Cambrian Mountain Wool Design Challenge. We exhibited at Hay Festival, a private exhibition with Prince Charles, London, various venues round the country
*I won the Wicked Wales Film Awards design competition and made the awards for their ceremony.
I show with Craft in Focus
* Galleries past and present include
New Brewery Arts, Cirencester
Old Chapel Gallery, Pembridge
blue-ginger gallery, Cradley Malvern
New Leaf Gallery, Monmouth
Oriel Cric, Crickhowell
Herbert Hedley, Petersfield
Art in Penalt, Monmouth
Featured in the Guardian/ Observer Christmas recommendations 2016
Cardiff Literary Festival
Ryedale Book Festival
Book signings at Waterstones Carlisle, Abergavenny
Various Independent book shops around the country
My workshops have been awarded Platinum quality status by Craft Courses
MAGAZINE AND NEWSPAPER ARTICLES
I have been featured in the following publications:
The Guardian/Observer Newspaper picks for Christmas
Breathe Magazine Here
International Feltmakers Association Felt Matters Magazine Featured twice
Western Daily Press
South Wales Argus
Country Living Spring Feature
School Library Journal USA
Various book blogs
Jackie Morris blogs - particularly love Mary Bear meeting Robin Hobb!
Pay it Forward
We all experience kindness in our lives and we all give it too. I have a lot of tribe members buying membership renewals or small gifts for others that are struggling for whatever reason. I know others would like to donate towards one but can't manage the whole amount. Sometimes I get asked if I can send someone a gift too. I would love to have free memberships and send creatures to people who can't afford them, but this is how I make my living and I need to eat too, so I had an idea. If I had a separate donate 'pay it forward' button then people could add a little here and there when they felt like it, maybe an extra £1 when buying something and that money would be there to pay for memberships for those who can't afford it and would like to be part of the tribe, or maybe a treat of a small creature or a card to someone. People could ask to be on the list to receive a pay it forward gift or membership, or people could give me names to be on the list. It may be that there isn't anything in the fund or lots, I really don't know how it will be but it is worth trying and seeing I think. You won't know who it went to, because I don't want people to be publicly named but it is a little bit of the Live Norty pledge in action.
I will let you know what the money went on if and when there is enough to go somewhere. Everyone who donates will get their name in a hat too and I'll do the odd random gift to you as a thank you from me xx