Flutter By Bears are the creation of Ruth Bowman, a truly gifted teddy bear artist.
Ruth's bears are all miniature bears under 3" tall. Having tried my hand at miniature bears myself I know just how fiddly they can be to make and so I am completely in awe of Ruth's skill and artistry.
I hope you enjoy the following Interview to introduce you to the wonderful Flutter By Bears.
Let's find out a little bit about you first of all. How long have you been making bears and how did you get started?
I'm now in my eleventh year of bear making. Before I started in 2002, I had made quite a lot of soft plush toys for my children and nieces. I used commercial patterns for a few, but even back then I preferred designing from scratch to achieve exactly what I had in mind.
Flutter By Bears are all less than 3 inches I understand. Why did you decide to make only miniatures bears?
The first bear I ever made was a miniature, after my sister bought a book about them, and then made up a simple kit for me.
After that first teddy (who turned out quite odd!) I adapted the pattern and started out on my obsession with perfect proportion, appealing design and “big bear” expression packed in to a few inches.
I was immediately hooked on the whole process of miniaturisation, and I've never actually made any larger bears!
I've always felt very comfortable working on a tiny scale, and I love making and adding teeny accessories to each piece. Looking back, I suppose I've always been fascinated by dinky little things since I was a child.
I love the name Flutter By Bears; it's a very clever play on words. The name came about from your first bears who you called winged fairies I believe. Could you tell us more about those early bears and the inspiration behind them?
Once I had the basics of miniature bear making in place I wanted to start giving them character and add a more artistic process to them. I was inspired to design felt butterfly shaped wings, which I then embroidered and added beads to. I made quite a few of these fairy bears, including pandas, in lots of pretty pastel colours. I often work with felt, and I have a properly vintage stash which I’ve been collecting since the 1970s.
3" was British Bear Artist Single Miniature Winner, 2010
You have won many awards including the British Bear Artist Award (Single Miniature bear) in 2008 with a bear called lily and more recently you won an EBAWA in Sept 2012 with a bear called Lilibet. For those of us who only aspire to your skill and creativity, how did winning those awards make you feel and do you think it is getting harder to win awards with so many new and talented bear Artists coming on to the scene over the last few years?
3"Excellence in Bear Artistry Single Miniature Winner, 2013
I have been very honoured to receive both nominations and winning places for my work in international competition. This has given me a huge sense of achievement every time, and means such a lot to me. I think it is important to always be striving for the highest standards, and entering the competitive arena can inspire you to push your own limits of creativity to good effect. In a way you are constantly trying to improve on your own attainment, and so the numbers of new or existing artists shouldn't really affect the way you tackle your own creations. Maintaining a constantly critical eye on what you are designing and making is very important.
You must have made many, many bears over the years, but is there one or two which hold a special place in your heart and if so why?
I do get very attached to lots of my bears, and I think it’s inevitable when you are investing so many hours, and so much attention to detail on each piece. I do keep my winning bears as they all have a truly special place in my heart. One extra special one is “Cherish” the 3” angel , who was not only a Golden Teddy nominee, but I made her to symbolically watch over my mother, who was very ill, and I put all my love and hope in to each stitch – although I know it sounds like a cliché. My mother is very sadly gone, but Cherish remains; as a testament to my boundless love for her.
Did you have a favourite bear as a child, if so do you still have it and could you tell us about it?
I did love teddies as a child, and I had a few who were lost on day trips when I was quite small. I wonder if that ensured I would become an arctophile; through a sense of replacing what I had lost! I still have a tiny little, 41 year old, 2” mini which was made for me by my sister (she was 11, and I was 9) after we had watched the TV programme Pebble Mill; about jointing bears with press studs. He is made of orange pyjama cloth with black felt eyes and ears, and he lived with my (now) husband whilst he was away at university. He used to go around peeking out of pockets, and nowadays he’s a very fragile and revered little bruin. He was also given his name by my pet hamster…. but that’s a whole other story!!!
If you could give only one tip to someone who is planning on making their first bear what would it be?
I’ll assume this is a first mini bear. In which case I would say the most important tip is to constantly consider scale. All the sewing processes, and materials, need to be downsized to fit the correct scale of the project; keep stitches tiny (1mm or less) also seam allowances. Use tiny amounts of stuffing – remember you are sculpting the shape from within. Check the pile size of fabrics, eye size, joint size and even ribbons, lace and trims to ensure they are of an appropriate scale. This is crucial to achieve harmonious and adorable miniatures.
If you are a bear teddy bear artist or know of someone who makes handmade bears and who would like to have their own interview page, please feel free to contact me and let me know.
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