About Me . . . Jan Cuming

Exhibiting at a teddy bear show

Like many other artists, I have always enjoyed crafting and over the years I guess I have tried almost everything; knitting, embroidery, cross stitch, quilting and rug making.

When I was six I used to dress my dolls in clothes that I had made from my mother’s scrap bag and as I had also learnt to knit at about the same time, I suppose you could say that I sewed (sowed) the seeds of my career at an early age. Fortunately for me, my mother was very encouraging and used to help me when I made a mess of something. Pocket money was usually spent on buying craft supplies; funny how some things don’t change! 

My love of teddy bears started early too. I used to take my ‘Teddy’ everywhere I went and once had to leave him behind when we had been staying with my maternal grandmother. Teddy had got “lost” somewhere.

Evidently it was NOT a peaceful trip home with one rather distraught 16 month old, whining for her Teddy! He did turn up a little later as I had apparently made a bed for him outside in my grandmother's garden. I still have my original Teddy, who has travelled and lived overseas with me. 

As an adult I started to collect vintage and artist bears, visiting regularly to all of the teddy bear shows. At one of those shows I purchased a piece of mohair and a commercial pattern. Some months later I made my first bear, and then decided that I could definitely improve on it. And as they say, “the rest is history.”

I still have the first bear I ever made and although he is a little odd looking, he has plenty of character.

My other favourite thing is Christmas. I used to produce large scale Christmas decorations for shopping malls here in New Zealand at a time when it was extremely difficult to buy anything different. My house is always VERY Christmassy for a much longer period of time than just the holiday season, so it seemed a natural progression to combine my love of Christmas and teddy bears and come up with my company name “Jinglebears.”

I’m fortunate to be able to travel from my home in Wellington, New Zealand to make an annual journey to the United States (this journey takes me about 36 hours to complete, from when I get up the day of the trip to when I arrive at my final destination), and then a few days to get over my jet lag!

While visiting I participate in several teddy bear shows and travel extensively with my “adopted” American family, friends made through the bear world; who have become my second family.

Together we travel many miles (if only I could gather frequent flier miles on all the lengthy road trips) shopping for antiques and other vintage pieces to go into the vignettes that I am well known for. Everyone is always on the lookout for that interesting piece that I can use.

Often I hear the call “JAN” when we are scouting round an antique mall or a flea market as my “family” know what to look for too!

Many of my collectors also love antiques and will often be amazed at the variety of vintage pieces that I have used to tell a story in a vignette. I usually say that antiquing is the way I sightsee when I travel as I’d rather be poking around an antique mall than walking a nature trail.


Jinglebears' show display

Working with a little help from furry pal Sparkie!

Just barely room for me in the car. It was a  good day for  finding bits and pieces

Last minute bear making before a show in Dallas, Texas

reg, my friend, helps me with wood-turned accessories.


Red, white, blue always  catches my eye!

I can always get one more thing in the car.

All must fit in the suitcases!

A reporter's case was filled with everything from his pairs of socks to a typewriter and phone.

Christmas is my favorite time of the year. I'm making a wreath.

My mother Moya (d) helped me in my endeavours, making all the smocked dresses that my bears wear. She had made several tailored suits for some very well dressed bears.

Mum also made the most stunning hand knit cardigans and sweaters from the beautiful, soft wool and mohair yarns that we produce here in New Zealand. I sell many of these sweaters at the shows and often have people trying sweaters on their bear or doll.

Jinglebears has been going strong for twenty years and fortunately my long suffering husband Steve has become used to living with a house full of projects in a state of semi-completion and mohair on the floor. This is always worse just before a show, it is just as well he is not allergic to fluff!

Thank you for taking the time to view Jinglebears.

I hope you find something that calls out to you.

Beary warmest regards,

Jan Cuming

Professional Member of

since April 2005


Special trunk sale in Louisville, KY


Many of the teddy bear sweaters Mum knit.

Table display for teddy bear shows.




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Jan Cuming   4 Fortunatus Street • Brooklyn Wellington, New Zealand 6021 Phone/Fax:  64-438-97788
 eMail: janfcuming@hotmail.com


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