Since this is the 25th anniversary of Warm Heart Bears, I thought I would share a bit of history. My family is very creative and I have been involved in sewing and crafts from a very early age. My father and brother are great woodworkers; my mother was an excellent seamstress and loved all crafts; and my grandmother crocheted doilies. My sister and I enjoy crafting together whenever we can. As a child my favorite toy was a monkey named Zippy and several dolls. For me, the source of inspiration comes from childhood memories, vintage art and the Victorian era. I don’t know when my love of miniatures began, but I have always enjoyed the detail of little works of art.
For many years, besides bear and doll making, quilting and hand painted ornaments, as well as creating wardrobe and costuming for film, theater, and television has kept me busy. Being a self-taught artist, there are no “rules” to get in the way of creativity.
Making things for other people has always brought joy, and I began selling my pieces at the holiday time through a show in my home. The show included a variety of things from cross stitched items to painted ornaments. For variety, I made dolls with cross stitched faces. My first bears were 12” tall, made of acrylic fur. After working with acrylic fur for a while, I found the world of miniature bears and started using mohair. Designing miniature bears began in 1995 when The Patchwork Ark was established, and soon the doll faces were painted to get a more realistic look. The name of my business came from my love of quilting, and the many animals I enjoy creating. They reminded me of Noah’s Ark.
All of the bears and dolls are designed and handmade by me and the fine detail of each piece was very exciting. My experience of all crafts is very helpful in creating props and accessories for my pieces. It is so important to me to create a quality bear or doll at a reasonable price, so that everyone can become a collector.
My most favorite part of bear and doll making is the face, and making little outfits. I guess it brings back childhood memories of playing with my dolls. Having a great face is what gives the piece character, and a unique personality – We were all created to be one-of-a-kind. It is very special to know that someone will love the pieces that come from my hand, as much as I enjoy making them. My greatest challenge is I have so many ideas and so little time to make them all.
In 1997 when the website was established, The Patchwork Ark became Warm Heart Bears. I slowly began creating other animals besides teddy bears. Each bear is fully jointed and features eyes made of glass and they are filled with a mixture of steel shot, walnut grounds and a bit of lavender.
The doll’s faces have been hand painted, and are also articulated with movable arms and legs so they can be posed. They are also filled with a mixture of steel shot, walnut grounds and a bit of lavender Their clothing is made of a variety of materials, and the hair is a doll wig or can be made of yarn or other fibers. All of the bears and dolls are one-of-a-kind pieces and are made for ADULT COLLECTORS only.
Having my work published in bear magazines was very special; and I have enjoyed meeting other artists and collectors. A few contests have been entered, and have been honored with several years of awards. My greatest reward is having customers from all over the world love what I do and enjoy what they purchase. The most joyful part of being an artist is the pleasure my pieces bring to the lives of those who collect. Seeing the smiles on their faces, and receiving their little notes of pleasure when they receive their new adopted friend brings great joy. Bears and Dolls have a special place in my heart, and I am blessed to be given the opportunity to warm so many hearts. Being an artist is truly a God given talent.
My husband and I, along with 3 cats, live in Colorado, USA at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. Doing something I love in my home studio is a blessing. My artwork is an extension of who I am; my hopes, dreams, thoughts, feelings and beliefs. I have to thank my family, friends and all the collectors that make it possible for me to continue doing what I love.
Thanks for visiting today ~ Carolyn