I have written several introductions over the past few years for online class rooms and discussion groups. And with time it doesn't get any easier to introduce myself or explain what it is that I do. First, I have returned to school online to complete my Bachelors degree in International Business. Second, I work part time as a pharmacy tech. Third and most important, I am a teddy bear artist.
I made the decision to return to school several years ago, because I realized that while I was content with my life, I would never be able to retire. So, I figured that completing my degree would help me accomplish this goal. I don't need to be a millionaire, but it might help. I just want to be able to live comfortably when I am in my 60s and beyond without having to worry how I will pay next month's bills. I think that is something that anyone can understand.
I have been with my employer for over 10 years now, my how time flies. I work for a large retailer... take a guess. I have worked in just about every department that they have. Just over a year ago I moved into the pharmacy. This has been a dream job for me. I am only working 2 to 3 days a week, which allows me to complete the other numerous tasks that I need to complete every week.
"What is a teddy bear artist," you ask? A teddy bear artist is someone who creates art that specializes in creating teddy bears. I work with mohair plush mainly, but teddy bear artist work in mediums as varied as the number of teddy bear artists, from mohair plush to domestic and foreign faux fur, from goat and rabbit skins to recycled mink coats. One of the newest mediums is needle felting. This medium has allowed some of the newest designs to stand out among teddy bears. I did a Google search for artist teddy bear and here is what was returned to me:
So how did I become a teddy bear artist? I learned the art of the teddy bear from my mother. I started out by helping her cut, sewing, turn, and stuff, join, and decorate. You might think that it is easy to make teddy bears, but let me assure you, it isn’t. On average it takes approximately 8 hours, depending on the size, to make one bear. That does not include the time it takes to dress/decorate the bear. It took me about 5 years to finally feel comfortable enough to start making my owe pieces without tons of help from my mother. I still have one of the first bears that I made and mom thinks that I did most of the work, but really she forgets how much she did help. When I started my own line of bears, it wasn’t bears that I was creating, it was rabbits. For several years people had been requesting that mom make rabbits and the demand for rabbits was increasing, especially during the spring. So after badgering my mother for several months she finally got tired of me asking and turned to me one day saying, “If you want rabbits, then make them yourself”. So I did and Jare Hares was born in 1990. I started like many artists before and after me by using commercial patterns. Soon after I discovered that I could not get the look that I wanted without making my own patterns. So I started designing my own patterns.
Designing patterns can be scary. That was when I was grateful for all of the art classes that I ever took. Understanding proportions, sizes, all of the different elements that go into design really help you to understand what you need to do in the designing process, so that when you get into the actual process of making the teddy bear you don’t waste time re-cutting and re-sewing pieces. When I first started there were many parts in designing that I would have to go back and redo. Even now nearly 20 years later there are times when I get so far in the design process and realize that I need to go back and redo something before I have a finished product.
For years I spend tons of efforts getting the right design for teddy bears and rabbits. Then in the early 2000s a style came over from Japan called anime or big head. These bear designs threw all of the traditional rules of design out the window. I saw so many new styles of bears that it was a bit overwhelming. I decided that I would make my own. I studied the bears from several different artists at the next several shows. I didn’t want to copy what was already available; I wanted to create my own look. So I created a pattern that could easily be turned into a rabbit, bear, cat, dog, lion, and even a mouse. It turned out to be a big success. Eight years later and I am still making that same pattern in different styles. From that one pattern I have made Veggie Rabbits, Panda Bears, and Patriotic dogs.
Photo courtesy dollmasters.com
Well for my first blog entry I have rambled on long enough. I will post some more in the next few days.
Thanks for reading,