Friday, 27 January 2017

A perfect teddy bear

After finding some old photographs, it occurred to me this week, I made my very first teddy bear 25 years ago!  My goodness, it is hard to believe that defining moment was a quarter of a century ago.  I can't lay claim to having created my first artist bear back then, nothing quite so historic (!) but that was definitely when the first stirrings of bear-making curiosity struck me enough to go and find a child's toy crafting kit in local toy shop. I recall my main interest was of practical concern, I wanted to find out how to make a teddy's arms and legs move - that mystery was solved when I pulled a set of white plastic safety joints from the bag. I hadn't a clue about hardboard discs and cotter pin joints to begin with, in fact I didn't learn about those until bear number two ...

1992, 'Ivor'

Bear number two, subsequently named 'Ivor', was also a kit bear. I forget who designed that early kit, but I do remember purchasing it from a lovely bear artist at the very first teddy bear show I ever visited.  The prospect of creating Ivor was daunting because this time the process would involve cutting mohair, which was far more costly and fabulous than the little orange synthetic toy shop kit. Even now, all these years down the bear-making trail, I remember the excitement of beginning work on Ivor and my absolute delight when, after much trial and tribulation, a traditional gold teddy with slightly lopsided, but fully jointed, arms and legs, presented himself.

Early 1990's, tentative first teddy bear designs

With two bonafide teddy bears now under my belt, my enthusiasm for bear number three was high and by then I felt ready to select a commercial teddy bear pattern to work with, along with another piece of the fabric I had fallen in love with ... mohair! Teddy bear patterns frustrated me though, nothing seemed to fit together quite perfectly enough and those that I had chosen were for small teddy bears, but I loved big teddy bears!  After my first couple of attempts at using them, I gave up on store bought patterns and instead invested in a teddy bear-making book, written by a well known teddy bear artist who had been generous enough to touch on the process of design. That was a real lightbulb moment for me and from then on, I became completely absorbed in creating my own teddy bear patterns and bringing to life the teddy bears waiting patiently in my head.

Mid to late 1990's, well into my teddy bear bear making stride!

So here I am, twenty five years later, still trying to create that elusive 'perfect' teddy bear. I wonder if any bear artist ever says they achieved a truly perfect teddy bear? Somehow I think not ...

Teddy bears from the past seven years ..

My belief is, we bearmakers are destined to strive for perfection indefinitely which is what keeps our bear-making joy alive and the teddy bear's future secure.

With that thought in mind, here's to my next quarter century!



  1. Oooh, this is so much fun, Paula! Thank you for sharing your beginnings and how you've done in your bear-making journey. They're all just beautiful. I should figure out when I made my first bear from a pattern...I think it was the late '80s or early '90s, so it's been a really long time. I created my first two bears when I was 13 years old, but I didn't make more until I was in my 20s. I hope you'll continue for many years yet, Paula. I love your teddy bear creations!!

  2. Well done Paula, I know the feeling of making bears for a long time.
    Your work is beautiful.


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