As we travel around meeting new people and their beloved bears, we are continually reminded of the need to address both the patient’s needs and the customer’s requirements. It is never simply a prescriptive answer as we have to balance a number of factors.
The dictionary definition for the word ‘restoration’ is: “returning something to its earlier good condition or position”. Is this something that a teddy bear restorer can achieve? Maybe if the patient is quite new when we first see it but what about the oldest patients: those that are a hundred years old, well-worn or damaged? Some people believe that leaving well alone is the best answer.
So is it right to leave such bears unattended in collections or museums simply because their state of repair suggests age? Perhaps the belief is that there is more value in a bear in its original state. Damaged and disintegrating is not its original state!
The dictionary definition for the word ‘preservation’ is: “the act of keeping the same or preventing it from further damage”. Is this a more realistic description of the work we are required to do and should do? The majority of our customers are simply asking us to return their lifelong friend to an undamaged condition.
What we offer:
- We treat for moth and other insect infestation which could cause damage.
- We clean appropriate to age and material used.
- We mend, strengthen and replace limbs, eyes, stitching: all in keeping with the original style of the manufacturer.
Sometimes we are asked to leave certain things as they are. Patches that Grandma did many years ago, odd eyes, a missing ear and even a biro tattoo. We are more than happy to do this because these things are personal and evoke strong memories of a person or place: a special time in someone’s life.
Our advice always pertains to the continued ‘survival’ of the bear. We would encourage the customer to allow us to repair the things that could cause future or further damage. So, are we restorers or preservers?
In our professional and personal opinion, we feel a strong duty to maintain as many of our earlier bears as we can. The history of the teddy bear is relatively short in comparison with other works of art and historical artefacts and we are sure that the care of such things brings into question similar conflicts of their own.
However, in years to come we would like people to see ‘conserved’ teddies: those which have been brought to a state of repair that can then be maintained for the future. How sad it would be if all our dear old teddies simply turned to dust and thread and the only examples were those pictured in reference books.
We don’t think people in the future would mind seeing the odd darn or re-covered paw: such things tell a story.
‘Conservation’ - to keep something from damage, change or waste. What do you think our work is?