|"Ironically, I never owned a teddy bear in my life prior to bear making," Linda Joan Chiasson of Bear in Mind Collectibles confided.
It's hard to believe that someone who brings such beautiful creations to life hadn't always been surrounded by teddy bears.
In the fall of 1998, Linda Joan was visiting a local marketplace in her hometown of Dieppe, New Brunswick, Canada; a small province bordering the Atlantic Ocean in eastern Canada. It was in the marketplace that brown fur bear captured her attention.
"I couldn't get it out of my mind. A month or so later, I went back to visit the store a second time and the fur bear was still there.
I decided then and there that
I should make my own bear."
Having had a lifetime of sewing experience, Linda Joan wasn't afraid to venture forth.
She'd grown up with the sewing tutelage of her mother and grandmother; making her own doll clothes, prom dresses, draperies and reupholstering.
After purchasing a bear making book, she found a curly brown and black Mongolian fur hat, at a thrift shop and in March 1999, her first tiny teddy bear was born.
Linda Joan decided to use fur because her area of Canada, known as the "snow capital of Canada," with its long, cold winters, had a booming fur industry during a popular era, therefore there was an abundance of older fur garments to repurpose.
She wouldn't have to buy new fur or pelts in order to make the bears from natural fur.
"It is my belief that using the fur from vintage garments is a wonderful way to pay homage to the creatures used to make the garments."
Since specializing in real fur, Linda Joan has learned of its many challenges.
"It is not as a forgiving medium as faux fur or mohair. The resulting bears and bunnies seem to take on a life of their own." She also uses real leather in the details to create the little bear paws with the five little toes, needle sculpted faces and shaded for depth.
It's these features that give her bears the trademark "Linda Joan" look.