Celebrating 10 Years with Handmade Teddy Bears by Helen Dekker

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Hanna Kampourogianni


In the heart of the picturesque Netherlands, a cozy haven brims with the enchanting artistry of Helen Dekker. Celebrating a magnificent decade, Helen’s hands have woven tales of joy and nostalgia into every stitch, creating handmade teddy bears that transcend mere toys.

This extraordinary journey began in 2013, ignited by a dear friend who, having caught wind of a captivating BBC program, encouraged Helen to embark on a teddy bear-making adventure. Armed with two kits and an unwavering passion, they set out to craft their very first bears during holidays, marking the inception of a delightful tradition.

Celebrating 10 Years with Handmade Teddy Bears by Helen Dekker
Teddy bear. April 2021.

Over the first two years, Helen immersed herself in the craft, mastering the techniques using kits and established patterns. However, fueled by an innate artistic drive, she soon yearned to delve deeper, challenging herself to design her patterns.

The road was fraught with difficulties, as proportions proved elusive, but Helen’s determination prevailed. Drawing, measuring, and adjusting became the rhythm of her creative dance, resulting in teddy bears that boast a timeless, vintage allure.

This celebration isn’t just about a decade of teddy bear making; it’s a jubilation of artistic resilience, unwavering passion, and the ability to find solace and distraction amid health challenges.

As we unravel the threads of Helen’s journey, we invite you to step into a world where teddy bears aren’t mere companions but vessels of joy, each stitch echoing a tale of artistic evolution.

Join us in celebrating ten remarkable years with handmade teddy bears by the incomparable Helen Dekker.

Crafting Legacy: The Birth of Vintage Deco Bears

Before delving into the enchanting world of teddy bear art, Helen Dekker was already a creator with a penchant for rural home decorations. Under the moniker Vintage Deco Home Decorations, she meticulously crafted cushion pillows, painted shutters, rural trays, and more.

The artistry of her hands infused warmth and nostalgia into every piece, creating a brand synonymous with rustic charm.

As her journey took a turn towards teddy bear making, Helen seamlessly transformed her home decorations into cuddly companions. Thus, Vintage Deco evolved into a haven for bears that transcended mere toys.

Celebrating 10 Years with Handmade Teddy Bears by Helen Dekker
Teddy Bear

Helen’s bears are crafted with a nod to earlier times, exuding a vintage charm that distinguishes them as timeless decorations.

The Early Years

In the nascent stages of her remarkable teddy bear-making journey, Helen Dekker found herself immersed in the captivating world of soft sculpture art. The year was 2013 when, inspired by a BBC program and urged by a cherished friend, Helen, and her companion embarked on a creative odyssey with just two kits.

The duo, fueled by shared enthusiasm, spent their holidays navigating the intricacies of bear crafting, relying on kits and existing patterns to acquaint themselves with the craft.

These initial years laid the foundation for Helen’s burgeoning passion, as she honed her skills, discovering the delicate balance of proportions and perfecting the art of bringing a teddy bear to life.

Celebrating 10 Years with Handmade Teddy Bears by Helen Dekker
Teddy bear in clothes.

The early bears, crafted during these formative years, tell tales of exploration, determination, and the joy found in the art of creation, foreshadowing the vintage-inspired masterpieces that would grace the years to come.

The Evolution of Style

As the sun set on the early years of her teddy bear-making journey, Helen Dekker, undeterred by challenges, set her sights on a loftier goal—designing her teddy bear patterns.

The yearning for creative autonomy propelled her into uncharted territories, where every line drawn, every measurement taken, became a dance with proportions and a quest for the perfect form.

In 2015, Helen’s hands, guided by perseverance, began sketching the blueprints of her unique vintage-inspired bears. The journey wasn’t without its trials, with arms too small or too short, heads seemingly too large for the bodies, and legs that challenged the delicate balance.

Undeterred, Helen embraced the iterative process, pouring dedication into the craft, adjusting, measuring, and perfecting until each teddy bear radiated with a distinctive charm.

The evolution of Helen’s style mirrored her personal growth as an artist. The vintage aesthetic she sought, inspired by older teddy bears, became the hallmark of her creations.

Celebrating 10 Years with Handmade Teddy Bears by Helen Dekker
Teddy bear in a jacquard sweater.

The bears, with or without clothing, took on characters of their own, each one a unique expression of the surprises found in the artistic process.

The vintage charm and elusive proportions conquered, marked the beginning of a style uniquely Helen’s—a testament to a tenacious artist’s journey toward mastery.

