I was walking through the Riverside markets in Brisbane one Sunday morning with my daughter, Emily and we came across a lady selling bears. They looked so gorgeous that I thought then that I would have to find out how to make one. When I questioned the seller about where to buy fabric she was totally unhelpful and wasn't going to divulge her secrets!! The following week I was collecting the fees from one of the YMCA playgroups ( I used to work for the Y) and the playgroup leader knowing that I was into all sorts of crafts asked me if I knew of anyone who taught bear making. She then told me about a good book she'ds seen ( The art Of Teddy Bear Making by Jennifer Laing) and where I could buy some supplies. So on the way home I picked up the book got some fur - Synthetic and plastic joints - and that weekend my world into bears started. I went to the craft fair to buy eyes and there I bumped into Gerry's stand. A visit the following week to Gerry's ( she used to work from a very small room off her house at Rosewood) and I was never to be the same again. I just had to keep making bear after bear. Everyone (friends and family) thought I'd completely lost the plot! That was in 1993 and in 1995 I was made redundant from the YMCA and so bears became full time and I also started working for Gerry in her new shop which opened in Brisbane Arcade.
But my bear making goes back many years before when I was about 7 or 8 yrs old. I grew up in England and at primary school we used to spend some time learning a variety of crafts. I remember sewing dolls clothes and I made a little bear then with glass eyes - more like a koala. He sits in one of my cabinets along with Sooty the first bear I made in1993.
Sooty and my first bear