Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Collector’s View on Teddy Bear Shows – Part 1

As promised, today I would like to share with you a collector’s point of view on attending teddy bear shows. As an artist from the other side of the table, I think it’s good to hear the thoughts of those who attend shows. It can give a different perspective on the experience of shows and what I as an artist can offer to those who come in search of more than just a teddy bear.


For me, shows are wonderful experiences that keep me in touch with other artists, friends and collectors who are often all of these things combined. Imagine that! Of course I am not the only one who loves going to shows.

I’d like to introduce you to Karen. Karen began collecting dolls and soon added teddy bears to her repertoire. She attended her first doll and teddy bear show in 2000 but she purchased her first bear from an artist at a craft show. It was made from an old quilt which you can see below. This was the start of her teddy bear acquisitions.


“Mountain Mama” – Karen’s First Artist Teddy Bear (Jan Elaine Sparks)

I asked her what the circumstances that lured her to attend that first teddy bear show and she said quite naturally, “Friends.” She had met other collectors who attended bear shows and they began to attend together. “That was always a fun trip – I especially loved the show and tell afterward.”


“Kay Kay”  - Karen’s First Serious Teddy Bear Purchase (Pam Kisner)

Her first time through the doors of a teddy bear show was “Amazing!” She goes on to say “I’d never seen so many bear artists all in one room—and never experienced so much temptation. Even at EXPO, there were dolls and manufactured bears I just wasn’t interested in, but totally teddy bear shows are an entirely different story. Everywhere I looked I saw a bear I loved. And the shoppers, oh my, I was used to looking, touching and feeling…and agonizing over my choices, and these ladies (and a few men) were buying up bears right and left. I remember looking through the glass in the door and seeing a bear I wanted to get a closer look at when the door opened, but when that happened, a lady had already bought her—by signaling to the artist through the glass. Amazing experience! The rush of adrenalin, the awe of the amazing creations and talent, and ultimately, the guilt over the number of bears bought and the money spent.”


“Blanche” – Karen’s Most Recent Artist Bear Adoption (Marjan Jorritsma)

Of course there are lots of options when it comes to adopting artists teddy bears. And I think they are all valid for different reasons, but since we are talking about in-person shows, I thought I’d ask Karen why she attends them.

“At first it was the thrill of the hunt. Now I think it is for the people. I know and love so many of the artists and know my “competitors,” the other collectors. Only kidding. But it is the friendly atmosphere, the incredible creativity of the artists who continue to come up with more fabulous bears (and other critters) over and over again, and the friendships that I’ve made. Going to a bear show is like attending a family reunion.”


A glimpse of some of the bears in Karen’s collection.

As an artist I have been going to teddy bear shows since 1989 and I completely agree with Karen. Soon the shows begin to be as much about the people as the bears. There is so much excitement at a show and a great feeling of camaraderie.

So in an effort to dig a little deeper into the collector’s experience, next Wednesday I will continue this conversation I had with Karen about shows. I hope to see you then!



  1. Very interesting, as a fellow bear lover I can relate to all of this post and look forward to hearing more.

  2. Thank you Ginger. I can't wait for the next episode!

    Pat xx

  3. Wonderful post Ginger, look forward to reading more.

  4. How WONDERFUL! I can't wait to read the rest!

  5. Love part 1, looking forward for seeing part 2

  6. This is fabulous! I miss going to shows so much. There are none near me...I think I need to start planning for 2012 and beyond. Sigh. I can't even travel to see my parents, and here I want to exhibit at teddy bear shows. For shame! Well, someday maybe there will be money enough, and I'll have made bears enough to set on the table. Would LOVE to meet some of my artist and collector friends in person!

    Thank you for doing this interview, Ginger! Maybe you and I will meet someday!

  7. Enjoyed reading your great post! I agree it does seem to be as 'much about the people as the bears', looking forward to the next instalment ! :o)

  8. I've never been to one and only heard about them online but I can imagine it would feel a little like being a kid again.
    Mama Bear


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