Meet Debbie Rapp, owner of The Holler Farm in Renick, WV. Since 2004, her quest has been to find uses for wool from the sheep raised on her family farm. She began processing the wool by washing it with natural commercial dyes, picking, and carding. She also prepares the wool for fiber arts such as spinning yarn, weaving rugs, needle felting farm animals, ornaments, and bird nesting balls. Get to know Debbie with our Q&A:
1. How do you describe your palette?
I think I look at things as how can I make that be functional by using wool.
2. What’s your greatest accomplishment?
To have the wool sales from our sheep to pay for itself.
3. What obstacles do you need to overcome to find your creative space/muse?
Finding the time to be creative. I seem to always have an order waiting on me.
4. How do you find your inspiration?
By seeing how others use wool and thinking I can improve on that with my own idea for making a whole other new product.
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5. What advice do you have for other artists?
At first keep your overhead as low as you can. It may take up to 5 years to get you business running smooth , do not give up.
6. How long have you been needle felting wool animals?
I started needle felting in 2005 by taking a class felting a Llama at a fiber festival, that was one among many class. I was trying to find out what the wool we raised on our family farm was good for. My goal was to make the wool sales pay for the sheep to be sheared each year.
7. Do you teach this skill to other in the community?
Yes! I have taught at Carnegie Hall in Lewisburg, WV, and up to 3 fiber festivals a year and Demo at the WV state fair each year.
8. Where and how do you sell the animals?
I am a juried artisan at Tamarack, and Alleghany Highlands Arts and Crafts Center. I also sell at fiber festivals and from our farm.
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9. What kinds of animals do you make? What is your favorite?
I felt penguins, pigs, and llama. I also felt about 7 different types of sheep, which are my favorite.
10. How much do the animals cost?
They range for $15.00 to $75.00, It depends on how long it takes me to make them. Needle felting is not fast and we also have to wash the wool and dye it and run it through a wool picker and drum carder before we start needle felting.
11. Describe your other products..
The wool rugs are about 29×42 inches hand woven on our barn loom or peg loom and cost $2.50 a linear inch. Our Bird Nesting Balls are $17.00. The wool wreaths (pictured above) are about 18 inch diameter and about 8 different colors of wool with either flowers or sheep on them they are $40.00 and up.
If you interested in purchasing felted wool animals or rugs or wreaths from Debbie, call her at the farm at 304-497-2680 or on her cell at 304-661-1952.
– LBSPY #72, December 2015.
HASHTAGWV ART & ENTERTAINMENT Publisher/Editor-in-Chief, Christina Entenmann-Edwards has been a WV resident since September 2008. She was born and raised in Fairfield County, Connecticut, and is no stranger to hard work and the entrepreneurial spirit. In 2006, she graduated from Quinnipiac University (Hamden, Connecticut), Cum Laude, with a B.A. in History. In 2010, she graduated with an M.B.A. from Liberty University (Lynchburg, Virginia). In February 2012, Christina launched HashtagWV as the area’s first full-color, free arts and entertainment tabloid + online platform. Christina completed the Leadership West Virginia class of 2021, which is an innovative program that grows, engages, and mobilizes leaders to ignite a life passion to move West Virginia forward.