April 1999 Myself with Tom and Molly


I live in Wellington, New Zealand and I'm married, without children. We have a beautiful Golden Retriever named Kayleigh, who believe me, makes up for the fact that we don't have children! I care-give a few hours per week for a lovely little 4 year old girl (and have done since she was 4 months old), and I've just recently resumed playing golf again after a 2 year break - and I'm loving it!

I bought my first Teddy Bear kit during the summer of '95, and put it in my hall cupboard as a potential 'rainy day' project. Well it was some 18 months later, (mid '96) and only after seeing some bears a friend had made, did that kit find it's way back out of my cupboard!


A few days later, and absolutely in awe of the little furry friend I had created, I just knew I needed to make another, then another - and you guessed it - I had contracted CBS! (Chronic Bear-making Syndrome!) During this first year I worked only in acrylic furs until I felt confident enough to try a piece of mohair, and once I had, I didn't want to look at another piece of acrylic fur!



August '97 (just for fun) I entered 2 bears in the Novice Handmade class of the New Zealand National Teddy Bear Festival, and much to my delight (and amazement!) I won the class with a little 'fruity' number named Miss Strawbeary, and received a Highly Commended for my other entry.



This little bit of success saw my confidence and enthusiasm increase tenfold, and by late '97 I was dabbling in design.Several months later (March '98) I had an entry in the competition section (Designer Class) at the Wellington Porcelain Doll Makers Doll and Bear show, and I won the class !! September that year one of my entries in the New Zealand National Teddy Bear Festival was judged Best Designer bear in the Experienced Class, (his name is Tom, and he is the Piper's son!)

By now I was starting to feel good about what I was doing in terms of designing. My confidence received another boost in March '99, with a little girl I'd designed and made named Molly, when she was judged Best Designer Bear and Bear of Show at the Wellington Porcelain Doll Makers annual Doll and Bear show. I think I walked on air for about a week after that !!

My status rose to that of Professional Bear-maker / artist mid '99, when I took the plunge and first offered my work for sale, at an Arts and Craft show. I enjoyed a successful weekend, and this then gave me the confidence to attend my first Doll and Bear show in this capacity, which I did in Nov '99.

August 1997 Myself with my National show entries, and my very first bear!


I work mostly in Mohair, and my fur bears are hand-stitched from start to finish. I usually only use cotter-pin joints and glass eyes, unless I'm making a child's toy, which would see these replaced with the safety versions. Size wise, I generally make bears anywhere from 10 to about 20 inches, and style wise they naturally tend to exhibit a youthful kind of innocence. Like a lot of other artists I prefer to make one-of-a-kind bears, but can be `persuaded' to make small limited editions.

My bears are known as 'Kindred Bruins'.

Email: vanessa.soutar@xtra.co.nz

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