The signs were evident early on that Teri Crews was going to make her mark in the teddy bear world.
“I remember, as a small child, taking my birthday or Christmas money to the store. I always headed towards the kid’s crafts or art section,” Teri recalled. “Thinking about it now, I probably should have bought an Easy Bake Oven™ since I’m not much of a cook,” she said laughing. “My husband and kids will definitely agree with this statement!”
Her early exposure and love for crafts has followed her throughout her life.
While working as an administrative assistant she dreamed of owning a business where she would have the opportunity to create something of her very own. “Back then, I had no idea teddy bears would provide that venue for me.”
Before Teri began making bears, she made and sold rag dolls, cross-stitched art and small hand-painted items at craft shows and shops.
“I usually ended up spending more than I made at the shows though because I just couldn’t walk away from hand-made or vintage looking teddy bears with that “pick me up” face on them.”
This desire helped inspire her to try to make her own. Finding a pattern that looked simple to assemble, she completed her first bear, “it looked more like a mouse,” she said. Teri decided the process was so much fun that she would try another one. The second bear still didn’t turn out like she imagined. She continued and was determined to strive for the look, especially after seeing one-of-a-kind artist bears online. “I was hooked,” she exclaimed.
“Besides wanting to adopt all those lovable bears on the Net, I wanted to make bears with lovable expressions that said “take me home!”
Teri ordered another pattern and bought her first piece of mohair. “When time came to cut that first piece of mohair, I was a very nervous.”
After her first mohair bear was finished she was in love and definitely felt like a bear maker.
“Although he wasn’t really the bear I thought he would be, during construction he developed a personality all his own and I loved him.”
Even now, she is amazed at the variations because of the different types of fabric. Detailed airbrushing of their features gives every bear its own unique style.
Teri’s bear making style has definitely changed since those first teddies were born. “I started drawing my own patterns about four months after making my first bear. I purchased my first airbrush not long after that. Now I can’t live without it,” she remarked. “My bears just don’t seem finished until they get a few airbrushed accents.
In 2005 Teri's bear business slowed down when she had carpal tunnel surgery. “The thought of not being able to make bears anymore was awful, but the surgery worked wonders and although I’m much slower then before, I’m back to bear making.”
“My first web site was launched in 2000 and was originally called Bears by TLC (my initials) and developed a new site called Bears by Teri in 2006.” Teri said.
Teri resides in Crystal Lake, Illinois with her husband Tim, three college bound children and an old, lovable dog named Otis.
When she’s not making bears or needle felting, she loves to create artful scrapbooks, cross-stitch, paint or knit. “I always seem to be working on three or four projects at a time. I just can’t sit still,” she revealed. “Even when I’m watching television, I am working on something,"
Occasionally Teri needle-felts miniature teddy bears and is designing patterns for larger creations and a few cats too. “I hope to be able to display a few bunnies or other friends soon.”
In keeping with her need to keep moving, Teri was soon running off to make a new cub, and wanted to thank all the wonderful collectors who have peeked at or adopted her bears.
“I’ve met the nicest people,” she said smiling, “and I feel fortunate and blessed to be able to do something that I truly love.”
Bears by Teri
Member since April 2007