© New Zealand Broadcasting School 2021

Heartfelties- A gift from the heart

Sam Weir
Diana Renwick and Heartfelties
Diana Renwick and her Heartfelties  Jack Steven (Supplied)

Diana Renwick started Heartfelties in 2016 after an illness left her stuck at home for six months.

Diana Renwick has always loved bringing people's pets to life through her animal portrait sketches. So, when she fell ill in 2016 and was advised to rest, she turned to her art.

Renwick saw a video on felting, and the idea bloomed from there. She began teaching herself to felt and brought a kit from a local craft store.

It struck Renwick that she could use felting to bring her animal portraits to life. Based in Timaru at the time, Diana got encouragement from a fellow Creative Buzz member to pursue her heartfelt gift. She set up her Facebook page to gauge the interest levels in her new venture, and Heartfelties was born.

Renwick described Heartfelties as a business that just happened.

"It wasn't about making a fortune but about doing something meaningful."

Heartfelties are formed with alpaca and mohair fur on the outside and sometimes real fur on the inside to commemorate a beloved pet passed. While most of Renwick's clients ask for mementos of deceased pets, about 20 percent are for living animals. About 20 percent of orders are international.

What Renwick values above all else is the interpersonal aspect of her work. She loves hearing people's stories of their pets. She said people were sometimes overwhelmed by the resemblance of her Heartfeltie to their pet.

"They're seeing their pet again but in miniature form."

Most recently, Renwick's work was featured in the Otago Arts Society "Meow" exhibition. In January, she will be tutoring at the Methven Summer Arts School.

Heartfeltie Hares
Heartfeltie Hares Diana Renwick (Supplied)
Ralph the Tabby
Ralph the Tabby has just returned from the Otago Arts Society "Meow" exhibition. Diana Renwick (Supplied)