Meet Tatyana Barakova. She’s an artist living in St. Petersburg, Russia who has a unique skill for crafting animals out of a very common material: wool. When we say that Barakova “crafts animals,” we don’t mean that she’s a taxidermist. Unlike taxidermists, who stuff real animal skin to accurately portray his or her subject, Barakova’s work is made from scratch using 100 percent sheep wool (other than the glass eyes, of course). She uses needle felting techniques, like the ones used to make this giant, super-realistic cat mask in Japan. If you’d like to learn more about the basics of needle felting, check out this great tutorial for beginners looking to pick up the craft.
Thanks to the Internet, those of us living thousands of miles away are able to browse Barakova’s catalogue of work and melt at the sight of each and every adorable critter she’s ever crafted. Don’t let their sweet smiles fool you, though – these little guys aren’t easy to make. Tatyana says that a single animal can take her as long as two weeks, maybe more. She has even been quoted as saying that the process is “quite difficult.” It’s certainly a labor of love, and you can feel every second that went into making these animals when you look at their faces. Each piece, from the puppy to the panda bear, is overflowing with personality, which is no easy feat for an artist to pull off. Instead of limiting herself to paint or ink, Barakova’s imagination brings life to a 3-D shape that we can touch and interact with.
This little hedgehog captured our hearts the moment we saw it.
By staging her animals in nature, Tatyana brings an extra level of reality to her work.
We still aren’t entirely convinced that this isn’t a real pug.
These otters are double trouble.
Disney should hire Tatyana to make their Dumbo dolls.
We give up. This is too cute. Look how small it is next to those leaves.
These puppies are wondering why you’re still reading this article and not on a plane to Russia to buy one of these lovely animals.
Aw, she even made a little hat to go with it.
This baby panda is full of wonder.
What a nice scarf. Honestly, Tatyana could make a good living designing miniature clothing for dolls.
She perfectly captures that guilty look we’ve seen on our pet’s face so many times.
Good luck finding a real piglet who will sit still long enough to wear a tutu.
This spirited bear looks like it could come alive any second. The miniature tree and pine cones make this piece unforgettable. Thank you, Tatyana, for taking the time to share your work with us.
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