SITTING neatly in place are teddy bears with their own personalities and stories to tell.
All have been lovingly handcrafted and it’s no wonder their creator is a teddy- making award winner.
Margaret Hollins has been making teddy bears for 20 years and earlier this year claimed eight medals for her three entries in the Fred-i-bear competition in Johannesburg.
“It’s very hard work, but well worth it,” said Hollins who seems to have steady hands a surgeon would be proud of.
“Some people can make a bear in a day or two but I prefer to take my time and sometimes it takes me three weeks to make one.
“It is very time-consuming but very rewarding.”
She said she has always loved to craft and although her bear-making hobby is not cheap she could not go back to before she started making them.
Each bear she makes is hand stitched with its own accessories.
“Marge has an incredible knack for attention to detail and to find the nicest accessories for her bears,” said chairwoman of the Port Elizabeth Teddy Bear Guild, Biffy Hutton.
Hollins is one of the founding members of the guild.
She has come a long way since the first teddy bear she and other friends put together.
“We made this bear and thought it was the best thing since sliced bread,” joked Hollins.
“But compared to the bears I make now it really was not.”
But he still has a place in her home along with one of the bears she received for her birthday when she was just 10.
Three of Hollins’s bears were entered in the nationwide competition with the miniature ballerina bear receiving a gold medal for scoring the highest marks this year (97%). She received a gold medal for scoring more than 90% and also the viewers’ choice medal.
Her second entrant was Adam, a little bear with a bashful look on his face and hiding an apple behind his back.
She received a gold medal for Adam as well as a silver for viewers’ choice and a silver medal from Fred-i-Bear store.
The third bear, called Bright Eyes, achieved a 90% gold medal and also received a silver medal for viewers’ choice.
Fred-i-Bear co-owner Elane Wells said Hollins did really well considering how tough the judges are when scoring an advanced bear maker.
“They are especially tough on bear makers who have already achieved gold medals and it is extremely difficult to impress them but she did,” said Wells.
More than 50 bears were entered in the bear competition which has been running for about 15 years.
There are many categories to choose from including miniatures and the advanced category that Hollins took part in.
Hutton said they were very proud of Hollins who did so well, and another bear maker Juanita Pekelharing, who won a bonze, silver and gold at the competition.
This is not the first time Hollins’s bears have taken top honours. She won various first prizes at the Buitenverwachting Bear Fair in 2003 and 2005 and bear maker of the year in 2004.
Hollins does not sell her bears but keeps them and has lost count of the numbers that adorn her home.
“Once you make a bear you bond with it. I make them to keep”
The Teddy Bear Guild meets on the second Monday of every month in Church Road, Walmer, and they often have guests who show the members the different techniques that are used to make bears.
Some of the bears are as tiny as 2cm and are made from imported short mohair.