Online, Monthly Teddy Bear Magazine

 Helen Gleeson                                                               February 2011



Chai & Chocolate Chip


Having enjoyed all crafts at one time or another, Helen Gleeson of Bare Cub Designs found herself attending yet another local craft fair near her home in Western Australia.

"I wandered around not expecting too much. I walked from stall to stall noticing the cross stitching, knitting, scrap booking, bears...bears?" She liked bears, but they are not a craft. Are they?

"I walked back and to my amazement, these bears were handmade! I could not walk away. Was I looking at them or were they looking at me?"

Well, that was it! No more cross stitch and no more knitting. Helen bought a magazine and on the next Saturday, she went to a class on bear making at a local shop that is owned and operated by a bear artist named Jennie Boylan.

After creating a few bears identical in size, shape and color as the original bears on display, she tried patterns using different fur. Then creativity struck. Helen started making her own designs and started to sell her bears at the local shop that she had initially taken classes at.

With the help of her brother Phil, she began working on her web site.

"At the time my brother was studying mechatronics engineering and was quite the night owl, so we would stay up many nights working on the banner and words. Then we worked setting up eBay and Etsy stores, my own Bear Cub Designs blog, web rings, guilds and, well, the list goes on."

Living in the Chittering Valley, near Perth in Western Australia, Helen shares her life with her wonderfully supportive husband Ray, her Rottweiler, cat and wild pink and grey Galah bird.

She has a full time job as an Account Executive with Australia's largest Telco companies, where she manages clients with a staggering combined revenue of approximately $7 million. "It's about a 9 hour day, with a 3 hour commute along with some after hours work that is required just to keep up. I sew each night and most of the weekend."

Of course, the bear making is only part of it all. "I also have to find time to keep the web site current, time to write on my blog and manage all the in's and out's of my online stores, as well as conduct workshops."

Helen flies to Melbourne to present Mink bear workshops which are now her specialty."I offer mink patterns, kits and now, an electronic workshop for those who can't make the trip to Australia."

"I am often asked for more information on how to trim a mink face and the solution is a step-by-step pattern. So 150 photos later, the idea came to me. I began offering 12 patterns for 12 months." By doing so, Helen could cover everything, not just the subject of mink. She could teach about foot pads, open mouths, double jointing, sculpting eyes and show all the tools of the trade.

She soon created The Bear Designs Club. "Selling technology for a living, I decided offering this electronically instead of a published book it would allow me to remove postage charges for my overseas buyers and I could  include as many photos as I needed."

With a wonderful response to the web site's membership, she has heard from many new bear makers.

"When I hear that I have given someone the ability to try something they would never have attempted before, is so satisfying. I even had one bear maker enter her bear into a competition and she won!"

Although Helen likes to experiment and try new things, she finds her signature style showing through in the chubby cheeked cubs that her mink bears  offer.

"I spend many hours scissor sculpting my bear's faces; I can trim for hours. I like to create my little faces when I have time on the weekends, when I am feeling refreshed. I sew until it's time for bed!"


Zhu Zhu

Helen is thrilled when she sees each new bear being born and finds so much joy in talking to collectors.

"I have made friends all over the world. I want to share the bear world with anyone and everyone because it's pure and simple fun. The world is full of wonderful people who perhaps smile a little more because my bears are in it and I hope to meet many new friends along this journey my bears and I are on."

Helen is currently working on yet another project, a web site where doll and bear artists can come together and offer creations up for adoptions.






Gallery of Bears

Helen Gleeson

Bare Cub Designs

Member since June 2010


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