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Meet Jane Lynne Martin of DoodlebearsMeet our June Artist: Jane Lynne Martin of Doodlebears. Each month, we'll bring you an interview with someone in the bear world. Enjoy!
When did you start making bears and what inspired you to design your own?
I started making bears in 1999 after going into my local library and buying two teddy bear magazines. When I looked through the magazines I found each one had a free teddy bear pattern inside and, feeling inspired, I set about making the bears. I was so pleased with myself at the time, but looking back now I can see just how poor they really were - I still have them today to remind me of how much my skills have improved. After making several more bears I felt brave enough to attempt my own design, trying to create the bears my imagination had dreamt up. It's been a huge learning curve, but I enjoy it so much that I haven't stopped since!
Describe your style of bears and/or animals you make.
There are so many different styles of bears, and over the years I have tried my hand at most of them, from the wild and wacky, to the elegantly poised traditional, from the small (3 ½ inch) to the big and cuddly (27 inch). More recently however, I returned to my first love – the traditional bear, tending to favour a bear sized around 14 inches. Over the past few years I have started to incorporate needle-felting into my bear-making, and as I have grown more confident in it, I decided to start making primates, particularly chimps and orangutans. Needle-felting allows me to sculpt the features in a way that reflects the primate's expressive faces, and I have had great success with them so far, winning the Reader's Choice Award, furry friend category, in both 2006 and 2007, as well as the Editor's Choice Award in 2007. I am currently nominated for a Golden Teddy Award with my orangutan, Jambi.
Where do you live and where are you originally from?
I currently live in Buckinghamshire in the UK, although I lived in the Greater London area for some years. Where I live now is roughly twenty five miles from my place of birth.
What inspires you?
I get a lot of my inspiration from the wonderful expressions on the faces of my two beautiful dogs. I also love primates and so in the last few years I have made quite a few chimpanzees and orangutans. I visit Monkey World in Dorset, UK as often as possible: Monkey World is an amazing sanctuary for rescued primates from all over the world and a cause I wholeheartedly support. Every visit fills me with inspiration: I thoroughly enjoy watching the animals, photographing them and making numerous sketches, and using the experience to plan my next creation.
What is your favorite part of bear making?
I think many bear artists would agree that the most exciting part of bear-making is the moment when you can finally look into the completed face of whatever little chap you've just finished making. Seeing the expression always comes as a bit of a surprise – I'm never entirely sure who will be looking back at me, and I always find myself saying hello. Luckily my wonderful family are used to me and my eccentric ways!
How did you choose your business name?
The name Doodlebears came from two sources. Firstly, I had nicknamed my youngest son Doodles several years ago, and secondly, my bears (and primates) tend to start their live as a doodled drawing. It just seemed right that they should be called Doodlebears!
Do you have any other hobbies besides bear making?
I've always been a 'crafty' sort of person – I like to try my hand at anything creative and over the years have tried many things, from knitting to pottery. As a child I loved drawing and painting, and sold my first painting when I was twelve years old. My grandmother taught me to knit when I was three years old, and it's a skill I treasure – I've been able to knit clothing not only for myself and my family, but now my bears. I love to work on my computer, and especially love graphic design. I spend many hours each week designing greeting cards, many of which I post to my friends on an online teddy-bear forum.
I Love Teddies Note: Jane is the Celebration Ambassador on Teddy Talk (www.teddy-talk.com).
Do you have any pets and/or children?
I have five children, three boys and two girls. They're all adults now, but the youngest three are still living at home with me and my husband. I also have two gorgeous Cavalier King Charles spaniels, who I absolutely adore.
What are you most proud of?
Within the bear-world I am most proud of the awards I have won. I was shocked to receive a nomination for the Reader's Choice Award in 2002 after making bears for such a short period of time, but my proudest moments have to be winning the Reader's Choice Award in both 2006 and 2007 (in the furry friends category) and winning the Editor's Choice Award, also in 2007. I have recently been nominated for a Golden Teddy with my orangutan, Jambi, the results of which have yet to be announced.
Where do you sell your bears?
I sell through various outlets – my website, bear fairs and eBay. My favourite of these are the bear fairs, where I have the opportunity to meet fellow bear-lovers and indulge in talk of my favourite subject. It really does feel like a privilege to be able to spend a day surrounded by such creative people and such wonderful creations.
Doodlebears on Teddy-Bears.org