I first learned rug hooking in a class taken in Eureka Springs in the late 1990’s. The very first needle felting was a little side class at rug camp, but mostly I am self taught. Rug hooking is a true folk art and is generally taught person to person in small groups/camps. I have been taught by about 20 teachers from across the Country including a favorite from England. I have never found a formal education opportunity in needle felting. Like rug hooking, it tends to be taught in the small fiber shows and person-to person.
My rug hooking style is very folk oriented with a primitive color pallet. I hand dye the wool that is used and I design my own patterns. I have done many mixed media rugs where I include needle felting, Proddy and many other techniques and fibers. Needle felting has no limits. I have a cutesy side, composed of folk style animals, birds and dolls. Then, I have my alter side who creates pieces that are very fun, funky and sometimes a little twisted/creepy. I have a sense of humor and love to make people laugh! I typically include some sort of antique finding from my collection, in every piece. I love the balance of weight and hardness to the soft airy felt. My biggest joy now is teaching rug hooking and needle felting to others to help continue the art forms.
It has been over 40 years in southeastern Oklahoma that Vicki Hardcastle made her artisan debut. In the early 1990’s, after relocating to Eureka Springs, Arkansas she continued her craft production and overall exposure to the area as the sole proprietor of Hardcastle Folk Art. Working art and craft shows throughout a multi-state region, she easily made a name for herself through designs that characterized life in the mountains.
Vicki’s unique vision allowed her to create uncommon conceptions, attracting customers who appreciated items born of both local culture and materials. Over time she found that her most enjoyable form of art involved working with wool, within the 19th century craft of rug hooking. Through the years, Vicki has expanded this gift of creating vintage wares to include needle felting and an overall love for working of fiber art.
Today, from the Hardcastle Folk Art shop in Berryville, Arkansas Vicki continues to be an inspiration for those interested in these rare and almost forgotten arts. By exposing her work to so many who may have never heard of these crafts which were originally called a necessity, she continues to create new generations of fiber art aficionados throughout the region, and the world. From hand dyed wools, to vintage embellishments to hooking, classes and more, Vicki’s influences and contributions to this artisan world are many, and they all originate right here, in the heart of the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas.