Recently, I happened to spot a Tweet about this lovely book written by Jennifer Laing, published way back in 1996, so never one to pass an opportunity to add to my bear making bookshelves, I decided to track down a copy ...
I began my own bear making career in the early 90's, so flicking through this book was a real trip along memory lane for me. I didn't know all of the antipodean bear makers featured by Jennifer, but did recognise quite a few familiar faces, so it's good to know that although some may no longer be making, others are still busy creating teddy bears 'Down Under'.
'The complete book of teddy bear artists in Australia and New Zealand' sums up that era in bear-making perfectly and also reflects our UK teddy bear industry of the day; it was a passionate period for creating teddy bears! Back then, the internet was still inaccessible to most teddy bear artists, so the craft of bear making was an isolated process, slowly gleaned and polished through trial and error. New techniques were cautiously guarded and naturally less advanced than the 'bells and whistles' of today ... but believe me, those simple, heartfelt teddy bears excited collectors and were very quickly adopted.
Sometimes I feel we bear makers may be in danger of losing our way with the pressure to be innovative, not to mention competitive. As much as I admire the breathtaking artistry of many modern teddy bear makers, I truly hope the soul and passion those early bear artists brought to our craft back in the 80's (US) and 90's (rest of us!) will always remain at the heart of artist designed teddy bears.