From off the shelf….

26 Sep

Many of my friends are surprised to find that I collect bears as well as make them. I can’t tell you the number of times someone has asked “But why did you buy it? Couldn’t you just make it?” Um, the short answer to that is no! The bears I collect are so different from the bears I’d make myself.
I certainly don’t have a huge bear collection – Not counting swaps, I’ve probably only ever bought about 6 or 7 artist bears. Had I unlimited funds and a larger house, then yes, I’d probably buy more bears. But, it’s more than money and it’s more than falling in love with the way a bear looks. There’s some intangible quality that defines the bear as a “must have” and it has led to a fairly diverse and quirky collection – which I like but doesn’t make displaying them in one tiny house easy.

Anyway….every now and then I’ll share a bear from my collection with you and first, let me introduce Jack!


Jack was the very first artist bear I bought. I had admired him for well over a year in a department store here in Wellington but his price tag was way beyond my reach. Jack was created by Kathy Harry of Strawbearies – one of the leading artists in the early Australian bear industry. I had seen many of Kathy’s bears in the Australian Bear Creations magazine and fallen in love with them. Every now and then I’d pop into the store and say hello to Jack and give him a hug.

Probably 12 months after I’d first seen him, my job was made permanent and my hours increased. That same day, I went into the store and Jack had been reduced by over half price. I figured that it was meant to be and Jack came home to my house. The next day I just about had heart failure when it sunk in how much I had spent on one bear but that soon passed!

Jack is created from fantastic curry coloured mohair – a lot brighter than his photo shows. I love his gentle and sweet expression. His cotton dungarees are handpainted and feature the Aussie flag (the stars are on his bum!) Jack is the most huggable bear ever, he has a saggy baggy heavy feel and measures about 15″ tall I think.

His lovely old fashioned styling is so very different to my own and I would never even attempt such a big bear these days. I don’t believe Kathy makes bears any more but when I went to Melbourne a couple of years ago I was fortunate to visit a friend’s house who has a jaw-droppingly amazing collection of Australian artist bears and dolls. She had a whole bedroom decorated with Kathy’s bears. I could have quite happily scooped several off them off the bed and into my suitcase!


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