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  • Writer's pictureSabrina Evans

How to Design a Memory Bear by BinaBears

Updated: Aug 4, 2022

Having at least one stuffed animal or plush in your home is something that most of us humans have in common. We gravitate towards things that bring us joy and comfort especially during some of the most difficult times of our lives.


There are many different types of stuffed animals. Some are sold in toy stores, at fairs, or your local Target, but no one ever talks about Memory Bears. To be honest, I even tried to research the history of memory bears on google and only found information on the history of ‘the teddy bear.’


So what are memory bears if google doesn’t even have a definition? How are they different from a stuffed animal? What is the process of creating a memory bear? All of these questions can be answered right here! As a memory bear enthusiast and creator, I want to dive into the unique value of memory bears and how every individual has the ability to curate their own.


What Are Memory Bears?


Memory bears by definition to me are stuffed bears that are most commonly created from sentimental clothing material to memorialize the life of a loved one who has passed. Some people also like to use baby clothes to create a memory bear as well to have as a memento, but we will elaborate on that later.


Creating memory bears has been a deep passion of mine for over a decade and is one of the many reasons why I created and expanded a business out of it. The concept of designing and curating your own personalized memory bear is one that requires some reflection and intentional thought. Let’s walk through the process, my process, of designing a memory bear that celebrates all walks of life.


Step 1: What is your story?


When deciding to create a memory bear you have to think about the story behind it. What do you want to convey through your memory bear. Do you want to celebrate the life of a loved one who has passed, or do you want to turn your old basketball jersey into a bear you can hold onto forever to keep as a memento? I believe that memory bears have multiple purposes and can be designed to celebrate the different memories and moments of our lives. Those memories shape our story and are the most important steps needed to design a memory bear.


Step 2: Who will you make your bear for?


Now that you know the ‘what', you have to reflect upon who you are making this bear for. Is it you or for a loved one? How many bears do you want and what clothing materials do you have? Majority of the time all you need is fabric equivalent to a medium sized shirt for each bear. For kids/baby clothes you need about 3-4 outfits to create 2 bears that are 14 inches tall. The bears I create are a good size to hug. This is to encourage people to repurpose that clothing material that is just sitting in storage and to take it out of storage as a newly transformed keepsake that reminds you, or your loved one, of that particular memory.


Step 3: Choosing clothing and or fabric that resembles your vision


This is where you combine the story behind the memory bear with the actual, physical design of the bear. Memory bears are essentially designed to capture and commemorate a specific memory. Whether that be a memory of a place, event, or a person, this process is a way of using clothing/fabric material attached to those memories to create a bear you can physically hold onto forever.


If a bear is being made to celebrate the life of a loved one who has passed, think about their favorite clothing material that reminds you of them. It can be a suit, a dress, a button up or a skirt. Anything that is symbolic of their life and/or personality. Now, if you don’t want to use their clothing material to make a memory bear, that is perfectly okay and understandable! Memory bears can be created using any fabric material that is symbolic to what/who you are celebrating. So sometimes, people choose outside fabric material that speaks to their loved ones personality. This can be a fabric that is in their favorite color, or a favorite pattern. I personally have created memory bears that celebrate the life of someone who has passed using clothing material they owned and using external clothing material that was purchased from Joanns Fabric Store.


Pics 1-2: A Memory Bear created with clothes that once belonged to a loved one. Pics 3-4: A Memory bear created from purchased fabric material that symbolized and celebrated the life of a grandma who passed away. Both are personalized and sentimental, but one uses purchased fabric material rather than the loved ones clothing.


To reiterate, memory bears are supposed to capture and commemorate the memory of something using any sentimental and/or symbolic fabrics connected to said memory. So, the design possibilities are endless. You have the ability to think as creatively as you want. You have the ability to be as hands-on in the design process as you want, or you can trust that the memory bear crafter knows your story well enough to capture the memory. With BinaBears, I encourage people to share the story behind their bear. It helps me as the artist to get a sense of what that story means to them and the significance of the fabric material chosen.


Step 4: What should the bear look and feel like?


Now that you have an overall sense of the story behind your bear, the person you are making the bear for, and the overall vision of what you want the bear to look like; it is time to tap into the fine details that truly personalize the memory bear.


One way to further personalize your memory bear is adding accessories to your bear. For example if a particular shirt has buttons or a pocket, incorporate that in the bear. If you are using a dress or a mens suit, design the bear to have that additional clothing worn on the bear. Some of the most common accessories people use, at least what I’ve seen in my business, are buttons, pockets, skirts, and embroidered words on the bear. The accessories you can come up with are endless. I have had customers who have made special requests that incorporated multiple accessories on one bear. They knew that these particular add ons are what will make their memory bear stand out and be more personalized to their story.


Left: are bears made from doggie blankets that celebrate the life of a dog named Jacob who passed away. The added accessory was a little dog toy with his name embroidered on it. Middle: a bear made entirely from a suit to celebrate the life of a father who passed away. The added accessory is a mini suit that preserves the look of the original. Right: a bear made out of purchased fabric material that symbolized a couple who came from different cultural backgrounds, met, and created family together (African, Russian, French).


Sometimes people take clothing material, cut it up, and just make the memory bear without adding any type of accessory to it. There is nothing wrong with that design process, but it is heartwarming and special when you design a memory bear that almost preserves the look of the original clothing material. This allows for the fabric and clothing material to speak for itself when transformed into a bear. (View yellow bear example below)




In my business BinaBears, that is what of the many things I am passionate about. Listening to those stories and taking the time to create a memory bear product out of it is what makes the process so cool and unique. It requires some reflection from both the creator and the customer sharing their story.


 

Overall, designing a memory bear is an entire experience. It can be a vulnerable experience, a reflective one, or an experience that is simply sentimental. It depends on what you make of it. Memory bears aren’t meant to be commercialized and they aren’t meant to be sold from name brand stores. Each one is uniquely designed just for the customer, so you will never find one memory bear that looks like the next. Just like the stories and memories of our lives, they are all wonderfully unique.

This BinaBear was created to celebrate the heartwarming story of Zainab fighting through Leukemia. It is a memory bear that symbolized her favorite colors, her favorite animal, and had an empowering message embroidered on it.
Zainab Khan a warrior of Leukemia cancer receiving her very own 'Memory Bear' by BinaBears



I hope you found this article helpful! With BinaBears, I hope to bring more awareness to the joy of designing and gifting memory bears to people. It is a process that connects humans together and encourages us to be reflective of our special experiences and emotions. I am also trying to expand the way we normally utilize memory bears. Stay tuned for more information about the specifics of each step and how the concept of memory bears can be expanded into celebration bears aka BinaBears!


 

Want your own personalized memory bear that brings you joy and celebrates a particular person or event in your life? Visit www.binabears.com and we would be happy to help you create one!




CEO and Founder of BinaBears

Co-Writer: Sarah Beltier

Editor: Monique Edison





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