WASHINGTON — Alyson Gurney has spent years honing the grace and skill it takes to successfully compete in horse jumping. It's an art form.
But the arena isn’t Gurney’s only medium. She's also the artist and creator of Little Felted Friends. With just wool, a needle, and an afternoon, Gurney creates fuzzy replicas of people’s pets.
"I always wanted to do something that tied in animals and design," she said. "Probably my three favorite things are design, dogs and horses."
Each one takes four hours of pokes and prods to get it just right.
“It’s a really simple art and it’s something I had actually never heard of before," Gurney said. "I just discovered it randomly one day scrolling through social media and I thought wow, that’s an art I had never tried before."
Little Felted Friends is booked up months in advance. As with Gurney’s equestrian success, it all started with a love of animals.
Gurney’s first muse was her dog, Drift. When she posted some photos of her first felt creations online, they blew up.
"Since I started, like shortly after, it just went insane," she said. "I found that a lot of people were really enamored by it too and everybody wanted one."
Gurney studies each pet’s physical traits and personality, investing time and love into each one. But she says the most special part of bringing a loved one to life is saying goodbye.
"A lot of people say, isn’t it hard to give up the Little Felted Friends? And I say no," she remarked. "It’s my favorite part when they make it to their house and I can see the pictures of their dog with the little felted friend. It’s just a huge part of the experience that I appreciate most and I know they do too."