Former hairdresser Anna Thomas has proved she is not just an expert at styling hair.
Always keen on art, she has set up her own hobby business Anna Thomas Creations.
The 34 year old from Hurst Green, near Longridge, has combined her love of animals and love of art to craft a menagerie of felted animals.
Anna, who works as a catering assistant at Stonyhurst College, has ben setting up stall at craft and Christmas fairs for the past few years.
Her creations can range from reindeer, polar bear and robin, (currently very popular), to dogs and even – for one memorable commission, a family of sloths.
A particular favourite are brooches of different breeds of dogs,
Visitors to Anna's stalls are greeted by a display board featuring dogs ranging from Staffordshire bulldogs, to collies, labradors, King Charles Cavalier spaniels and so on. She was once commissioned to make a Bedlington terrier brooch.
She explained how the brooch making started: “It was a conversation I had with somebody who had approached the stall and said wouldn't it be lovely to have something to post out abroad, something that the weight was not too heavy. She said a brooch would be brilliant for her friend in Canada,”
She chose first to make the most popular breeds and then extended her range studying a reference book on dogs : “I would flick the pages and out my finger in and say right that's the one.”
She said: “It just started off as a hobby really, A few friends had got into doing crafts beading and things and there was one that was a fibre artist but she did wet felting. I was watching her and thought it would be brilliant if I was able to do a three dimensional version. I started experimenting and got some books. I started building a few (models) and showed them to family and friend. I did a few for them to see how it went and they said you should possibly do a stall.”
Anna uses wool from a local farm and buys in different coloured wool as needed.
“I started off doing craft fairs,usually at Christmas. I donate part of what I make to an animal charity.”
She is currently raising money for international welfare charity Brooke which seeks to improve the lives of working horses, donkey and mules overseas and helps educate people about their care. In the summer, thanks to a sponsored walk and her craft sales, Anna was able to make a donation to HSI UK ( animal protection charity Humane Society International).
The former pupil of St Augustine's, Billington, who trained as hairdresser at Blackburn College stresses her creations are not toys – they include a wire framework.
She worked for five or six years as a hairdresser before realising she wanted to take a new direction and decided to return to studying at Blackburn College, this time at night school.
Anna studied French and built up her conversational skills over three years making regular visits to her aunt and uncle who had a caravan in the south of France.
.“I like art in general and anything to do with being creative. I took art for GCSE and I've always liked drawing and painting and even Chinese brush work – I went to classes for that."
As a pet owner herself, with a dog, a cat and two budgerigars at home, she has readily available model. "I've used my black and white cat Pilgrim and I've modelled horses before but I haven't done a sculpture of my dog Mischa or the budgerigars – but that's on the agenda.”
Her next fairs are at Longridge High School this Thursday evening, at Stydd Gardens on December 13 from 6pm and at Whalley Farmers Market on Sunday December 16.
Prices range from £5 for a robin to £12 for a reindeer tree decoration to between £50 and £80 for larger animal sculptures. She works to commission and the needle felt and mixed media artist can be found @Anna Thomas Creations on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
* Photos taken at this year's Longridge Does Christmas event.