The Original, Online Teddy Bear Magazine

 

  Jane Woodard                                        April 2016

Mattie

 

Navy

 

Smudge

 

Wiley

Depending on who you talk to in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, Jane Woodard of Heir Bears is either the cat lady or the bear lady.

 

"The cats in my neighborhood all seem to know I will feed them anytime they show up on my doorstep. And I take them in if they need a home.

 

That’s how “Stormy” and “P.K.” became family members.

 

The bears, of which I have over one hundred, are another story!"

 

Jane's history with bear making started when she was a young girl watching her mother make all their clothes.

 

"I started sewing some of my own clothes when I was still in grade school."

 

Sewing and crafting was a vital part of her life; so much so that when she got married, she made her own wedding dress and going-away outfit.

Life threw Jane a curve and she was left as a single parent. The time she devoted to sewing and crafts diminished when making a living to raise her son became monumental.

By the time her son was in college, with Jane working 60-70 hours a week, she decided to take an overdue vacation and visited a friend in California who at the time was taking a bear-making class from a well known artist.

"I was fascinated and realized how much I missed my creative side. When I returned home, I started looking for bear shows or classes in my area."

Jane met a couple of ladies who were using old fur coats to make their bears.

 

"I loved the idea of recycling, especially something as precious as a fur coat.

I immediately signed up for classes." Jane continued after that, "I was hooked!"

 

Making bears, though, was never intended to be a business but simply a hobby. She already had a full-time business, freelancing as a certified legal assistant for attorneys and law firms.

But the pull of teddy bears was so strong.

"I loved the idea of making bears for people who had inherited their mother’s fur coat, and who wanted to keep something that would be an heirloom. Many even had their own children who wanted a remembrance of their grandmother." With this great idea in mind “Heir Bears” was born!

"One of my first orders was for a bear to be made from a black seal coat that the customer’s mother had worn to FDR’s inauguration. The coat was about 75 years old and not very easy to work with. I was reconsidering my idea to make heirloom bears! But a few bears later, and after hearing a few sentimental tear-jerking stories (with me crying right along with the customer), I decided to stick with it."

Jane kept making bears and began to participate in a few local bear shows. After juggling a full-time job and bear making for about 10 years, she finally decided it was time to retire from her "day job" and devote more time to being a teddy bear artist.

She began traveling to shows  and enjoyed traveling all over the USA.

Jane was soon exhibiting in over 25 live and online shows a year, but found that to be too much. "I have now become more selective about the shows I participate in."

Jane currently makes between 75-100 bears and other critters a year.

Her favorite material to create with is the recycled natural fur. "Being an animal lover, when I thought about using fur coats that are being discarded because it is no longer politically correct to wear them, it was a no-brainer. This is a way of respecting the lives of the animals that were taken to make the coats, and helping the environment by keeping the fur coats out of the landfills," she said adding, "The beautiful shades in coyote, fox, raccoon and even lynx fur does not need airbrushing or enhancement, and the softness of lynx or sheared beaver cannot be duplicated."

Recently, for more variety, she has been using some faux fur and mohair, even along with recycled denim and wool fabrics.

Although the teddy bear business keeps her pretty busy, she still finds time to enjoy being in a small local teddy bear club, going thrift store shopping, looking for antiques, movies, and occasionally even going to the beach.

"I treasure the friendships I have made in this business, with fellow artists and with customers. They come from all corners of the U.S.A., Canada, England, Australia and even Japan. Many I have met in person but some I only know from the online shows. Bear making has definitely been an adventure and I am enjoying every minute of it!"

 

 

 

Jane Woodard

Heir Bears

Member since June 2013

 


Ginger

 

Leonardo

 

Lavender

 

Rip Van Winkle

 

Pilot

 

Photographer

 

Mugsy Mouse

Lily

Cookies and Cream

Father Christmas

Charlie and his
winning ribbon

   
 

Learn More . . .

 

Where is Palm Beach Gardens, Florida?

 

Click on the map >>>>

   
 
 



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