Judi Paul and Her Award-Winning Luxembears
Judi Paul’s award winning, genuine mohair teddy bears are a testament to her loving attention to detail, and the expressive possibilities that needle felting brings to art. Teddy bear fans and artists know Paul’s work well because she has won several prestigious awards. In 2008, she won the Golden Teddy Bear Award and received two TOBY awards for People’s Choice and Industry Choice. She has multiple nominations throughout the art world, and has one of her creations featured in a Tokyo, Japan museum.
Paul’s work has been published in Teddy Bear and Friends and Teddy Bear Review in the USA, England, Germany, Japan, Australia and South Africa. She’s been on the front cover of two US and two British publications. Her popularity and hard-won respect are the result of winning over 32 international awards.
As a lifelong artist, Judi began her professional art career as an airbrush artist at the GM Technical Center in Michigan. With multiple degrees in art, she always knew that creativity was her life path. She now applies her education in Fine Art and Commercial Art to creating her famous Teddy bears. She discovered her passion after making a cat from rabbit fur. The pattern she purchased came with a free coupon for Teddy Bear and Friends magazine.
Judi Discovers Needle Felting
In 2004, Judi began making bears, and after five years of doing it, she wanted more details in her designs. She bought a book on needle felting and learned how to felt wool into shapes.
“I was completely drawn into this wonderful world of handmade bears,” she says.
After making several bears from patterns, Judi began to work out her own patterns and designs. Having never seen it done before, she decided to try a mohair bear that required needle felting. She was completely hooked. Through trial and error, she began to develop a variety of expressions on the bears’ faces. She began to needle felt paws, too.
“It takes two days to felt a face. I felt to a very firm finish, and I work on a face until it tells me it’s done,” she continues.
Judi generally makes a bear a week, but says she can get lost in a bear as the needle felting reveals the individual personality of that animal. She makes less than 75 bears a year. She often works on several bears at a time, going from one to another as ideas pop up. She says that open mouths and smiling bears are her favorites, and she currently teaches students how to felt faces and paws at Ebearz University online.
Judi is a big fan of Living Felt’s wool batt. She says, “The sponginess and the way it felts up so easily and beautifully makes it a joy to work with.” She continues, “The color choices are perfect for what I need for my realistic/whimsical bear faces.” (Judi MC-1 Wool Batts, try Latte, Clay and Light Camel)
Felting on the Farm
When Judi takes a break from her craft, she enjoys being with her family on their dairy farm in Luxemburg, Wisconsin. She loves to blog about life on the farm and other family adventures. Judi and her husband enjoy Ballroom dancing, and Judi participates in Middle Eastern belly dancing to stay active and healthy.
“I have a very busy life, and I work on my designs while the kids are in school or whenever I get an hour or two,” she says. “Many artists will say that art is part of their being. It’s part of my soul.”
When asked to give aspiring artists words of encouragement, she says, “Trust your heart and soul. Don’t compare yourself to other artists, but rather be inspired by them.”
Judi goes on to advise that artists learn, not copy. She encourages people to look into their heart and soul, and to believe. “Don’t be hard on yourself when something doesn’t turn out as you planned.”
Judi experiments a lot, and she hopes others will, too. She says some of her best creations have come unexpectedly because she was open to new things. She concludes by reinforcing that there are no mistakes when artists create with love.