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Meet Sandi Smith of Bearly SaneMeet our February/March Artist: Sandi Smith of Bearly Sane. 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 began making and designing my own bears in 1996 after attending a bear show. The first bear I made was from a kit that I purchased at the show, then I progressed to patterns from Australian Bear Creations. It was only a matter of a few months before I began designing my own. I guess I was pretty lucky that I had had experience in pattern drafting and a background as graphic designer and illustrator to draw on.
Describe your style of bears and/or animals you make.
To be honest I don't really think I have a particular style. My bears are probably a bit like me in some ways, a little wierd and a lot crazy, I tend to just let myself go when designing and just do what comes naturally. In the early days I would make an illustration of what I would like to make, sit down with my pencil and ruler and carefully measure everything, often making up a pattern in calico first. However, these days I find myself just doodling straight on the plastic template and when it looks right to me, I cut it out.
Where do you live and where are you originally from?
I live in a south eastern suburb of Melbourne, Australia, in the same home we raised our kids in. When my husband and I bought this house I swore I would never move again. I was born in England and had done so much travelling as a child, I hated changing schools and constantly saying good-by to newly made friends, so I didn't want to put my own kids through that.
What inspires you?
My inspiration comes from many things, sometimes it can be a piece of fabric I see in a quilting shop or a child's story book, the expression on my dog's face, an old black and white movie or a pair of kids shoes. My husband tells me I have the most active imagination of anyone he knows...my teachers told me to stop daydreaming in class, so it's never been hard for me to be creative.
What is your favorite part of bear making?
That's a toss up between actually designing the bear and the hand sewing, as I find the designing stimulating and the sewing relaxing. I'm not all that keen on the stuffing, although I do tend to spend a long time stuffing my bears quite firm. I also really enjoy needle felting and finishing the face. Come to think of it, there's not much I don't enjoy about bear artistry.
How did you choose your business name?
My husband is to blame for that...he always says I am just hanging on to my sanity by a thread!
Do you have any other hobbies besides bear making?
Not hobbies as such. I do enjoy doing the occasional jig saw puzzle and listening to music. I used to spend a lot of time drawing and painting, but I haven't done any for a long time, I guess I am just too busy with my bears and the websites these days and when I do have time out I usually just enjoy spending time with my husband.
Do you have any children and/or pets?
I have three grown children, a boy and two wonderful girls, four grand kids, two girls and two boys and my wonderful fluffy companion Woody, who sleeps all day.
What are you most proud of?
At this point in time, I would say, all the work I put in to promoting my fellow artists. Teddy Bears and Critters Australasia has come a long way since it's inception in April 2008. I have built a website, organised a great online show in September 2008 with artists from Australia and New Zealand, sponsored a Cambodian sun bear, planned a second online show for February 2009, this time including artists from all around the world and a fund raiser for Free the Bears Inc., introduced The Australasian Creative Design Awards and have a third show in the planning stages for June. It can be very rewarding when you help other people and I receive a lot of pleasure from seeing others succeed knowing I have helped along the way.
Where do you sell your bears?
My bears are available from my website, the online shows, the Woodend Teddy Bear Show and when I can manage it, I really like support Nancy on Bid4Bears.
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