Family Tree Bears by Joanne C. Mitchell
1989 - Golden Teddy Award - "Crystal, the Clairvoyant"
1990 - First Annual TOBY Public's Choice Award - "Paws for Peace"
1991 - TOBY Public's Choice Award Nominee - "Friends 'Til the End"
1993 - TOBY Public's Choice Award - "Arnold, the Circus Bear"
1994 - TOBY Public's Choice Award Nominee - "Papa Nick, the Toy Maker"
1995 - TOBY Public's Choice Award - "Forbearance, Angel of Grace"
1996 - TOBY Public's Choice Award Nominee - "Balthasar, First of the Magi"
2000 - Best of Show at The National - "Abruzzio"
Since I began making teddy bears years ago, I have learned that although some things have changed, other factors are still the same. I still contend that originality of design and unique artistic techniques are very important coupled with very fine stitching of both the bear and what it wears. My bear making process has accelerated into the use of new and innovative approaches to the teddy bear as an art form without losing the definitive appeal, which is a teddyís alone. As you browse through the Gallery you will see elegantly dressed Victorian ladies with heads of curls to support their haberdasheries. They are not wigs, but rather extra long mohair used for the bearís head in a color to match the shorter mohair used for the body and limbs. On another bear, the process is repeated but in a different way. Dr. Livingstone, in my Woodland Series, has a go-tee, moustache and long tousled hair on his head but shorter mohair of the same color on his body. The discovery of combining different mohair fabrics on one bear is due to my constant desire to be original. At the other end of the bear making spectrum, my new collection of bears called the "Forebears" are designed with turn-of-the-century characteristics. They have traditional styling such as humpbacks, growlers, felt paw and footpads and stitched noses. I decided to offer the collector this type of bear in order to present my own version of this variety of teddy bear.
I use only the best mohair fabrics or imported synthetic plush. Jointing is all done by hand and I personally torque each joint. The stuffing I choose to put into my bears is 100% pure cotton, polyester or excelsior. Foot and paw pads are leather, ultra-suede or wool felt. I give my bears the best glass or lead crystal eyes with which to view the world. Some of the eyes are made exclusively for Family Tree Bears according to my needs. The majority of my bears have my trademark nose. It is made of suede or leather and is handstitched onto the bearís face. Needle-sculpting and careful stuffing creates the appearance of "nostrils." The Forebears and the Bearessence Collection all have hand stitched noses.
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