Realistic bears of distinction

News Headlines:
Bear Bits News 2020 - Monday, December 28, 2020
ARE WE STILL MAKING BEARS - definitely! - Monday, December 28, 2020
A NEW UPDATED HISTORY PAGE! - Monday, December 28, 2020
Golden George - Life Time Awards - Monday, December 28, 2020

Welcome to the online home of Bear Bits, the premier source of beautiful, award winning, realistic bears designed and made by the internationally renowned team of Jean And Bill Ashburner who specialise in their exceptional natural designs for polar bears; Asian moon bears; pandas; black, brown and grizzly bears etc. as well as the occasional Rare Bits (the bunnies) and a few traditional teddy bears. If you'd like to see our latest product range, take a look at our online product catalogue.

We hope you will find this site useful and informative, and we hope you'll visit often. This website is best viewed using Internet Explorer 4 or above, at screen resolutions of 800x600 and upwards, and ideally at a colour depth of 24bit. If you have any comments regarding the site, please contact the webmaster.

We are members of the British Toymakers Guild and see the bottom of this page for the awards we have won.  

Bear Bits News 2020 Posted Monday, December 28, 2020 by Jean

We hope that all bear lovers and collectors are doing OK in this very strange year. Often, maybe particularly at fairs when enjoying being able to sell our bears directly to customers and see their reaction, we would use the missive, “When all else fails you can always hug your bear”. We trust your bears have brought you comfort.
Tucked away in the north of Scotland, in a house with a wonderful view, things have not been too hard and we have been kept busy with requests (orders) for new bears. Here are a couple of photos of some that we have sent off to bring pleasure and company to their new owners.

ARE WE STILL MAKING BEARS - definitely! Posted Monday, December 28, 2020 by Jean

The beginning of 2018 felt very strange for us as in the past we would have been putting together new collections for the Winter BearFest, Teddy Bear Total in Munster and Teddy Welt in Wiesbaden. We did not regret the lack of pressure but did miss meeting up with collectors, other bear artist, shop owners and organisers whose support and friendship had become such a big part of our lives.
Life is good up here in the north of Scotland and amidst the chaos of having a new kitchen bathroom, and en suites installed, and in between taking days out to see some of the spectacular mountain and coastal scenery that is so close, we’ve settled into a routine of making about 3 or 4 bears a month!
If you would like to order a bear do have a look at our BEARS PAGE as this shows edition bears that still need homes. As before, they are not all made up but we have the fabric and when you order we put your name against the bear in our Edition book to reserve it and also reserve a making date.
I also brought with us some of the best pieces of fabric from my huge stash which had to be culled because there is not the luxury of a huge bear making studio with lots of wardrobes and storage space here! However, there are still some lovely pieces so special commissions, 1/1s or OOAKS could be possible - you need to email or phone so that we can discuss what you would like and if achievable. CONTACT PAGE

Can we make something really special for you?

Now we are only making a few bears a year we have realised that limited editions are not particularly appropriate; it is so much nicer to be able to make a bespoke bear for individual collectors. We have reorganised our Bears Page (product index page).

You can read information about each feature that can be included above pictures of the various species that have inspired us and the types of bear that we make.

Please remember that each of the photos is of a bear that has already been sold and we cannot replicate it exactly. However, we can make a bear for you “In the style of . . .” so if you have got an idea of what you would like, please get in touch.

A NEW UPDATED HISTORY PAGE! Posted Monday, December 28, 2020 by Jean

Providing information for Teddy Bear Times that would help collectors recognise and date teddies or bears that we have made over the last 25 years made us aware of the previously rather limited, History page on our website. This page has now been completely updated and not only provides a timeline of the features that we developed for our bears but also when new techniques were introduced and how even the labels provide a clue as to when the piece was made.
Maybe you’d just like to learn more about us and how our now, very recognisable style evolved, but if you simply want to find out when a particular feature or look was introduced, there’s a helpful contents at the beginning with links to the relevant section.
We hope this helps.
Jean & Bill

Golden George - Life Time Awards Posted Monday, December 28, 2020 by Jean

Teddy Bear Total, April 28/29th 2017

What a wonderful fair – a big thank you to all our collectors, bear artist friends and the hard working Total team – we had a truly amazing farewell fair and long weekend in Munster; now all the bears have new homes! It was all a bit sad, but great fun too, with evenings out with friends and of course, the Golden George Awards Dinner on Saturday night to which we were going as supporters – we had not entered. Many of our friends, including Jutta Michels, Heike Buchner, Britta Uhlendorff and Laurent Bergman (the latter has come on several of our workshops) all had nominations. We had not entered and so were not concerned about going up on stage – each time we were offered more wine, we accepted!

At the end of the meal and before the presentations started Bill left the hall – for the watering hole and maybe ‘fresh air’! Imagine my complete astonishment when Sebastian said, “. . . and this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award goes to . . . . . . . Jean and Bill Ashburner.” Where was Bill? Two friends from our table rushed off to find him; Sebastian gallantly walked down the stairs off the stage towards our table to escort me if he was not back in time. As you can see from the photo he was found. It was a wonderful evening and we feel both privileged and humbled by the fact that our 24 years of making bears and attending fairs, including 16 of running workshops as well, is considered as having made a valuable contribution to the wonderful world of teddy bears! We have always loved going to the fairs – at the beginning it was very daunting and even these days we worry that the work is good enough. What you see when you go these big fairs is just so inspiring – so much talent – so many new and incredible techniques and styles – so much more for us to learn. Yes, we feel very grateful for the recognition but also very humble.
Jean and Bill

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Much as we used to enjoy attending fairs and meeting everyone, now that we are 80 percent retired and live in the North of Scotland, sadly, we no longer attend any. However, we still make to order.



