About Yuli Sømme

Yuli Sømme - Bellacouche felt-maker

Member of the Devon Guild of Craftsmen

I am a Member of the
Devon Guild of Craftsmen,
and was awarded
“Coffin Supplier of the Year″
by the Good Funeral Guide

This is a Zoom interview (Nov.2020) with Richard Povall as part of a series of podcasts called Borrowed Time.  It is an hour long, and gives an overview of my development within the Natural Burial movement, my philosophy about my work.

Borrowed Time interview

I was born in Norway and although I have lived most of my life in Devon, the traditional weaving and knitting heritage of Norway has deeply influenced me since I was old enough to hold needles to knit with.  I’ve always had an affinity with wool in particular.

I am not a shepherd, or a farmer, but would have liked to have been.  Instead, I became a textile artist by profession, starting out as a weaver, then switching to felt making in the 1980s. 

My interest in farming, food and fibre growing and how we can integrate this activity with wildlife, remains my interest and I see it as part of my textile story. Using wool for natural burial seems a natural extension of this concept, and completes the cycle/circle.

I am currently focusing on a Climate and Ecological Emergency working group to enable our community to reduce are carbon emissions to net zero.

I am also involved with  FibreShed – a community of fibre and dye growers, processors, makers and manufacturers across the South West.  Our question is:  how can we produce more home-grown textiles and garments in a more healthy, resilient and regenerative textile ecosystem?

I am also on the Selection committee for MAKE Southwest (formerly the Devon Guild of Craftsmen – now renamed, as there are more women than men!).  It is a great privilege to see and discuss the candidates’ work, and be part of the discussion about up-and-coming makers.

Yuli Somme hand weaving 1985

Yuli Somme weaver, Coldharbour 1985

Yuli Somme spinning

“If you have to make a thing, you must know the background of it, the skeleton, the foundations, the actual stuff that the materials have grown out of, their connections with their natural background, their biotechnics – and then building can begin. And then the reason for making, the purpose, the human connection. All sides must be considered and known. You cannot just make.”

from Hand Weaving and Education by Ethel Mairet (Faber & Faber 1952)

Wool felt scarves made by Yuli Yuli Somme and Barry the lamb

~ Yuli Sømme  M.A. (Textiles), Feltmaker & Bellacouche Owner 

About Bellacouche