Teddy bear maker takes inspiration from Alaska

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Te Anau resident Kristine Dreckow with her latest teddy bear creation Mr Kaktovik, named after the Alaskan town where people can see polar bears and get a glimpse of the inupiat life in the Arctic. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

FROM the icy Alaskan wilderness to the rainforests of Te Anau, one woman has brought her teddy bear making skills to the south.

Each with their own personality, character and charm, Kristine Dreckow puts her soul into her fuzzy creations.

Her inspiration; the wild bears of Alaska.

It had been about 18 years since she began making the bears, but back then she was living in a remote area of Alaska.

“I started looking at bears and their personalities… I wasn’t into teddy bears beforehand, as a child.”

After some research and supply-buying, she set about crafting her first bear.

“I studied the form of the bears. My bears were totally different because I put humps on them, I made them more muscly… I made bears that looked like the shape of a bear, into a teddy bear.”

Long snouted and each with a smile or frown, the bears were styled to be like the black and grizzly bears she lived and worked by at the Bradfield Canal flats.

“The bears would come down there and they knew they were safe – you couldn’t shoot bears around the home, you had to be further away.

“They would come down there and they would mate, they would fight. They would bring their cubs down and walk past the house… you were living in their territory.”

During lockdown, when people throughout New Zealand put cuddly toys in their windows, Ms Dreckow thought it would be worthwhile letting the community know of her teddy bear making skills and “put a smile on people’s faces”.

While originally her material of choice was mohair, Ms Dreckow now hand-spun and knitted too.

“I want my bears to have a soul. A character, an essence to them. I sold my bears to a shop in Juneau [in Alaska] and found a business out of it.”

There was another woman in Te Anau who made “beautiful” bears, but other than that, there were not many others she knew of in the country, particularly hand-spun, she said.

It took up to five days to sew the cloth bears it was a long process to create the right crafted features for each bear.

“Every bear you sell, a piece of you goes with it.”

These days, making bears was a passion and hobby on the side of working in Milford Sound.

  • Anyone wanting more information could email Ms Dreckow at kristiendreckow@yahoo.com
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