My name is Tracey Surman and I am the artist in residence. I have been been designing and making bears for around 25 years and have featured in a number of international publications., There are are around 1,200 Otto Bears in the world so far including museums in Korea and the UK . I started out my artistic career designing making wedding dresses at 18 years old. I was given a roll of silk by a friend and I thought why not have a go at replicating an edwardian wedding dress I had seen in our our local museum! I did and it was bought by a wedding dress shop and used as their window display. After two years of designing and selling wedding dresses, I created a number of bespoke theatre and fancy dress costumes which led into the creation of stage sets for 2 local theatre companies.
Off the back of my love for antiques I then decided if I couldn't afford an Edwardian Steiff teddy bear I would have a go at designing and making a traditional style teddy bear. The first few bears were made from old fur coats and then I was given an old mohair tablecloth. Oscar was born, a large old gold articulated ted. He sold to a shop in the Lanes in Brighton who ordered 5 more so I decided to set up my own company Otto Bears (named after my childhood german shepherd dog Otto!) Fast forward 2 decades, fortunately (for me!) gone are the days when I made over 50 heads painstakingly changing the pattern millimetres at a time until I was happy with the head before moving onto each of the 21 sections of the bear. I recall being the first artist to wax bears noses and not satisfied with the standard cotterpin jointing system went onto design my own sprung loaded joints to take up any slack in the joints as fur flattens over the years; no self respecting ted wants loose joints
Many thanks for taking the time to visit my site. I hope you like what you see and please do get in touch if you would like any more information.