Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Where Bad Bears Move Forth to Conquer Fresh Domains


A couple of years ago I began to look at ways to get my art out into the world and also, I wanted to explore different options for generating an income from my art work. As Ireland has a strong tradition for craft and art markets, joining a market seemed like the natural next step to take.


The Bad Bear Pincushions were purposely made for my escapade into the world of market stalls. I wanted to make affordable items to sell so that people could browse and consider my larger investment pieces like the Snug tea cosies but could also purchase a token or a small keepsake of my work. I feel I have a strong instinct in regards to the packaging of my pieces; I think this came in useful when preparing to bring my work to a new market place. I feel it is another way or a further way to communicate your ideas and also your personality.


The Bad Bear Pincushions were very well received in the first couple of outings. Men and women alike seemed to enjoy their grumpy faces and the funny back story that accompanied them. I decided I would expand the range by making small brooches or pins using the Bad Bear faces. It turned out to be a great way to explore that already mentioned theme of individuality.

When I was getting ready for an up-coming market, I would spread out all my materials out in front of me; multi-shades of brown felt for their faces, every other colour of felt for their muzzles and backing, embroidery threads, accessories like beads, ribbons and buttons, brooch backings and my trusty circle template to mark out heads, ears and muzzles in numerous and ever changing combinations. I used to love going to some of the jewellery findings and bead shops in Dublin and come home with small paper bags of shiny brooch backings of different sizes to create new miniature personalities. It was a great way to use my imagination and my creativity; I tried to make each piece in under an hour so that I could keep the cost low and make them affordable for my customers.


I also put the same message from the pincushions on their labels. I declared that these were indeed very BAD bears. I can’t share with you what they have done; it is truly terrible, it really is better if you don’t know.

This sentiment used to drive kids crazy at the markets. I remember one small boy sidling up to me a couple of times, nudging me, and practically begging me to tell him what these Bad Bears had done to warrant such a warning.


I have to say I love this side-effect to the packaging. When people read the labels, I can nearly see in their eyes what they are imagining these bears have done. I think and hope for children, these things are still in the realm of school yard pranks and cartoon villains. They do seem to delight in the outright bold personalities they see before them. For adults, I think it is a good litmus test for how much news they have been watching or where their imagination takes them when bad deeds are mentioned.


I also like thinking about if the bad things they have done are People Bad Deeds or Bear Bad Deeds. What would a bear need to do to be qualified as “bad” in his/her bear community? This opens up a whole other world in my imagination and I can gladly play there for a while.

I like the really cross looking characters especially if they have a bow or a really mean pair of glasses. But I am also rather fond of the bears that look very sweet and innocent; you never know what is lurking under that cheerful fa├žade! I hope you enjoy looking at their different faces and see if you can come up with at least one truly tantalising back story for one of the Bad Bear crew.      

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