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Featured Shop: Bear Creek Design

Oct 2, 2015

by Teresa Perleberg

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

Hi! My name is Teresa Perleberg, and I’m the designer and maker behind Bear Creek Design. I live on a farm near Fort Ransom, North Dakota, with my family, and I make needle-felted sculptures and needle-felting DIY kits using wool from our flock of sheep.

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The story of Bear Creek Design starts in 2006, when my daughter asked for a lamb for her eighth birthday. We live on a cattle farm, and I had grown up with sheep on my family’s farm, so this wasn’t such an odd request. My husband and I decided to get her two lambs, and while we were at it, we threw in two for me as well. Soon after, I joined a local spinning guild to learn how to spin our wool into yarn. The wonderful ladies in the guild taught me so much about what can be done with wool — including how to needle felt, which ended up changing my life.

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While participating in local events with the spinning guild, I found that people were interested in purchasing my needle-felted sculptures. So in 2008, I opened my Etsy shop and started selling my sculptures and my hand-spun wool. Around that time, I began teaching classes on needle felting locally, and I heard from my Etsy customers through social media that they wanted to learn from me as well. With this in mind, I wrote instructions on how to needle felt a bear, took pictures of each step, and made the whole thing into a kit — complete with wool from our sheep. Since then, I’ve designed several more kits for beginners, and our flock has grown to 65 well-loved ewes.

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I find daily inspiration in observing the animals on our farm, as well as those in the wild. A trip to the zoo usually inspires a new sculpture, as does browsing through a children’s picture book. I also love taking photographs of animals: I find it very helpful to reference these photos when I’m ready to sit down and felt. Whenever I make a felted sculpture, I pay particular attention to the animal’s expression, as this is what really brings them to life. My pieces are always happy, and even the realistic animals have a slight grin if you look carefully.

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I live in a remote area where the combination of selling art, ranching, and raising a family would be very difficult without Etsy. I treasure the people I have met here — I have some customers who have been collecting my pieces since I first opened my shop, and they’ve become like old friends to me. I like to know that something I’ve made brings a smile to their faces. Over the years, my children have learned so much about starting and operating a small business by observing my experiences. My daughter, Libbie, who is today a very talented knitter, even has plans to open her own Etsy shop this October when she turns 18.

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All photographs by Bear Creek Design.

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