Benebears by Mary Tornabene
So you've looked at my web site, and probably a few others. Unless you are a bear collector and have spent many happy hours in bear shops discovering the differences, you probably wonder what a Bear Artist is. A bear maker buys a bear pattern or kit to make up. As a Bear Artist I design the bears and make up my own patterns. So a Bear Artist produces a unique bear made for you.
If a hand made mohair bears sounds expensive, that's because mohair is expensive. Priced according to how thick and long the pile is, it can cost up to £150 per metre. (Better not to make mistakes with the best). It takes many hours to make a bear from drawing to finished article. The price doesn't really reflect this, charging by the hour would make them unaffordable. We bear makers make bears because we like doing it. When I say 'made and designed with love' on my bear tag, I mean it.
I use mohair because it is the most durable, soft, huggable fabric. With none of the harshness you can get from man made materials. The vintage bears of 100 years ago were made with it and they stood the test of time. Alpaca and the cashmere plush I sometimes use for tiny bears has the same qualities. If you are buying for a child and want a bear that will stay with them as they grow up, choose one made from these materials. The inexpensive ones are very soft and cuddly, but within a short time the material will wear out and the bear will have to be thrown away. But as an ornament, a bear made to match your furnishings, or made from a favourite old dress, would be just as precious to you.
What is a traditional bear? New bear artists experiment with crazy designs, fillings and fabrics. Long legs, cute faces, some not resembling bears at all. Absolutely lovely bears, but not the old teddy bear you had as a child. A traditional bear looks like a teddy bear and is made in the traditional way with wood or hardboard joints held by long cotter pins. The filling is wood shavings and the eyes glass. Making one of these bears hurts! This is why we have to sell them for collectors only. Modern regulations mean they can not be sold for children to play with, even though you and I (are you that old?) may have happily played with one as babies. I can get the same look with a bear made for children, by replacing the joints and eyes with plastic ones, then filling with a softer acrylic fibre and/or acrylic 'beans'.
Please visit the Artist web site regarding product image copyright.