How to be a Teddy Bear Killer with Felicia Hansen

Danish textile artist and designer Felicia Hansen dismantles discarded stuffed animals to create sustainable art and atypical interior designs from Teddy Bears. Through her practice, she not only creates original, one-of-a-kind pieces which tell and inspire personal stories, but also raises awareness on the constantly increasing post-consumer waste of the toy industry.

A couple of weeks ago, Felicia and I met via Zoom to speak about the beauty of working sustainably, the old and new identities of Teddy Bears, and her upcoming solo exhibition in Malmö, Sweden, where the 29 year old artist currently lives and works.

By Nina Seidel

Felicia Hansen working on one of her stuffed animals


Hello Felicia, it’s a pleasure to meet you. To start with, I’d like to ask you to present yourself and what you do very briefly, for people who are not familiar with you and your work.  

I am a Textile Artist and Designer, and I am also a Teddy Bear killer. My main medium is dismantling discarded stuffed animals which I re-construct to create sustainable art and atypical textile interior design pieces. So basically, what I do is to take something old and turn it into something new, give it some love and make it a bit quirky and different.

Let’s go back to the beginnings- how did you get into art in the first place?

I have always been a creative person and I always knew that I wanted to do something with my hands. When I was younger, I thought that I wanted to be a fashion designer, but then somebody told me, “You are a textile designer”. So, I applied to go to The Swedish School of Textiles and did my Bachelor there. However, I got comments from the teachers like “What you do is not always design, it’s more explorative and going towards art”. So, during that time, that was when I was touching a bit upon art.

Teddy Vessels [also known as our former best friends], 2022
Sewing deconstruction, 30-150 cm

What you are doing with the Teddy Bears seems to be quite a specific thing to do. Maybe you know more people who do the same, but for me you are the first person. How did you get into that activity?

I want to say that I’m also the only person that I know who does this, at least the way I do it. I’ve seen other people do it a bit, though. So how I got started was that whenever I started creating something, I never, or almost never, went out to buy something new. I would always have a look at my own deposits to see what I have, and I would also go into second hand shops to see what is there. Then, during my Bachelor’s, when going to the Second-Hand shops I would walk through them and I would see all the toys and think to myself, “There’s so many of them, and nobody is really buying them.” So, I started to buy hard-shell toys like Lego, for instance, and plastic things. This became the focus point for my degree work during my Bachelor’s.

Later on, I also discovered that the pile of Teddy Bears in those shops never changed. I talked with some parents and asked them why they wouldn’t buy second hand Teddy Bears for their children, and they told me that they found it a bit disgusting. Mainly because it was textile, so they preferred new ones. I didn’t quite understand that because you wash them, and so, I had the feeling that I needed to take this material and create something new, I wanted to give them a new value. And this is where it started, seeing this material that is just being thrown out. I started to collect them then, to wash them, and then you have this amazing textile material that has so much value and so many stories. Sometimes, there are small names or tags on them that reminds you that somebody used to own them.

So, to sum it up, how I got into it was that I found a material that people didn’t reuse, and I began to see its value. I wanted to give them back some love because we used to love them – the Teddy Bears.

Teddy Vessels [also known as our former best friends]Owen, 2022
Sewing deconstruction, 30-150 cm
Teddy Vessels [also known as our former best friends] – Geordie, 2022
Sewing deconstruction, 30-150 cm

I have a follow up question here: how was the exact process of working with the Teddy Bears? Did you sit down and directly stabbed and killed them or was there some kind of process that led up to that?

I sat down with the Teddy Bears, I didn’t directly take a knife and just stab them (laughs), I’m not that crazy (we both laugh). First, I tried to sew them together in their original form, but I directly saw a huge potential in the material and textures of the teddy bear. So, I went into a research phase where I gave myself the question of: ‘’how do I take this object out of being what it is intended for and make it a material?’’. After that, it made so much sense to take it apart and this process- the killing the Teddy Bear if you want to call it that- also allows me as a textile designer and as an artist, to see the Teddy Bear as a textile material. Then I would go into investigating its different colours, its different textures, the pattern piece form. I would see certain things that would interest me and maybe I would see something that I would like to enhance, or something that I would need to hide, like a hole, for example.

Teddy vessel Little ones – Yellow piece, 2022
Sewing deconstruction_20-90 cm

I wonder, and that might sound like a stupid question, but I wonder if you ever felt sorry for the Teddy Bears when you opened them?

I actually do, especially the Teddy Bears that have names on them. I would usually put them aside and start with those which don’t have a name (laughs). So yeah, I do sometimes feel sad for them. In school, where I first started with the teddy killing, there were many other co-students around me. Sometimes they named the Teddy Bears just for fun, but for me it felt like now they had sort of a personality and that could make it more difficult for me to deconstruct the teddy bears. But they always got deconstructed!

Teddy Vessels [also known as our former best friends] – Geordie close up, 2022
Sewing deconstruction, 30-150 cm

Your work is very sustainable. It might be obvious to you why that is important, but could you please talk about more about it so that we gain some insight?

Why it is important to me is that I feel that we keep on producing and producing and producing and we don’t take care of the things that are already there. I know that there is awareness on the post-consumer waste in the Fashion and in the Textile industry but when it comes to the Toy industry, it is still a lacking. Kids don’t know better, they just want the new Teddy Bear or any other new toy and as a parent (I’m not a parent myself but I have talked to many of them), I understand that it is difficult to say no. Because the kids always want the newest and the best thing.

So, I find it necessary to deal with the post-consumer waste from the toy industry. I see it very important to turn it into something new, to give it a new value, or at least to make people understand that they should stop buying so much and instead get some sense of awareness that it is a problem. I also very much like to ask people the question: ‘’How many teddies or toys did you have as a child? Or how much does your child have?’’, because this always makes people start contemplating.

