This is not your regular cup of tea. It’s a sweets, heart warming one, I can assure you. We’ve met Simona Benetyte-Mikutaviciene through our submissions section, which gets more crowded every day. (Thank you all!) Her art is just amazing, her Teddy bears are not regular toys, they have personalities, they are carefully crafted and infused with a doze of passion. We asked Simona a couple of questions about her peculiar choice of art, you can read the entire interview bellow and see all her collectible Teddy bears on her website.
Laura: Why Teddy bears? What cough your attention and how did you start to create them?
Simona: Show me a person, who doesn’t like Teddy bears. 🙂 Every childhood was spend with at least one bear or several bears. And some of us (including me) were surrounded with many plush toys.
After I finished fashion design studies and my younger daughter was born, I started to search myself in crafts. I played with a huge amount of different techniques and creating handmade. Still nothing I have tried touched my heart. But I didn’t give up.
One day I just tried to sew a plush bear for my little girl. It was a simple bear with no moving parts like real collectible Teddies. And it was something magical. Some days later I made few more bears. You won’t believe me, but I even cut in parts my faux fur coat just to make more bears. They were great gifts for my close friends.
During that time I start reading about bears making, Teddy bears history, how should they look like, what are the techniques, what special materials I need to use. So I found a craft store and bought my first kit of supplies. I was lucky that I had the skills to create the sketches so I could create my own bear patterns. For sure the first bears weren’t so great, but people loved them and it was a great support. So I found some bear collector sites where I could sell them. And that was the beginning of this interesting journey.
Laura: Each Teddy bear probably takes time and patience to create. Aren’t you afraid that at the end people will see it just as a simple toy?
Simona: Making these creatures requires patience, accuracy and time. To make a bear takes me about one week. Sure sometimes people ask why are collectible bears so expensive, what is so special about them. And I like to tell them patiently the process of creation and that every bear is individual and one of a kind. Every bear has a name and comes to their new home with a certificate (as we bear artist like to call it: passport).
Collectors know the value of well made Teddies. And from the reviews I know the quality of my bears is just wonderful. My clients always come back for more bears. Sometimes people are searching for a keepsake gift for their children and this is a perfect choice. One of my first clients was a man who ordered two teddy bears for his fiancee. It was really cute :).
Laura: What makes you stand out as a collectible Teddy bears artist?
Simona: Lot of artist usually are using standard materials and techniques. But I like to create something new and special. So I am using mixed techniques. I like to make needle felted muzzle as every time I can create the details to infuse them soul, different emotions and build new characters. Noses are usually made of polymer clay so I can make them in different shapes and colors. I am using only the best materials and special supplies.
Laura: What has been the biggest challenge in this journey as an artist?
Simona: Well for me as a Lithuanian, I had some problems to improve my English skills so that I could communicate easier with my clients. I am very thankful that everyone I met was so understanding and kind. And for sure as a self employer I needed to learn internet marketing and SEO skills.
Laura: What about your biggest accomplishment as an artist?
Simona: During these several years I was nominated in worldwide Teddy bear contests and for my big surprise my creations even took first places. We went to a big international fair in Germany and one of my Teddy bears won the second place. Maybe for some people it might look not such as a big thing, but as I know how many artists are participating in this contest, it’s a big award for me.
Laura: What’s next for you?
Simona: Oh, dear! 🙂 I have so many ideas for this journey. I like to draw, so now I am planing to publish a Teddy bears coloring book. My next vision is to create Teddy bears alphabet for little kids using with my bear drawings, postcard sets and maybe even prints for nursery room decor. And I think this will not be the end. As I am selling PDF teddy bear patterns and tutorials I would like to share my experience and some day write a book of this creative Teddy world.