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Plum Cottage Bears Plum Cottage Bears
Long Beach, CA
Posts: 2,151

Plum Cottage Bears Cute Animal Ambassador

The word "bearsmith" gives a different slant than "soft sculpture artist."

kellydean k e l l y d e a n & c o m p a n y
Narrowsburg, New York
Posts: 718

hey Gail! yes, it does, and sometimes that's how it seems to me, that I'm hammering a bear out, one stitch at a time.  an 18" character bear can take me up to 80 hours - or in the case of the Don & co, almost 3 months, and most of it is slow, steady technical work (some of the don actually was hammering out metal!) frankly, I find sitting still quite difficult, and all those hours on the machine, sewing straight perfect stitches usually doesn't feel very artistic at all, and all I can think about is all the other things I could be creating . .

so I try to wear enough hats that I can interchange them easily, and I'm only 'bearsmith' part-time.  other times, I'm a soft-sculpture artist, web designer, graphic designer, floral designer (I do florals for weddings & parties) baker (I do the desserts for the cafe up the street) - and the village hires me to decorate main street for Christmas each year and plant & care for the flowers in the summer.  and a lot of the time, I'm just a plain old teddy bear maker

I call what I do self-unemployment  :crackup:

mingrul Our Blue Iguana
Posts: 233

this is an interesting topic i was pondering few weeks ago. bear_original . you see, here in our school, your label " bear artist" and not knowing it, i presume that is the politically correct term to use before. bear_sad . But it did gave me doubt because I considered myself more of a maker than an artist. Anyone can be artistic im sure, but i dont design my own pattern (yet)....

the book on jennifer Liang terms does clear things up... now, what to do about those calling card of mine that have printed the term " bear artist"! bear_cry

just wondering, can u consider yourself bear maker artist?  bear_tongue well, I may use the pattern of others, but i do put my own personal touch to the look and do slight changes to it... is the term wierd? what you guys think? bear_grin

Taiwan Angel, hope to meet u.. I think we might be having the same teacher?


bearhug07 Strange Bears
Posts: 444

I agree with Shelli that this subject can become very sensitive but I have to say one thing........what we call ourselves maker, artists, designer, bearsmith, or sculptor doesn't matter to me and I have been asked many times as editor as to when one should call themselves another name to denote that they are a "professional" in the industry.  To me those makers. artists or whoever I have always respected in the industry in my nearly 20 years are those who have won awards and developed creative techniques and ideas or who have skills that they are willing to pass on, teach to others and offer help to others. Those who actively help to promote the industry and keep it alive WHILE making wonderfully creative pieces.

There are way too many of those "artists", "bearsmiths", "scultpor" etc on this list to even begin listing them and really everyone who is on this list and answers newbies questions and queries is one.....but if you really need and example I would say each and every advisor qualifies.

If you love the industry and actively promote bear making, and bear collecting and you appreciate the skill and talents involved and put your own soul into completing your bear that not artistry.

Is every person who picks up a paintbrush and daubs paint on to a canvas an artist? Again it depends on your definition.......for me it comes down to passionately caring about the industry and being willing to share........I have seen people enter this industry who make technically perfect bears but never shared with others and they fell away when the money became scarce......they were makers in it for the money.......I have seen less skilled creators stay and share knowledge and what skills they have with a generous heart.........I look up to them and respect them in this industry and I will call them the "professionals" ........or artists, designers, "Smiths' whatever of this industry.

Sorry .......this has gone to long but I'm trying to say that for me it doesn't necessarily have to do with skill of putting together a bear but what we all do .........a term can mean so little and I don't think anyone on this forum needs to prove a commitment by taking a term..........for me so many of you are "artists" by just being here on this forum despite what you say about your skills or lack thereof.

danceswithteddybears Dances With Teddy Bears
Pacific Northwest
Posts: 697

Thank you, Sandra!
That was brilliantly written and I agree with every word.
I am learning the art of bear making and am putting my all into it, whole- heartedly.  I love making pieces of fur and mohair "come to life" as a bear.  For me, that is my greatest pleasure.  Will I ever get good enough to sell one of my bears, I don't know.  And frankly, I don't care.  It just makes me feel good inside to be creating and making bears.
This may be well off the topic, but it's from the heart.
Laura bear_flower

edmondnutmeg Padfield bears
Posts: 1,343

Found this old thread from the last decade and thought it was an interesting read..... The bear world is a constantly evolving business and I wondered if opinions had changed over the years? Do you think it is an 'in' term that is more widely understood these days or like me still struggle to explain to the jo public what it means?
I was married to an artist for a looong time and so I think I have a pretty good insight in regards to what being an artist is all about. It is a vocation/a way of being for starters. The term starving artist is often banded about (and lets face it non of us are in in it it for the money bear_grin ) but does food come second to your work? This can be the level of commitment an artist feels the need to create.
Personally I have a lot of artist traits and often get so in the zone when hours vanish by, I forget to eat and can't sleep for the ideas going round in my head. But I still don't consider my work pieces of art. I simply don't have that level of creativity. I would much prefer to be known as a bear maker as to me that is what I do - make bears. I use the term artist bear because everybody else does along with OOAK but wonder if it makes any difference what so ever. If a bear speaks to someone (beautifully made or an old thing with one ear or mass produced) if they like it enough to buy it then definitions are null and void. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Is it the online market place that has forced us in to definitions that we have to go along with?
What do you think?

Rin Sakura Bears
West Yorkshire
Posts: 66

I was wondering this same question myself and usually say that I'm a soft sculpture artist when people ask me what I do.  I love the 'I make designer teddy bears' though as well.  The excerpt from 101 Bears to Make was especially helpful as well.

This has given me many ideas as I sometimes wasn't sure whether I was experienced enough to call myself a teddy bear artist.  I've been making bears for around four years but don't think I'm on a par with anyone on here.  They are so perfectly sculpted that they put mine to shame.

I will post some pictures of bears I have made in order to get some feedback.

Infinite hugs

Tedz Tedz
Posts: 89

I saw this 'guideline' on one of the bear competition sites.  To me, it is not black and white, but the guidelines suggested that if you make less than 1000 bears per year, you can call yourself a 'bear artist'.  If you make more than 1000 bears per year, you should use the 'bear maker' title.  So on that principle, I would say all of us on here are 'artists' as most of us are probably unable to roll out a production of more than 3 bears a day, every day of the year.  I also interpret it as a hand made thing too though.  I personally think there's a huge difference to say Steiff for example, or other well known and quality brands, which are somewhat mass produced by patterns and machines (perhaps hand finished, but not hand made entirely), to making the entire creation by hand.  That, to me qualifies as being called an artist bear. 

I really think it's an individual preference to be honest.  I personally like the 'artist' title.  I can appreciate others may prefer to call themselves 'makers'.  A hand made bear, whether fabric, felted, knitted, crocheted (or any other means!) cannot be found in the shops as a mass produced item, so it is up to the artist/maker, how they wish to describe themselves in my opinion.  Both 'maker' and 'artist' are both titles to be proud of, but in most our cases I think it comes down to a personal preference.  We're all artists in that we're creating individual designs, yet all makers in that we're making something.  As artists/makers, we can use whichever title we choose.  That's how I see it anyway  bear_original

desertmountainbear desertmountainbear
Bloomsburg, PA
Posts: 5,399

When I think of the word artist I think of fine art, painting, sculpture. I consider myself an artisan, (def: a worker in a skilled trade, especially one that involves making things by hand.) There are many fine artisans out there working in all types of 3 dimensional media, I am proud to consider myself one of them.

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