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!) Shortly thereafter I was approached to design a bear for Disney. 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 cotter-pin 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. All my bears, patterns, jointing system and designs are copyrighted so you can be sure of a totally unique bear.
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.