My fairies are for children aged eight to 99!

It’s an exciting time for French felt artist and fairymaker Stephanie Tenier, who lives in West Cork
My fairies are for children aged eight to 99!
Stephanie Tenier of Feltastik. Picture: Joe Keogh

Tell us about yourself:

I am a French felt artist and fairymaker based in Bantry, West Cork.

I came to Ireland in 1998 for what was supposed to be a three-month charity work programme with Enable Ireland, only to fall under the spell of the Irish charm, and 21 years on I am still spellbound.

I work with wool to create delicate fairies and magical felt artwork. My creations aim to awaken and nurture the child within.

I also teach felting workshops in schools and libraries, as well as to private and community groups.

My brand Feltastik is all about capturing magic, nurturing imagination and sharing skills.

Where were you born:

My parents were originally from Brittany but travelled a lot for work when I was little, so I was very well travelled at a very young age. I was born in a little village in Switzerland where I spent the first six months of my life. We travelled all across France and my first school was in Luxembourg.

We settled back in Brittany when I was three and although my dad kept travelling and we followed him on some occasions, we mostly stayed in my home town of Riantec, a little seaside village on the south coast of Brittany, close to Lorient.

Where do you live:

In beautiful Coomhola, just outside Bantry in West Cork. It’s a wonderful place to live with a wonderful community and stunning landscapes.

We are nestled at the foot of Knockboy and minutes from the beautiful Bantry Bay. It is a truly magical place with countless rainbows and fairies aplenty.

It is where I draw the inspiration for my art and also where all my wool fairies are born.

Family:

Fifteen years ago, when living in Cork city, I met a Bantry man and the rest is history, as they say. We met in college where we both studied music. It was love at first sight and we never looked back.

We have a wonderful daughter, Maïa, who will be 10 in June. Horse riding is her passion although she does wish she could some day ride a dragon!Her imagination is as grand as mine.

Best friend:

Has to be my sister, Julie. She lives in Brittany but despite the distance we are very close. Nowhere is very far when you have a good internet connection! I do try to go home once a year to see my family and get my filling of patisseries and baguettes!

Earliest childhood memory:

My grandparents had an amazing garden filled with flowers, rows of vegetables and fruit trees. I loved being outside in the garden, eating peas fresh out of the pods, succulent strawberries, cherries and plums or eating all the gooseberries before my grandmother even had a chance to pick them.

The scents in the garden were so sweet and I was only small and at the perfect height to smell all the flowers one at the time.

I would often stand in one corner of the house where my grandmother grew tall white carnations. They had the most divine scent. To this day, any time I see carnations I go to smell them but they never smell as sweet as they did then. Last year, I created a ‘Fairy Garden kit’ in the Feltastik collection; I guess all my wonderful memories of this magical garden are reflected in this child’s toy.

Person you most admire:

I admire people who follow their dreams.

Person who most irritates you:

I don’t like people who judge too hastily.

Favourite TV program:

Masterchef. My daughter and I love to watch it together and make plans of what to cook next.

Favourite Radio show:

I like listening to Dermot & Dave on Today FM. They always put a smile on my face. I also like Marty Wheelan on Lyrics FM.

Your signature dish:

I make delicious pancakes, a mean lasagna and scrumptious cheesecake, or so my daughter and partner say.

Favourite restaurant:

Koto on Carey’s Lane in Cork city.

Last book you read:

Eleanor Oliphant Is completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman. One of those books that you can’t put down and actually miss when it’s finished.

Best book you read:

The Alchemist, by Paolo Coelho is probably my favourite book but I have to give credit to The Neverending story by Michael Ende, which gave me the love of reading as a child. I read it over and over and still remember the excitement and wonder I felt then.

It tickled and nurtured my already very imaginative mind, and still today, as I make felt fairies, I note the power of words and images and how it can add so much fun to life.

I follow the Rick O’Shea group on Facebook for book inspiration and I also love listening to books on audible. Nothing like a story being told.

Last album/CD/Download you bought:

Although I love music and even studied it, I actually don’t listen to a lot of it and I can’t for the life of me remember the last time I bought an album. It could have been Feist or maybe Lisa Hannigan.

I thrive in silence, listening the sounds around me, the birds, the stream, the wind, the rain...

Favourite song:

Sarah by Declan O’Rourke.

One person you would like to see in concert:

Stevie Wonder

Do you have a pet?

We have a dog, Billy, and a cat named Belle.

Billy is a Collie Labrador cross. He is a brilliant dog who will do anything to please and will love you forever if you throw him a ball! He is full of beans and at nine years old is for now not showing any sign of slowing down.

Belle likes to think of herself as a house cat and is a typical cat who will love you when she wants to, but I have a real soft spot for her.

Morning person or night owl:

I used to be a night owl and never got to bed before 1am, but having a school-going child has definitely changed that and I would definitely consider myself more of a morning person now.

I love hearing the birds singing in the early morning, it has to be the sweetest alarm clock.

Your proudest moment:

Being a mum gives you plenty of proud moments where your heart could burst but on a personal note, my business Feltastik is my proudest achievement. There are so many moments, good, bad and awesome that create this proud feeling of achievement. Being self-employment can be a tough and lonely road, so, like the BFG and his jars of dreams, I make sure I capture and treasure every high to remind myself of how far I have come.

It is a very special thing when a child’s eyes widen in wonder at a fairy I have made.

Spendthrift or saver:

I would say I am somewhere in between.

Name one thing you would improve in your area in which you live?

I would love to see less plastic on the beach. I always bring a bag to collect it when I go for a walk but it is sometimes disheartening to see the amount of rubbish beached on the coast.

We all need to be more environmentally conscious — we have to be, there is ‘No Planet B’. With my new product, my ‘My Wool Fairy Kit’, it was important to me to minimise the product’s environmental impact. I have designed it in such a way to reduce, reuse and recycle all packaging waste.

I feel my magic fairy also has to be a ‘Green’ fairy. The box is a fun design, it opens out and transforms into a magical Fairy Garden, a stage which can be used for the new fairies to play in.

All other packaging is recyclable or compostable, even the fairy dust is biodegradable!

What makes you happy:

A sunny day spent in the garden.

How would you like to be remembered:

As a kind and caring old lady who made delicious jams. Oh, and she believed in fairies!

What else are you up to at the moment?

It is all about Feltastik just now! Fairies and felt everywhere. I launched my new product My Wool Fairy kit on June 1. It’s a DIY Craft activity kit aimed at children aged eight to 99. The Kit allows you to design and create two magical Wool Fairies by following the fun video tutorial or the fully illustrated booklet.

When designing the product, it was important for me to keep the environment in mind and create my work with zero waste packaging so we designed a box which transforms into a magical Fairy world for your Fairy to have many adventures.

Material refills will also be available online to allow you to create more fairies without buying a whole new kit, just buy what you need.

Creating my DIY Fairy Kit has been a true labour of love and I am very excited to soon see it come to life along with I hope many new fairies. I love to see others making and playing with fairies, I guess that is the rationale behind my business.

For more see https://www.feltastik.com

Find Stephanie on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Feltastik/

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