"EVERY TIME I picked up a magazine, I saw these bears," says Jennie Wisley. "I really wanted to make one." So she found a book on repairing the Steiff bears made in Germany early in the century and used it to create her own patterns. Wisley's handmade teddy bears, complete with movable limbs, resemble such cuddly-doll favorites circa 1900.
Wisley now produces about 150 bears in an average year and showcases them in Just Bearly, her studio/shop in Balboa Park's Spanish Village. Her bear-making is accomplished in the old-fashioned, labor-intensive way: It takes her one hour just to cut out the 27 pieces needed for each bear.
The bears vary in size from a height of about about 14 inches to 25 inches and in price from $35 to $55.
From her San Diego outlet, Wisley has sold her bears to customers from throughout the United States and 11 other countries. But she says she won't be hiring anyone else to help her increase teddy bear production. "I will not become commercial," she says firmly.
Jennie Wisley's teddy bears are available through Just Bearly, Studio 35, Spanish Village, San Diego; (619) 236-8540.