Needle felting has gained a lot of traction over the past few years — the popular craft involves a pile of fluffy stuff known as felting wool, which is punctured with a needle into various shapes. Many people make animal figures out of this wool, since it’s easy to create a furry appearance.
But Stowaway Toys doesn’t’ just make figurines — they’re whimsical creations of pure joy. These little animals are made of felted wool, and we’re obsessed with them all. The creatures come at a much needed time in the world when pandemic stress is at an all-time high.
Textile artist Nastasya Shuljak of Moscow creates felted buddies that look as though they’ve come straight from a magical woodland forest. Textile artists have been needle-felting cute creations for a while now, but Nastasya’s sweet enchanted community takes the cake.
Think smiling miniature trees and rotund root vegetables with leaves sticking out of the root. The artist refers to them as “small lumps of joy” and we think that’s a perfectly apt name for them. Some of the creatures are recognizable, while others seem like hybrids or even figments of the artist’s imagination.
With needle felting, you can create your own fuzzy friends at home, but it’ll take lots of practice before you reach the level of expertise that Shuljak has reached. Don’t worry — every story starts somewhere. Nastasya’s began when she was gifted a pack of wool by a friend.
Out of it, she made a hare and a bear, before her creativity took the creations to new heights. After those creations were complete, she couldn’t put down the wool and needle! Today, Nastasya hosts workshops on how to create these amazing toys. That’s all the motivation we need!
They make wonderful gifts that are much more unique (and less expensive) than any felt toys you might find in a toy store or artisan market. Whether you prefer the sprouts or one of the animals invented by the artist’s brain, these make cute windowsill art pieces for both adults and children alike.
The most endearing thing about all these animals is their little inquisitive smiles and curious eyes. They want to get to know us, and we want to get to know them. Nastasya says that she doesn’t claim her works to be pieces of art (though we’d disagree) and that’s not their purpose. Their purpose is to bring us happiness, which they 100% do.
She doesn’t sell too many pieces, with more creatures showcased on her IG than for sale on the Etsy site. Recent looks we love include a felt donkey side by side with a deer, a “spruce cone” and a sweet, seated wolf.
Many of her creations are sold within seconds, and with the mail service slower than ever, we’re going to stick to getting our joy from Nastasya’s pictures, even though holding one of her little cuties in our hands would make us ecstatic.
Even the reviews of her items from buyers put a smile on our faces. Multiple users say they were “beautifully made” and “a work of art” with amazing craftsmanship. One buyer notes that it “adds a much-needed touch of whimsy to my home.”
Sometimes the artist will include images of herself, so we can see the master behind the work. It seems as though she prefers quiet and introspective moments of reflection. Perhaps she’s just always thinking up new creatures to join her enchanted kingdom!
These wool animals are mostly made in neutral colors and can be combined to create a scene with each other, or stand alone. You might get them as a gift for your kids to play with, but you’ll end up playing with them! That’s another goal of the artist’s — she believes her toys bring out the inner child in grown-ups, and we could all do with some of that childhood magic we lost years ago.
To create your own felt structures, you need a pack of wool, a needle, and a stabbing technique to create a solid form out of fluff. You can add wool and stab joints to fuse them, perhaps adding wire to gain more stability. Buy multiple colors of wool roving, needles, a handle, and scissors — ideally they’ll come in a kit.