In Russia's capital city of Moscow, we discover the artistry of Svetlana Khabarova. This married mother of three small children spends time with her family doing various hobbies, ranging from cooking, to guitar music, to making short movies. They also all happen to be big teddy bear fans.
"It's difficult to say when I started to make toys," Svetlana recalled.
"I think it was in my childhood. For my whole life my free time was devoted to sewing, knitting, sculpting, embroidering and felting."
Her first profession was as an environmental specialist. But after the birth of her son, she became a housewife. Then about ten years ago, one of her friends told her about artist teddy bears. "Firstly,
I wanted to do one or two teddy bears for my little son. But soon
I fell in love with them and began to create them, one after the other. Then I began to make rabbits, cats, rats and mice."
Raising her small children didn't afford her the opportunity to attend classes and workshops. So Svetlana found her own techniques and methods to make features such as paw pads, claws, open/close eyelids, a mouth with teeth and a body structure that can pose.
"Now, I don't want to go back to my old job because bear making helps me to combine creative work and earning money and I can devote more time to my children."
Her children even had a hand in naming her company. "The name of the brand, Our Bears, was thanks to my eldest son. When he was three years old, he would explain to his friends that bears could be "ours" (that we made ourselves) and "the others," (made by another artist).
In retrospect, Svetlana said, "Bear making is a wonderful job and hobby. It allows me to create my own fairy world that is full of goodness and beauty. The most thrilling moment in creating a bear is making its face because at this time its character appears.
She gets her ideas everywhere. It may begin with a bear cub photo or a glance at a nice cat or come about with a purchase of a new piece of fur.
"All my bears and their friends are one of a kind and 100% handmade by me. I never make copies of my works. It's not because making a copy is difficult for me, I just think it's boring to do this if I have so many new ideas."
Her favorite style is to make the animal realistic; with hand painted eyes, hand-sculpted teeth and claws, molded noses, silicone tongues and very realistic hand sewn paw pads.
Svetlana's creations can be found mainly on eBay. "These auctions are so exciting!" and she also displays her bears in international fairs in Germany. Although she doesn't have much time for her bears while taking care of a one year old son, she does plan to take part in different international fairs in the future.
"It will be so pleasant to meet teddy bear artists and my collectors personally. I love all my collectors. They are very special, outstanding and creative people," she remarked. "I am happy to receive orders from them and to make their dreams true."