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Norwich artist’s handcrafted bear on display in the Victoria and Albert Museum

PUBLISHED: 11:48 30 October 2012 | UPDATED: 10:55 31 October 2012

Katie Mantell from Thorpe Hamlet has set up a bear-making business and currently has one of her bears on show at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

Katie Mantell from Thorpe Hamlet has set up a bear-making business and currently has one of her bears on show at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

Archant Norfolk

A love of teddy bears has inspired a Norwich art graduate to set up a unique business creating adorable hand-crafted bears.

And 24-year-old Katie Mantell’s bears have already been causing a stir with one of them – Cedric – currently on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

Miss Mantell’s quirky hand-crafted characters earned her a place on the BBC Two show Paul Martin’s Handmade Revolution, which encourages Britain to get back in touch with its proud craft traditions.

The show was screened earlier this month, and Miss Mantell was picked as the judges’ favourite in the episode she featured in, an accolade which won her the chance to show one of her bears at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

“I never dreamed I would have a teddy bear on show at the Victoria and Albert Museum. It is amazing. I went to see him at the museum on Saturday,” she said.

“He is called Cedric. He is made out of tencel and he was handwoven using twill weave. He is red, gold and yellow, based on autumn leaves because I am inspired by nature.”

Miss Mantell, who lives in Quebec Road, Norwich, and graduated from Norwich University College of the Arts (NUCA) in July, made her first bear just over a year ago.

She said: “I have always loved bears and have always collected them, each one has its own little memory reminding me of something.

“I wanted to do a bear-making course for years and years but it was a lot of money, but then I found out I could buy the patterns.”

Since finishing her textiles course at NUCA Miss Mantell has been making more bears, each with their own unique character.

“I try to give them traditional English names,” said Miss Mantell, whose bears to date include Archer, Arthur, Cedric, Clemence, Frederick, Marvin and Quinby.

It takes many, many days of careful work to craft each bear.

Miss Mantell specialised in weaving during her textiles course, and she uses her weaving expertise to create special fabric for each one before cutting out the pieces and hand-sewing the bear together.

“It takes about three weeks to weave fabric for four or five bears and then two days to make each individual bear,” said Miss Mantell.

Each of Miss Mantell’s bears costs £195 to buy.

Cedric, who has already been sold, will be on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London until November 12.

For more about the bears visit Miss Mantell’s website www.creative-threads.co.uk

Are you setting up an unusual new arts venture? Call Norwich Evening News reporter Emma Knights on 01603 772428 or email emma.knights@archant.co.uk

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