Teddy vessel Little ones – all pieces, 2022
Sewing deconstruction, 20-90 cm

You already shared some of your creative process with me, would you like to add anything to that or give more details?

Yes, absolutely, it’s important for me to share the creative process. I normally go out and collect Teddy Bears, trying to do a collaboration with different kinds of Second-Hand shops to get the material in. Then, I’d go through them, and I would divide them by size and by colour and that’s also my process to take away the identity of the Teddy Bears and to start to look at them as a material, so that later I can go into the scary process (laughs). Then I would do some sketching on the forms, and then deconstructing them. Hereafter, I start sketching directly in the material and that can be a very long process before a piece is ready and done.

In general, my creative process is very much hands on and led by the material – the teddy bear.

Teddy Orbs, 2022
Sewing deconstruction, 2 meters

I wondered what part of the process it is that you like the most about your work?

That’s a good question. I’d say that when people see my work and seeing their different reactions, for example finding it super scary or a bit creepy, or, on the other hand, they find it very fascinating and love it and want to hear more. Some people would also tell me that they really understand my approach, and they’d tell me how their kids have 100 Teddy Bears or how they themselves had 100 Teddy Bears. There are so many stories that people want to tell and that is actually what I love the most about it. People’s reactions and their stories.

Often, they also start sharing their stories about recognizing the Teddy Bear in one of my pieces. They’d be like, “Oh yeah, I used to have this Teddy Bear, his name was Doctor Karrett, I took him everywhere”, for example. And I’d be like, okay, and where is he now? And that is when the conversations start. And that’s really what I love most about it, the reactions, and it’s also why I keep on doing what I’m doing.

The reactions are what lift me – from children to elderly people, all of them can relate to it.

Teddy Vessels [also known as our former best friends] – Owen Close up, 2022
Sewing deconstruction, 30-150 cm

You also do interior design – would you like to comment on that part of your creative practice, too?

I would like to say that interior design is something that I’ve been doing of a bit, redesigning furniture with Teddy Bears, and I also have an upcoming project with Lagerhaus, a Swedish brand.  In that project I am mixing my aesthetic with their aesthetic to do interior designs. It’s something that I’ve been doing and that I’d like to do more of, because I really like the old Teddy Bear that doesn’t have a function anymore, and then you take a practical object that already exists and combine it into something new with a fun expression.

While hearing you speak, I wonder whether you do you do anything professionally without Teddy Bears being involved at all?

Right now, it’s a lot of Teddy Bear material. What I do without the Teddy Bears is a bit of teaching. But in the studio, the main medium is really Teddy Bears. But that’s for now, let see what the future brings.

Teddy Orbs at Way Out West, 2022
Sewing deconstruction, 2-4 meters

Let’s look a bit in the future now, is there any upcoming event that you’d like to talk about?

So, I will have my first solo exhibition and I’m very excited about it. It will be from 25th of May to 8th of June 2023 and I will be exhibiting during Southern Sweden Design Days in Malmö at Konstfrämjandet Skåne. The exhibition is made in collaboration with Konsthantverkscentrum and Konstfrämjandet Skåne, and they have allowed me to do the exhibition 100% as I want to. And so, I have chosen to do an interactive room. It has always been the problem and blessing that people want to touch my pieces, but it wasn’t possible in the former exhibitions I have attended, and those pieces also didn’t allow it. So now, I was able to create a whole room for that. I plan to put different size teddy orbs where people can touch, investigate, and look, and hopefully also share their teddy stories. The other part of the exhibition is going to be more static, with different pieces. I’m really excited to hear and see people’s reactions.

That sounds like a beautiful idea, and I imagine that people will really love the experience to touch your pieces. As for the next question, I wanted to know if you have any kind of advice for fellow emerging artists that you’d like to share?

My advice would be first and foremost to look at where you live and find out if there are any kind of art communities, that you can join to be able to have somebody to talk to. In school, at least the school that I was going to, you didn’t learn about the basic stuff like economics, budget, how to apply for open calls, etc., and I had to figure it out myself. I also have one confidant that I always talk to. I find that you can feel alone when you start working as a freelancer, an artist, a designer – where to start, how to start, these are questions that you’ll face. As for me, I just had to go to meetings with people who knew about it and in the start, it felt intimidating. When you graduate and I think that people think that you know everything that you’re supposed to know by then, but basically, you don’t.

Don’t be scared to ask for help and find somebody to talk to.

Teddy Orbs, 2022
Sewing deconstruction, 2-4 meters

Is there any artist that you’d like to recommend?

Yes, I would like to recommend the Instagram account of my former school @sst_textiledesign where you have many great textile designers coming out. And two other names, which are Frida Rådlund and Leonie Burkhardt. One of them is a textile artist and the other one, Leonie, is my confidant, a textile designer with focus on 3D weaving.

And my last question, as always, is what are your hopes for the future?

To be honest, I try not to hope too big and too much at the time. I hope that I’m able to live from what I do and that I find a way to share my knowledge. Mainly I hope to find a way to help other emerging artists, as I found it really, really difficult this first year after graduating. So, to share what I learned and to live from my art, but isn’t that everybody’s dream? (laughs)

Thank you so much for speaking with me today, Felicia, it was really great to know more about yourself and what you do.

Thank you for interviewing me.


Teddy Orbs, 2022
Sewing deconstruction, 2,5 meters
Get in touch
with Felicia:
Instagram: felicia_oh

All Photographs courtesy of

Interview by Nina Seidel
Written and edited by

Felicia Hansen and Nina Seidel

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