Do you know that feeling when you discover something that you like with all your heart and you can’t get enough of just admiring that ? Well, this happened to me when for the first time saw Irina Sayfidinova’s toys. These are definitely more than toys! These are artistic characters with personality and a story to tell, that attracts your attention entirely. Each of them is unique and sensitive, with emotions and big heart. A wonderful combination of fairytales and reality.
I respect and admire the courage of people that come with new ideas and that have a different story for us. I wanted so much to find out the story behind “Textile Heart”, that I invited Irina for an interview which follows. Please join in.
Hello Irina, tell me a little about yourself, your creations. It’s very interesting to know, how an artist life is.
Hi, I am 30 years old, I’m a wife and mom of two sons. For the moment, a very important part of my life is taken by creative work, it’s my job, leisure and self-actualization at the same time. I can not live a day without sewing.
Once I was a hairdresser and owned a beauty salon. I was very fond of this work and even thought it was for the entire life, but, as usually happens, fate decided otherwise. Although I have no regrets about anything, because previous profession gave me invaluable experience that is useful for me in the process of creating dolls. Thanks to the knowledge in the field of coloration, I find it easier to paint fabric and match colors and, of course, do hairstyles to my dolls. So I’m sure that everything in our life is not accidental at all and, as Alice in Wonderland said …
“Sooner or later everything will become clear, everything will fall into place and build a beautiful single circuit as lace. It becomes clear why it was needed, because everything will be right.”
What does handmade mean to you?
In this age of mass production, handmade things have become a real breath of fresh air, because the machine can never replace the warmth of human hands. I am glad that more and more people feel and appreciate it.
What message do you transmit through your works? How did your passion for handmade started? Why or how did you started to make author toys? Where and how you learned to make them?
My world is an attic world, named “Textile heart” which I’ve created a year and a half ago and now almost every day I’m happily plunging into it, spreading thread and fabric all over my working desk.
Handmade has been part of my life since childhood. I used to sew dolls clothes, embroider and knit when I was little. Then there was a long break and picked up the needle again only while on maternity leave. And at that time I realised that I found what I was looking for – sewing became as necessary to me as air, it’s my way of expression.
My dolls may seem strange or even scary to someone, but I want to say that beauty is not only a set of external signs, because even fluffy kittens have teeth and claws … You always have to look deeper, the truth is inside the things… All my characters are full of emotions, without which our life would be meaningless.
What materials do you like to work with the most? Why?
I prefer natural fabrics: linen, cotton, wool. Usually I’m dyeing the fabrics myself, then they look entirely unique and “warm”. A special pleasure for me is to use in the working process old rags, cotton thread and buttons from my grandmother’s caskets.
How does the idea of a new doll or toy comes to you?
It’s hard to explain it, I just do what I love. Images come to me by themselves , I just guide them in this world. I take my inspiration from old issues: clothes, pictures, books; forest walks, these are the things that ignites in me new ideas.
How much time it takes to create a doll?
Always different, because dolls are like living beings, each with its own character. Sometimes is enough one day to create the form, and sometimes weeks. Often it is necessary to sew new clothes, because it is very important for me to feel the full satisfaction of the creation.
And what attracts your attention, what do you enjoy the most in making your dolls and toys?
I believe that dolls in particular absorb the most energy and the mood of the master, so I really like that they can be always carried with in the form of a mascot or talisman if you wish. So I made a series of specially mini toys, to be carried in a pocket or purse.
How would you describe your style?
The Japanese have a concept of “wabi-sabi”, this beauty of imperfection, randomness and time. For example, an old shabby toy can be much more valuable than a new one from the store, or the falling autumn leaves in comparison to ever-green plastic flowers … So, I feel this concept is close to my believes. I like when my little dolls have a little stained clothes and patches and are sewn deliberately uneven because it deprives them of artificiality and makes them alive.
What do you think about the fact that the artist sells his work?
I think that this is normal, because every artist wants his work to bring some results, because only then will he be able to develop, not to stand on one place. Moreover, it is very important to find an echo in the hearts of buyers by bringing joy with his creativity.
Does your works find admirers abroad?
Yes, and it’s especially nice when people with completely different mentality and traditions appreciate and love your work. It is incredibly inspiring and opens new horizons. My dolls are living in different parts of the globe: Australia, Japan, the UK, Brazil, Germany, the USA and Africa.
What other techniques would you like to try? Any creative plans in the future?
I am very interested in modelling. I often use the buttons, different accessories, which are made of polymer clay by myself. The teddy-doll faces I am also sculpting myself. Of course, there are some things I need to learn, but I am constantly studying various workshops on this topic.
If you were to write a book what would it be about?
Most likely this book would have been about how I found myself, about my own way. I think it is the most important and difficult part in the life of creative minds. I managed to find my own way only 3 years after I started sewing toys. It was fun, but sometimes it was very difficult morally, and sometimes wanted to give up on everything, but in those moments I was strongly supported by my customers, their feedback and the huge number of good words. Only thanks to them, I continued to create dolls and developed my skills. I think every beginner and master as well are very interested in this topic.
How do you manage your time and space in order to get all the things done?
Oh, that’s a difficult question, because it seems to me that I don’t manage anything on time. It is practically impossible to plan something with two small children, therefore I’m living one day at a time, I set my goals and try to fulfill them.
Do you have patterns for people who would like to sew such dolls as yours?
I do not sell patterns, because I do not have them. Each doll pattern is drawn by me again and again. The ideas often occur in the process of sketching , therefore, I can hardly teach someone to sew toys like mine.
What do you think about plagiarists?
Everyone chooses his own way, so I have no right to judge them. But I want to say that this is not leading to something good. Being a plagiarist, it’s like chasing a running train, absolutely senseless, you will still lag far behind and get lost in the end. It is much more interesting to live and work not looking at anyone, just trusting your fantasies. Only then can we become self-sufficient and harmonious with ourselves.
Your wishes to those who are just getting in the world of creativity.
The most important thing is never to despair, even in difficult times. You need to stay true to your heart. If you really love what you’re doing, then you have to know – this is your way.
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