Edinburgh Imports invited me to be the "Artist in the Spotlight" for the month of November. I was delighted. Below is the article.
Artist Spotlight: Trish Hansford
Thank you for inviting me to be the “Artist in the Spotlight”. I am so new in this field that I consider this an honor and a privilege.
My love of teddy bears comes from my mother. My father often tells my mom if she gets one more bear he will either have to add on a room or move out.
I have always enjoyed working with my hands. As a child, it was my father who actually taught me how to sew. I have many other hobbies some of which include wood working, ceramics, cross stitching, and now of course designing bears.
In the summer of 2001, I went to my very first bear show. I was with some friends who are avid bear collectors. I remember being in awe looking at all the different sizes, colors, and well, just the personalities of each individual bear. No two bears were alike and that really appealed to me.
I began browsing the internet for bears and came across several designers who were offering their kits for sale. I was so excited that I could buy a kit, complete with everything, that I went wild and purchased several, never with the thought of creating my own bear. My first bear was a kit by Angie Tait, Bears by Raglets. The bear’s name is Clarence which is my husband’s name, so naturally that had to be the bear that I made. This bear is pictured on my “About my bears” page on my website as “the bear that started it all”.
I teach elementary children and found that the time involved with making bears was too much at that time, so I stored all of those kits, mohair, patterns, hardware, etc… away. It wasn’t until this past Christmas (2006), that I decided to take out some patterns and begin making bears again.
I found Edinburgh’s site and with the site not only a wealth of information but was able to form many new friendships. There are so many talented bear artists in this world. It seems as though we are on every continent. I was impressed that bear artists were willing to share their tips and information with me. Some of the artists I would like to thank for helping me get started and sharing information are; Daphne Blau of Back Road Bears, Patty Barone of Swan Valley Bears, and especially Sandi Smith of Bearly Sane Teddies for the Young at Heart. Sandi has been my mentor from afar (she lives in Australia) and has given me many hints, tips, practical advice, and inspiration.
In March, 2007 my husband and I attended a bear show in Lakeland, Florida, sponsored by Bright Star Promotions. This time I was hooked and hooked for good. I decided after making my 10th bear that I would try to design my own pattern. I began buying every book imaginable on how to make your own bear. I also took Nancy Tillberg’s online course for designing a bear.
I wanted a way for the collector to be able to identify that the bear was made by me not by look but by some way of marking the bear. Since one of my loves is cross stitching, I came up with the idea of making the paw and foot pads in linen and cross stitching two hearts on the left foot pad.
This past summer, I created a website and Bears by Two Hearts began. My other heart, my husband Clarence, is a major help to me when I am jointing a bear. He has just the right feel to see if the joint is too tight or not tight enough. He is also my best critic and from time to time is great in naming my bears and giving me ideas about ear placement and size of eyes.
I am currently selling my bears from my website, http://www.bearsbytwohearts.net and I have also listed them on bid4bears with good success. I am also a member of Bright Star Promotions and am featured on the following site; http://www.bearsandbuds.com/ There is a tentative bear show scheduled for February 24, 2008 in Lakeland, Florida where I hope to exhibit my bears.
Lisa, you asked what ideas I have to bring new collectors into our industry and how to spread the word about collectible bears. That is really a tough question. As I ponder that, I think of children and their love for bears. I know that sometimes if I cannot come up with a name for a bear, I will bring him/her to school and my students come up with some great names. I believe our youth is who we need to target. I know that many bear artists, myself included, do not design for children, but the children today are our future. In my state we have a day set aside called “The Great American Teach-In”. This is a day for business people and people with hobbies to come and share with our students about what they do. This could be a way to get the young interested in not only collecting but the art itself.
When I need just the right accessory for my bear(s), I bring them to Jo Ann’s craft store. I am always amazed at the people who will stop me and ask where I got my bear(s). They almost fall over when I hand them a business card. Most people are just familiar with the Boyd and Gund bears and are truly amazed when I tell them that I made the bear and that there is a whole world of bears out there by so many different artists. With having said that, perhaps our local craft stores could feature either our bears or set aside a day for a workshop for bear artists to be able to expose themselves either in person or through a portfolio display.
What started out as a hobby has become a passion! I can only hope that my bears will be sought after for years to come and will bring lots of smiles and love to the homes where they go.