Jennylovesbenny bears: extreme cute

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Jenny Lee is an Australian bear artist, but what attracted me to her site was the adorable-enough-to-eat chick pictured on Softies Central. Here’s an artist who has made facial geometry into an extreme sport: if she placed the eyes of her stuffed critters any farther apart, or their noses any higher, they’d look like aliens instead of baby animals. It takes expert judgment to skirt the edge of disaster like this, and the results are stunningly adorable baby chicks, bunnies, kittens and more.

Oh, yeah, and she makes bears, too. :)

For more pictures, visit her website, her Flickr, and her Etsy shop.

Shelli Heinemann’s Potbelly Pixies–thinking outside the bear

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I usually don’t include bears or plushies on this blog, because SoftiesCentral does a much better job of that than I ever could, but today I have found a bear maker who absolutely deserves your attention.

I think the appeal of bears is often their simplicity. They have simple, impressionistic features, allowing an artist to evoke basic emotions with only a few strokes. The downside of that is that it requires subtlety to make a bear stand out from the crowd. Today’s artist, Shelli Heinemann, has that subtlety.

Her bears just ooze with personality, expressing a wide range of emotions, from happy to sad to cute to innocent to wistful. I’ll confess I haven’t been keeping up with the teddy bear market, but the eyes and eyelids of her bears seem innovative to me, combining with the high-quality materials and extremely high level of skill on display, they make these bears unforgettable.

I hope those of you who are dollmakers will take a moment to look at these bears and try to analyze what makes them “speak.” The tender pose, the perfect prop, the geometry of the faces, these are all things that could improve your own work if you take a moment to think about them. Another thing I’d like to point out are the fabulous photos of Heinemann’s bears. She takes the time to create environments in which to photograph them. It’s worth exploring that for your own work.

And, finally, Heinemann’s imps are a great example of an artist branching out to challenge herself. She wanted to create something a little simpler than her bears that she could sell for a lower price, so she photographed the face of a sculpture she made, then learned how to print the photograph onto fabric (there are a couple of ways to do that) and created her imp plushies. Maybe you should think about incorporating your work into a new medium.

You can see more bears at Heinemann’s blog, her Flickr set, and, theoretically at least, on her web site, which has a really elegant interface but is currently under construction. Have a great weekend!