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Bemused bunnies and mad March hares
Teddy Bear Times

Bemused bunnies and mad March hares

Posted May 14, 2015   |   1313 views   |   Hobbies & Crafts   |   Comments (0) Spring time: flowers, chocolate eggs and the Easter bunny. Bears by Sue Quinn has included quite a few rabbits and hares over the years - not to mention carrots

I was never successful as a pet rabbit owner when I was a little girl yet I have always loved the animal - everything about it epitomising softness and gentle warmth. Perhaps this is why I have always been so drawn to creating the soft sculpture varieties for the last 30 odd years! After all, these static little creatures can be looked at, held or even cuddled without any fear of them running off or making a mess!

My first rabbits were not made in mohair fabric as this was not easy to purchase at that time but I always hunted for the very best in manmade fur, preferably with a woven backing. With my toddler son looking on I made these bunnies in the house extension, sometimes overflowing on to the dining room table when a large order had to be completed.

Rabbits were made as pyjama cases with zips concealed under their dresses, puppets and a whole family of buntails - Boy Buntail, Baby Buntail and their Mum Mrs Buntail. Annabelle rabbit came a little later, wearing her cotton print dresses. All these rabbits carried their own felt carrots and some even sported handcrafted leather bags around their shoulder. They all had jointed heads and some were fully jointed.
These little animals were successfully sold, mostly at a regular craft event in Edinburgh, and then I moved on to my first trade show 30 years ago in Ingliston, Edinburgh - the Made in Scotland trade show. Bunnies and bears filled my little stand, and I was delighted to make contacts with a good number of stores, both in this country and overseas. I was also a member of the British Toymakers Guild which was also good for promoting my work.

Not long after, we were preparing for my son Roger to start school so it was inevitable that animals would be dressed in school uniform - bears and bunnies both!

Roger Rabbit, an 18” rabbit which was fully jointed, was designed at this time and he wore red cords - changing to a school uniform when the time was right! The school uniform was complete - woollen blazer, white poplin shirt, handknitted sweater, trousers and tie. Of course, the outfit had to include the hand crafted leather schoolbag.

It was the handcrafted leather school bag that nearly caused a problem with French customs, when a large order of rabbits was on the way to a store in France. They insisted on tests being made which, although they passed it, did cost me a lot of money and delays. France and Germany were the biggest customers for this character, in particular a store called ‘Merry Old England’ in Frankfurt and ‘Territoire’ in Paris. All of these shipments had to include the carrots of course, to stave off the hunger pangs for the poor little animals!
Another rabbit which was to cause a small problem was one that was commissioned by Selfridges in 1983. They wanted a four foot rabbit (including ears) to use as a display model in their shoe department! The carrot alone was two feet in length and I made the eyes by hand using paperweight moulds and resin. He was huge, but he looked great!  The store was delighted but after some time it came to light that children were ‘running up its back and launching themselves from its head’  Poor bunny - I am sure he was not at all impressed, and it was just as well that he was then taken off display.

I have often been asked, how many rabbits (and their carrots) I have made over the years. The answer has to be hundreds if not thousands, especially in those early years when they were never mass produced but produced in batches of 50. Of course now it is a different story - I only make very small numbers and one off creations and all made in mohair fabric.

Although it is a little scary, it is really lovely when someone comes to me at a fair and tells me that they had been given one of my rabbits when they were a baby and they still have it after accompanying them on their travels for so many years. One young woman told me that she has regular ‘rabbit reunions’ with a couple of friends who had identical rabbits when they were babies. She sent me a photograph so that I could see these well loved bunnies with their adult owners - well loved but also a little well worn!

So now it is that time again - Spring! My favourite time of the year with Easter just around the corner; a good time to enjoy the delights of hopping rabbits and Mad March Hares! Although I have made so many over the years I know that tomorrow I will make yet another one...a little different this time...

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About Teddy Bear Times

Teddy Bear Times is the world's leading magazine devoted to the wonderful world of teddy bears. Our passionate editorial team bring you all the news from the bear world, plus in-depth interviews with top artists from around the world, fabulous photos, and fun features. We'll tell you about up-and-coming artists to keep your eye on, and bring you the best of the big shows. Patterns for making bears, antiques to collect, plus readers' galleries…if you love bears, you'll love Teddy Bear Times.

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