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Artist of the Month

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The featured artist for the month of September is Jennifer Newland-Park from my homeland of England!   

The Beginning

Like many children my first teddy bear was given to my shortly after I was born. This bear, ’Peter’, went everywhere with me; a constant companion. He was removed, much to my distress, for repairs and washing. I still have this bear and although looking very tattered he is still an important part of my life. Because of ‘Peter’ I automatically sought out bears on my early travels. Drawn to the displays in shops, museums and clutched in the hands of other children.

Many years later I decided to try to make my own bear. A prolonged illness gave me time to try out a kit that had been bought for me. After diligently following the instructions I ended up with a creation that did not look much like the picture. But, I had enjoyed myself and it did fill me with a sense of achievement. So I decided to try again, this time making small modifications to the pattern. An idea was beginning to fill my mind, maybe I could create a look that was all my own and find people that also liked these bears.

I began to experiment with patterns and fabrics, visited bear shows to see what bears were popular and by talking to the bear artists gain inspiration to try and create Parkland Bears.

The Birth of a Bear.

My early bears were sewn on a machine. I have never really enjoyed using a sewing machine and I found that I was rushing the sewing to get to more interesting details. This was not good for the bears. The machine was put away and I sat down with my needle and thread and started to sew. The bears improved, hand sewing took much longer and each bear was slightly different but this added to their appeal.

I experimented with facial features, putting the eyes close together, using big and small ears, looking to see what could make these early creations truly mine. While trying to design a style for my bears, I would pass the time working on various cross stitch projects with my spaniel at my feet. This happy scene provided the final touch for my new bears. As I was already hand stitching the bears why not add cross stitch detailing to the paws and pads? This would make the bears unique and the designs used could vary from edition to edition. By creating each bear one at a time I could also select the coloured threads for each bear at the time of sewing. This would mean that although the designs used in an edition would be fixed, there may be variations in the colour of the threads used for each bear. Each bear would then be unique.

As I fussed my spaniel the final design feature looked me in the eye. The noses on Parkland Bears would follow the basic design of a spaniel's nose. When finished these noses would vary in size and colour but they would all share the same design.

A bear was definitely being born. The designs were developing, I had decided to use quality mohair, hardboard joints, glass eyes and fill them with pellets and poly-fibre. All they would need now was a name.

As these creative elements were coming together I lived in a small village near Oxford. Down the road there was the site of an Anglo-Saxon settlement. Nothing could actually be seen, so it was not very exciting, but it did create another line of thought. As these bears were going to look different, why not give them different names? Studies at the library produced many lists of Anglo-Saxon names. Many still in use today and others now used for town names. But they could be used for my bears too. I would first make the bear and when finished I would select a name either because the bear looked like the name or because the meaning seemed relevant. Once the name was chosen I would be able to finish the bear, adding accessories or leaving it as it was, ready to find a new home.

The Bears Introduce Themselves.

Many bears have been created since those early years and my designs and ideas have also developed. By attending bears fairs around the UK I was able to meet other bear artists and the collectors. Despite the difference between those early bears and the new ones meeting their public for the first time, certain characteristics remain the same:

  • All bears are hand sewn and feature cross stitched paws and pads.

  • They are made from mohair and other quality fabrics.

  • Each bear has glass eyes and hardboard joints and is stuffed with a mixture of poly-fiber and polyester pellets.

  • All share the same nose design and proudly carry their Anglo-Saxon names, even the Pandas.

The smallest bear I make is 7 inches tall and the largest, so far, 20 inches. They form part of small limited editions or are one of a kind bears. There are traditional Pandas in black and white together with others in shades of brown. These brown versions appeal to collectors not previously interested in pandas, drawn to the unusual colouring.

Occasionally, Parkland Bears produce a range of bears. Currently the Jewel Bears are available. In this case the design of the three bears featured is the same, the bears are available in Royal Blue, Bright Scarlet and Moss Green. These bears share the same cross stitch detailing but the choices of colour complement the bear shade.

Another bear made annually is the Signature Bear. This limited edition bear is only made during the year it is featured. The bear is distinguished by the Parkland Bear logo on one of its pads. During 1999 the bear that fills this category is ‘Rowena’. She is a beautiful 15 inch white bear, made from dense wavy German mohair with a contrasting pink nose and is finished by a deep red floral collar and a bouquet of fabric flowers. One of these bears was sent to Japan to be part of a bridal show and as a special was given a lace headdress and larger bouquet.


The main reason for the existence of Parkland Bears is the fact that I really enjoy making each bear. Being hand sewn they seem to become bears with character, they appeal to collectors looking for a bear that is a little different and are beginning to find new homes around the world following their entry onto the world wide web. Please visit them at http://members.xoom.com/Parkland/ and see if one of them could find a new home with you.

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