"Humor" is his middle name, or at least one of them. John Paul Port brings this sense of humor, his love of life and knowledge of all aspects of the bear world into his original creations. He is world renowned for not only his wonderful Teddy Bears, but for long years championing the whole bear field.
Port was born into the world of Teddy Bears. A Teddy Bear awaited him on his arrival home -- he is the youngest arctophile in the famous Port family. It was like growing up in Santa's Workshop!) His original bears are identified as "Van Poort Originals," (Poort being the family's ancestral name,) trademarked with a windmill and most are one-of-a-kinds. Port is one of the rare breed of bear makers who actually hand make each bear without help. His output is very limited and sought after. (His imagination is unlimited!) Most Port bears are undressed, but with accessories; or if dressed, he uses marvelous antique fabrics and trims. His bears have wonderful faces and some reflect his sense of humor.
Port's originally designed Teddy Bears have been exhibited at many museums and shows including "The Musee des Arts Decoratif, the Louvre," Paris, France. He was one of the first Teddy Bear artists to be invited and featured at DisneyWorld's annual Teddy Bear Convention and the Alexandra Palace Event in England. He attends conventions, exhibiting and lecturing all over the world.
An avid photographer of Teddy Bears, Port's photos have appeared in print in many international books and magazines, as well as in slide programs. Port has successfully taught many seminars on "The Art of the Teddy Bear" and can solve the most difficult problems bearmakers encounter.
In 1997, Port launched a fabulous new endeavor -- "Teddy Today". He is co-publisher and editor, with Denis Shaw, of the new magazine, dedicated to furthering the worldwide enjoyment and collecting of both artist and antique Teddy Bears. He brings his years of experience in the Bear world as the "Bear Sleuth" and "Van Poort Originals" as well as his sense of humor and love for Teddy Bears to the new publication.
Port has written his famous "Bear Sleuth" column since the 1980s. It details his adventures in finding old Teddies and calls on his vast knowledge to identify old bears and related toys. Having one of the largest collections of antique bears and toys gives Port a wonderful source for his research. Port also conducts appraisal and identification seminars. He co-authored the first definitive glossary of terms for the bear world in "The Official Price Guide to Antique and Modern Teddy Bears" (Brewer and Waugh) for Random House in 1990.
This year Port will be "hunting" bear treasures in Europe, teaching others to make bears and giving enjoyment to thousands through his creative endeavors. His "Bear Lair" and "Teddy Today" are located in La Honda, California. Phone: (650) 747-0549
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Beverly Matteson Port, multimedia bear and doll artist, preeminent in the bear field, is an international award winning designer, author, consultant and speaker on "The Art of the Teddy Bear." She owns the Collector's Corner in Paul's Pharmacy, 732 Lebo Blvd, Bremerton, WA98310. Phone: (360) 377-9202.