I'm an arctophile.
There, I said it.
I love and collect teddy bears. And not just any teddy bears, but artist-made and high-end manufactured bears made of soft mohair from the wool of the Angora goat. I think I have over a hundred now. I lost count awhile back. In addition to bears, I also have mohair bunnies, cats, a rat, a flamingo, and even a dragon!
Pictured above are a few bears from my collection. The big brown bear is from New Zealand. The white bear is a Steiff, manufactured in Germany. The three bears in the front row were all made by teddy bear artists. Teddy bear artists? Yep. These bears are considered a type of soft sculpture. Instead of working with clay or stone, the artist works with fabric such as mohair, synthetic plush, alpaca wool, and felt. Most of them are handmade and the artist pours their soul into their work.
There are teddy bear shows where artists and collectors come together to share and buy all things teddy. I've been to shows in Chicago, Florida, Georgia, and Wisconsin.
So what's the appeal? Simple. The bears make me happy. Looking at their cute little faces brings me joy. I've always loved animals and I love toys. Having bears everywhere is like living in Christopher Robin's Hundred-Acre Woods. And they balance out my dark side that is attracted to things like vampires, zombies, and werewolves, although if a bear artist designed a werewolf or zombie "bear," I think I'd be in heaven.