Bedspring Bears by Anne Thomas and Amanda Davies
Bedspring Bears is in fact two artists - Anne Thomas and Amanda Davies. The third member of the trio being Caz (Amanda's sister) who whilst not an artist spends much of her time creating brochures, booking shows, making display stands, driving at silly hours to and fro, all of which make up a big part of the team.
How did we start???
Anne had collected bears for many years and had recently become interested in miniatures. When a stay in hospital and a convalescence at home gave this cross stitch fanatic the opportunity to try her hand at making a miniature bear from a kit. What Anne didn't know was that Amanda (a work colleague and friend), knowing that Anne loved designer bears, was trying to create her one for Xmas. Amanda had managed to work out what a traditional hand made bear consisted of by various conversations with Anne and had managed to stumble across a magazine with a pattern in it. Having got the basic idea Amanda had to then acquire the right ingredients.
Not too easy in small town Hampshire!!!!!!
What she ended up with was one pair of corduroy trousers from a charity shop, safety eyes, kapok, wood shavings that were destined for her snake tanks, and hardboard disks which her partner made in the workshop. By Christmas these ingredients had been made into a fully jointed, if not fully stuffed bear, complete with waistcoat. Anne's little scrap of material had been turned into a little bear (complete with slightly bulging eyes) which she was justly proud of. Both bears still take pride of place in the display cabinets of the Bedspring Bears workshop, happy to show their imperfections.
The following year was spent experimenting with materials, we were almost daily visitors to the charity shops. Anne, being a perfectionist, took herself off to a miniatures course and returned enlightened, not to mention boosted with enough confidence to consider selling bears. We took the bold step of booking a show and then spent months panicking about it. We sold two bears - a modest start.
Since then we have entered several competitions, nationally and internationally, with some success either by being finalists or winning our category. Our results to date are:
* EVA Awards 1999 Winner of Furry Friends Category and Runner Up in Bare Bear Category
* British Bear Artists Awards 2000 Finalist in Miniature Bear Category
* EVA Awards 2000 Winner of Miniature Bear Category and Runner Up in Bare Bear Category
* British Bear Artists Awards 2000 Finalists in Miniature Bear Category and Dressed Bear Category
* British Bear Artists Awards 2001 Finalists in Miniature Bear Category and Dress Bear Category
* British Bear Artists Awards 2002 Winner in Dressed Bear 17" and Above
* British Bear Artists Awards 2002 Runner Up in Un-Dressed Bear 17" and Above
* British Bear Artists Awards 2002 Winner for Most Original UK Entry
* EVA Awards 2002 Winner in Furry Friends Category
* TOBY Industry Choice Winner 2003 for Tricky Dicky and Sands of Time
We have undertaken a great many shows, including The TeddyBar Total Show in Wiesbaden, Germany and the State Opera House, Vienna. This year (2003) we will be showing in Kentucky and Chicago, USA.
How do two artists exist under one name???
Easy...we both make our own bears, Anne usually makes bears under eight inches, although there are a few bigger ones by her in the 'early days'. Amanda started with bigger bears, learnt to make miniatures and then returned to bigger bears so that she now makes a mixture of bears from 1½ inches to 30 inches. We have different styles and approaches to our work finding inspiration from all aspects of life.
There are some projects where we will work together on the same piece, the obvious one is the gollies. Anne may sew and stuff, Amanda will turn and joint. The faces being done between us.
Whilst we have different styles, some of our designs are so similar it can be hard to tell who has made them (there are differences and our fans can tell them apart). However for everyone's sake we each sign our own creations.
When entering competitions we do so as individual artists as most competitions do not accommodate joint entries.
Kits and Courses
Within a few months of selling Anne decided that there were not many British miniature kits available and thought that she would like 'to have a go'. She also felt that some of the kits she had tried were very sparse with the instructions or a bit muddled. The kits have proved very popular. Amanda having spent a brief spell at West Sussex college of Design as a teenager, now designs the majority of the kits in close consultation with Anne and often in response to customer request. We introduce several new kits each year and as a result some of the original kits are now only available by special request.
We also run several weekend workshops a year on different themes, i.e. weighted bears, miniatures, cats and other critters. These are for small groups (6-8 people) with both Anne and Amanda in attendance to offer practical tips and advice to anyone wanting to make their own bear. If you can't come to us we will consider coming to you.
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