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Meet Sue Ann Holcomb of Past Time Bears

Meet our April/May Artist: Sue Ann Holcomb of Past Time Bears. 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?

I began making bears in 1997 because of a need for comfort during a particularly dark and stressful time in my life. I never had teddies or any other stuffed animals when I was growing up, so didn’t realize their therapeutic value until I made that fortunate discovery by way of a department store bear. After trying my hand at making bears using commercial patterns, I decided it would be even more fun and meaningful if I could design them myself. Also, I had found out that there were actually two bear shows almost right in my backyard - well, 25 miles away in Dallas. With that knowledge, I got serious about creating my own patterns.

Describe your style of bears and/or animals you make.

My bears are fairly traditional with humps on their backs, waxed noses, and, usually, long arms. One characteristic that is not historically correct, however, is that they all have bangs . . . even the more realistic all-fours designs come with bangs.

Where do you live and where are you originally from?

I was born in Abilene, located on the central west plains of Texas, aka, “Big Country“. I grew up and went to school in nearby Anson - not quite a desert region, but most of our sparse vegetation was scrubby mesquite trees. When I married, my husband Paul was in the Air Force, so we spent several years living in different parts of the US. When he was discharged, we came back to Texas and settled in the Dallas area. Both of us spent our childhoods amid dust storms and tumbleweeds, so when we chose our permanent home, it was on a heavily wooded acre in a rural community called Double Oak. Even though we are only about 20 minutes from a metropolitan airport, there is a peaceful, serene, and quiet ambience to the area. I love nature and couldn’t ask for better working conditions. My sewing machine sits in front of a huge window that looks out on our back woods. I do get distracted from time to time by what goes on outside that window, however, as we have a variety of birds and animals that provide constant entertainment.

What inspires you?

You know, I don’t really have a clue as to where the ideas come from. I do know that lots of nights when I should be asleep, my mind is pretty busy designing the next creation. It’s possible that a particular look on one of my pets’ faces or the characteristics of my wooded environment somehow creep into my subconscious and decide to come alive at bedtime. Whatever the source, I hope the ideas keep coming.

What is your favorite part of bear making?

Oh, by far the most exciting part of making bears is seeing the expression on that face come alive. I always finish the head first so that the bear can watch the rest of him/her self being created.

How did you choose your business name?

I wanted a name that suggested something old and treasured since I had decided to pattern my designs after the very early bears. I played around with using words like vintage, heirloom, antique, traditional, and heritage, but couldn’t come up with anything I liked. I finally decided on “past time” because bear making had become my past time after retiring from my career, and it was a reference to an older era of time.

Do you have any other hobbies besides bear making?

Oh yes . . . way too many! There’s just not enough time in my day to be able to participate actively in all my other interests which include photography, playing the piano, altered art, painting, gardening - and on and on.

Do you have any pets and/or children?

All of the above. I have two grown daughters who are extremely smart and talented (nope, I’m NOT biased) and six four-legged kids (not so smart and talented). Four cats, two dogs.

What are you most proud of?

I have been honored through the years with several Golden Teddy nominations, winning one Golden Teddy Award, several TOBY Industry’s Choice Awards, a commission from The Franklin Mint for “Holly the Holiday Bear“, and have been selected as the designer for the Theodore Society’s 2005 Membership bear. Also, my bear “Dallas” was chosen as the grand prize winner of Steiff’s 2004 design contest. I am very grateful to the teddy bear industry and collectors for their confidence in my skills as a bear artist.

Where do you sell your bears?

Most of my sales come from teddy bear shows, although I’m taking a break this year from participating in them to take care of some important personal matters. I also sell from my website (www.pasttimebears.com) and a retail store, The Toy Shoppe, has carried some of my creations. Thank you to “Teddy-Bears.org” for giving me the opportunity to share some of my life as a bear artist - it’s been a pleasure.

Past Time Bears
Past Time Bears
Past Time Bears on Teddy-Bears.org

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