With Spring in the air, the Easter Bunny isn't the only one carrying a basket full of goodies. "My workspace travels wherever I go," said Sandra Marie Pape, of Bear Hugs Originals.
"I very much prefer to be with my family whenever possible, so I load a little wicker basket with all the materials that I need to keep me sewing and just carry my work with me."
Living in North Port, Florida with her husband, two children and three romping potbelly pigs, Sandra creates heartwarming teddy bears; a passion that has blossomed through the years.
As the middle child, Sandra grew up sharing many toys with her two sisters. "We shared a hand me down teddy which we all called 'Old Bunny.' He was originally a very pretty pink plush toy but by the time we were all through loving on him, he was dull, grey, torn and tattered, missing an eye and practically falling apart."
They had other bears and dolls but there was something extra special about 'Old Bunny.'
It wasn't long until the creativity bug bit and Sandra began making her own creations.
"I received a felt kit for Christmas when I was little. It was the cutest thing and I remember being excited when I opened it," she recalled.
"The kit made six adorable little felt mice; all of which I still have today and display proudly on my Christmas tree each year."
Once bear making took hold, Sandra put all her heart and soul into every creation. "I spend many hours creating each one and I do not stop until I feel it has 'the look' that will put a smile on someone's face. I want to make sure my teddies reach out to people," Sandra noted.
While Sandra loves making her teddy bears, it hasn't always been the easiest task. For a while, Sandra could not create her teddy bears. An injury in the 1990's stopped her in her tracks.
“Unfortunately it did take me out of bear making for many years. But, I am back and trying to make the best of it."