The merit of mistakes

Anyone who’s even been to one of my classes knows that, sometimes, often, I bang on about how mistakes are the only way we learn.

Well, I’ve just proved my own point and I’ll explain why.

Last week, at one of my favourite charity shops, I found some really beautiful vintage crewel wool. (I don’t know what that is, please explain someone?)

I thought it would be perfect for the bees and for the landscape pictures I’m teaching at The Brewhouse Theatre soon.

Today, working on Bee53, I thought I’d use some for the wings. Now, my logical brain knew it wouldn’t work, not THROUGH firmly felted wool – too tough, too dense.

Surprise, surprise, the yarn snapped- d’oh and duuuuh!!!

But look at the result…I love the way the wings are floating in the air.

Will I keep them like this?

Are they finished?

Can I recreate it?

Who knows, but it’ll be fun finding out.

So, children, adults, makers, artists etc – let’s make mistakes. Do share!


Taking time

Remember this book, “Do you have the time, Lydia?”

Well, today I am dog-tired.

No, that’s a silly expression – ‘cause my dog Charlie is completely full of energy, a little bit bonkers, and when he’s tired, he just sleeps (and wakes us up early).

But I am completely done in because of the many, many long exhausting hours of planning and admin for coordinating the next FIFTY BEES.

There’s still a huge mountain to climb to bring it all together but as all the next #beeartists have been sent information about their #bees, I’m going to make time for some self-care.

Time to restoke my fire.

Dog walking.

Hot bath.




Then back onto it tomorrow.

And what about you? How are you taking care of yourself?

A year ago, how time flies

It was a year ago yesterday that myself, Polly, Joy and Donna had a meeting at ACEarts to discuss the FIFTY BEES exhibition. We sat on the sofas, measured walls, talked and talked and decided that these three wonderful women would be called the beekeepers.


Well, with fifty artists to coordinate, it made sense to share out some of the work. Now, I look back at this picture with amazement.

We had no idea how it was going to work, whether the story of the bees would translate into an exhibition, whether anyone would be interested.

But, wow! It was wonderful. The fifty artists made such a wide variety of art, amazing responses to these incredible creatures.

But it wouldn’t have worked without the enthusiasm and keenness of them all as well as Nina and the team at the gallery.

Now, we’re gearing up for the next leg of the journey at Richard Jefferies Museum – can’t wait. Thanks everyone.




#vintagecontainer #bees #fiftybees #artists #somersetartist #opencall #interconnectedness

reason 1 to buy blackdogandgingercat needlefelt kits

So, to celebrate the upcoming blackdogandgingercat birthday, here’s the REASON TO BUY blackdogandgingercat Kits countdown….NUMBER 1

1.jpgOur appreciation, love and support of important charities such as SANE, as seen here in our #blackdog kit.

IMG_5378.jpgAnd in turn, the sales of all of the other kits help to support my other work alongside charities such as ACEarts, MIND, and Somerset Wildlife Trust, as seen in the ongoing FIFTY BEES project.


So, thank you everyone who’s ever bought one of my kits – you are wonderful.

OPENING TODAY – Bees: the interconnectedness of all things at Bruton School for Girls 

The girls worked so beautifully hard and enthusiastically to produce a fabulous collaborative installation.

Three days, 80 plus students and a handful of staff produced a whole host of British bees which are now hanging in the gallery at the Bruton School for Girls.

‘Taught by Lydia Needle, Bruton School for Girls students will sculpt tiny, lifesize British bees in wool, representing just a few of the 260 varieties left in theUK. 

The bees become artworks as part of a whole school installation in the school’s gallery. To follow up this work, the students will research the habitats and ecosystems, the flora and fauna that rely on bees, to create companion artworks. Our objective is to raise awareness of the diversity of bees in Britain and to spread the story – using art as a medium – as far as possible.’ SAW guide 2017. 

Change is good

#Change – what do we all think about it? 

It’s been a long time since I’ve introduced myself to you all and seeing as we have a few more of you along for the ride, AND I’m going through a period of change, I thought it was about time. 

So, this is me, Lydia Needle, last month at the private view of #fiftybees. This was a really pivotal event in my life, my first exhibition and a point which marked a massive change in my life, I felt like I was officially being ‘launched’ as an artist (like a big ship 🤣). If you have a look at the stickers I’m wearing, you’ll see the hashtag #beeartist and #queenbee, made by @foreverycloud – I loved wearing those!!!!

It was an event where all of a sudden I thought “Yes! People not only ‘get’ the concept of FIFTY BEES but they also appreciate my art”. It was heavenly.

And, in terms of change, it marked the point when I publicly announced that I planned to take the FIFTY BEES concept to other parts of the country which meant I could not conceivably continue with the day job.

So, yesterday was my last day working at MIND – no more financial safety net of part time work – I HAVE to make this work. 

One of the last session we ran was all about CHANGE – how difficult it can be, how challenging, and as we were discussing it, I came to the realisation that I used to hate it, the instability of it all. But without it, we have no new beginning, no new doors to open.

So, what about you? How do you find change, have you been through any lately or are you planning some. Let me know.

And perhaps you might also sharing a picture of you using the hashtag #changeisgood 



#artist #beeartist #introduction #fiftybees #fibreartist #exhibition 

Now the party’s over….

….the work is down, returned to the artists or posted off to their new homes so I thought I’d just do a little recap before I let you know what’s coming next.

In the beginning, there was the book by Steven Falk 

and a publication by Friends of the Earth.

Then came masses of planning and administration and emails and social media postings and drawing and talking to fifty + artists. Phew!
And then finally, finally, I started working on the first bee, the Violet Carpenter Bee.

 And then slowly, juggling a business and a job and markets and teaching, bee numbers began to grow.
Sometimes it felt like I would never get them all made but it happened, they started to evolve out of the wool and the containers.

And I can’t tell you how chuffed I was to see them all collected together – it felt like a real achievement.

But in the background, working away in their chosen media with total dedication, fifty artists were creating their own personal responses to ‘their’ bees, becoming experts and advocates for fifty special little insects.

The first proof was emailed to me by Sam Cannon. I can’t begin to express what that felt like, finally seeing evidence that the other artists had ‘got’ the concept of the FIFTY BEES project.

Huge thanks go to Sam and every single one of the artists.

Then before we knew it, it was time to set up the exhibition, my FIRST and we had a blank canvas of a gallery space. So, so exciting – I have no idea how I got to do this in my life – I’m a lucky, lucky woman. But also, I really had no idea how to hang an exhibition – the expert help, guidance and humour from the three ‘Beekeepers’ made it possible.

After the set up, to then host a private view with so many beautiful people turning up to see the amazing work by such talented artists, added to the joy.

Further information

Here’s a link to the Ecologist’s lovely article about the exhibition:

A copy of films of the artists talk given at the gallery by Lydia and four of the artists: