Meet Elena Slusar of Chocolate Bear Studio

                                                                                                         May 2008

In the beautiful city of Moscow, the family business of Chocolate Bear
Studio, flourishes. Elena Slusar, her husband Nikolay and their son, Yanis, share their home with a master artist appraiser, their dog. "On reaction of our dog, it is possible to define on how our soft sculpture or a bear is well made," she acknowledged.

As her son is still quite young, their home has many factory soft toys. The dog does not react to them. "But once, when we had finished a big bear and put it on a chair , the dog started to bark loudly and tried to turn it out!" Elena said. At that point, they realized that the dog perceived it as being alive.

"Since then, we check with the dog on all the works. If he does not react, it means it is necessary to alter something," she joked.

Elena knows she's on the right track if the dog barks and becomes angry with the large bears, or whether their dog tries to make friends with the small bunny rabbits.

Since her childhood, Elena was a very creative person; not imagining a life without art. She painted and worked with miniatures, then made lacquered boxes, pictures and approximately 3000 brooches from mother-of-pearl.

Once, Elena and her husband, visited an exhibition of collector dolls and bears in Moscow. "It made a huge impression on us," she recalled, "We fell in love with bears."

When they came back home, they realized that they had a rare bear that belonged to Nikolay's mother.

The bear had been a favorite toy and had therefore been "loved" very well and was "injured" after many years of service. "We wanted to fix him," she said.

"We bought a book and studied manufacturing techniques used for artists bears." So the family relic received a second life and the beginning of their career in bear making began.

Focusing on quality instead of quantity, Elena produces four soft sculptures a month; with usually no more than 40 works produced each year.

"We have been doing this for about three years and we have noticed a significant progress in our work. We do not stand still and we are constantly developing," Elena said. They learn new ideas from reading a lot of literature, visiting seminars by known artists and developing their own technologies.

Currently they are working with needle-felting processes. "Sculptures
made in this technique are liked very much by buyers and became winners at exhibitions," she stated.

Preferring to sell on auction sites such as eBay, Elena feels that it is possible to receive a real estimation of her quality of her work through the monetary value each piece brings.

"We like the element of surprise because we never know at what price our work will be sold." She likes to use the auction sites to view other talented artists, from around the world too. Elena's art finds homes all around the world.

A consistent collector of hers is James Kolinz, the former Ambassador of America living in Russia.

Each piece she does is imbued with positive energy. "We are very positive people. We think that our work absorbs our energy. Therefore, we work only in a good mood. We believe that work charged with positive emotions will bring pleasure in the home of it's owner. Any difficulties, we try to solve with a smile."

It's apparent from their work that smiles and joy are exactly what their pieces bring to all who see them.


Elena Slusar

Chocolate Bear Studio

Member since October 2007


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