Beware Durango: cute, cuddly bears are on the loose. These furry, brown creatures are looking for some love, and with their big brown eyes, they are irresistible.
Bear artist Kelly Previti is responsible for making adorable bears that have a strong emotional appeal.
A self-taught artist, Previti is a quick study. Calling herself artistically ADD, Previti has tried many different art genres but hadnt found the one that captivated her. Until now.
Previously, she sold folk art paintings and hand painted cloth dolls. While perusing eBay, she noticed some funny handmade bears that were commanding a higher price than her dolls.
I could do that, she thought.
And so she has. Her artistic background came in handy as she was a natural at making bears. From concept to pattern making to hand sewing the bears, her handiwork is top-notch. As soon as she completed her first couple of bears and listed them on eBay, they were adopted. In other words, they sold like hotcakes. In fact, other bear artists noticed her wares and cautioned her that she was underpricing them.
For someone whos been making bears for only the last two years, Previti has a brisk following. Her company, Tickled Pink Bears, attracts a steady stream of buyers and collectors, including an international following with collectors hailing from Germany, Belgium, France, England, Australia and Canada.
Each bear is a one-of-a-kind creation. Previti makes her own patterns, and even if she uses the same pattern to make multiple bears, no two are alike.
The uniqueness comes in the form of the imported fabric; mohair, Alpaca or cotton from the Netherlands, glass eyes from Germany and accessories like beaded necklaces or flowered hats. Her muse comes from looking at what other bear artists are doing. With only five to six other artists in the state, she looks internationally and finds inspiration in Russian bears.
There are so many styles of bears that I feel Ive barely scratched the surface and look forward to exploring many other styles as well as some day restoring vintage and family heirloom bears, Previti said.
Further adding to the uniqueness, each bear has its own name. For help, Previti asks input from her son and consults baby name websites to hone in on current trends. All of her bears are considered miniatures, just shorter than 6 inches, and have movable joints and necks and wobbly heads. Her bears are made for collectors to admire, not for babies to cuddle as they do contain choking hazards. Completing each bear takes about two to three days.
Often, her bears elicit a strong emotional connection from her buyers. They soothe the sick and cheer the lonely. If a bear isnt readily adopted, Previti develops her own bond with the bear, making it hard to part with it when it does sell. But she is consoled by the fact that she made the bear to bring joy to the world.
Its nice to know that something you have created can really be a source of comfort as well as bring a smile to someones face, Previti said.
With an exclusively online presence, Previti would love to sell her bears in a store in Durango, but she also doesnt want to overextend herself. Because of the special attention she devotes to each bear, she has a limited production capacity.
But finally, her artistic ADD has abated as she has found out what she wants to do.
I wont get rich from doing it, but I enjoy it, she said.
For more information, email Kelly Previti at [email protected]
Karin L. Becker teaches composition at Fort Lewis College. Reach her at [email protected]