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Meet Judi Paul of LuxembearsMeet our March Artist: Judi Paul of Luxembears. Each month, we'll bring you an interview with someone in the bear world. Enjoy!
When did you start making bears and what inspired you to design your own?
At a very young age I had a passion for art. I started to draw and paint. My favorite subject were animals of every kind…especially lions, tigers, bears and dolphins. At around age 7 I learned to knit and sew my own animals…many of them my own designs.
I made my very first jointed fur bear in Jan of 1999. It was about 6 inches tall and I sold it for $35.00. I learned about bear making by buying a mohair bear kit. Soon after that I decide that I would like to design my own bears as I wanted to be original and had some ideas to try out.
Describe your style of bears and/or animals you make.
The best way to describe my work, I think, is “whimsically realistic”. But this does not apply to all my designs. I love very expressive faces. I want my bear to “speak” to the public through their faces and body language. I love details…lots and lots of details. I like multi-dimensional eyes, sculpted noses, claws, armature, paw details, double jointed necks, and airbrushed accents. Some have open mouths, teeth and tongues. I especially love to do very firm needle-felted muzzles and paw details.
I also love big cats. I have made lions, tigers, a white tiger, and snow leopard. I plan on making many more of these in various designs and body positions.
Where do you live and where are you originally from?
I have lived in five states: California, Indiana, Michigan, and currently in Luxemburg Wisconsin. I am originally form Derbyshire England and immigrated with my family to the US in 1965 when I was only seven months old. I live on a dairy farm with my husband and three children ages 16, 10, and 5.
What inspires you?
So many things inspire me. Life in general, first of all. The beauty of nature, being in the fresh air of living in the country; the view from my workshop window….nothing but acres of farm land and a large red oak tree which I often use for photographing my bears in. Being at peace within myself which leaves me open for inspiration to find me. And it does. All the time. I am never with out ideas…in fact, I wish I had more hours of the day to work on the ideas I would like to create.
What is your favorite part of bear making?
I love hand sewing. All my bears are sewn by hand, even the large ones. I enjoy needle felting because I can sculpt and watch the expressions emerge. Airbrushing is also a favorite of mine. This is like decorating a yummy cake and where the creation truly comes to life. I enjoy sharing my creations with buyers but some bears I find hard to part with, as I know that no two of my creations are ever gong to be the same. They are like children….you can have many children, all of whom come from the same source, yet each one is very different form the others.
How did you choose your business name?
My business name started out “Teddy Bear Picnic” because I love the song of the same name. Then one day I was driving into the village of Luxemburg, where I live, and I looked at the hand painted sign with the village name and it hit me…”Luxembears”…I live in Luxemburg, I make bears that really are a luxury item….it just felt right. So there it is. My business became “Luxmbears”.
Do you have any other hobbies besides bear making?
Beside bear art I love to Ballroom Dance with my husband. In fact that is how we met. We dance every week. I love to do airbrushed painting, many on denim jackets. Wood burning bears on boxes and plaques, drawing with pencil and ink, and painting.
Do you have any pets and/or children?
Three children. Two girls and a boy, 16, 10, and my boy is 5. They are a constant source of joy and entertainment…they make me laugh…a lot. We have a malti-poo ,Mandi, and a cat named Shamu. We also have a barn and filed full of Registered Holstein Cattle…not to mention ever changing numbers of barn cats.
What are you most proud of?
I would have to say that I am most proud of my entire family. They all have been and continue to be extremely supportive and proud of my art. I am proud of the fact that I have even been able to have children. I have type one insulin dependent diabetes and was diagnose at age 12. It’s a full time job just manage my health. I take multiple daily injects and finger pokes to test blood sugars. I stay in shape and do well but it is not easy at all.
I am proud to have had the front cover of Teddy Bear Review magazine Feb 2007 issue. That will always be an honor. I feel very blessed that I am able to be a stay at home mom ( I quit my nursing job) and pursue my art. I also have to say that I am very pleased to have won awards [I Love Teddies Note: Judi has received many awards, including TOBYs and Golden Teddys] and nominations for her work] for my bears and other animals. Winning awards does not make me a better artist but it is a wonderful feeling to have some of my work recognized and acknowledged. Truly truly and humble honor.
Where do you sell your bears?
My bears find homes through the auction sites, Ebay and Bid 4 Bears. The Toy Shoppe in Richmond, Virginia also carries my work. I also try to have bears listed on my website from time to time. I have steered always from doing custom orders due to the time constraints. I have a full and busy life with my family and I have lots of bears and other animals that I want to work on. Custom orders tend to inhibit creativity. So many bears….so little time. LOL
Luxembears on Teddy-Bears.org