Julie R. Johnson – the art of needle felting
Corning resident Julie R. Johnson can't remember a time when she wasn't in love with art in its many forms. In her youth, she was often drawing, sketching, and painting, one of the other things she has always loved horses.
Over the years, Johnson has delved into many art venues, such as tole painting, clay landscapes, alcohol inks, drawing, watercolors, and more.
It wasn’t until just two years ago that she discovered the art of needle felting - the process of transforming carded wool into sculpture-like creations using a barbed needle. The process starts with the unformed wool being stabbed with the barbed needles into forms and designs that culminate into anything ranging from a simple, single-colored heart to extraordinarily detailed and life-like creations.
“Needle felting is a blood-art,” Johnson laughs. “In the beginning, I stabbed my fingers so many times I looked like a pin cushion. However, time and experience made those occurrences happen less and less; until now, it is an infrequent incident.”
Johnson loves challenging herself by choosing realistic yet whimsical designs and fantasy themes. Two artists from whom she derives much of her influence are Waldorf and Lavender & Lark.
“One of my most challenging creations was a large hawk with a fairy riding on its back. That now lives in the home of a friend. In fact, almost all of my needle felting I have given away or sold,” she said.
Getting her grandchildren into the groove, Johnson has helped most of them make their own needle felted creations and has taught the young women in her local church congregation how to make beautiful little flying birds.
“I think it is important for children and youth to delve into the many art mediums and discover what they like and enjoy,” she added. “You never know when out-of-the-blue you discover a talent you had no idea was hidden within you.”
Having lived on a small farm just outside of Corning for 33 years with her husband, Terry, three daughters and now son-in-laws and grandchildren, Johnson has been the newspaper reporter for the Corning Observer for 22 of those years.