Milestones and Achievements

Helen Dekker’s enchanting teddy bear creations not only found a loving home in the hearts of collectors but also stood as testaments to a decade adorned with milestones and artistic achievements.

In 2016, Helen took a bold step onto the stage of teddy bear shows, showcasing her creations at the Alton Teddybear Show in England. This marked not only her debut but a profound exploration into the world of bear-making exhibitions.

The experience proved transformative, offering Helen an opportunity to understand the profound connection people have with teddy bears and fostering connections with fellow artists.

Fuelled by this newfound insight, Helen extended her reach, participating twice at the Teddybär Total in Münster in 2017 and 2018, and once at the Teddy Holland show in 2019. The physical shows, while immersive and enlightening, posed challenges, especially considering Helen’s health issues.

Celebrating 10 Years with Handmade Teddy Bears by Helen Dekker
Show Teddybär Total in Münster. 2019 year.

Undeterred, Helen, attuned to the changing landscape, transitioned to online shows, a shift that allowed her to share her artistic creations with a global audience. Online exhibitions presented a different dynamic, where collectors had to acquaint themselves with artists virtually.

Nevertheless, Helen persevered, participating in at least two online shows each year, a testament to her dedication to spreading joy through her handmade bears.

Among the accolades received, one noteworthy recognition came in the form of an ‘Excellent Novice Award’ at the ‘Aloysius Artist Bear Awards’ competition.

While Helen explored the competitive aspect of bear-making, she quickly realized her true joy lay in creating bears that found loving homes. Her ethos became clear — the heart of teddy bear making for her was in bringing joy to others.

The experience proved transformative, offering Helen an opportunity to understand the profound connection people have with teddy bears and fostering connections with fellow artists.

Among her unique achievements, Helen also undertook a particularly challenging custom order involving the transformation of two adult fishing hats into miniature fisherman hats for teddy bears.

This endeavor showcased her dedication to creating personalized and meaningful pieces, even as she openly shares her perspective that, despite past struggles with custom orders, her primary goal remains to make someone happy with her teddy bears.

In the past, Helen regularly accepted commissions for teddy bears, but her perfectionism eventually led her to halt this option. The stress associated with meeting her high standards began to impact her health.

When approached for a commission, Helen ensures transparent communication with the commissioner, taking ample time to finish without setting strict deadlines.

Reflecting on her last commission, crafting two adult fishing hats into miniature versions for a lady in remembrance of her late husband, Helen describes it as the most challenging yet rewarding endeavor.

Celebrating 10 Years with Handmade Teddy Bears by Helen Dekker
Two fishermen’s hats that Helen repurposed from original hats. The memory bears were made by another artist.

While she has decided not to take on such demanding commissions again, the satisfaction of bringing joy to someone with these small fisherman hats stands as a poignant testament to the heartfelt nature of her creations.

As we celebrate a decade of teddy bear magic by Helen Dekker, each bear stands not only as a testament to her artistic prowess but as a beacon of joy, making one person happy with each lovingly crafted creation.

Setting the Price and Choosing Materials

Crafting teddy bears is not just an art for Helen Dekker; it’s a journey of constant discovery, from perfecting the right pricing strategy to experimenting with various filling materials.

Helen openly shares her struggles in determining the appropriate price for her handmade bears. After consulting with experienced teddy bear artists and trying different calculation methods, she settled on a straightforward approach—pricing per centimeter.

This method covers all costs without the need for additional fees, allowing for a transparent and manageable pricing structure.

Delving into the heart of her creative process, Helen reveals the evolution of her choice of filling materials. From wood wool, polyester, and sawdust to the ultimate preference for mohair and cotton filling, each transition in materials reflects not only a quest for character but also a consideration for her physical well-being.

Helen’s dedication to perfecting her craft goes beyond pricing; it extends to the very fabric that gives life to her bears.

Teddy bear-making serves as both a creative outlet and a therapeutic endeavor for Helen.

Beyond the bears, Helen’s creative pursuits expand into knitting fair isle sweaters and crafting smocked dresses, weaving a rich tapestry of skills passed down from her grandmother.

Celebrating 10 Years with Handmade Teddy Bears by Helen Dekker
Smocked dress.

As a perfectionist, Helen ensures that each teddy bear meets her exacting standards before finding a new home. The choice of mohair, especially unique and non-generic varieties, adds another layer to the exclusivity of her creations

Helen’s quest for exceptional materials extends to her preferred shop, ‘Knoevelkes,’ in the Netherlands, and her resourceful approach to sourcing materials from various places, including the UK and online communities.

