Needle felting sounds like something of a complex nature, but this form of craft can result in some incredibly beautiful designs. And this is a craft that Russian artist Anna Yastrezhembovskaya has mastered.
Indeed, she has been crafting adorable, and very realistic needle-felted animals by hand, from miniatures to sometimes life-sized copies, while ensuring that each animal she creates is perfect. The mother of two first began felting when she came across toys made from wool and felt inspired to try making some herself. From textile birds to a tiny fuzzy hedgehog, the artist draws her inspiration from the many creatures inhabiting the nearby forests where she lives, and her extensive portfolio of handmade toys is a way of paying homage to these animals.
Here are some of Yastrezhembovskaya’s charming felted animals.
“My first toy wasn’t nearly as pretty, it was rather funny,” admits Yastrezhembovskaya. “But I enjoyed the process so much that I kept trying. I was felting during my free time, even at night, and I got better with each toy I made.”
The talented artist’s resilience clearly paid off, as she’s not only perfected her craft, but she was also able to set up a business selling her felted animals on Etsy.
Perhaps Yastrezhembovskaya’s most popular woolen character is a super-cute bat, a toy that was first designed and crafted for her daughter.
When the cute bat started gaining the public’s interest online, orders began to pile up for the artist. “I am flattered that my bats won the hearts of so many people, but the number of orders I got was terrifying,” she reveals.
For one felted bat, it takes 12- to 14-hour days to make, so it is no wonder that the artist felt a little overwhelmed with the incoming number of orders, especially since she’s a one-woman show. “Of course, I will keep felting as many bats as I can, but I want people to understand that these toys are fully handmade, so it’s a fairly lengthy process,” she adds.
Despite the challenge, Yastrezhembovskaya makes sure each felted animal she creates is impeccable. “Wool is a very gentle and cozy material for me,” she says. “When I sort the fibers between my fingers, when I shape them with a needle—I put my soul into each toy,” the artist mentions.
“I have always loved to do something with my own hands. Since I was a child, I was already making toys from different materials. After I got older and finished school, I entered medical college and worked as a laboratory assistant for some time. After the birth of two of my children, I accidentally saw felted toys on the internet. I decided to give it a try and have been doing it ever since. I’m finally happy, and I’m doing what I always wanted to do,” relates Yastrezhembovskaya.
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