Friday, July 10, 2009

TDIPT Presents.........

The artists of TDIPT (both the Merc and our Ebay group) have decided to revisit a fun idea we used to practice regularly on our old TDIPT blog...many moons ago.

Twice a month we'll randomly choose a TDIPT artist, and proudly place them in the TDIPT Spotlight, so that we can all get to know a little more about them.

Most of us are familiar with their work, but let's find out just who they are...the person behind all that wonderful talent!

So, without further ado.....

Karen Brady Hammontree of

~Brady Bears Studio~

The Spotlight's on YOU!!

Karen lives in a 1930's cottage Style home in Knoxville Tennesee, along w/ her wonderfully supportive husband of 9 years, her 2 daughters, age 7 and 2, 2 doggies, a fish, and 4 Hermit crabs!

Her Vintage style Teddy Bears will not only put a smile on your face, they'll steal your heart, and we're not the only ones who think so. Karen has had the honor of having her Bears featured in many magazines such as:

Teddy Bear and Friends

Teddy Bear Review in the U.S. as well as in Teddy Bear Times and Teddy Bear Scene in the United Kingdom.

She is a TOBY(Teddy Bear of the Year) award nominee for 2009 from Teddy Bear and Friends magazine in the vignette category for my "Old Toy Store Display"

Her Bears were also selected several times by Early American Life Magazine for the prestigious honor of being featured in the Directory of Traditonal American Crafts issue.

One look at her luscious creations, and you'll know she is very deserving!

We asked Karen:

Do you work outside the home?

No, I’m fortunate that I can stay home with my kids and run my business.

Do you have any hobbies/what do you like to do when you're not creating?

I love to spend time with my husband and kids. I’m a huge antique junkie and love to visit antique shows and shops. I love to travel and to visit places with a history. I love to photograph. I also love to go boating & fishing.

What are some of your favorite things?

I love all of my "stuff" for one reason or another, but my favorite things are the pieces of art my kids create. My 7 year old loves to paint, draw and sew. I love it when she makes a really cool painting or drawing that I can display. Children do amazing art. They see the world from a totally different perspective. For them, everything is fun and colorful.

Do you collect anything in particular?
What do you NOT collect? should be the question, LOL. I collect everything from teddies (of course), to fabrics (I especially love early 1900s fabrics and barkcloth), trims, paintings, vintage photos & paper items, dolls, toys, vintage clothes, Victorian shoes (I like to find single ones) and anything else fun or funky that catches my eye.

How did you get your start in your creative business? When?

I studied art at the University of Tennessee, while in college a friend’s mother showed me basic teddy bear making, cutting patterns and how to sew and join them. She used old coats for her bears, but they just did not give me the look I desired. At the time mohair was just too costly for me to use, so I packed my patterns away. The same lady also got me interested in antiques. She collected vintage dolls, teddies, pottery and other small items. I’d always been a collector. In middle and high school I collected horses, clowns and dolls, so collecting antiques was just a natural step for me. Eventually I started selling antiques and traveling around the US to do shows. The ebay boom got me online selling. Eventually after I married and had children I needed something creative to do while at home. I found my old box of bear patterns and started making bears. I started designing my own patterns and investing in mohair. Now 3 ½ years later, it’s my passion and career.

Tell us how you got your business name?

My business name was pretty easy. My maiden name is Brady. I started with just Brady Bears, but I wanted it to sound more refined. I wanted my bears to have a place to "come from" so I added the Studio. That’s how Brady Bears Studio came to be.

Is it in the genes......does anyone in your family, now or generations before create? I do believe it is in the genes for me on the Brady side of the family. My grandfather, dad and uncle are all excellent woodcrafters. My uncle and his son are also excellent at drawing & painting. I believe my creative passion comes from my grandfather. He was always designing and building a piece of furniture. He always made things for enjoyment.

How do you keep ideas coming?

I think so far I’ve been pretty lucky, I don’t get creative burn out too often. I keep my ideas coming from constantly looking at things. Whether it’s shopping at an antique show, visiting a historic site with lots of architecture, looking at fabrics or talking to someone, I always keep my mind open to something new and exciting. Since all of my bears are one of a kind, sometimes that can be a challenge. When I get a mental block, I just try to pull myself away from creating and do something different for a while. It gives my mind a chance to reset itself.

Who/what inspires you?

I’m inspired by everything that goes on around me. I love to look at objects. I believe that’s one reason I collect. I love shapes, colors and textures. A color in a piece of fabric or on an old house that I drive past can spark an idea. I could develop an idea from a word in passing conversation, that sets me to thinking about something else and before I know it, I have my next idea. I’m always looking and my mind is always working on my next project.

Do you have a studio or do you work in different parts of your home?

I have a designated room in my home as a studio. I have it decorated with lots of my favorite things. It’s warm, cozy and nice a place to create. I do move around though, and cut patterns in the kitchen and sew or stuff bears in the family room.

How do you organize your supplies?

I have a really great worktable with drawers for all of my paints. I store my fabrics in plastic tubs. I use clear glass jars for little trinkets like buttons, old keys, ribbons or wood blocks. The glass jars also make a fun eye candy display and it makes it easy to find things. I try to keep most of my items in sight. If I pack things away, I tend to forget I even have them. I’m extremely visual. Plus having out things around me always sparks ideas. I also have shelves for magazines and collectibles. I try to use pieces of furniture that can also provide extra storage.

