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INTERVIEW OF ERIC GIOVANNINI, CREATOR AND RESTORER
"HAUTE COUTURE" OF TEDDY BEARS

Thanks to Eric to have given me this interview.

You are going to discover in this creator, a talented passionate artist who has a great love for details and who has a tender look for his teddies.

He is also a good retorer : you can ask him if you want to restore your old teddy bear that you have founf in your attic.

 

ericgiovannini.jpg
© Eric Giovannini

Eric, can you introduce you and tell us how this passion for teddy bears came ?

Born in Lyon in 1960, I was early marked by the youth memories that my father was telling us when he used to be a worker in the silk factory, when in the 30's, Lyon was the capital of silk.

My plushes were an integral part of my imaginary. So that they could be the actors of fabulous epics, I made them clothes and accessories with all kinds of materials that I found.

They followed me everywhere, in my house closed to Lyon, in Saint Etienne when I studied Fine Arts when I had the opportunity to develop my interest for manual work and drawing, then in Paris where I started studying drama attending Antoine Vitez's classes in the National Theatre of Chaillot.

My fondness for these poetic objects, led me to join the Teddy's Patch club in Rouen which has disappeared now. Ten years later, I attended a teaching course to learn how to make a teddy bear.

It was a revelation, the beginning of an adventure, the opportunity to travel and meet a lot of passionate people.


Why teddy bears in particular ?

The teddy bear is the most present in the child's universe.
It's very close to mankind, because it is in numerous legends, stories, customs, ancestral rituals...It's the most similar animal of mankind. ( Except for the monkey, but it doesn't live in our areas and doesn't take part in our occidental culture).

I suppose that the teddy bear is unconsciously considered by the child as " his double ". The teddy bear becomes his confident at the same time, his protector, the " friend " which listens to him and doesn't judge him.

Even during the night, in the darkness, he reassures him, watching him with its opened eyes. I created cats, monkeys, elephants, but teddy bears stay the emblematic animals of childhood.

ericgiovaninni2.jpg

© Eric Giovannini

Your teddy bears are a little different from the " classic " teddy bears and are very original in their appearance. Why this choice ?

After making classic teddy bears, I wanted to make something which had never been created, which had never been seen in exhibitions, Art galleries, magazines or shops.

I wanted to go further away and realized unique teddy bears, teddies made for princes or kings coming from tales or stories from the past. These teddy bears had to be exceptionnal and made with noble and precious materials.

ericgiovaninni3.jpg
© Eric Giovannini

What are your technics ( choice of materials, size... )? 
You also repair teddies, How do you do ?


The conception of my teddy bears is a synthesis between technics of patchwork and those of " Haute Couture " .

The technics used for their making are those of the first makers of plushes of the end of the nineteen century in Germany : they are completely hand sewn and crammed with fibre of wood.

With the noble mohair, I like to associate the precious materials like velvet of Gênes, damask and lampas from Italy , and silk. I also put brands, laces, pearls, ribbons, feathers, gold buttons to embellish the costumes. Some pieces also have a musical movement from Switzerland. Like " Haute Couture " , a unique pattern is drawn for ecah teddy bear. Every element of this pattern is reproduced on mohairs and materials wich will be cut end hand sewn.

The teddy bear is completely articulated. For the neophyte, ecah one of my creations is an enigma as long as he has observed it closely and understood how the numerous yokes compose the costume like a " trompe l'oeil". About a hundred hours , even several months of work are sometimes necessary to make one teddy bear.

To draw the costume, I take examples in theatre, cinema, tales and fairy stories of our youth, but also in the paintings from the Middle Ages to Renaissance which fascinates me

erucgiovannini1.jpg
© Eric Giovannini

This work is a pastime?

I have stopped creating for the moment. Now, I dedicate my free time, restauring plushes.

It suits more my love for the old teddy bears and I am happy when I see the delight illuminating the face of a child when he sees his teddy bear after being operated.


Wher do you exhibit your works ?

Exhibitions become very expensive and with the economic crisis, the public doesn't buy anymore. The only events where I exhibit my teddy bears are the " Bears week end " in Brussels and the exhibition of teddy bears in Fleury la Forêt.

ericgiovannini4.jpg
© Eric Giovannini

Do you want to add something ?

Yes, I would like to relate one anecdote which gave me interest for old teddy bears. 40 years ago, we went with my parents during holidays, to visit the Nazi extermination camp of Strutthof in Alsace.

I remember that I went to a shed where I saw a pile of shoes, then a pile of glasses, suitcases and the a pile of old teddy bears. They had been waiting here for a lot of years, for their little master or mistress to come and take them.

These teddy bears were like mine and I didn't understand why they had to stay here abandonned. I was too young and so embarrassed to ask my parents if I could take them with me what I would have so much wanted.

But I had to let these little companions suffering here. A few years later, I learnt that all the sheds had been burnt by people who wanted to make a clean sweep of this past.

A few months ago, I saw a report about the Stuttof camp and the voice of the journalist " off " said that this camp " had been built by Germans for political prisoners ". A lot of things fade me with time, you see, the political prisoners were certainly very young to bring their most precious possession with them : their dear teddy bear. 

Now , if I collect teddy bears, it's perhaps for me, unconsciously or not, the way to exhorcize these images from the past.


If you want to know more about the Eric's wonderful work, go to his website : clicking here


Creation date : 12/01/2009 : 19:27
Last update : 08/04/2015 : 10:40
Category : TEDDY BEARS - Créateurs d'ours en peluche
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