Russian artist Anna Yastrezhembovskaya crafts adorable, needle-felted animals by hand. 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, her growing portfolio of handmade toys pays homage to the many creatures that inhabit the artist’s nearby forests.
“My first toy wasn’t nearly as pretty, it was rather funny,” confesses 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 persistence clearly paid off, as she’s not only perfected her craft, but she now has 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 people saw it online, interest grew and Yastrezhembovskaya soon had orders piling up. She reveals, “I am flattered that my bats won the hearts of so many people, but the amount of orders I got was terrifying,” One felted bat takes ten 12- to 14-hour days to make, so it’s no surprise that the artist feels a little overwhelmed, 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.”
Despite the challenge, Yastrezhembovskaya makes sure each felted animal she creates is perfect. “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.”
Scroll down to see some of Yastrezhembovskaya’s charming felted animals and head over to her Etsy shop to purchase some for yourself.