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Artist of the Month

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The featured Artist of the Month of November is Barb LawrenceBarb Lawrence

When Barb’s children were young, she searched for dolls and bears with that ‘special endearing look’. She wanted "childhood" for her children, not mere "playthings." Unable to find what she was seeking, Barb used her Yankee ingenuity to bring to life a menagerie of original soft sculpture dolls, entire wardrobes and charming Teddy Bear Best Friends for them.

These "Best Friends" so charmed her children’s friends, Barb soon received commissions form neighborhood parents to create special dolls and animals. Her professional dollmaker / teddy bear making career began by popular demand!

Although Barb holds advanced degrees in mechanical engineering and business management, her heart and soul belong to the arts. Painting, photography, designing, and sewing constitute her passion, her sanctuary. Early in Barb’s journey from "career" into arts, she sculpted widely-acclaimed fine-art multi-media figurines. When she discovered the world of collectibles and "doll art," she made the necessary aesthetic and technical adjustments and plunged headlong into this new, strange, yet familiar territory and she found her old themes fit well.

Though her children were now "too old for toys", Barb saw the same need for a special friend in the eyes of the characters she was bringing to life through her sculpture. Into their arms she placed charming, loveable Teddy Bear Friends to share their secrets. In time, dolls gave way to bears; bears whose large-eyed childlike innocence struck an immediate, passionate chord in the hearts of collectors.

"When I realized the feelings I had each time I made a teddy bear, "Barb says, "I knew this was the only thing I wanted to do." Most of Barb’s creations are one-of-a-kind. Her bears range in size from 5 inches to over 36 inches. Besides the one-of-a-kind bears she sells at top shows, Barb creates a handful of limited editions each year as well as bears custom designed in collaboration with select shops.

Barb hand-makes each original bear in her studio in the home she shares with David and their pups in charming Keyport New Jersey, situated on the shore of Raritan Bay. She cuts each bear from the finest quality imported German mohair or rayon. She hand stitches each nose, each paw pad, with care and precision; each stitch injecting life, charm and "soul" into her creatures. Once in a while, when she is lucky enough to discover treasured vintage mohair, Barb is able to invent a truly antique-looking attitude-filled "personality" bear. The antique accessories she unearths in the many haunts and shops of her Victorian-era village add authenticity and romance to these Teddies.

A visit to Barb’s studio soon reveals the true source of her inspiration: the Beatrix Potter-like world outside her window, where wild bunnies play, Little Herons visit and mallards determine to nest in the herb garden. As she works, she is content, knowing her life has come full circle, and she’s back where she (and her creations) belong.

Barb is also the author of the book SELLING YOUR DOLLS AND TEDDY BEARS.

You can view some of Barb's Bears in The Den Shop!

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