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Meet Melanie Jayne of Bear TreasuresMeet our December/January Artist: Melanie Jayne of Bear Treasures. Every other 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?
I have been making bear since 2005.
I have always considered myself as an artist. In one form or another I have always had a strong passion towards art and all things creative. From a young child my aunty taught me how to draw and my mum and nana taught me how to sew. It was inevitable that I was to attended art college and later continued as a freelance artist. Nevertheless when our eldest son Patrick was born I decided that I needed a professional career and studied a degree in law with the intention to eventually qualify and work as a solicitor. During my studies my mum died at the age of 52 from breast cancer, this was an extremely difficult time for all of us, but some months later her death made me re-evaluate my life, our family life and our family future once more. We made some difficult life changing decisions and I came to the conclusion to devote my time to Patrick and our family by becoming a full-time mum, I simply didn't want to look back in years to come and regret the time I had missed with our son.
A full-time mum and housewife? In many respects this is an enormously funny notion. I instantly knew house work, the school run, homework and other activities would not fulfill me and instantaneously turned back to the only other thing I had ever thoroughly enjoyed and loved art and design. Primarily I started to paint and design for children¢s nursery themes, during which time while experimenting with a teddy bear theme I inevitably found bear making. I had planned to make a bear from a purchased pattern and sell the bear with the teddy bear nursery theme. After reading a magazine article I was unsure whether this was possible due to copyright and other artist infringements, so I simply decided to design my own bear. From that very first bear I was spontaneously captivated and enthused by teddy bears, needless to say I never completed the teddy bear nursery theme or any other nursery theme and bear making was soon to inadvertently become my full-time occupation!
I suppose since the birth of Patrick and the death of my mother the last few years have sent me on journey both personally and emotionally. This has been a massive circle bringing me back to art and providing me with fulfillment in family life and in the joy of bear artistry, something which I would never change or regret.
Where do you live and where are you originally from?
I live in Wigan, Lancashire England and I have always lived here.
Describe your style of bears and/or animals you make.
What inspires you?
Teddy bear artistry is my full time occupation and it does fit perfectly with and around family commitments, however from time to time it has taken over. From the onset I have designed my own patterns, as I am also self taught one bear design has lead to the next, so last three years have been an exciting rollercoaster and an unpredictable journey. This unpredictability became clear with the arrival of our second son Oliver in 2007 and nothing could have prepared me for the life changing impact that the birth of our second son would have on the whole of my bear making and teddy bear designs in general!
My background as a contemporary mixed media artist inspired and reflected in my earlier teddy bears designs which may have been considered as pushing the boundaries of traditional bears and where quirky in nature with long neck, large noses and often big feet. As a teddy bear artist, designer and being self taught it is almost expected as I found new inspirations from my original works and experimented with new techniques and features that my bears would evolve with time and progress, plus I have never wanted to stand still. From the onset believed that I would always want to move forward with my teddy bear artistry. Nevertheless I did not expect with the surprise news of our second child the greatest of all inspiration would come from my expectancy and arrival of Oliver in August 2007. The result of which is visibly and distinctly new in my present teddy bear designs of today
The impact of a new baby has been extremely strange and exceedingly unpredictable on my teddy bear artistry. My current work has a much younger almost sweeter appeal in their facial characteristics and proportions with the main inspiration sourced from motherhood and everything related to a new baby! The new bears are achieved by first and foremost design then extensive needle, scissor sculpting and other techniques, including delicate hand shading and mohair¢s that I have occasionally hand dyed. I do prefer to work with mohair¢s and alpacas and on the rare occasion I may use good quality faux fur, but they are proving difficult to find. The designs and techniques I used collectively allow me to make individual bear personalities. In recent times there has been much debate as to what constitutes one of a kind so now a days especially with my new designs I use the term ooak very loosely and prefer to describe my bears as individual personalities, this provides me with the creative freedom to work with the same design in different mohair¢s, using different technique styles or with slightly different design features than the last, but I would still never identically duplicate a bear
What is your favorite part of bear/animal making?
My favourite part of bear making has to be seeing a bear come to life through design and than crafting the bear, but above all I love doing the bears faces this is where the true character of a bear personality comes through.
How did you choose your business name?
As I was originally going to set up in business as an interior designer for children's nurseries I had already named my business Little Treasures or at least played around with that idea, so when I accidentally found bear making I simply changed the name to Bear Treasures.
Do you have any other hobbies besides bear making?
I am afraid to say that apart from my bear business I no longer have time for any other hobbies; however, just recently have started to miss painting something I would love to do freelance again, but I know how much fine art takes over my life and my heart and passion is with the bears, but maybe in the future my collectors may get the opportunity to see some of my work.
Where do you sell your bears?
I sell my bear through my website. I have just opened an Etsy shop where I hope to make and possibly sell bears I have made and designed exclusively in my store, but I still need to figure my way round Etsy.
Bear Treasures Blog
Bear Treasures on Etsy