In Helen’s hands, teddy bear making is not just a hobby; it’s a blend of artistry, pricing strategy, and a constant pursuit of perfection.

The unique colors derived from her dyeing experiments with antique dye further exemplify the distinctive touch she brings to her bears, making each creation not just a teddy bear but a piece of art with a story of its own.

The Dutch Touch

Hailing from the picturesque Netherlands, Helen Dekker infuses her handmade teddy bears with a unique Dutch charm under the moniker Vintage Deco.

Not only does she masterfully craft the bears themselves, but Helen also adds a personal touch by sewing exquisite dresses for her creations. Each dress is a testament to her meticulous artistry, elevating the vintage aesthetic of her bears to new heights.

As an influential figure in the Dutch teddy bear-making scene, Helen’s creations transcend mere toys; they are cherished pieces of art that bring warmth and nostalgia to every home they inhabit.

Celebrating 10 Years with Handmade Teddy Bears by Helen Dekker
Beautiful smocked dresses.

The Dutch touch in Helen’s bears goes beyond craftsmanship—it encapsulates a cultural embrace of traditional charm, artistic finesse, and the added elegance of beautifully tailored dresses.

With an online presence that spans bear shows and small internet shops, Helen’s bears have found admirers globally, echoing the sentiment that the timeless appeal of teddy bears knows no geographical bounds.

Interview with Helen Dekker: Crafting Wisdom and Aspirations

Teddy Bear Art: Helen, your journey in teddy bear making has been truly inspiring. As we delve into the heart of your artistic experience, we’d love to hear your advice for aspiring artists who might be contemplating a similar creative path.

Helen Dekker: Absolutely! My advice for aspiring artists is rooted in my own experience. I often get asked where to begin, and I always say, start with a kit. That’s how I began, and it provided a structured introduction to the art of teddy bear making.

Teaching yourself the techniques is crucial, and fortunately, there’s a wealth of information on the internet to guide you.

Don’t shy away from difficulties; instead, embrace them. From failures, you learn a lot, and each challenge is an opportunity to improve and find new ways of doing things.

While courses are available, I chose a different path. I never followed a formal course; instead, I learned everything by myself. This approach allowed me to develop my skills organically, and I believe it’s been the best way for me to reach where I am today.

The beauty of this craft lies in the continuous learning journey. I’m still learning new techniques, and I don’t think I’ll ever stop.

Teddy Bear Art: That’s truly insightful, Helen. Your journey emphasizes the importance of hands-on learning and perseverance.

Teddy Bear Art: Helen, as we wrap up our conversation, could you share your vision for the future of Teddy Bear Art?

Helen Dekker: Certainly! My wish for the Teddy Bear Art website is that it evolves into a worldwide platform or forum. I envision it as a standalone website where both aspiring and experienced bear makers come together. A space where beginners can discover valuable tips and tricks, and seasoned artisans can offer assistance or share their insights into the intricate world of bear making. This way, Teddy Bear Art becomes a hub fostering a global community of passionate bear crafters.

Crafting with Purpose

Beyond the threads and stitches, Helen Dekker’s teddy bears are imbued with a profound purpose—to bring joy and happiness to those who welcome them into their homes.

Celebrating 10 Years with Handmade Teddy Bears by Helen Dekker
Teddy bear

Each bear, crafted with meticulous care and a touch of vintage charm, becomes more than a mere creation; it transforms into a source of comfort and delight.

Helen’s philosophy centers around the idea that teddy bears, with their unique characters and timeless appeal, possess the magical ability to lift spirits and create lasting memories.

Her bears aren’t just art; they’re vessels of joy, each stitch a testament to a creative journey that seeks to make others happy.

As Samantha Armstrong aptly puts it,

“A bear is pretty much the only toy that can lose everything and still retain his dignity.”

In Helen’s hands, crafting teddy bears becomes an art form that transcends the tangible, creating companions that share in the joy of every household they enter.

The Joyful Journey Ahead

As we celebrate a decade of teddy bear magic by Helen Dekker, there’s an undeniable anticipation for the joyful journey that lies ahead. Each of Helen’s bears, with its unique character and vintage allure, holds a promise of continued artistic wonders.

The stitches woven into every creation whisper tales of resilience, passion, and an unwavering dedication to spreading joy.

In the words of Charlotte Gray,

“A teddy bear stays a teddy bear, even if he has lost everything or is worn out.”

Helen’s bears, resilient in their vintage charm, are poised to embark on new adventures, finding loving homes and creating cherished memories.

