Wendi Donchi has been an artist and sculptor for 20+ years.
Finding her medium in recycled fur, one of the first things Wendi learned was how fragile old hides could become with age; reconditioning the hides and old fur coats was a process that she came by through trial-and-error, work that must be completed before an heirloom bear can even begin to take shape. Sculpting these bears is a true labour of love.
“Working with the hide, cleaning and mending the old fur takes a lot of time and multiple processes to complete, and each one poses a unique challenge; like the age, wear and type of fur” says Wendi, “But hearing the story of these heirlooms, the people who wore them, other places and times, the history that these old furs hold, that history is often more important than the old fur itself.”
Wendi starts by listening and working collaboratively to capture that history and helps shape each bear around their unique story to bring the past to life in each heirloom bear. It’s about transforming that story into a keepsake, a Bearloom.
Donchi Bearloom Bears have been shared with hundreds of people all over the world; for those starting out in life like graduation, wedding and baby-shower gifts, to those celebrating life’s milestones such as birthday’s and anniversaries. These Bears have also been created to share in the memory of those who have gone before us and Wendi is honored to be part of that journey to design Bears that pay tribute to those remarkable remembrances.
“So many of these old furs have been tucked neatly away in the back of a closet, an old trunk or hidden in the corner of an attic, with so many people unsure of what to do with them” says Wendi, “Their inherent value is no longer in the opulent fur or status it may have once brought it’s original owner; many people have inherited a piece of family history without ever knowing quite how to honour it’s memory.”
Up-cycling these coats into heirloom bears (Bearlooms) lets people tell that story, gift that memory, and share in that history. It’s more than recycling, it’s about transforming a story into a keepsake, a Bearloom.
Working out of her stunning country studio nestled in the Foothills, South West of Calgary, Alberta on a sprawling wilderness retreat, Donchi’s Bearloom Bears are known internationally for their high quality and stunning details. Welcome to Bear Country!
Over the years Wendi has donated many bears to both local and international charities such as Ronald McDonald House, creating ‘Bears of Hope’, a remarkably special bear for Hospice, Hospital and Home-Care patients. These bears are designed to make sure a child or adult never feels alone in times of need.
Bearloom Bears have been featured on Oprah, Christmas In The Country (CTV), Big Breakfast Morning Show (A-Channel) and can often be found at the Millarville Market in Alberta.