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Boefje Bears by Anna Koetse


Expressive, curious, impatient, energetic, honest and creative are characteristics for the constellation Aries and according to these descriptions I am surely typical one of them. Born as the first daughter, but second of the 6 brothers and sisters, I enjoyed a very busy youth: ballet lessons, acting at school and for competitions, singing and performing in a cabaret group, and presenting amusement on stage.

In spite of all these creative pursuits I completed my secondary modern school successfully, but an academic study was not an option for me. Being busy with my hands was more obvious and during the end of the sixties I spend two lovely years in Amsterdam at the School of Haute Couture. There I learned how to design, to draw, to make patterns, 'moulage' skills (draping very thin cotton around a body), and making hats from wool felt. Shops for fabrics were (and remained) an addiction for me: touching, caressing, crinkling, scraping and smelling; my fingers, eyes and nostrils decide which material is best.

Although the 2-years training was mainly focused on fashion, I feel that is has been the cradle for my bear making in a later stage. In fact I have never stopped expressing myself visually and have mastered many artistic disciplines since. Sculpting, painting, bookbinding, soft furnishing, home decorating and flower-arranging, it all enjoys my interest. And in between all these kinds of activities I gave birth to my 3 children, two boys and my long desired girl. In the seventies I opened a boutique in children's wear right in the heart of Haarlem in a beautiful monumental manor-house opposite the 700 year old St.Bavo church at the market place. During 11 years my life was a combination of running the shop, running errands and raising the kids. It was challenging, as kindergartens didn't even exist the first few years, but I could reckon on my customers' consideration when the opening hours were adjusted to my kids' daily rhythm. When the shop was sold, I found myself creating dolls, moulding them out of self-hardening clay and dressing them in petit-haute-couture.

A few years later I experimented with some mohair and my first teddy was born. At that time teddy bear making was pioneering in the Netherlands and many pupils have asked me the tricks of the bear making trade since. I owe teddy bears a lot: they have opened many doors for me, because, as a real Aries, I am always curious to attend a show in another country. Indeed this bear-making hobby leaded me up to the most beautiful spots in the world!

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