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Sandi Silvestri's A Bear Tail, Oops, Tale
by Rita Vainius

Once upon a time, there lived a girl whose favorite pastime was playing with her teddy bear named Toodlums. So begins Sandi Silvestri's Bear Tale, which went from just loving bears to actually making them. Throughout her childhood, many in her family fostered Sandi's inherent handwork abilities. There was Grandma Julia, who loved to crochet and embroider, Grammy Anna, who taught Sandi to crochet and tried to teach her how to tat and Aunt Marce, who lovingly hand-painted eggs.


For many years Sandi's skills and talents lay fallow due to her busy schedule. She finally reached a point in life, when disgruntled by her former job, she yearned for an avenue of self-expression. One day, at the height of her frustration, her best friend Donna Henasey (featured in our July Gallery) suggested that she begin making the bears she had loved so much since she was a child. At first Sandi hesitated; she hadn't touched a sewing machine in years. But the more she pondered it, the more appeal the idea held. Finally, in July of 1998, she gave it a try - an outlet for her creativity was found, a business was born, and a dream began to be fulfilled!

--James Edward Justice


Wanting the name of the business to convey the joy and love that bears can bring to life, Sandi called upon her friends to assist. Her friend Linda came up with "Grin and Bear It", which suited Sandi's sentiments perfectly and so it was thus christened. Sandi decided she wanted the bears she herself crafted to have a unique identifying name. Since she's the proud "mom" of 3 Golden Retrievers, lovingly referred to as "The Boys," her husband's brainstorm, "Boyz'n Bearies," was another perfect fit.


With Donna's encouragement and guidance, Sandi learned how to combine various furs with complementing or contrasting colors and textures. Donna employs tapestry fabrics and Sandi found she also reveled in the stunning effects these produced. Another friend, Judy Machemer, urged her to use some of the beautiful fabrics available to quilters, to construct the paw pads. That idea turned out to be a hit as well.



One discovery Sandi made on her own was the threads she now uses almost exclusively for the bear noses. On an impromptu visit to the local stitchery shop, Sandi was enticed by the Caron Watercolours. She imagined the eye-catching effect they would produce on her bears. She tried some out and was absolutely thrilled by the results. The colors in the thread brought out the colors in the fur and the various fabrics used to construct the paw pads. She was so excited, she wanted to share her find immediately with her "partner in crime." Now both Donna and Sandi use the Caron Watercolour threads on almost every bear.

--Puddie and Puddie's Friend


There are times when a particular personality of bear calls out for that extra special touch. Then Sandi calls on another seamstress buddy, Susan LeVine, of SuzSewn to dress her bears. Susan's business is primarily doll clothing, but with a few small adjustments, the outfits work their magic on Sandi's bears.


Always looking for other ways to enhance her bears, Sandi is about to embark on a new project - taking her first quilting class. Together with pal, Judy, she will be shopping her way through a regional quilt show and partaking of the seminars available. Sandi intuitively senses that the quilts will be an extremely complimentary product to her bear line.

--Fully Dressed Wedding Bears

Always eager to try her hand at something new and different, Sandi is currently working on other huggable and lovable furry critters. She never ceases to be amazed by how each creature comes to life in her hands, right before her eyes. Parting with them is always such sweet sorrow! In addition, Sandi is now also selling quality-manufactured bears by Ganz Cottage Collectibles and The Bearington Collection in order to give her customers a broader spectrum of bears from which to choose.

--Small Wedding Bears


As Sandi's bear making saga attests to, she has not built this business alone. It is through the love and support of her family and many friends that she has been able to achieve the success, delight and satisfaction her passion for creating bears brings.

--Allie and Callie


If you'd like to communicate with Sandi, e-mail her at boyznbry@epix.net or write to her at 4723 Ryan Court, Reading, PA 19606. Bears can be purchased directly from Sandy. She also has selected bears from the Boyz'n Bearies and Bearington Collections available for purchase on the web at http://www.amishcountrygifts.com/teddy.html. Coming this fall, Sandi will be offering some bears and a select group of other gift items on E Bay under her seller ID of boyznbry. She accepts both Pay Pal and X.com for purchases on E Bay.

