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TEDDY BEARS ARE HOT COLLECTIBLES

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Designer teddy bears have become hot collectibles, with teddies by well-known artists fetching as much as $2,000.

These charming bruins lack age, according to an article in the current issue of Country Living, but they possess attributes associated with antiques such as rarity, originality and name value.Although bear artists have been at work for more than a dozen years, the general public has only recently discovered handcrafted teddies.

The teddy bear movement originated on the West Coast and now attracts craftsmen and artists from around the country.

Early production in the mid-'70s was uneven, because many bearmakers lacked aesthetic training experience with old teddies. Supplies such as mohair, glass eyes and body joints were scarce.

By 1985, public demand had exploded. Quality and quantity improved as did bearmaking supplies and the American Teddy Bear Artists guild was formed.

A recognizable personal style distinguishes top bear artists. A bear reveals its maker's "signature" through details such as the way a nose is stitched or eyes are set. Some people even claim that an artist-made bear resembles its creator.

These innovators make whimsical, outrageous moves, trying new concepts and fabrics and using inspiration from the past in unexpected, off-beat ways.