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Fun Fur Fact Friday

Welcome to Fun Fur Fact Friday! Our first installment in the Fun Fur Fact files is about collecting and caring for these precious friends we call teddy bears.

When you are bitten by the bear bug, there is only one remedy: adopt a teddy bear! As you hunt for that perfect new companion, keep the following tips in mind.

Buying Bears

  • Buy what you like.

    Emmett by Debora Hoffmann

    Emmett

  • Avoid buying for investment, unless it’s a confirmed antique and you can have it appraised or a bear by a well-known artist.
  • Look at the quality of construction.
  • The stitches should be neat, tidy, and nearly invisible.
  • All the bear’s joints should turn with the same ease.
  • There should not be lots of fur trapped in the seams.
  • The eyes should be firmly attached and evenly set.
  • The ears should also be evenly attached.
  • The nose stitches should be pulled with the same tension so there are no bumps or loops.
  • Any added color should not rub off on your hands.
  • Be sure the bear doesn’t reek of smoke or moth balls.

Where to Find Them

  • Shows
  • Teddy bear shows are a great way to find that special teddy and connect with like-minded “bear” people.
  • Some collectors like to know the artist behind the bear; some won’t buy the bear if they don’t like the artist!
  • Stores
  • Artist bears
  • Some stores hold artist signing events
  • Artist-designed manufactured bears
  • Manufactured bears
  • Internet
  • Teddy bear artists’ Web sites and blogs
  • Teddy bear forums
  • eBay
  • Etsy 
  • Magazines
  • Books
  • Antique stores
  • You may be able to find old and new bears at antique stores. Beware of new bears that are made to look old and are being sold at a premium price.
  • Garage sales and estate sales 

Care and Feeding

  • Keep teddy bears out of direct sunlight; their fur may fade, particularly if it has red tones.
  • Periodically check your bears for carpet beetle larvae–they will eat your bears…and they especially like red felt! Keep bears off the floor if possible.
  • Fluff and move your bears around every now and then.
  • Periodic dusting is important; perhaps use a vacuum nozzle covered with a pantyhose leg.
  • Surface clean only–never throw a teddy bear into a washing machine or dryer. Use only suds on the fur (not the backing), and dab with clean water to remove. Towel off with a clean cloth.
  • Old bears and manufactured bears (such as Steiff) are more desirable if their tags are intact. Try to keep all original ribbons, clothes, tags, and so on that come with any bear you purchase, old or new.
  • Hugs are great for a bear’s well-being, not to mention a person’s!
  • Be sure to keep a close eye on your teddy bears when they’re around honey or scones with jam.

Wordless Wednesday

Welcome to Teddy Bear Tidbit Tuesday, wherein I share with you a tidbit from teddy bear lore. Many of you may be wondering about teddy’s origins. Haven’t we always had teddy bears with us?

In 1902, the first teddy bears were created in both Germany and the United States. According to tradition, the teddy bear got its start in America when the political cartoon below was published, telling the story of President Theodore Roosevelt’s refusal to shoot a tied bear cub.

Drawing the Line in Mississippi

Drawing the Line in Mississippi by Clifford Berryman

And in Germany, Richard Steiff, nephew of the founder of the toy firm Steiff, is credited with creating the first teddy bear. He studied bears in the zoo and based his creation on their characteristics. See the picture below of an early Steiff bear. 

Early Steiff

Early Steiff teddy bear, circa 1904

Because this article tells the story much more eloquently than I can, and because this is tidbit Tuesday, I will point you to the Teddy Bear and Friends magazine archive:

http://www.teddybearandfriends.com/archive/articles/history.html

In the more than 100 years since the first teddy bears were created, they have become our companions, our confidants, our comforts. Have you hugged your teddy today?

Bears in the Works

Bears in progress

Two little bears in progress

About two weeks ago, I was bitten by the bear bug. Again. (And I am so glad about it. Creating my Crew members brings me a lot of happiness.) I have made the trek to the basement numerous times since being bitten again to feel the mohair, see what (or should I say who?) I might have in progress, haul supplies upstairs, and otherwise immerse myself in the bears again. Last week while assessing the situation, I found that I have three bears with faces (who like to look at me with their big eyes and plead with me to finish them), one stuffed head, and at least two more bears-in-a-bag, cut out and waiting for me to start them officially.

