The other day, I was out with a friend who began to talk about boldly living one’s dreams versus passively dreaming about the life one wants to live. She was saying that many people never get around to reaching for their goals — grabbing that brass ring — because they find contentment in just imagining what they would enjoy doing. The musing and the make-believing give them enough satisfaction so they don’t feel the compulsion to chase down that elusive illusion.
Think about a grand trip you might have always desired to take. Are you happy thumbing through the vacation catalogues, studying the centerfolds that depict smiling backpackers or sophisticated cruise-goers? Or do you need to jump off the sofa, run from your rocking chair, and get out and do it? Let’s face it — not everyone has to comply with the old Nike sneaker campaign. For many people, dreaming it is just as enriching as doing it.
For Brenda Mize, chasing a dream and then tackling it was something that she deeply hankered to do. And, in an indomitable, never-look-back way, she made her dream come true. Having worked in the field of information technology — an IT professional — she always felt a connection to the simpler, unplugged facets of life. Dollhouses, miniature furniture, collectible dolls, and teddy bears — all of these symbols of a bygone, pre-tech time spoke to her.
Eventually, their chatter convinced her that there were many other grown-ups who love the treasures that remind them of their childhood days. She opened up an online shop filled with all kinds of collectible marvels and named it Beacon’s Glow. (It is a tribute to the dollhouse-size lighthouse that she built and boasts a working searchlight.)
Since 2003, she has been a cheerleader and a retailer for the special collectible toys that young and old alike desire. But she has also been a creative artist in her own right. Brenda Mize is the talented pair of hands behind Minky Bears and the Eyes of Texas Dolls.
Rather than just ordering the creations of other artists who have their fingers on the pulse of collectors, Mize challenged herself to create pieces that reflected what she would want to own and display.
“My Minky Bears are one-of-a-kind classic-form teddy bears and hares that are made from vintage mink. They are five-way jointed, using Cotter pins and disc joints,” she explained to me. “They are hand-sewn and lined for durability. I want each of my creations to be of heirloom quality. I want collectors to recognize these as something special and lovingly made. Each bear is stuffed with a mix of both wood excelsior and wool poly blend. This is reminiscent of an old-fashioned, turn-of-the-century bear, too.”
Mize’s Minky Bears (and bunnies) are luxury personified. They look elegant and sophisticated, yet welcoming and inviting. “They are definitely meant to be held and touched,” Mize reminded me. “I want my collectors to get a ‘warm and fuzzy’ feeling when they hold one of my Minky Bears or Minky Hares.”
Measuring around 6 inches, they are ideal for cuddling within one’s hands. Their luxurious fur demands to be pet and primped. “The beauty of real mink fur is unlike anything else. It is soft, shimmery, silky, and lush.”
The Texas artist utilizes recycled vintage mink coats for her handiwork. She scours shops and ads to purchase old coats that have been languishing in people’s closets or in consignment stores. “I have certain colors in mind for what I want to create,” she mentioned. “I have experimented with dying mink, considering pastels and deeper hues. I think changing the color would work well in creating an even more unique bear or bunny. I also am searching for a nice lavender or pink mink coat!”
Whatever secondhand furs or recycled minks she does attain, Brenda Mize is committed to making sure her finished animals reflect her love of the unexpected. She wants to imbue her critters with a touch of magic — to coat them with a special collectible glow. “My signature mark is a necklace with either a Swarovski crystal heart or a miniature bottle filled with ‘magic dust’ and Swarovski pearls. I love the fact that I can make a type of magic seem real!”