From Russia with Love – It’s hard not to gaze in disbelief at the amazing work of Anastasia Arzhaeva, an artist from Khabarovsk, a city in far-east Russia.
Using Faux Fur as her canvas, Anastasia creates life-like miniature animals ranging from pandas to leopards, a variety of realistic cat and dog breeds and a handful of fairy tale-esque bears and mice.
Anastasia’s work is truly stunning and her remarkable attention to detail has always impressed us, as you can see by the brilliant paw and mouth detailing in the photo below!
Having won no-less than 6 international awards over a 3 year period, Anastasia recently picked up a Golden George, the most coveted award for teddy bear makers all over the world! Her entry was in the ‘Natural Bear’ category in which she entered a perfectly realistic panda bear teddy named Joren.
We interviewed Anastasia to find out how she achieves such great work:
What age did you learn to sew and how did you learn the skill?
I made my first Teddy in June 2013, I was 31 years old and it was a hare. I bought a master class by Catherine Bespalova. I was self-taught and began to develop patterns myself. Through trial and error, I gradually improved my skills.
What inspired to you begin making artist bears?
I used to have an advertising agency, I had a task to make an advertising growth doll in the form of a fox, for carrying out a promotion. I spent a long time looking for an image of a fox on the Internet and came across the site of the Fair of Masters: www.livemaster.ru
I saw a lot of handmade items there, toys especially impressed me. I couldn’t believe such beauty people can create with their hands! I decided to try it myself and as a result, after 2 years I closed the advertising agency and threw this business for the sake of what I have now.
How long does it take you to make each bear?
Time to make a teddy depends on the complexity, they’re always different. If you take an example of a normal kitten, 25 cm long, I spend about 3-4 days; It’s full working days, from morning till night! If I make a snow leopard or a tiger with an opening mouth, claws, fur painting – it’s about 7-8 working days.
What materials do you use when making a bear?
I use alpaca fur to create bears, for any other animals I prefer using artificial fur. It can be any fur, good in quality. This can be a fur, not created specifically for toys, but fur for tailoring for example. My favourite fur is Snow Lynx, my clients are very fond of snow leopards made from it.
Do you enjoy creating any other art like painting, drawing or animal wall art?
I can’t draw, I do not know how. I can, for example, make an animal from clay, but I can’t draw it on paper. I really love natural styles, I like to collect flowers and herbs and use them for decorating postcards. But I make them as a gift to my beloved people, this is a small hobby to distract and have a rest from bears sometimes.
Do you have a favourite teddy?
I love wild cats, like tigers and snow leopards.
For teddies not made by me – I love the style of vintage and crazy. Old battered bears made of viscose or funny little animals. I have a small collection (7 characters in total -This is 4 bears, 1 hedgehog and 2 birds). Although I myself work in the style of a natural, but in my collection I do not want to have a natural stile. Perhaps this is strange?
Will you be entering any other competitions this year?
In this year 2017 I plan to participate in the Hello Teddy competition in Moscow in December. In 2018 I plan to visit Tokyo and I’m already preparing for these exhibitions.
Take a look at Anastasia’s shop here: http://www.bearpile.com/artist.cgi
Other awards Anastasia has won:
2014 Hello Teddy! Moscow. 1 place (nomination “Composition”).
2014 Hello Teddy! Moscow. “Teddy Master – Silver.”
2015 Teddy the World. St. Petersburg. 1 place (nomination “The Very-Most”).
2015 Teddy the world. St. Petersburg. 1 place (nomination “Bear of Mohair”).
2015 Hello Teddy! Moscow. 1 place (nomination “Nature bear”).
2017 TEDDYBÄR TOTAL. Munster, Germany. GOLDEN GEORGE 1 place (nomination “Nature bear”, premium class).
Good luck to Anastasia for her future competitions!