"Bears...Deb Elertson...she makes bears."
I glanced over to the elegant woman perusing our facial items. An image of Deb standing over a downed bear, one foot resting on its shoulder and a large shotgun in her arms flashed in my mind. Quickly rejecting that image I turned back to the counter, "What kind of bears?"
|Please join us in welcoming Deb Elertson as our First Annual Artist in Residence!|
As soon as I was told that Deb was the maker of Beardsley Bears I knew we were destined to meet! I remembered her bears from years ago when I had a brief obsession with toy collecting and had spent many hours drooling over magazines and catalogs. What luck!!!! Deb lives only a few miles from our Holcombe store!
Deb's creations have been featured in multiple international magazine articles, catalogs and stores. (http://www.beardsleybears.com/pages/press.htm) To quote one, "Deb has sculpted emotions from wool, mohair, and excelsior that make us forget our everyday stresses and focus on the joys." I could not agree more!
Whenever I enter one of our stores I immediately have to go say "hello" to the creatures in their glass cases. They make me smile. I can't help myself! Click this link to visit Deb's "gallery" and see for yourself how adorable these babies are! http://www.beardsleybears.com/pages/gallery.htm
In awe to have met her and crossing my fingers, I quickly asked Deb if she would be willing to make some bears for us to feature in our stores.
After another week Deb arrived for a brief meeting at the lab. I'll never forget that day! Deb came in with her arms full of bears and dogs that were ready to be shipped to a vender far away. She set the box on the floor of the lab. A collective "Awwwwww....." went up from myself, Alyssa and Jessica (our Director of Operations) as we spied a box full of tiny faces peering up at us. One little dog in particular caught my eye. He looked up at me so forelornly from his box, as if saying "Don't make me go....I want to live with you...take me home." I was hooked!
We immediately ordered more dogs (with one for myself!) and bears so that three items would be on display in each store. Several weeks later Deb arrived at the store, placing all nine creatures on the counter while our entire staff giggled and cooed over them. After Deb left we all had to give them a hug and move their little arms and legs until we'd played ourselves out.
All parts of these pets are hand-made. You can learn more about the details of the process by reading some of the many articles posted on Deb's web-site. To keep it simple, I'll just say they are made completely by hand, right down to the hand-dying of the fabric. The toys are also made of top fabrics and built to last generations. Each stitch is a well thought-out placement, sometimes meant to hold the bear together, sometimes meant to give the bear an aged look and sometimes meant to bring character to the pet. A crooked nose? Done completely on purpose. A loose stitch? Again, completely on purpose. These toys are meant to look well-loved and aged. The perfection of Deb's work is in the imperfections!
I asked Deb to tell me some of the places her bears and animals live. Her response: "Germany, France, Italy, UK, Scotland, Wales, Australia, Japan, Luxembourg, Astonia, Australia, Netherlands..I am sure there are a few more , just cannot think of them now. All over USA ~~~"
And this is from her web-site: "Deb was commissioned in 2002 by The European Ballet in London, England, to create special "one of a kinds" for their Gala Events. This was one of the biggest thrills in her career. She has also had the honor to be included for 10 consecutive years in the prestigious Teddy Bears of Witney catalog."
How cool! What's coming next to The Brown Barn Company's stores from Deb's workshop? Bunnies for Easter!!! Our customers will have the opportunity to enter a drawing to win a special lavender filled bunny as part of a giant Easter basket. We will also have one bunny for sale in each store during that time.
Over the course of this year be sure to check out Deb's bears as we rotate the collection thru the stores. Every few months the stores will switch their trio of animals with each other to ensure all of our customers get a chance to see (and buy!) one of Deb's creations. Be sure to stop in and welcome all of them!