The joyful journey ahead is one filled with hugs, happiness, and the timeless artistry of handmade teddy bears—symbols of creativity that transcend time, bringing comfort and delight to those fortunate enough to embrace their magic.

Inspiration and Resources

Celebrating 10 Years with Handmade Teddy Bears by Helen Dekker
A Teddy bear wearing a jacquard sweater.

To get your paws on Helen’s masterpieces, visit her small shops on the internet: BearPile – Vintage Deco Bears and Tedsby – Vintage Deco Bears. For an intimate glimpse into her ongoing creations and endeavors, connect with Helen on Facebook and follow her on Instagram.

Here’s to a decade filled with hugs, happiness, and the timeless artistry of handmade teddy bears by the remarkable Helen Dekker!

And for more teddy bear magic, don’t forget to follow the Teddy Bear Art Facebook Page.

Read More

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  2. Inside the World of Teddy Bear Collectors: 1700 Bears of Richard Backschas:  In the heart of this realm stands Richard Backschas, a distinguished collector boasting an extraordinary 1700 bears.

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8 thoughts on “Celebrating 10 Years with Handmade Teddy Bears by Helen Dekker”

  1. What a fascinating article about Helen and these beautiful bears.  My takeaway from this whole article is ‘perseverance and dedication’.  In order to develop such skills, she spent years honing her craft.  The bears are beautifully made and then they have perfectly sewn outfits.  As a dressmaker myself, I understand how much time this will all take and how determined Helen has been to perfect her skills.  

    Thanks for sharing this article.  


    • Hey Elaine! Thanks a bunch for your awesome comment! 🌟 Absolutely, Helen’s journey is truly inspiring, and you’ve captured the essence perfectly—perseverance and dedication are key ingredients in creating those adorable teddy bears and their stylish outfits. As a fellow dressmaker, you get the time and determination it takes. So glad you enjoyed the article! If you have any questions or want more teddy bear fun, feel free to ask. Happy crafting! 🧸✨

    • Hi Elaine, thank you so much for your reply. The ten years have gone by very quick and I am enjoying the making of teddybears more and more. Besides the character of the bear (which is very important for me) I think it’s important that the clothing fit the bear exactly. So yes I always put in my total effort and a bear is never finished as long as I am not satisfied (that’s my typical perfectionism) I hope I continue my hobby for a lot of years to come.

  2. Congratulations on the remarkable milestone of 10 years with your handmade teddy bears, Helen! Your dedication to crafting these bears shines through your work. I’m curious about your creative process—do you have a favorite bear design or a particular style that holds a special place in your heart? As someone who appreciates handmade artistry, I’m always fascinated by the stories behind unique creations.Your commitment to quality and individuality is truly commendable.
    Your work is inspiring, and here’s to many more years of bringing joy through these beautiful teddy bears!

    • Thank you so much for your reply, Pasindu Dimanka. Teddybear making is my most favorite hobby, I enjoy every minute of it and I hope I can enjoy it for many more years. My favorite bear design are the German teddybears, like the older Steiff teddybears. But all older teddybears with a nod to earlier times, have my special interest and these older teddybears are my inspiration for the teddybears I make. What I find very special (don’t ask my how it is possible), but my teddybears choose there own character. I can not make two exactly the same teddybears and each time I make a new one, it’s a suprise for me which character the teddybears has choosen and it’s outcome. So all my teddybears are One Of A Kind and no two teddybears are the same. I hope I can inspire people to find a hobby of their own, which can bring a lot of joy

  3. Hey there! I would say congratulations to Ms. Helen. For doing it for 10 years with handmade teddy bears. Gotta say it’s pretty impressive to see someone dedicating a whole decade to creating these adorable cuddly toys. I mean, perseverance and dedication are key ingredients in achieving such a milestone. As someone who enjoys DIY projects, I can appreciate the time and effort it takes to create something handmade. Overall, it’s a heartwarming article that showcases the artistry and love that goes into making these teddy bears. 

    • Hey! Thanks a bunch for your kind words! 🐻💖 Ms. Helen’s dedication is truly inspiring, and it’s awesome that you appreciate the artistry and effort that goes into handmade creations.

    • Hi Meliza, thank you so much for your comment. The 10 years have flown by and I am enjoying teddybear making, more and more. The fact that my teddybears each have their own character, makes it even more special for me. I never know what a new bear will look like. So all my bears are One Of A Kind, no two bears are the same. I intend to keep on bearmaking as long as I can and enjoy every minute of it.


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