Mary Ann Neisz
I had teddy bears when I was growing up and still have my first bear. He does have a few bare spots where he was loved & carried everywhere. I have photos of my first panda. The panda towered above me in the photo, but I was only 3 at the time.
I grew up, went to college, got married, had a daughter, worked in Illinois and Texas and forgot about bears. I was working as a Controller for a software company in Dallas when I rediscovered bears. While browsing in a book store one weekend, I picked up a Teddy Bear magazine to thumb through while I waited for my husband. It made me smile to myself and the tension of the work week melted away.
I started going to bear shows, visiting bear shops and seriously collecting. My husband said I collected “hard and fast”. I met some of the most interesting artists at the shows.
I decided to try my hand at bear making. I drew a pattern, went to the fabric and hardware stores. I was set. My little bear look sad but I was hooked on bear making.
I made a few more bears and began doing shows. A lot of great people helped me along the way with advise and friendship
I began teaching classes. What a great way to meet people with a shared interest. I learned a lot from my students over the years.
In 1999 we moved to Arizona for my husband’s job. I continued making bears and doing shows. Then I met a group of different artists. They were silversmiths. Interested, I thought I would learn more. Hooked again. Began making chains and other jewelry, some for the bears and some for me. The jewelry soon made its way onto my table at shows and was very popular.
I still do a few shows but mostly stay in Tucson. I am “Artist in Residence” at Mostly Bears in Tucson. I teach bear making classes and occasionally a jewelry class. Every Wednesday I offer free help on bear making to all drop-ins.
I serve on the Board of Directors of Southern Arizona Greyhound Adoption. A great group of people who are dedicated to removing ex-racing greyhounds from the track and preparing them for adoption and their forever homes. If you are interested or just curious check our favorite links.