Remember this bear in progress? In the post called Have Stuffing Stick, Will Stuff, I chronicled the saga of actually inserting stuffing into the head of the bear shown here. Since that post (which was written almost two years ago, but I’m sure no one will notice that), I have finished stuffing the head! This is quite a feat, dear reader. And…drum roll, please…I embroidered the bear’s nose and mouth! As if that wasn’t enough for me, I also needle sculpted the face a bit, trimmed the muzzle (almost finished with that), and trimmed and readied the ears for attaching to the head. This sweet little eyeless face is looking up at me from a dainty old teacup on my desk as I type.

Please stay tuned as I attempt to grab enough time in the next week or so to finish this little bear who has been waiting so long. And then I need to turn my attention to the other three with the pleading eyes who have been waiting just as long, just as patiently.

GenevaSo I’m not tiptoeing through the tulips, but on this warm sunny day in Colorado that seems so springlike, my thoughts are turning back toward teddies once more. It has been FAR too long that I have been away from the fur and fluff, and I am finding I miss it sorely. I am racking my brain trying to figure out where I will find the time to actually sit down and make a bear, but I am itching to get started. My pen has been flying with sketches and ideas, and yes, I’ve felt the mohair.

I would love to also come out of hibernation officially (couldn’t resist using hibernation, seeing as how spring is near) and be able to offer my Crew members for adoption–I so enjoy seeing them find that special someone.

And where have I been for so long? My husband and I adopted two 14-year-old girls from Ukraine last year. (Now that I write that, it sounds so easy! It was anything but easy, but the Lord was with us all the way.) You can see our story here: http://hoffmannclan.blogspot.com. Our eldest, “Elaine” on this blog, just turned 15. Where does the time go? (I have always wanted to say that as a mom.)

Now that things are more settled and routine (routine?), I am feeling a need to get back to being who I am. That sounds rather silly, but it’s true. I love art and creating, and it’s high time to begin again. Plus, my mom keeps complaining that she doesn’t have one of my bears, and she still lives in the house on New Avenue where I grew up and from which I took my business name!

Spring Giveaway - Bear BitsSpeaking of spring, I happened upon the blog of Ginger Braeme, a bear artist I’ve admired over the years, and she is doing a special spring giveaway for a bear she created named Blossom (pictured at left). Blossom is darling. Hop on over and take a peek!

“Elaine” has been here for about four weeks now, and it’s getting hard to remember life without her. Garth and I love this little one and would like to start the adoption process very soon to make her our daughter!

We have had lots of fun together, going to the zoo, taking a vacation to the Rocky Mountains, riding horseback, swimming, playing chicken foot and Uno, tossing a frisbee, watching a movie, tickling, dancing to newly discovered country music, and the list goes on. Some of the most special times are when we read the Bible together at night, chop vegetables together, or share a kiss and a cuddle.

Please visit our family blog, the Hoffmann Clan, to see and hear more, and join us on our journey to be Mama and Papa to Elaine.

There has been no bear-making here in the New Avenue Crew studio because she’s coming in two weeks! Our summer visitor from Ukraine (“Elaine”) will arrive so very soon, and we don’t feel ready. What I find oddly comforting is that many people who have children have told me, “You never feel ready.” My other comfort is that God will allow us to be as ready as He wants us to be, and I know He wants us to trust Him for every part of this summer.

We find ourselves wishing we had more money to fix up our place so it’s more homey, but maybe it takes time to do so. Please tell me that’s so, that your home wasn’t completely homey right off the bat!

We’re very much hoping to have enough money to make Elaine’s summer special, to take her to some beautiful places, to teach her to make a bear, to travel with her to Garth’s brother’s wedding and to meet our parents, but we know that God will provide.

We’re hoping we will be good host parents because, well, we’ve never been parents before. But we love kids. And this one is 13 and speaks Russian. Did I tell you I love a challenge? Oh, and I also love learning languages. I’m excited that I’ll have my very own Russian tutor.

If you want to read a little more about this new adventure of ours, please visit our family blog, the Hoffmann Clan. I hope to update it weekly throughout the summer.

If you would like to help, we would love to have you pray for us, to leave us comments, and to follow along as Elaine experiences America. You can also e-mail me at hoffhouse at hotmail dot com. And if you would like to donate to Elaine’s summer, please e-mail me.

We’re hanging on for a wild ride…won’t you join us?