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Meet Laura Lynn Matthews of Teddies by Laura LynnMeet our October Artist: Laura Lynn Matthews of Teddies by Laura Lynn. Each month, we'll bring you an interview with someone in the bear world. Enjoy!
1. When did you start making bears and what inspired you to design your own?
I started making bears after I had been collecting artist bears for a few years. I was reading the newest brochure on classes for continuing education at the high school and there was a class on how to make a fully jointed mohair teddy bear. I knew I had to take it. I was instantly hooked!
I later discovered that one of my favorite local artists gave classes too. I took several classes from her including how to make my own designs. Although she has now retired... we still keep in touch!
2. Describe your style of bears and/or animals you make.
I would say that I am more well known for my contemporary bears with cute, slightly "doggy looking" faces. They all seem to have bangs, like me too LOL!
I have recently started a new series too... "The Olde Friends Collection". These bears are more like the ones I made in the beginning... new bears designed to look like old bears - well loved.
I'm also in the process of designing some cats and dogs too! I can't wait till these are ready!
3. Where do you live and where are you originally from?
I live in the Chicago suburbs, and have lived here my entire life. We just recently moved into a more country area of the Chicago area, though, and I just love it! We have a horse stable at the end of our quiet street, our neighbor farms sheep, another has chickens.... We call it "5 minutes into the country"
4. What inspires you?
Sometimes the mohair will inspire me to make a certain type of bear. Other times a prop - found in a shop or even on eBay - can inspire another bear. I find inspiration all around me. Ideas come to me faster than I can make them. Many ideas come from my dogs, past and present. I'm a huge animal lover! I also love to browse thru doll magazines, country magazines and window shop.
5. What is your favorite part of bear making?
Completing the face is the best part... I just love seeing that face peering up at me! That's when they seem to "come alive"! My other favorite part of bear making is cutting out the pieces and sewing them together. I find it very relaxing.
6. How did you choose your business name?
I was at my desk answering a call at my old job, and doodling... I ended up drawing two capital letter "L's" intertwined with each other. (my first and middle initial) It thought it would be a great logo for me, so I decided on "Teddies by Laura Lynn". One of these days I need to get the logo done LOL!!!
7. Do you have any other hobbies besides bear making?
I don't know if these count as "besides bear making"... but I have 2 websites that I work on in my "spare time".
One is: www.TeddyBearCollecting.com . The goal of this website is to educate the general public about the existence of artist bears and hopefully bring new collectors into the hobby!
I feel that bringing new collectors into the hobby is important for both the bear artist AND the collector. It's fairly obvious why new collectors to the hobby is important to the bear artist - buy why is it important to the collector?
The answer is this: With more collectors to buy the bears - bear artists can continue to make their creations. If artists start to have a harder time selling their work... they eventually have to find a different way to pay the bills. Many have ended up getting "regular" jobs.
I know I have many artists on my wish list whose bears I want. I can't buy them all at once, I have to wait and do it a little at a time. Unfortunately, already there are some artists whose work I cannot add to my collection as they have had to quit bear making as a source of income in order to find steady work.
So it is important to the collector that new collectors come into the hobby of collecting artist bears... to be sure there are plenty of artist bears to choose from in the future!
My other website is: www.FreeTeddyBearPatterns.NET ; I started this site so that I would be able to have some fun designing teddy bear patterns... sometimes outside of my regular "look". I decided to share them with everyone on this site for free - and you can sell the bears you make from these patterns too if you wish! Just mention on the tag that the pattern came from www.FreeTeddyBearPatterns.NET ;
There are sponsors on the Free Patterns site. Without them, the site would not be possible. If you were planning on purchasing an item anyway, if you buy it from these links it helps to support this site.
I don't have a lot of time for many other hobbies... but I enjoy reading - especially mysteries! I love photography and candle making too. It can be really hard to try to fit everything in that I want to do.
8. Do you have any pets?
Next to my daughter they are my pride and joy! We have 4 whippet dogs. They are like greyhounds, but 1/2 their size. Our Girls (they are all girls) are all on the smaller side of the scale - just 25 pounds and wonderful!
9. What are you most proud of?
I am so VERY pleased that my creations have brought smiles and happiness to other people. For me, that is the BEST part of my job and my proudest moment. The first time one of my collectors told me that.. she happened to tell me this at a low time for me... when I was wondering what in the world am I doing? I realized that what I do DOES make a difference - that I can put a smile on another person's face and heart with what I do.
10. Where do you sell your bears?
I started selling my bears on eBay and continue to do so. After a couple of years on eBay I decided to learn how to build my own website. Now, most of my bears are sold from my site. I started selling at a couple shows in the last few years too and absolutely love it! I have 2 mailing lists... one is an email list to receive emails when new bears are available for adoption. Send me an email if you'd like to be added or just sign up on my site. I have another list - a regular mailing list for those without regular internet access. I'm hoping to start having quarterly "Mailing List" shows for my collectors who don't use the internet, but need a bear fix in between shows :)
Teddies by Laura Lynn
Teddies by Laura Lynn
Free Teddy Bear Patterns
Teddy Bear Collecting
Teddies by Laura Lynn on Teddy-Bears.Org