All the "blah, blah, blah" that matters.

How big are your bears?

Most Potbelly Bears (including Old Timers) measure 12-16 inches from head to toe.

What materials do you use?

Unless otherwise noted, all-new materials are used to construct Potbelly Bears and typically include: mohair yardage; poly fill and/or excelsior stuffing; plastic pellets, mineral granules, or rust-proof bb's (for weight); wool felt, leather, or suede; cotton embroidery floss; and premium glass eyes.

Colorfast, permanent pigments; environmentally safe sealants; and non-toxic adhesives are also used to shade and finish. Hand-stitching is necessary to position smaller pattern pieces, but all seams are ultimately machine-sewn with a short, secure stitch length using heavy-duty upholstery thread. Facial features (and sometimes paws) are extensively needle-sculpted with that same thread. Bolts or cotter pins; stainless steel washers; and rigid hardboard disks are used to create at least five movable joints -- at neck, shoulders, and hips. Every piece comes with an embroidered fabric tag sewn into a back seam, identifying it as an original, authentic Potbelly Bear.

Vintage, found, or upcycled textiles are sometimes used to dress and accessorize. I appreciate the history and character these items bring, and love the hunt for that "just right" element -- often at our local antique mall.

Can I wash a Potbelly Bear?

Potbelly Bears are intentionally designed as collectible art pieces made of fabric. Like any art piece, these soft sculptured works aren't designed to be immersed in water or exposed to extreme heat. To remove dust, vacuum carefully. Dab with warm water to spot clean, and avoid scrubbing (especially around shaded or built-up areas.)

Do you take special orders or accept commissions?

I love working with collectors to create unique works they'll truly love, but admit that following my inner muse is less stressful for me than trying to meet someone else's expectations. 


When I'm accepting commissions, "Custom Order" appears as an item in my Shop. I also announce open commission slots in my newsletter and on the Shelli Makes Facebook page.

What forms of payment do you accept?

I accept PayPal exclusively -- it's instant, it's international, and it's simple, straightforward, and safe. Pay from an existing PayPal account or as a "guest," using any major credit or debit card. 

Do you offer layaway?

For items over $99, you can pay over time with PayPal Credit. You'll receive your Potbelly Bear immediately yet you have six (6) full months to pay it off, at 0% interest.


Here's how:

  • Check out with PayPal

  • Choose PayPal Credit (available on items over $99)

  • Answer 2 quick questions, accept the terms, & get approved

You can apply for PayPal Credit in advance, too. Click here to learn more.

Where do you get your patterns?

I make them! All my works are created from 100% original patterns. I spent years perfecting a select group of hand-drafted patterns, altering, redrawing, and remaking them dozens of times. Today, they form the foundational pieces from which every Potbelly Bear is made.

Do you sell your patterns?

No, not at this time. I'm sorry if that disappoints.

How can I learn more about bear making?

I myself learned bear making from: (1) bear making books I found on the shelves of a local used bookstore, and (2) research I did online. I also reached out to established artisans with questions, most of whom happily obliged with gracious answers, tips, and pointers. There's a HUGE wealth of teddy-making information online at Teddy Talk -- a forum sponsored by Intercal (amohair supplier) that I helped establish, and moderated along with other bear artists.

Why so long between bears?

I'm a perfectionist, so I work slowly and methodically, one creation at a time. It's a joyful exercise, full of happy anticipation, but the one-of-a-kind creation process is also mentally exhausting, because every piece is 100% brand new. And needle sculpting, which requires a lot of force, is hard on my aging eyes and hands. So each creation requires a recovery period. I take time between projects to rest my fingers and renew inspiration. Sometimes I take longer breaks if I feel creatively stale (it happens), or when life occupies me otherwise (which, being life, it tends to do.) I always come back to bear making, though, for 12 consecutive years now. And I know I always will.

Why is international shipping so expensive?

There's a "declared value  limit" of $400 for USPS First Class mail -- the most affordable shipping option. So I can't offer this shipping option either domestically or internationally, due to the average price of my work. The next most affordable international option is Priority Mail International, the cost of which varies according to geography, but begins around $65. Ouch, right?!?


I sincerely wish I could ship less expensively to my lovely international collectors. I'm so uncomfortable about the shipping costs these lovely customers must pay.  Unfortunately, these costs are truly out of my control -- just like duty, taxes, or customs fees charged by your destination country, or holds placed on your incoming parcel. 

Do I need to purchase insurance for my parcel?

I'm committed to safe-keeping customer purchases by tracking and insuring every parcel. While customers pay their own shipping charges, I cover insurance FREE as a gesture of thanks and gratitude.

Are your bears child safe?

Potbelly Bears are hand made, soft-sculpted art pieces, created with the discerning adult collector in mind. They contain small parts and are not suitable for young children. Please protect your loved ones and purchase responsibly.