Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Strange Folk Festival by Autumn Wiggins

For 4 years I looked forward to my annual trip to St. Louis the last weekend in September.  During this weekend I would sell my funky rag dolls and trendy bears. Every year was better than the last and my record of sales at this show has yet to be matched.

That show was called the "Strange Folk Festival" put on by one Autumn Wiggins where my goofy products fit right in. Now however, the show is not to be this year due to the absurdity of a selfish greedy parks department who wants to dip their hands in the pot. It slaps HUGELY of copyright infringement.

Please take a read and share this story.

If you go to Strange Folk this isn't Autumn's.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


A lot of people have seen my Original Floppit dolls. I developed the pattern with versatility in mind and boy has it been versatile!!
It has been sports characters and animals, fantasy critters and diy blanks, bald and fuzzy, big and small. If you haven't seen a Floppit, here is a picture of a design-it- yourself blank...

This pattern was originally designed on the back of a restaurant place mat, while my son and I waited for our food at a local restaurant. I liked the concept so much I stashed the place mat in my purse and used it for the concept to make silly faced rag dolls. I have made over 200 silly faces over the past 5 years.

And now I'm taking the pattern one step further...into art dolls! After tweaking the body and limbs I have made 5 art dolls featuring hand painted faces with acrylic and water color. The results are rather satisfying! 



If you like what you see stay tuned to my etsy shop Tindle Bears
for more! Thanks for your continued support!!

Saturday, March 28, 2015


Thank you to everyone who came out to see Tindle Bears at the Avant Garde craft show in Columbus this past weekend!


May 2-3, 2015

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


This weekend for one day only from 10-4!!! Come meet "Nova" my newest black cat puppet, My dancing bear "Nitro" and "Bustopher Jones" bear puppet. 
Come get your own marionette to play with!! Also available, Nuggets, Floppits and oh so much more!!!

    SATURDAY, MARCH 28, 2015
     1860 NORTHAM RD.
      COLUMBUS, OH 43221

Friday, February 27, 2015

Authentic Handmade

If you support handmade artists, sell handmade art or generally think it's cool, this post is for you :)

If you haven't heard yet there is a story floating around the net about a "handmade seller" who makes exorbitant amounts of money on a certain website that claims to be "handmade".
Turns out, this particular seller actually has the products made OVERSEAS. That's right, they are mass produced out of the country and sold as American handmade items. 
Now from what I gather this person wants to twist the term "handmade" and make it "sort of" apply to them. It doesn't really work that way. Apparently this so called website is rife with this kind of deception.

-Not foolin' everyone!

Let me define the term handmade the way I see it, just so we are clear where I'm coming from.

Hand-made (adj).
   -describes a thing you produced with your own two hands
   -describes a thing you worked on for hours in your organized chaos of a craft studio you run out of a cramped room in your house
   -describes a thing you worked on in the car while waiting for your kiddos to get out of school... and worked on while waiting for a table at a restaurant... and worked on while waiting at the doctors office... and worked on it some more while sitting down to watch your favorite movie. ect.
    -describes a process where you take raw materials and change them into something completely different without the use of factory equipment or slave labor.

Now that I described it the way I see it, let's move on. I was growing weary of the question "You made all these yourself?" 
It came often and I was usually presented that sideways glance you often give your kid when you don't think they are being totally truthful.
But after I read (and fumed) over the a fore mentioned story, I realized how important it was to establish what handmade was in my realm of existence. So here are some pictures of where I work, the materials I use and the mess that ensues shortly after I begin working on a project.
and this is just TODAY'S mess

I have an extensive shipping department...
guarded by a ferocious terrier puppet!

Meet my secretary... "Post It."
her office is next to the adhesives department.
The supply department is overseen by Bustopher.
He's more productive than he looks.

I encourage all my artist friends to share similar pictures of their process. Give your customers NO DOUBT, you make everything you sell right here in the U.S. with your own two hands.

