Bear Necessities Originals by Luralee Wheatley
899 E. 5050 S.
My name is Luralee Wheatley. I've been designing and creating teddy bears for Bear Necessities Originals since 1995. My love for teddy bears grew out of a life-long love affair with animals. Since I can remember, I have always had a passion for animals...any animal. I cannot recall a moment in my life that animals of some sort did not surround me. At the present time, my husband and I share our home with two Maine Coon cats, a Border Collie, and about 100 bears which include both artist bear and Steiff.
I began collecting teddy bears many years before I began making my first bears, which were originally intended only to supplement my own collection. My work was so well accepted by other collectors, that I eventually began producing my work for others to enjoy.
I have an art background and always enjoyed pastel painting and doing pencil sketches of the many animals I have loved so much. As a skilled needlework artist, I spent several years teaching needlepoint and crewel embroidery classes. During those years, I designed several original embroidery works of my favorite subjects. In the early 1990s, I began experimenting with teddy bears and, after much trial and error, perfected a style and technique that results in exceptional, high-quality bears with captivating personalities.
I began creating my own designs almost immediately, as the commercial patterns I began with did not reflect the look I was trying to achieve. While my preference in collecting bears tends to be more traditional (I love the look of Steiff bears), I find that my own creations have evolved over time into bears with a more contemporary look. My bears are most recognizable by their large feet; fat tummies, long, poseable arms and legs; and their unique, expressive faces.
I recently began experimenting with puppies, which have been very popular with collectors. I first started with mixed-breed type puppies and went from those to the purebred dogs. I enjoy the new challenge of trying to create a dog that is as close to a purebred standard as possible. I've been focusing most of my time lately on these puppy designs. Since I've been asked to create several designs from customer's photos, I've decided to call my new creations "Pet Portraits in Mohair". As with my original-design artist bears, these charming creations are completely handcrafted of top-quality Schulte German mohair. Each comes with a signed certificate of authenticity.
As a general rule, I do not dress my bears preferring to let the beauty of the Mohair and the personality of the bear speak for itself. I specialize in one-of-a-kinds, very limited editions, and special orders. In the past, I have occasionally attempted to produce larger editions; however, since my time is so limited and I create only between 25-50 bears a year, I like to spend my efforts pursuing new ideas rather than trying to recreate the same look many times over. The constant pursuit of those new ideas and the search for that elusive "perfect bear" keeps me motivated and provides the creative challenge I crave.
As a teddy bear artist, I feel that although I am the channel through which these gentle creatures emerge and that while they develop their own personalities, they are also a subliminal expression of who I am. I take great joy in knowing that my creations can bring a smile and such happiness into the lives of others.
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