Toys, close in spirit ...

Interview with designer Irina Rusetskaya


       About flying hippo help of St. Nicholas, living bear with a personal style of clothing, and also about how to start and successfully develop your business, we have talked with the talented designer, best Minsk Teddy master and just a wonderful person Irina Rusetskaya.


       Ira, tell me, please, why Teddy?

By education I'm an architect. After the institute I was trying to deal with architecture and design in offices, but my inability to work eight hours with the computer caused some difficulties. There have been several years of searching for myself while my parents are not presented me for my birthday a sewing machine. I was engaged in a patchwork: sewing skirts, bags, mats, even pictures. It came up to toys for my daughter. I cut scraps out of unnecessary clothing, and then friends, learning about my hobby, have begun to supply me by interesting fabrics.

It coincided with the churched. Therefore, when again there was a question about the lack of finances, the first thing I began to go to St. Peter and Paul Cathedral and sing hymns to St. Nicholas the Wonderworker. I wanted, of course, work in the monastery, such as embroider salaries for icons. But the priest, to whom I came for a blessing, seeing that the younger daughter still quite small, forbade. He said: "For the time being the entire work only out of church."

Little by little I began to sew items for sale. By the prayers of St. Nicholas,  it began to sell successfully in art galleries. On the obtained money I bought a new high-quality materials. My toy business grew together with my daughter, I kept looking for where to move further, and once came across a Teddy bears of Elena Vinogradova online. They were quite alive, and I felt the awe of her skill.

       Nevertheless you decided to take on this ...

Yes, at that time, when I started, it was just a few teddy-artists. Now in Belarus began supporting craft, and there is a lot of artists who are engaged in hand-made. But while Teddy were something new, it's, of course,  immediately allocated me on the market. However, there were difficulties. For example, a complete lack of professional materials: fabrics, glass eyes, fastening elements ... but it gave me a field for experiments. I had to constantly invent something, venturing into teddy technology by master classes in the Internet. When I sewed the first bear by this technology, I was fascinated - he was just as lively. Stop already I had no chance.

       What the difference of your first teddy and present-day toys?

The first teddy bears were made of cotton, colored by coffee solution. The tabs were mounted by the buttons. Since then, five years have passed, I have long been successfully working with German and American Bears materials (mohair, viscose), but the desire for experimentation still remained. I'm not interested in sewing of classical bears, it's more interesting to invent  characters - different animals and birds. The range of materials that offer Teddy factories, is not enough. I like to combine several tissues, for example, a blue bird contains of four types of blue plush, three of them are on her wing. Factory glass eyes I additionally painted with acrylic on the back side, but lately I like to order it from their master of lampwork, Anna Buzunko. She makes it by my sketches and descriptions. You can invent the most incredible eyes - for example, for dragonfly... Some elements I sculpt of polymer clay: noses, claws, beaks, some accessories...

More it is interesting that the first bears were an increase of about 40 cm, then size decreased, and now my animals between 8 and 14 cm - Class of miniature.


       How comes the idea of a new hero? It comes from the outside, you invent it yourself or you see it in your dreaming? Or how?

Sometimes material dictate the topic of character. For example, I find in the sale some amazing red fur and imagine a fox of it. But more often it is some inner need to hold in the hands a bird, or a pink elephant, or a wolf. Sometimes the form or technique dictate. I often try new techniques and work through them, for example, I think that the next wolf need to have ears larger. Then subsequently ones more a wolf is born.

        Are works born by collections or in the spontaneous order?

Most often animals are born alone or with a couple, but sometimes it's turn a thematic collections. As a rule, I do not conceive it in advance, but in the process I understand, that this topic can be expanded. The latest collection, on which I'm working on - "wild berry". I already have the first character - a black bear named Blackberry. He has a glass blackberry in his neck.

       How do you sell your animal?

In general, over the Internet, it is best through the "Live master". Currently it is the most popular Russian online store handmade. In addition, of course, regularly I take part in various exhibitions of dolls. Every year there are new great masters with their masterpieces. Every exhibition brings to me a lot of amazing discoveries and acquaintances.

From my own experience, I can say that it's not enough ещ be a good master, you have to be also a good seller. I had to study this, because originally I was a poxy seller. When a buyer came, I blushed, stammered, hid behind my suitcase or even climb under the table as if I was looking for something. Gradually I began to study communication...

       How would you describe the people who buy your toys? And yet, it is toy for children or for adults?

