Ukrainian artist sells felt art to help loved ones in war-torn country | Local News


Yaroslava Soboleva slips into a peaceful world as she works on her craft of felt art – a craft she learned by taking courses on the internet.

“I was inspired by the art that uses wool fabric and a special needle to shape the wool,” Soboleva said as she worked in her studio at her home on the southeast side of Tucson.

Soboleva, originally from Ukraine, started felting seven years ago and over time has perfected her work using the needle which has tiny barbs on the end. The barbs go in one direction and when the needle is pushed into the wool, the barbs pull the wool, causing the wool fibers to tangle and their scales to interlock and felt.

A finished dwarf sits on a shelf with other objects by Yaroslava Soboleva, a Ukrainian felt artist.

Rebecca Sasnett, Arizona Daily Star

“I was inspired to try felting and I love what I do,” she said, pointing to the shelves where her unique creations are displayed. Its patterns use Ukrainian styles of bright colors and images. No creation is the same says the craftsman of his work, be it fairies, Easter eggs, Christmas decorations, dolls, framed landscapes, gnomes or mermaids.

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“The easiest to make are felt hearts or Christmas tree hangers,” said Soboleva, 44, whose family lives in Dnipro, Ukraine. “Dolls or gnomes with a house will take more time and effort,” said the artist, who sells her creations on Etsy, a global online marketplace where people sell, buy and collect unique items.

Sales include shipping and fees. Soboleva’s art can be found at and prices can range from $25 to $140. In addition to buyers from the United States, his work attracts buyers from Switzerland, England and Germany.

Her work can sometimes be found at the local United Nations Association of Southern Arizona center and gift shop at 6242 E. Speedway. Soboleva is invited to demonstrate her craft at the store on occasion and takes pieces to sell.

She and her husband, Aleksey Sobolev, 52, of kyiv, are naturalized US citizens and send money to relatives in Ukraine, talk to them every night and worry about their safety during Russian missile attacks in Kyiv and Dnipro. “Our parents and loved ones are elderly, over 60, and my mother had a stroke that left her disabled,” Aleksey said.

Yaroslava Soboleva, a Ukrainian felt artist, works on a doll in her studio at her home in Tucson.

Rebecca Sasnett, Arizona Daily Star

“My mum lives in a high rise building with her sister and they stay in the safest area of ​​the flat when they hear sirens warning of missile attacks. They are too old to leave their home and go to a safer place to stay,” said Aleksey, who came to Tucson as a refugee in 1999.

“They’re trying to be strong for us and trying to show us that they’re not depressed,” said Aleksey, a US Census Bureau employee. His wife works as a home health aide. The couple met in 2005 in kyiv when Aleksey went to visit his family, and they married in 2006.

His parents live in a house on a spacious plot where they have dogs, chickens and ducks. “But everyone is under pressure. Nobody knows when or what part of the city will be hit by missiles,” Aleksey said.

So when Soboleva works on her art, she says she escapes the terror of war and experiences “kind and good emotions” that she wants to share with people through her felting.

“I’m hopeful the world will get better and the war will end soon,” she said.

Contact journalist Carmen Duarte at [email protected] or on Twitter: @cduartestar


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