Bearing Up

September 27th, 2018
Bearing Up
A secret delight is on display at the Stirling Library, there to excite families and the community.

The Mount Lofty Historical Society is hosting a teddy bears’ picnic full of teddies and bears of all ages and from all walks of life.

Society member Liz Hansman said the exhibit has three facets – teddy bears, real bears and children’s literature about bears.

“The project was started earlier last year because we wanted to do something that would bring younger people and families into our work,” she said.

“I was doing a study of bears in heraldry and we thought the history of teddy bears would be a good exhibit, then it developed into bears of every sort.

“We have the history of the teddy bear and how it came about, four classic authors who wrote about bears in literature and the real bears – their habitat, food and quirky little traits which were very interesting to research.”

A selection of teddy bears owned by members of the community have been brought together to combine the stories of the classic toys with the tales of Winnie the Pooh, Paddington and Baloo Bear from the Jungle Book.

“We’ve had a lot of contributions from the public - people bringing bears in and leaving them with us,” Liz said.

“The library staff and one of our members also made a plastic bear with the 3D printer so we had a 60 year old bear next to a bear that was only hours old at one stage.”

Tania McGregor has a group of bears on display which she taught Crafers primary School students to knit.

Knitting classes with Tania have been popular at the school since she was asked to help students make poppies for the ANZAC centenary in 2015.

“I took 12 children who had no idea how to knit at all – they were year 7s – and I was talking to my grandson about it, at the time he was in year 3 and could knit and I said it would really help if I could have you there to help teach them,” Tania said.

“So I went into his math class and asked how many children would like to learn to knit and the hands went up.

“I thought I would get maybe one poppy but we got 143 with the year 3s involved, then the children asked me can we continue to knit so we kept knitting.”

The group meets on Tuesday and Wednesday at lunch times, then after school on Wednesday to learn the tricks of the trade.

Knitting teddy bears began as a way to give to others.

“I've been trying to encourage them to do something for others not just themselves, for people less fortunate so we made trauma bears,” Tania said.

“I didn't realise at the time that trauma bears was a trademark of the Red Cross so when I found out we started calling them snuggle bears.

“When we've done a few I'll find another group to donate them to – to children or a nursing home for people with dementia.”

The children made a bear each for the 26 new students beginning primary school at Crafers at the start of this year as a welcome gift, knitting through the holidays to finish in time.

“One made six on her own, another made four or five and we gave them to the new children on the first day,” Tania said.

“We're now starting the bears for next year.”

The exhibit in the library shows the value that teddy bears such as those knitted by Crafers primary school students have to society, according to Liz.

“They’re a symbol of comfort and gentleness,” Liz said.

“They’re much more than toys and are a great vehicle for society for providing comfort.”

The open display will be in the historical society’s space at the back of the library until the end of October.

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