I must say that with the advent of Teddy bears appeared their collectors. There are people who collect bears of different masters, and there are those who collect the work of one author. My animal are in those and in other collections in many countries. Sometimes they are bought like a gift - mainly for adults, but sometimes also for the already grown up children - when there is no danger that they will spoil rather expensive toy. Basically, women like toys.

      Why, do you think, your toys can cause so sincere feelings of people? Why do they seem to be alive?

Toys that are close in nature, as well as people close in spirit cause a feeling of sympathy, which with further communication can develop into a real friendship. One customer has sent me a wonderful tip about mammoth, "He is kind, attentive listener, brought a lot of joy in my life ..."

In art, I like to work, there is special term: "a la still life." As natural, as real, as the living ... With the help of some methods you can create such a feeling: it is a special movable fixation of legs and head, and the weighting in the torso, and the detailed elaboration of faces, palms and heels, and toning.

In addition, of course, the personal history of the character animates. According to the authors, he becomes the owner of personal qualities - the character, the style of clothing ...


       People buy things or stories?

There are buyers who acquire not just a piece of furniture, it is important the meaning of work. For example, the blue bird - all well-known tale about the search for happiness. Or I have a character, made after a wolf cub from a animated film by Norstein. This is not the same wolf, but he has something similar in nature and a special look.

Once I sewed hippos after a poem by Tim Sobakin:

Do you see a flying hippos over this transparent brook?

And I'm going, dressed in bots, with a purple net, you look...

I sewed lacy wings for hese behemoths, embroidered with beads. And on exibition "Mlyn" I saw stunning beaded brooches of Nadya Nedashkovskaya. She, in turn, was very fond of my animals, and we decided to work together. So there was a collection of butterflies - my furry kids with delicious wings from Nadya...

One of them is called Butyavka - a character from the "linguistic of fairy tales" of Lyudmila Petrushevskaya. Some people who are coming to my booth at the exhibition, began to speak the special language of Butyavka in these tales: "froglinguys! Don't crunckel the boomger, boomgers are lousty and zumo-zumo unpaleatable. You can swindiddle of boomgers ... "We, of course, quickly find a common language with these customers.

     How would you describe the level of of artistic works in Minsk?

Despite the fact that everything comes to us later than, for example, to Russia, the overall level of artistic skill in Minsk is quite high. Some masters are quite brilliant. But if it's not enough skill somewhere, it is supplemented with some special sincerity of works. I love our masters.

A large number of workshops concentrated in the monastery. There are working some of my good friends. Level of their work is pretty good. And in some workshops - a very, very good. For example, I was shaken by the news that the mosaic workshop make orders for Italy - the country from where mosaic has come to us. If people do their work with prayer, of course, everything is steeped by the Holy Spirit. Then, somehow, you get a particularly high-quality, accurate, sometimes in a good naive.

       What is the project "Bzhel"? Why you started it? Because you do not cope or you want to attract for the congregational work the other people?

The project "Bzhel" - guild of masters, began with our butterflies with Nadia Nedashkovskaya. Now I work with other artists in various fields. Glass eyes, wings, all kinds of accessories for animals do experts in their field. It increases the overall level of professionalism of our work. I think it is very important, even on a global scale - to increase the skill level, the level of culture.

Cooperate with other artists is very interesting. You recognize deeper technology of their business, and, of course, this is the kind of special understanding...

       Why, apart from sewing bears, you decided to write the books?

My books - a master-classes based on fairy tales and life stories. I make them almost entirely on my own - sew and do photos, illustrations, drawing, writing the chapter titles from the hand typeset. Then send the layout to the publisher, "Peter", they make some amendments. It's a great feeling when you see your book, for example, in the Moscow Book House. Over the years of bears-working, I have a lot of experience, opened up different tricks and nuances of technology that should not be forgotten, and I want to contribute to this cause. Also, recently I has again began to paint a lot, and book illustration is a wonderful experience. In the future I plan to illustrate a children's book, whitch wrote my friend Julia Gojko.


       Do you give a master classes?

Sometimes I spend, but to be honest, do not really like it, like any other a case that forces me to sit in a chair for several hours. Master class - rather, it is a pleasant communion over a cup of tea. Classes are held in my studio in the kitchen, where we share our experience. Once a pupil came to, which owned a sewing the spool. By the end of the course she learned to sew Teddy, and I began to embroider salaries for icons. Pupil gave me her rigmarole of different varieties - for me it has been a priceless treasure, and an old dream of embroider salaries came true.