About the Artist
Last Updated: 7/10/2010
Peggy Fleming has been making collectable teddy bears and other soft sculpture for nearly 30 years. After a busy career that took her all over the country and her creations all over the world, she now works full-time in the communications field. Her artistic endeavors have been reduced to hobbyist status, although she still exhibits at the occasional show and sells a few pieces through a shop in Iowa. To nuture her need to work with fibers, she has formed a cooperative partnership with fellow artists Joel Hoy and Terri Larson called Once Upon a Needle.
The Early Years
Peggy Fleming grew up on Pleasant Ridge Farm in southwest Iowa, a home built by her great-grandparents. Her artistic bent and love of animals were nurtured there. She literally learned to sew at her mother's knee, playing in the button box and sewing together scraps of fabric while her mother was busy at her sewing machine making nearly every piece of clothing they wore. The only toy patterns Peggy had access to as a child were the ones printed in her mother's magazines. She remembers kneeling on the hard wood floor laboriously drawing out the grid and enlarging the patterns. Thus began her education in flat pattern drafting.
Peggy had lots of pets as a child, including a pig named Julie that walked on a leash and a red calf named Fireball. She has fond memories of her father bringing in a box full of baby animals for her to see when she was little. Sometimes it was a litter of newborn pigs that needed warming on the radiator or maybe a nest of baby raccoons that had been orphaned. She will never forget one snowy twilight when she witnessed foxes dancing in the meadow near the house.
In the summertime, her favorite hideaway was inside an ancient lilac bush. It made a good shady place to daydream, read, draw or just escape from the piano teacher!
Peggy has a bachelors degree in Journalism from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa and was a technical writer at The Principal Financial Group for nine years. In her spare time, she did theatrical costuming as well as other backstage work for local community theater groups.
Peggy Discovers Artist Teddy Bears
In the early 80's, Peggy saw her first artist-made miniature teddy bear and wanted it badly, but her husband looked at the price tag and said "You can make this." So she did. Her first tiny bears appeared in an exhibit of women's artwork and people wanted to buy them. She had no idea what to charge, so she started out at $15.00 each! After a little research, she raised her prices. Finally, when her last child was out of diapers, she decided to dive into the strange and wonderful world of the full time bearmaker by exhibiting at the Kansas City Jubilee and ABC Schaumburg shows.
Smithsonian Teddy Parade
Peggy Fleming is a member and officer of the Iowa Teddy Bear Makers' Guild, a juried group of teddy bear artists living in the state of Iowa, USA. Her pieces are represented in the collection at the Heartland Teddy Bear Museum in Clarion, Iowa.
In 1997, she was proud to receive a TOBY award for her miniature mohair polar bear, Klondike. A larger version of this design was licensed to Bear Essentials, a division of Effanbee Dolls. Peggy designed for Effanbee for six years until it was sold in 2002.
In 2001, Peggy was among only 38 artists who were invited to exhibit at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC for their Centennial Celebration of the Teddy Bear.
Today, Peggy lives in the city with her husband in a beautiful wooded area full of wildlife near the Raccoon River with their dogs and cats. You never know what you will see when you look out of the family room windows...a group of deer, birds, squirrels, a passing fox, or a curious raccoon on the deck peeking in to see what the humans are up to!
Now, with children in college, Peggy has returned to the regular work force. She enjoys working as the communications person at a local bank. The job doesn't leave much time for bear-making, but she still manages to make a few pieces each year. A limited number of her bears are available in shops. Her Santas are available only at Atherton House in Adel, Iowa.