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Yosemite Bearworks

The Artist - Donna Butts

For many years I was a quilting ‘fanatic’ and spent every spare minute designing and making quilts. One Valentine’s Day six or seven years ago, my dear quilting friends (who meet every Friday to share and create together) and I decided to make bears for our families. I had a vintage jacket that I thought would make a great bear for my husband, so off we went for supplies. That Valentine bear had some glaring shortcomings, but he was much appreciated by my husband, and really started something for me - because he was the first of many, many bears. I went into a bear-making frenzy and bought every bear pattern, book, and magazine I could find. I soon was designing my own bears and haven’t looked back since.

Donna Butts holding one of her bears

Since I live in the foothills just below Yosemite National Park, “Yosemite Bearworks” seemed like a natural name for my new venture. Because the park plays such an important part in this area, I try to include a few “backpackers” and “camper bears” with each show and many of my bears are decorated with natural materials such as acorns, pinecones, moss etc., which have been gathered on our property.

I enjoy every aspect of being a bearsmith. I find it especially rewarding to stretch myself creatively through entering competitions. Donna's Award-winning Frog Prince Bear My bears have won many Best of Show awards and first place ribbons at various bear shows. In 2001 I was privileged to win a People's Choice TOBY award for “Bedtime for Bears” — what a thrill! I won an Industries Choice TOBY award in 2003 for a magician rabbit called "Hat Trick," and again this year for "The Frog Prince" (who also won a TITA award from Japan.)

I have discovered that my creativity is best when I constantly work on new designs. That is why I have only made one-of-a-kind bears for the last few years. In this way, I can offer each collector a truly special piece.

However, due to many collector's requests, I have on occasion made "cousins" of certain bears (they are related-but not the same). I also enjoy working in themes. I have a "bedtime" series, a "woodsman"
series and a loose category of "fanciful" creatures.
In any event, I try to make each bear unique and as perfect as possible.

For more on Donna, read the story about her that ran in the British magazine “Teddy Bear Scene.”

Email Donna

(c) Donna Butts, 2004
No part of this page can be reproduced in any way
without the author's permission

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