Art Attack - Wendy Meagher

Art Attack - Wendy Meagher

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Wendy Meagher’s hobby-turned-full time career is one made
famous by the fabled, tiny men and women of the North
Pole: she is a vintage-inspired toy maker creating the most magical
of teddy bears.

Inspired by German toy maker and creator of
the original teddy bear, Margarete Steiff, Meagher
bravely abandoned her post as a computer programmer
18 years ago to launch Whendi’s Bears.

The result is a bear that looks as though it was lovingly
toted around by a toddler in the 19th century
or gleefully recovered from one’s great grandmother’s
attic. Each is handcrafted one at a time entirely
by Meagher. Surprisingly, she has no background
or training in toy making, just a lifelong love of arts and crafts
and, as she puts it, “old things.”

“I always loved vintage and antique bears,” states Meagher. “I
try to make the bears look like they’re 100 years old already.”
Using only the finest materials, such as German and English
mohair and aged leather, Meagher sews the body of the bear
from patterns she’s designed, then fills them with wood wool.
The character really begins to emerge in the careful sculpting of
the face, which determines what type of animal it will transform
into. Once the head is complete and the species determined, the
real fun begins—accessorizing. Here Meagher must decide if the
dog/bear/elephant will be a boy or a girl, a clown
or a sailor, clothed or au natural. Found treasures
such as antique shoe buttons and poker chips
are used for the bears’ eyes, noses, and accessories:
“If I find something I want to use, I make it
(work),” she tells us. All of the clothes are handmade
by Meagher using vintage textiles, laces, and
trims found at antique shows, shops and on eBay.
When asked what her favourite piece is,
Meagher names the French Bulldog and Boston Terrier as her
most loved. One must assume that her own Boston, Zoe, has
something to do with this personal bias.

“She’s been a huge inspiration, just by having her face here
every day,” Meagher gushes. “I use her as my big drawing
board.”

Bears start at $200; visit whendisbears.com for more details.

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