On Doo-da’s Farm in Royston, about 15 miles south of Lavonia, artist Sonya Babcock channels the farm-to-table movement through the crafts of wool felting and power woodcarving. She sources her raw materials, mainly fiber and wood, from the pastures and forests of the family farm. Nestled in her on-site home studio, she sculpts these raw materials into whimsical felted figures and earthy wooden creations, eventually selling her work under the name “Wool to Wood” at local brick-and-mortar stores. Her one-of-a-kind pieces are easily traceable from producer to consumer.
To reach her home studio, Babcock passes through the fields and forests of Doo-da’s Farm. A herd of 26 sheep and a warren of 15 Angora rabbits are the first things she passes. These well-tended animals are valued not only for their practical role as a source of fiber but also for their less-official role as beloved friends. Babcock may have gathered this flock with fiber in mind, but she has conferred endearing names such as “Chocolate Chip” the ram and “Latte” the rabbit on many of them.
When the time comes to collect the fiber, Babcock shears the animals herself – a tough job, but one for which she is well-equipped, given her job as a professional groomer. Next, the raw wool is washed, carded and dyed, tasks undertaken by the artist herself.
To turn cleaned wool into works of art, Babcock employs the patient craft of needle felting. Needle felting involves agitating (aka stabbing) loose wool fibers with a barbed needle, causing the fibers to bind together – a relatively simple idea that becomes more difficult as the loose fibers are coaxed into the forms of angelic sheep, inquisitive llamas or even complex landscape scenes.
The farm road winds from the pasture and into the forest, where Babcock sources wood for her carvings. From towering oaks to twisted mountain laurel, if the shape of a piece inspires her, Babcock collects it and turns it into a work of art. In her studio, a gnarled limb morphs into an intricately carved walking stick, or a tree trunk becomes a whimsical gathering place for felted woodland creatures.
Doo-da’s Farm is also home to a sawmill, which Babcock uses to produce planed canvas-like pieces of wood from naturally fallen trees. “After my brother, Joel, runs the wood through the sawmill, he calls the artists in my family to come pick out pieces for themselves,” Babcock explains. The variety of wood shapes at the sawmill inspires her imagination, like the time when an unusual curve inspired her to carve a bear, with the curve becoming the hump on the bear’s back.
At the end of the farm road rests Babcock’s home studio, a hand-hewn log cabin overlooking Mill Shoal Creek. Here she creates her art, from miniature felted animals to large-scale hanging woodcarvings. Every piece she creates is inspired by her surroundings and the pastoral world from which she sources her materials.
In her home studio, Babcock is forever trying her hand at new crafts, from making cheese to turning pottery. She is a renaissance woman of the art world, ever learning a new skill. Luckily, on Doo-da’s Farm she is surrounded by artistic family members, a fruitful scenario for all involved.
Two well-curated stores carry Babcock’s work: Sweet Combs of Honey in Lavonia and Home Sweet Home in Elberton. According to LaDonna Andrews, owner of Sweet Combs of Honey, all of Babcock’s works are well-received, but the felted products are the most popular because people realize how much love and work goes into creating them.
Babcock hopes to one day open an online Etsy shop, but for now, she focuses on providing quality products to these brick-and-mortar stores, where many of her family members also sell their work, from pallet art to colorful paintings.
Babcock’s art brings the viewer into her world of pastoral beauty and wooded tranquility. Each piece is hewn from heart and hard work and expresses her gift for capturing idyllic moments in wool and wood materials. She is certainly an artisan to keep up with as she continues connecting the discerning consumer with the passionate producer.
Information on stores carrying Wool to Wood products
Sweet Combs of Honey
5806 West Ave.
Lavonia, GA 30553
10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Home Sweet Home
17 S. McIntosh St.
Elberton, GA 30635
Hours: Friday & Saturday,
11 a.m.-5 p.m.