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D’Lyell Bears

Here is the portrait of Heather Lyell, wonderful teddy bears creator.
I thank her very much to give me the opportunity to write this article. But let her speak about her passion.


Heather with Alice.jpg
© Heather Lyell with Alice

The wonderful world of bears entered my life in 1989.

In a shop window, sitting all alone, a furry little fellow with soulful eyes begged “take me home, please”.

How could I resist, and how could I have known that this was only the start and that life would never be the same again. I started collecting bears and one day, I saw a kitset for sale and bought it.

The thought of making my own bear appealed, even though I had not sewed for years. One day at home sick I started sewing and before long he was ready to be stuffed, but what could I use as stuffing? A solution was found. My husband's pants!

Don't worry Roy wasn’t wearing them at the time. The bear was finished, complete with crooked smile and crooked ears.

My passion for making bears had started! It was difficult to find the materials to make bears from, so after much debate we decided to open a Teddy shop supplying fabrics, kits, patterns and collectors bears.

This was a momentous decision as I was a Bank manager and Roy was an avionics engineer with Air New Zealand, so we really were jumping into the unknown.


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© Heather Lyell - Isabella

‘Bear Essentials’ fortunately became very successful, giving me no time for my own bear making, so after 7 years we sold the shop to concentrate on developing my own range under the name D’Lyell Bears.

I chose the name D’Lyell as it was my original family name from France (although I am sure it was spelt differently!) that was shortened to Lyell many centuries ago when the family moved to Scotland.

I have developed my own unique style, following on from my love of collecting vintage fashion accessories.


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© Heather Lyell - Joséphine

We started with our 'Bears of Yesteryear' Collection that I fondly call my ‘old girls’.

They were inspired by a vision of a little old lady, dressed up in her Sunday best waiting for a train. She wears a coat, hat, fur stole and carries a handbag filled with necessities an elderly lady needs.

Vintage accessories are used whenever possible, even down to vintage lace on they’re underwear! Because they are so detailed we make only a few of these one off pieces each year and each bear comes with a detailed portfolio.

Recently I have been asked to make ‘husbands’ for some of my ‘old girls’ and also special commission pieces using mementoes from elderly family members incorporated into the bears.

This is especially rewarding for me as I work closely with the customer resulting in a very ‘special’ piece having great sentimental attachment.


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© Heather Lyell - Susie

Our newer ‘Bear Wear’ Collection feature smaller bears sitting in or along side beautiful handbags, while our larger pieces sit in lovely old leather cases or bags surrounded by antique accessories.

These bears make beautiful display pieces and the response from around the world has been fantastic.

We have been delighted with how many people buy them who have never bought a bear before, hopefully encouraging new customers into the world of collecting bears. Our latest designs are not even bears.

Starting with little ‘Spike’, our hedgehog, and now ‘Rastus’ the rat, these animals are very interactive. Spike will roll into a ball and Rastus holds many interesting positions.

Both feature special magnets that we first used for Monty, which was the second bear we designed for Teddy Hermann from Germany which was very successful.

Hermann have released 8 of our designs since 1998 and we have been extremely proud to be able to work with this prestigious company.


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© Heather Lyell - Betty

I now design a range of traditional bears for a great new English company called Charlie Bears.

They were very well received when released at the Birmingham Gift Fair in 2006 and we have continued to developing this range with Charlie.

You can see more on their site and these bears are now available in many countries around the world. Bringing bears from the other side of the world can be very challenging, especially as many of our bears have antique accessories that are breakable.

It takes several days to pack our many suitcases containing not just the bears and accessories, but also the tablecloth, display materials, signs, lighting.


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© Heather Lyell - Clive

Hopefully there will be a little space left for our clothes.

Because the ‘Bears of Yesteryear’ are quite large, along with the old leather cases and handbags they are difficult to pack, and it is a stressful time for me so Roy tends to stay clear!

The bags usually weigh around 100kg in total, which keeps us fit loading them in and out of cars or taxis. Some of the more delicate items we take on board the aircraft and this seems to cause problems when X-rayed.

The security operators are (fortunately) more alert since 9/11 and they always want to examine the contents – especially the old folding Kodak cameras that seem to look so interesting on the monitors.

Then we have to try and fit everything back in as it was before which is not always an easy task. Getting on the aircraft is always a relief and that first glass of wine tastes especially good! Also stressful is arriving at Frankfurt Airport after a direct 30 hour flight and jumping into the hire car, then driving straight into rush hour traffic on the autobahn and on the wrong side of the road (for us).

As our speed limit in New Zealand is only 100kph, the first few hours of driving can be a little stressful. It also doesn’t help when the navigator gets us lost on the journey!


© Heather Lyell - Kathleen

We have enjoyed exhibiting at the summer Paris shows in the past and have built up a wonderful relationship with the owner of the Paris Bear store 'Ours du Maris'.

Monique has been selling our Artist bears after being introduced to my designs through Teddy Hermann and we always enjoy catching up with her at one of the large German shows.

Languages in the different countries we visit can be interesting as unfortunately we only speak English, but as long as we try a little, and smile a lot, everything is OK.

Exhibiting at shows in Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, Japan, America, and now Singapore certainly keeps us busy.


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© Heather and Roy - Singapore Teddy show november 2008

Roy and I make the bears completely ourselves so we tend to work seven days a week between shows from our home in central Auckland.

We have a large studio above our garage, so at least we don’t have far to go every morning.

New Zealanders have a proud tradition of innovation and in our own small way we hope to continue that tradition.

While bears don’t quite have the same global impact as splitting the atom, jet boats, electric fences, Lord of the Rings or bungy jumping we hope that our creations will have made the world a happier place.


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© Heather Lyell - Maud

We have certainly made great friends around the world with quite a few even coming to stay with us in New Zealand. Our bears are now featured in museums around the world and are keenly sought after by collectors. Our web site, keeps those who cannot see us at the shows up to date with the latest creations although Roy can be a little slow updating it, as the Bears usually sell before we have time to list them. We hope you enjoy our bears as much as we have enjoyed creating them, and hope to see you at a show soon.


© Heather Lyell - Nell

If you want to know more about Heather's teddy bears, go and visit her website: clicking here


Creation date : 17/02/2009 : 18:37
Last update : 08/04/2015 : 10:41
Category : TEDDY BEARS - Créateurs d'ours en peluche
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You are here :   Welcome » D'Lyelle bears, New Zealand
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