VISTA — Steady hands and meticulous attention to detail come in handy for a dentist.
But 78-year-old Felicity Gould of Vista never thought it would lead to building wreaths.
For many, the decorative pieces are synonymous with the holiday season, but the former dentist has found a passion and is creating intricate and vibrant pieces for friends and family.
It also led her to winning a special award at the San Diego County Fair for her creation and telling of the fair’s theme, “The Wizard of Oz.”
“I thought I could really do something with that,” Felicity Gould said. “I didn’t realize this is almost a cult thing in America. Everybody who looked at it looked for their character or for their saying.”
A native of Saltash, Cornwall, England, Felicity Gould became a dentist and was later one of just two women accepted into the Royal Service in 1965, being assigned to the Royal Marines. There, she met Frank Gould, now 82, in 1967 and within months the two were married.
She immigrated to the U.S. several years later and the couple have made their home in Vista since 1973. Three years ago, she stumbled upon wreaths and a new passion was born.
Hyper-focused and determined, Felicity Gould goes all out with her productions. She tells a story with each one, clockwise and decorated with a bountiful array of miniature knick-knacks she buys online.
With “The Wizard of Oz,” though, she had never even seen the movie or read the book until about six weeks before the submission deadline. Since the book and movie are so different, for example Dorothy’s slippers are sliver in the book, Gould opted to use the movie for her inspiration.
She scoured eBay for every character, found material for the golden-brick road and told Dorothy’s story. When it was completed and she submitted it to the fair, Frank Gould proudly told the staff they should hang it at the entrance because it was the runaway winner. He was right.
“When we took it in … I gave it to the lady and said get a hook and hang it over the main door,” he said, “because this is the fair. A lot of people came by an admired it. In my opinion, this was the epitome of the theme.”
At times, Frank Gould said, his wife is so tuned in he now stomps his feet to let her know he’s entering her workspace. In the space, Felicity Gould threads carefully, but isn’t afraid to tear it all down and start anew if the wreath isn’t meeting her standards.
It’s her creative process to perfectly attack each project. Those typically take between six and eight weeks, although she is not putting in an overwhelming workload each day. She has created more than 20 wreaths over the past three years.
Some of her creations and themes include nautical, the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park, wine and tea. Her latest project, a birthday present, has an English theme, with cottages, teacups and other items for her best friend, who visited Felicity Gould’s homeland and loved it.
“I’ve done quite a lot,” she said. “I love doing it. All of these are pretty carefully engineered. I hand sew all these things in. I do incorporate a lot of the knowledge I had in dentistry, something the dental society probably didn’t have in mind.”
Photo Caption: On July 24, Felicity Gould of Vista displays her winning wreath from this year’s San Diego County Fair, which was awarded the special award for the fair theme, “The Wizard of Oz.” Photo by Steve Puterski