Three years ago, Russian artist Anna Yastrezhembovskaya developed a great interest in wool and started making toys out of it. As a mother of two, she loved buying toys for her little ones but when she took notice of her kids’ toys, she didn’t recognize the material used. She later found out that they were made of wool and due to curiosity; she started making toys out of this material.
“My first toy wasn’t nearly as pretty, it was rather funny, but I enjoyed the process so much that I kept trying,” said Anna. “I was felting during my free time, even at night, and I got better with each toy I made.”
With Anna’s hard work and patience, she slowly began receiving her first commissions. When she flew off to different cities, that’s when her felted birds got very popular. She was both excited and overwhelmed about the praises and recognition she was receiving but she didn’t care much about fame.
When Anna has mastered the art of making felted birds, she accidentally discovered that she could make felted bats, too. Her daughter, Masha, asked her to make a bat brooch but the outcome was too big for a pin. Realizing she put too much effort on the bat, she decided to turn it to a toy. Her daughter took a photo of it and posted it on social media with the caption “Not for Sale!”
Because Anna was busy making felted birds, she had to set aside the idea of making bat toys. However, when she opened her Instagram a week after, she was shocked as she received tons of messages from customers who bought her bat toy from various online shops.
“I have to admit that I didn’t expect such a huge interest in my little bat. Moreover, I didn’t expect it to be ‘sold’ in significant quantities for a ridiculous price of just $19.99. As a result, hundreds of people wrote to me in hope of receiving their bats,” Anna said.
This event tore Anna’s heart into pieces. People called her “scammer” and she didn’t know how to handle this terrifying situation. Luckily, her sister helped her respond to each message by telling them the truth: Anna didn’t know about the orders and some people just spammed her photo.
“I am flattered that my bats won the hearts of so many people, but the amount of orders I got was terrifying. It takes 10 days, working 12-14 hours a day, to make one bat-toy.” Thinking about how disappointed the customers were, Anna did not know if she should let them forget about the toys or make the toys for them to make up for their frustration.
“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. Furthermore, there are so many interesting birds I would like to recreate in wool as well,” Anna explained.
Though this experience has been stressful and terrifying for Anna, she realized that her passion for making toys out of wool can make many people happy. This inspired her to create more unique toys for those who appreciate them. Anna also decided to show everyone some of her best creations that look like real animals.
If you want to see more of her works, follow her Instagram page.