Below is a list of shops that we supply to.

  • The Bear Garden (Guilford )
    01483 302581
  • Teddy Bears of Witney (Exclusives only) (Witney (Oxfordshire))
    01993 706616


    In the current, highly competitive, bear market we’ve noticed that many other bear artists have a page of their website displaying awards that they have either won or in which they have been nominated; additionally phrases such as “award winning” are used on advertisements. Apart from announcing a result at the time, we haven’t done much in the “trumpet blowing” department but maybe the time has come?!

    Jean has been making bears on a full time basis since 1993, joined by Bill late 1995/early 1996 and Bear Bits has entered 19 competitions, and during these 22 years and we have been winners or runner up in all of them. Whenever we have entered a competition we have made ourselves a rule that our entry must include either a technique or change of style that we have not included in any previous competition so we have not necessarily entered something every year e.g. the 1996 entry “A week of Bears” included Tuesday’s Bear (full of grace) – a small bear doing an arabesque, standing on pointed toe and with a shoulder joint that allowed one arm to be held above her head. In this year’s Excellence in Bear Artistry Awards, we have given Peter extra pose-ability by ‘under filling’ his body with polypellets but incorporating a neck-to-tail backbone (armature) to supply the necessary support; we have also given him claws – although not a new technique to us, the last time we made claws for our bears was as far back as 1997!

    Below is a list of the awards we have won.

    2015 Golden George - Piqa was one of the final 3 nominees in the Master Class Category 5 Nature Bears and finally judged as runner up to Masaya Sato’s entry.

    2014 Golden George - Polar Moon was the winner in Master Class category 5 - Nature Bears

    2013 Excellence in Bear Artistry - Winner - Tableaux class

    2013 French Teddy Awards - Hanging On II won second place in the Group category.

    2013 Golden George - Peter was the winner again in the Realistic Bears class

    2012 Excellence in Bear Artistry - Winner - Realistic Animals and Bears class with Peter, a realistic brown bear.

    French Teddy Awards - Peter also won the Realistic Bears class in this competition!

    National Teddy Bear Artist Awards – Winner – Teddy Bear Friends Class with a very special Hare (hares are a new development and since the first one, late 2011, we have been tweaking the pattern to improve it). We were awarded 2nd place in the Panda Class for our 40cm alpaca panda, including a subtle open mouth (this was the first time we had used our open mouth design on a bear smaller than 56cm). Please see the 2012 archive and the Bears page (click top right of this page)

    2011 National Teddy Bear Artist Awards – Winner – Natural Bear Class and BEST IN SHOW!! Arthur (see 2011 Archive) was made from an extremely luxurious, very dense, plush fabric – 30mm long pile, with a lot of movement and a contrasting mid brown mohair was been used for his muzzle and inner ears, blended with subtle airbrushing. Arthur’s nose was embroidered in a more complex way than usual and he had an open mouth.

    2007 Readers Choice Awards, Teddy Bear Scene – Winner – Bare Bear Class – I’ve got a Secret (Maks - a large, fully detailed realistic bear made from long pile cream synthetic faux fur with black mohair inserts to the muzzle and inner ears and needle sculpted pads and 8in Minim – the smallest realistically shaped bear with double neck joint and proper paw pads made by us to date.

    2006 Readers Choice Awards, Teddy Bear Scene – Winner – Bare Bear Class – Happiness is a Hug (A large detailed realistic bear with airbrushed shading, holding a 4in teddy and a 4in bunny in its paws)

    2004 Readers Choice Awards, Teddy Bear Scene – Winner – Bare Bear Class – Safety Zone (A mother polar bear and her cub - the cub was the smallest to date with a realistically embroidered nose, a double neck joint, wrist joints and 3D pads)

    2002 British Bear Artist Awards – Winner – Group Class 17in and above – Where’s my Teddy? (A large brown mother bear with 2 smaller cubs, all very detailed and a 4in teddy bear.

    2002 British Bear Artist Awards – Winner – Individual Class 17in and above – The Caramel Bear (a large light brown bear with wrist and ankle joints, needle sculpted 3D pads, a very complex embroidered nose, fabric dyed on the reverse to reveal the darker shading where the pile was trimmed on head and inner ears)

    2001 British Bear Artist Awards – Runner up – Group Class 12-17in Ice Bear Family (A mother polar bear with 2 cubs all with double neck joints, drop paws, wrist joints and 3D pads. The mother polar had a more complex detailed embroidered nose than previously

    1999 British Bear Artist Awards – Winner – Group Class 12-17in – A Celebration of Bears (4 natural bears – black bear, grizzly, polar and panda – each with a double neck joint and an asymmetric joint in each ankle so they could each sit, stand, kneel and lie out)

    1999 British Bear Artist Awards – Nominated/Finalist – Individual Class 12-17in – Panda (An accurately marked panda with double neck joint)

    1997 British Bear Artist Awards – Nominated/Finalist - Group Class 17in and above – Stuff and Nonsense. (Stuff – a large life-like bear with a realistically embroidered nose, Trapunto pads and very natural looking long claws – Nonsense – a 1920’s “flapper” with eyelids, eyelashes, a feather boa and head dress.

    1996 British Bear Artists Awards – Winner - Group Class 12-17in – A Week of Bears. (7 different styles and sizes of bears including a teddy bear, a character bear, a ballet dancing bear, a panda, a bent legged bear and a realistic bear.



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