OK, I confess.
For nigh on to 30 plus years Doris and I have been recognized as teddy bear artists. Over the course of time we estimate we have crafted somewhere between 10,000 and 15,000 teddy bears in various sizes and descriptions.
We have shipped teddy bears to shops in over 40 states and several foreign countries.
It has always been "we" did this interesting teddy, or "we" created this limited edition.
But as I grow a bit further into my senility, I realize that the deception just cannot go on. So, I must now confess. The bears have actually all been made by Doris!
Oh, I was very much involved in a number of stages of building a bear: cutting fabric, putting in joints, stuffing and other bits and pieces that did not require her extraordinary talents. I also spent a good deal of time at a drafting board creating designs on paper that she could turn into plush creations.
On many occasions, when I would make the point that her fabric was simply not looking like my paper drawings, she quickly remind me that she cannot make cloth behave like paper.
On a few occasions when Doris was away shopping, I would work up my courage and head for her sewing room and attempt to take on the mysteries of her sewing machine. Unfortunately when she returned I would have to ask her how to replace a broken needle or unclog a fabric jam. This inevitably would lead to a heated discussion, at which point I would be banned from her sewing room - for life!
As "our" reputation for crafting desirable teddy bears grew, we found ourselves busy on the lecture circuit speaking at teddy bear conventions here and abroad.
About a month before one such engagement I told Doris that if I was going to give talks on how to make a teddy bear, it only seemed logical and necessary that I should craft a teddy bear, by myself, without her help.
She got that sort of half-grin and half-smirk on her face and said "go ahead but stay away from my sewing machine!"
By this time I had mastered how to do a hand stitch or two, so this would be a simple task. I knew that the finished product would be simply stunning, but I opted to do my very first bear out of some rather inexpensive plush fabric we had lying around.
As determined as I was to create something unique, it just didn't seem right that I should start with expensive mohair.
I disappeared into the bowels of our three story home in Chesaning, Michigan, and I only surfaced occasionally, showing up at the dinner table to recharge my batteries. The discussion of my special project was never brought up.
Now I would like to say at this point, I kept a close record of exactly how many hours I had invested, but Doris can tell you that once I start on a project, I have to carry it through to conclusion.
Several days passed (or was it weeks?) and I was finally I was ready to share my incredible creation with my wife.
I wrapped the bear carefully in a towel and carried it into the living room, and amid as much fanfare as I could create by humming a few bars of 'the wedding march, or something akin to that, I unveiled by creation with great flourish.
Her eyes were wide with what I took to be excitement, but there was absolute silence.
Looking back, I realize it must have been difficult for her to come up with the right words: 'brilliant' - 'amazing' - 'absolutely spectacular' were a few that come to my mind.
But there was just silence.
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, Doris simply said "you are not going to show that thing in public, are you?"
I did indeed show the bear at our very next speaking engagement, to loud and long gales of laughter and applause.
In fact, one brazen collector actually inquired if my creation was for sale!
Since it was my very first, I decided to hang on to it as the perfect example of the difference between a teddy bear artist (Doris) and someone who can be very handy at times to run errands, pack shipping boxes and other chores that I can actually handle.
I intended to include a picture of my first teddy creation, but when I asked Doris where she had stored it, she just smiled and said nothing.
Maybe some day it will surface and bring back a host of memories of cutting fabric, hand stitching and an occasional use of a glue gun!
P.S. After a concentrated effort of going through literally hundreds of pictures and slides, we found a picture of my first bear! Actually, Doris turned it up.
What a Sweetheart she is!
Doris had asked Terry to destroy the sole remaining picture of his first bear, but he managed to sneak us a copy for publication before the photo was destined to hit the shredder.
Terry tried his hand, some years later and made this Panda, after hundreds of hours of additional practice. The little Panda is all hand stitched and measures 6 inches tall. "I think it shows what a little (or a lot) of persistence can do!" Terry said proudly!
Editor's Note: We asked Terry about the various materials he used in making his first bear and he responded: "You really have to see the bear to depreciate it. I used what pieces of scrap were available, therefore the mismatched colors. His right arm does not match the left and it was mounted to the body backwards (paw facing out). Legs were not even on the body, seams were closed with black thread (my argument was it was easier to see!) and as I recall, his eyes were crooked or did not match, or some such. He represented every boo boo you could hope to make. My only regret is that the bear somehow left our possession and is being "enjoyed" in another collection somewhere."
Terry & Doris Michaud
Members since March 2009