In an upcoming issue of Teddy Bear & Friends, I get to show off the beautifully crafted artwork of miniatures artist Lisa Madsen. But, like many interviews for the magazine, not every photo or comment can make it into print. Thank goodness for the Plush Life blog. Here’s a chance to sneak a look at some of Madsen’s mini marvels and to appreciate her life story and how it helped her make such exquisite ethereal critters.
When I asked Lisa why she creates little Teddies that are always poised to flitter and flutter about, she told me, “My hope is that they do bring a bit of joy wherever they go. All my teddy bears are pretty whimsical and fancy-ish. They generally are very colorful and sparkly. And because they are so tiny, they prove that good things come in small packages. They need their wings to deliver these messages!”
Since childhood, Lisa has had a penchant for pretend, and a deep affection for cuddly and huggable toys. “When I was very young, my favorite stuffed animal was a purple-and-yellow stuffed lamb with a vinyl head. I thought it was a cow! I called her Nellsy. She got very dirty because I took her everywhere with me. When I was about five years old, I dropped her in a puddle when we went to see ‘The Sound of Music.’ I remember being so upset,” she recalled. “My mom helped me clean her up. I really loved little Nellsy and also my Betsy Wetsy doll, too.”
Keeping in touch with those childhood memories and the deep affection that a person can feel toward an “object,” Madsen uses this connection to her past to underscore every detail when she sits down to create today. She is always tethered to the thoughts and the importance of her childhood recollections and emotions.
Besides her lifelong commitment to crafting and creating, Lisa Madsen also has a deep and abiding affection for her faith and her fellow congregants. “In addition to my family, I also have a wonderful church family, at South Valley Baptist Church. They are all very warm and friendly folks. My pastor and his wife are the best,” Lisa enthused.
Her faith-based values are also at the heart of her career outside of teddy bear making: “I work part-time in our local Pregnancy Center as a Peer Counselor and Education Supervisor. It’s a pro-life Christian ministry that offers free pregnancy tests and resources to our community. I love meeting new people and helping them and offering them parenting classes and whatever else they might need. I also send birthday cards and Christmas cards to all of our clients because it’s nice to get good mail once in a while! And I love pretty cards and stickers and sparkles!”
The notion of sparkling and glittering and glimmering factors heavily in Madsen’s menagerie. She is convinced that the sparkly side of her bears helps to spread cheerfulness and happiness — something that she views as sorely lacking in this world. “I admit that I do love to make them literally sparkle! I like to draw and color on their feet. My bears are whimsical and colorful, and I see them as wee bits of happiness,” she shared.
Looking back on her bear career that was launched in 2003, she appreciates every moment of her 15-year ursine immersion. It has introduced her to fabulous peers, loyal collectors, helpful colleagues, and mesmerizing members of the bear industry. Each encounter has made her a better and more confident artist. Her tiny 3-inch critters have had a huge impact on her life.
“I love the bears and their colors and their wings. I love knowing I can make something pretty with velvets and threads and little parts and stuffing,” Lisa Madsen admitted. “I love knowing that someone will adopt them and love them, and the bears will bring smiles to so many hugs. It makes my heart very happy!”