I encourage those who shop handmade to ask the question that previously made me internally roll my eyes
"Did you make all these yourself?"
I promise by the time I'm done explaining how I do it, where I do it and how long it takes, you'll feel a whole lot better about purchasing my products.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Inspiration vs. Copying

Have you ever had that artistic moment when a burst of creativity yields a super cool piece, that you then want to run with and make hundreds more?
 Did you ever have the thought soon after "Oh man, this is too awesome...someone is going to copy my stuff...they're gonna make millions off my design...I'm screwed...this sucks...sigh."

Yeah, me too. Well...maybe not verbatim, but you get the idea :)

Many of us have had our artwork copied (or stolen, as many can attest). And I can not tell you the mental process of a person who does this without remorse. What I can do is point out the difference between out-right copying and being inspired by someone's work enough to form an independent concept of your own.

Here is an example. The cute little critter below is made by Amanda Louise Spayd. I saw him on Pinterest about 6 months ago and quickly pinned him to my inspiration board. I was inspired to make something because of this photograph.

Now here is my finished product of that inspiration, "Bartok".

As you might be able to tell, Bartok is NOT an exact copy...that would look like this...

Hers...                               Mine.

That's called copying.

Which is NOT the most sincere form of flattery.
When the finished product is reproduced detail for detail, and a profit is made to the copier and not the original artist.
 Even the photographs might be practically identical.

Instead, one might take certain aspects of the adored piece and create a personal style.  I took details I liked about Amanda's piece and started there...
-I liked the color scheme, neutral and natural.
-I liked the well defined eyes that grab your attention.
-I liked the can say many things without changing.
(and it's flippin cute!)
-I liked the horns but knew of a technique I wanted to try my way.

Now when you take those inspirations and apply them to my Bartok, I hope you can see those attributes in my piece without thinking "Hey, isn't that the same thing that Amanda made?"

 If you have to wonder if your finished piece looks a bit too much like someone else's original...maybe you need to start again and make it more your own. It's called practice, and there is nothing wrong with it. We all had to start somewhere. So let's keep it original people. :)

Special thanks to Amanda Louise Srayd for allowing me to demonstrate my point through her piece :)

Saturday, November 29, 2014

10 things to say to an artist or crafter at a craft show.

    We've all seen the posts and blog entries highlighting the rudest, dumbest and most ignorant things people say while walking past vendors at a craft show. 
   As true as each of those sound bites are (I've heard many of them myself) I thought it would be a good idea to share the 10 nicest most encouraging things that have been said to me at various craft shows over the past 8 plus years.

10. "Your work is so unique, I LOVE IT!"
9.  "Oh wow! This is great!"
8.  "Each face is so different, how do you come up with so many different styles?"
7. "Your bears have so much character!"
6. "I was waiting on you girls to get done that I see what your looking at I WANT ONE!"
5. "You have a great imagination."
4.  Every little kids totally amazed face
3.  Every stern grown man's totally amazed face
2.  They all look so alive and feel so real!
1. "You must really love your work because it shows."

So I hope my fellow vendors hear more statements like these and less hurtful stabs at our passion.  I hope it gives potential customers alternative talking points and inspiration on what artists work really hard to hear :)

-Karen with Tindle Bears

Friday, October 3, 2014

The $1.00 no reserve auction on ebay.

When I first started selling over 12 years ago, ebay was in it's prime. It was popular among doll and bear makers to do a one dollar auction and watch the bidders clamor to your listing. Your view counter would tick over 600 and watchers would stack up almost hourly.
I've been away from ebay for a long time but I thought I would try the $1.00 auction again to see if it is as it once was. The risk is low, and I was hoping to bring more attention to the name Tindle Bears.
However I find the rumors are true and ebay is no longer amass with curious collectors. 
But this could be an epic chance for you! I have listed a mini Tindle Bear for $1.00 no reserve. As of this posting the highest bid was only $10.50!!! Lil' Waif is a sweet little suede bear valued much higher than his current bid. So have a look! Make a bid! Take home a Tindle Bear :)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The importance of artist collaboration.

