Beautifully sculpted, with vibrant mixes of colour, Carly Allison’s Folly a Tet brand needle-felted artwork and accessories are a sight to behold. All of her pieces are one-of-a-kind and often directly inspired by the natural world.
“I used to live close to Nose Hill Park and spent a lot of my childhood exploring and playing in the park and the hills,” says Carly. “It’s sort of an active meditation being out in nature.”
Now, she shares a bright apartment overlooking a natural river park, with boyfriend Steve and their newly adopted bunny, Tot – short for “Tater Tot,” and he’s one of the cutest bundles of grey fluff.
Looking at many of her sculptures, it’s easy to see the influence the natural world has had on Carly and her creations. Organic shapes co-mingle with smooth river stones, hand-picked by Carly as she walks along the nearby river park. The wholesome natural quality of her work goes even deeper, as all of the materials are sourced from local farmers.
“I like to support Canadians and people close to me as much as possible,” says Carly, “I like to keep things to small, local businesses and to make sure the wool is coming from ethically treated animals. I’m a huge animal lover and I want to make sure they’re being respected.”
Though she’s always had an artistic streak, Carly’s journey as a full-time artist didn’t start until five years ago, when she was seeking a creative outlet. As her creations came to life, friends began asking her to do custom pieces and clamored to own some of her beautiful work.
Her early pieces were almost all fabric based, piecing together scraps leftover while working in retail shops and old consignment stores. It wasn’t until she began wet felting though that she truly found her calling in craft.
“I got into needle-felting because I wanted to find a way to create my own beads that were soft and colourful,” Carly recalls, “I started experimenting more with needle-felting and moved on to wet felting. That’s what I really fell in love with.”
Her skill with felting is almost all self-taught. Learning through books, YouTube videos, and a few felting workshops here and there, Carly developed her own style, showcasing colourful fibres and free-flowing shapes.
Her first official sale was at a Market Collective, sharing a table with a printmaker friend. Her experience at this market sealed the deal.
“It was really overwhelming, because it’s really personal for me to have to show my work and I didn’t know what to expect,” recalls Carly of her feelings on that day, “To see all these people commenting on my work and wanting to touch it and to buy it – it was the first time I realized I could really make something out of it.”
Having worked in retail for a while, Carly was feeling unfulfilled and at the same time, anxiety issues were adding pressure to find a new path in life. Following the success of her first Market Collective experience, Carly had the confidence to strike out on her own and work on Folly a Tet full-time.
Though Carly’s personality and experience deeply influences her pieces, she never felt right about using her own name for the brand. Seeking a slight bit more anonymity and a deeper meaning, she pulled from a number of sources to come up with “Folly a Tet.”
“It’s my way of honouring the relationship between mental illness and creativity. My work is kind of child-like and for me it evokes those feelings I had of being a child out in Nose Hill and finding those objects that felt precious to me.”
That sentiment, combined with the name of her childhood teddy bear, Tet-Tet, and an old X-Files episode called, “Folly a Deux,” all came together to become Folly a Tet.
Looking ahead, Carly hopes to one day have her own gallery show, filled with “really funky felt weirdness” in the form of hanging, wearable, and stand-alone sculptures. This year, she hopes to develop a strong portfolio, something she can use to propel herself forward in the fine art world.