Photos courtesy of Tatiana Scalozub
Okay, fellow arctophiles and argonauts, let’s hop onto our cybercraft and head to Odessa, Ukraine. We’ve got our Plush Passports at the ready — remember last week we journeyed to France — and now we’re heading to another exotic port of call.
In this week’s outing, we’re getting the chance to see the very definition of minuscule marvels. These bears are made by Tatiana Scalozub, and she’s been involved in the bear world since June 2007. Her company is known as TS Mini Bears, and she sells her designer originals, as well as patterns and kits. Tatiana thrives on the satisfaction she gets from being a part of the ursine universe.
Some of her teddy bears are truly mini — these are her micro bears that measure a petite 1 inches. According to Tatiana, “Collectors like something very tiny to take care of. Maybe their small size is what draws attention of the public to my work? I just know that I always like to make something new and unusual.”
Back in 2008, Tatiana achieved a large amount of Internet acclaim. She “broke” the Internet a la Kim Kardashian with her polar bear cub “Flocke.” She created a mini version of the real-live cub that was attracting attention for his chronicled antics and over-the-top cuteness. Her bear was mistook for the real things by certain Flocke admirers, and soon its likeness was popping up in reports about the actual bear. “She is walking around the Internet for many years and people all the time dispute if she is real or not,” Tatiana explains.
I was lucky to correspond with Tatiana throughout 2014 and into 2015, and the “sad events that are happening in my Motherland” were weighing on her mind. To combat the turmoil, riots, and martial footing that were affecting Ukraine, she was trying to make “happier and sunnier” bears: “I have made a lot of sad bears. All of them were going to cry. Now, because of the events, I am going to make bears that are optimistic and are smiling. I want people to look at my bears and smile for a moment. Maybe this will make them a little happier. Maybe my bears can help make the world better and more positive.”
Tatiana grew up playing with dolls and making their clothing. An extremely gifted seamstress, she was able to knit, crochet, and embroider. She also exhibited a knack for drawing and pursuing anything that was handmade. “When I create bears and their friends, this gives me a possibility to use all the techniques of my art!”
When I asked Tatiana what was the best compliment she ever received for her artistry, she replied: “People tell me they like my bears that are very detailed and of high quality. I like being able to achieve that. I think my bears are an inspiration, and that makes me proud. If you are dreaming of becoming a bear creator, there is just one main thing for success. If someone can achieve it, then you can too. This is, without exception, true. Don’t worry and stop yourself. Just believe in yourself and go ahead!”
Selling online through Etsy (TSminibears) and traveling to bear shows all around Europe, Tatiana has enjoyed meeting the artists, exhibitors, promoters, and collectors that comprise the collectible bear world.
“I love shows and I love to travel. Bear world gives me this opportunity! I also love the world of animals and love to be creative. Again, the bear world lets me combine this,” she writes. “I like the world of artist bears and their friends because it gives me an opportunity to be myself.”