   One thing I have discovered about myself in recent years is that I love talking to people about making things.  I love to share how I made something and then hear how it inspires them! Usually there isn't anything I won't tell you. Whether it's where to buy the crazy fabric, how to make moving eyes or what to do next on drafting a pattern, I will do my best to share what I have learned over the past 15 years.

 -Leonidas  The first Tindle Bear made in 2007

   I think collaboration with fellow artists, crafters and novices is not only pivotal to self growth, but it's also what makes our products better.  It makes us go farther and do more. It inspires us!
  When I first got my start, it was working with reborn dolls.  I wanted to make one but at the time there wasn't really a manual. It was a new art, where artisans took a vinyl baby doll and transformed it into a lifelike keepsake with rooted hair, perfect baby lips and even something called baby fat.
  I asked one simple question to an artist who made them and what I got in return was a mentor.  She told me everything. She told me how to do it, why we do it specific ways and where to get supplies. Our correspondence was through email, I never met her or even saw a picture of her yet she was still willing to help a novice crafter and expected nothing in return.
 After the market began to grow so did the pool of artists and the techniques that were tested and tried. I never ran into a single artist that wouldn't divulge information. The same happened when I chose to make teddy bears. There are whole forums of hundreds of artists from all over the world that collaborate on things like "how do I wax my bears nose?" and "Help, my airbrush splattered on teddy's face!" even, "I found this teddy at a garage sale, can some one identify it please?"
 An online forum teaming with ideas, techniques and inspiration. Now that I have acquired some 15 years of experience I can share what I know with anyone! I would love to try to answer your crafting questions. The ideas of others are always thrilling to hear.

My husband and I at a show with Nitro, our dancing bear.
 My bears are now evolving into interactive puppets and marionettes.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Hidden Tindle!!!

 wanna play a game?????
This is "The Hidden Tindle". I have placed this emblem in a photo of one of my current listings in my etsy shop. If you find it, YOU WIN! Just email/message me the listing with a brief description of where in the photo it is (ie. "its on the blue bears foot" or "its on the bottom right of the 3rd picture") and I will ship you a free prize!

Now for the rules...yeah, we gotta have em'.

Only one winner per listing. I will move The Hidden Tindle to another listing as soon as there is a winner. SO KEEP LOOKING! The emblem will only be present in product photos. Happy hunting and THANKS FOR PLAYING!!!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Karen Knapp of Tindle Bears

For over 10 years my name was synonymous with Tindle Bears.  Customers could search for Karen Searls and find a prolific number of links directing them to my many available creations. Now however, it would seem people still search that name and find broken links or empty pages.
So in the hopes this might help, my name is no longer Karen Searls. After a rough divorce I was so very lucky to find my husband which gave me a new name and a fresh start...

Karen Knapp of Tindle Bears

Thursday, August 7, 2014


New business card!!

Soon my blog and website will be changed to this  new design. So the next time you see this, you won't wonder if you're in the right place.

Monday, August 4, 2014


Who doesn't love a sale!!! In my large bear section of my etsy shop...
you will find I have reduced some prices for some of my best bruins.

WHY? you ask?  I've got lots of projects and new styles in the making and I need room to house them!

Stop by and see if any of them tickles your fancy!!!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The teddy bear to the teddy bear artist.

I thought it might be more personal to add a bit of teddy bear background about myself.

I'm not fond of having my picture taken, but my teddy bear doesn't seem to mind.
This is my first teddy bear I received shortly after I was born.
He never had a name (and still doesn't) but I do know he is a Knickerbocker crib bear 
from the late 70's early 80's.
He is approx. 34+ years old.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Hey! It worked!

I have a new thing I'm trying...hand painted glow in the dark eyes.

So my dear sweet husband thought it would be funny to leave this little guy on my nightstand.
Of course I did not notice until I turned off the light.

It looked a little like this.
I about jumped to the ceiling!
He said "Hey! It worked!"

Sure, we're all laughing now...