Ursula Raney demonstrated the art of needle felt sculpture in the reading room of the Salmo Public Library Monday afternoon. The artisan is currently working on a collection of seasonal dolls using natural wool fibres and bits of foliage as inspiration.

Ursula Raney demonstrated the art of needle felt sculpture in the reading room of the Salmo Public Library Monday afternoon. The artisan is currently working on a collection of seasonal dolls using natural wool fibres and bits of foliage as inspiration.

Dolls bring nature to life

A sample of Raney’s needle felt sculpting is currently on display in the Salmo library.

As the season changes so will the face of a local artist’s work titled “Nature as a Doll.”

Ursula Raney, an Erie-based artisan, is a recipient of the 2014 Columbia Basin Trust grant for arts and is sculpting her $1,530 award into four unique dolls that will reflect the magic of winter, spring, summer and fall in the West Kootenay.

“I really like fashion and design, and the spirit of nature and fairy tales,” she explained. “Through exploring different forms of doll making, I have a really clear idea of who my old man winter will be, but I am still thinking about my summer garden thief.”

Raney has been an artist with a needle since she first laid eyes on her grandmother’s exquisitely stitched dolls at the tender age of eight.

After refining her own sewing skills over the years, the needlecrafter weaved her fibre-based abilities into making dolls using needle felt sculpture. Needle felting is a practice that uses notched needles to sculpt un-spun wool into three-dimensional objects through the process of “jabbing” fibres into a densely matted shape or form.

Raney combines needle felting with her talent to anthropomorphize, or “see” faces and human forms in nature and develops the dolls using natural wool fibres and foliage from the woods around her rural home.

“I use materials from nature and blends of wool in the process to form the dolls,” explained Raney. “Sometimes I will see a piece of root or stick that reminds me of something and I work with that along with coloured thread and yarns” she said. “I also like to use fragrant herbs like orris root, to capture the different scents of each season.”

As the weather warms, Raney will complete the seasonal doll collection and plans to share her exhibit with the community in the reading room of the Salmo Public Library.

“A lot of people are curious about what I have been working on,” she said. “Some of the dolls are fragile with tiny bits of seasonal ephemera so I am hoping to start there and then we’ll see where they can go.”

A sample of Raney’s soft precision in doll making is “Mermaid #1,” a doll currently on display in the village’s library as part of the Salmo and District Art Council’s gallery called “We Heart Art” Volume II, which is a showcase and sale of local work that opened just in time for Valentine’s Day.

This is the second year the arts council held the event to support artists living in the West Kootenay including its district from Erie to Salmo and the Ymir to Nelway area.

“The show is to promote awareness for the arts and support the art community as a whole,” explained Raney. “February is typically a difficult time of year for visual artists,” she continued. “It’s a lean time and can be financially tight because it’s not a peak season.”

This year’s opening reception was well attended with several artists selling one-of-a kind pieces that have since been replaced with modestly priced works from the council’s open studio group, available for sale until March 8.

“There is a lot of diverse work to show from artists ranging from highly educated to dabblers,” said Raney. “So far, the fundraiser has been even more successful that last year.”

Just Posted

Photo: Trail Times
Trail RCMP start June by nabbing impaired drivers

Latest brief from the Trail and Greater District police

“This is very costly to replace and it seems that Rossland is getting more and more theft and vandalism happening, which is really unfortunate,” says the commission’s Michelle Fairbanks. Photo: Submitted
Two plaques stolen from Rossland heritage square

The plaques were located at Washington and Columbia by the Olaus statue

No matter your age, the city’s two skate park hosts Jaryd Justice-Moote (left) and Brenden Wright can help you roll into a new pastime this “Summer at the Skatepark.” Photo: City of Trail
Free coaching at the Trail Sk8Park begins next month

The city is rolling into a summer of inclusive recreation by, for… Continue reading

Pastor Tom Kline
‘Why I became a Christian’ with Pastor Tom Kline

“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also… Continue reading

Protestors blocking Columbia Avenue Saturday evening. Photo: Betsy Kline
Old growth protesters begin 24-hour blockade of Castlegar’s main street

Members of Extinction Rebellion plan to stay overnight

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

Most Read