Description of bears shown, in order of appearance:

Dulcinea: Dulcinea's name, meaning sweetness, suits her perfectly. Everything about her is soft, from her imported synthetic polar bear style plush, to the texture of her paws made of soft taupe upholsters velvet to her sweet nose, stitched with Watercolours Sandstone.

James Edward Justice: This little guy is a dressed in patriotic garb, with a white bib and red, white and blue bow tie. He's constructed from white-tipped gray imported synthetic plush, with blue German glass eyes. His nose is stitched with Watercolours Midnight.

Briana: Briana is a Golden Memories Bear, made for a special friend in loving memory of 3 old dogs that passed away within a very short time span. Briana is made from light gold imported synthetic plush with amber German glass eyes and a nose stitched with Watercolours Burnt Toast. Her angel outfit, created by SuzSewn, features hand-stamped celestial designs on white organza.

Chloe: Chloe is a soft lavender plush bear who is ever so very huggable and made to fit nicely right on your hip, making her the perfect gift for the little girl in your life. Chloe sports a lovely floral ribbon, two deep purple hair bows. And a nose stitched with Watercolours Peach Sherbert for the perfect finishing touch.

Puddie: Puddie is made from Schulte brown tipped white imported plush and has brown German glass eyes. This plush is remarkably soft with a lovely silvery sheen. Puddie has tapestry paw pads, sports a taupe leather bell collar and a nose stitched with Watercolours Clove.

Puddie's Friend: Puddie's little friend is made from light gold imported synthetic plush, ultra soft and touchable. Her eyes are amber German glass eyes; her paw pads are deep gold upholsterer's velvet and she is further embellished with two sweet pink bows that adorn her ears. Her nose is stitched with Watercolours Burnt Toast.

Ling: Ling is a deep forest-green plush bear. Ling's paw pads are created from Hoffman's 1999 Challenge Fabric, in a gorgeous Oriental motif, which contains brilliant yellow, blue and red flowers, edged in metallic gold. Her nose is stitched with Watercolours Passion.

Fully Dressed Wedding Bears: These happy newlyweds are made from white ultra plush, and have noses stitched with Watercolours Clove. Their wedding attire is hand sewn by SuzSewn. The bride is stunning in a lovely satin gown with sheer sleeves and train. Delicate machine embroidered flowers grace the hem of the gown. Her veil is composed of two tiers of delicate tulle, with edging. She is carrying a bouquet of white and antique pink roses. The groom is dressed in black pants, a pleated bib, with a gray satin cummerbund and bow tie. A black top hat finishes off his dashing attire. Hang tags are customized with the names of the couple, with their wedding date as the bears' birth date.

Small Wedding Bears: These adorable newlyweds are made from white ultra plush and have noses stitched with Watercolours Opal, complimenting the white-on-white theme. The groom is replete with an elegant white bib composed of tiny stitched pleats and a bow tie. The bride is daintily dressed in a two-tiered lace and tulle flounced collar. Her double-tiered veil has a white rose in the center and stitched edging. She carries a bouquet of white roses. Their attire is hand sewn by SuzSewn. Hang tags are customized with the names of the couple, with their wedding date as the bears' birth date.

Allie and Callie: Sandi's favorite bear duo is a pair of mother/daughter bears designed for her friend, Linda. They are made from white-tipped light beige imported synthetic plush, with black German glass eyes. Their noses are stitched with Watercolours Desert Sage and their paw pads are made of teal ultra suede. Allie, the mom, is wearing a crocheted doily that Sandi's grandmother made. A delicate porcelain pin holds the doily together. Callie, the daughter, has ivory lace with a complimentary porcelain pin. Nouveau Nouveau, a company specializing in hats and hat accessories for Teddies, made the hat Allie is wearing.

To all teddy bear and animal lovers: Loving furry critters is not restricted to the stuffed variety. Sandi and pal bearmaker, Donna, are also actively involved in assisting a couple of animal rescue organizations by donating gift baskets for raffle. Both ladies are committed to all animal life and strongly believe in adopting rescued animals. Proceeds from the raffle will benefit the Higgins Fund, which provides funds for dogs in need of extraordinary medical treatment. To view some of the wonderful gift baskets available, please visit


Additionally a select assortment of Gifts for Dog Lovers from Sandi is available at http://www.amishcountrygifts.com/dogs.html

© 1997 The Caron Collection Ltd./ Voice: (203) 381-9999, Fax: 203 381-9003

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