Do you like to listen to music while you work, if so what ?

Well, I do like music, but for me it becomes very distracting while I’m working. I end up listening to something that brings my mood down or it’s too up beat and I just want to dance. J . My kids also try to compete with the music for attention, so the noise level becomes too much. If I can, I will watch TV, if not, it’s nothing and if I’m lucky it’s silence.

Do you have a favorite piece of art that you've created?

Yes, two actually. They are both my version of an old store display. One I created for the TOBY’s this year and it won me the nomination for Teddy Bear of the Year. The other is a Halloween store display and is my entry for the 2009 EAL Holiday directory.

What have you learned about marketing?

TONS!!! I’ve learned how to do submissions to magazines, answer a variety of questionnaires for articles, enter contests, and the biggest thing I’ve learned is that you have to get yourself out to the public and become known. Collectors love to read about artists. They like to know who you are and how you create. It gives them a real insight to your work. As a collector myself, I think it's exciting to know how pieces of art come to life. So what ever you do, be pro active and make yourself known to the rest of the world.

What keeps you motivated?

My passion to create! It never leaves me, it’s always been there and hopefully always will. In times when I do get down, my husband is excellent at talking me though things and getting me back on track. He is my biggest and best supporter.

Karen's sweet little girls Bella and Sofie (above), and the whole family (below) enjoying some fun in the sun while on vacation in SeaSide, Fla last month.

Karen's bears will making their way to the Chicagoland Teddy Bear show, in Schaumburg, Il, Oct 24th. If you're in the area, be sure to check them out!

Thanks so very much for letting us get to know you Karen, we've enjoyed seeing you in the Spotlight!


  1. Karen, what a lovely family you have. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about your creative process, inspirations and seeing where your wonderful bears come to life.
    Thank you for sharing your creativity and a bit about you with us all.
    The honors you've received are well deserved.


  2. What a great artist for the spotlight! Thank you for sharing with us Karen! You are an amazing artist and i will always treasure my Brady Bear Reindeer!!!

  3. Lucky Jen to have a Brady Bear!
    Great spotlight, I really enjoyed reading about you ! Your kids are adorable and I love your studio. ~~Pam

  4. I love learning about artists I am not familiar with and Karen's spotlight is a real treat! Lovely family, lovely house, and wonderful bears!

    Thank you!

  5. Karen, it was such fun to see you in the spotlight.....your work is amazing, and it's great to see your studio, where the Brady Bears are brought to life! Your family is beautiful, and your sweet little girls are darling! It's always nice to know there's a supportive spouse behind the talented artist!The vakay looks like a perfect spot for those (like me) who LOVE the water!

    Thanks again for sharing!

  6. Thanks Ladies for your nice comments. :) It was a lot of fun to do and I was honored to start things off. Thanks again Patty for putting it all together. Jan the banner it so cute, as always! I can't wait to see who's in the spotlight next.


  7. I really enjoyed reading about you & your bears...its nice to put a face behind the bear so to speak. Your home looks so warm & cozy..would love to see a room full of Brady Bears. suzieq

  8. Wonderful learning about you Karen!

    Your bears are sure worthy of all the praise they've been given.

    I just love them!


  9. Karen, Your creations are fabulous and you can tell you love what you do! Your spotlight is inspiring! Wonderful studio, I'm jealous. Your girls are adorable! Thanks for sharing!

  10. Karen, I really enjoyeed reading about you and your lovely family! We are practically neighbors & I knew almost nothing about you other than how talented you are & that you make the most Wonderful Bears I have ever seen! What a treat to see your studio & your adorable children! Thanks for sharing with us! Hugs, Starla

  11. Karen, I really enjoyed reading about your love of collecting and seeing where you create your Brady Bears. I can see why your hobby would be spending time with your beautiful family, too. Thanks for taking the time to share your family, home, and wisdom with us. - Deb

  12. Karen...I so love reading the interview and finding a little more about what makes you "tick"...
    Congrats on being the first TDIPT sister to be in the spotlight!


  13. Wonderful interview, it was so nice to learn about you Karen!

  14. Karen,
    Thanks so much for sharing! How inspiring! I always love to peek in people's houses and see where/how they create :)

    The best part - to know that you are coming to Chicago in October! I'm a hop, skip and a jump from Schaumburg. I'm off to put it on my calender now! I hope that we can meet!

    Blessings, Patti

  15. Karen,
    You and your family are lovely!! I was so inspired to read this! I was having a down day and your sharing inspired me.

    Thank You so much! Your Art and your willingness to share totally inspired me!!!

    Will you be at the show in Schaumburg in Oct? I live right near there. Let me know.


  16. What a wonderful insight into a very gifted lady!

    Love it, Karen!

  17. What a wonderful article!I loved seeing all the pics of you and your family,Karen!Your studio looks so neat,too!Very inspiring!

  18. Thanks again for all of your wonderful and supportive comments!


  19. What a wonderful post! Karen, your studio is lovely and inspiring.
    You are a beautiful person inside and out and family is precious! Thank you for sharing with us. :> )

  20. Karen I love your work and how you live your life. Your girls are lovely like you.

  21. Karen, You & your family, your home and of course your bears are all so precious and beautiful. You are one talented lady...What a blessing.

    Peace & Blessings to you and yours,

  22. Hi Karen! I'm so glad you did the TDIPT interview ~ it was really great o learn more about you!


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