In 2001, a friend asked me if I could repair a precious, vintage childhood bear. I had already begun making teddy bears and, as it is important to know how to make a bear, in order to repair one, I decided to take on the challenge. Now, after 15 years, I still use my bear-making skills, learned from courses with both Australian and Overseas Bear Artists, but my work is now mostly soft toy restoration. However, occasionally, if a child has lost well-loved old friend, I make a replica soft toy. I sometimes also work on vintage fabric dolls. I repaired 190 soft toys in 2015.
The range of tasks my customers present me is amazing. Among the hundreds of items I have looked after are bears, lions, tigers, cheetahs, leopards, rabbits, dragons, crocodiles, a caterpillar, elephants, ducks, chickens, giraffes, pandas, monkeys, dogs, mice, an octopus, turtles, frogs, gorillas, parrots, pigs, lambs, hedgehogs, wombats, reindeer and even a marsupial lion!
My job is never boring. My customers come from all over Australia, and sometimes from Malaysia and Singapore, as well as people in my local area. Dogs provide me with almost 80% of my repairs. They attack soft toys and usually damage the face. My experiences reinforce the need to closely supervise children with dogs.
My soft toy repairs are featured in the Bear and Soft Toy Repair Album.
I live in Patterson Lakes, Victoria, with my husband, Colin Horsley. Colin is the proprietor of C.A. Tronics Electronic Repair & Maintenance Services.
I am sometimes asked if I can repair dolls, but I do not have those skills. I recommend Annie Bundylee of Annie’s Porcelain Dolls (Phone 03 9725 4454) for doll repairs.