Cheri

About the Artist

Cheri Weststrate, originally from Redondo Beach, California, moved to Mattawan, Michigan (just outside of Kalamazoo), in 1975. Cheri and her husband, Larry, have enjoyed over 30 years of marriage and have raised three children. Cheri’s mother inspired and taught her the art of bear making in the early 1980’s.

When she first began creating bears, she used plush acrylic material and five different pattern sizes, each labeled with the names of family members from smallest to largest for easy reference. During this time, many people asked Cheri to make bears into heirlooms from “Grandma’s” antique quilts. In 1990, Cheri began using mohair and real furs in response to many customer requests. Recycling a precious fur was very appealing because a collectible bear often made a more treasured family heirloom than an unused fur coat. At first, Cheri’s bears sold simply by word of mouth. She attended arts and crafts shows and displayed her work at local galleries. As the business continued to grow, she sold bears to stores throughout the midwest.

Bear work was stalled through most of 2004 while Cheri was treated for and overcame breast cancer.

Today, Cheri’s bears are sold at bear and art shows throughout the Midwest. A large part of her business is special orders. These orders come from across the United States and internationally. Many customers provide their own furs from vintage coats of mink, beaver, seal, fox, muskrat, marmot and Persian lamb. Some bears are also created from heirloom quilts and fabrics. On occasion, she has done restoration work for customers on their damaged bears. Over the years, Cheri has created other collectibles, such as rabbits, wolves, and cats, along with her traditional teddy bears. Therefore, when asked what she made, she would respond, “Mostly Bears.” Thus, her business was named.

“I thank God for his blessing on both my work and my family over the years.”



You can contact Cheri directly at MostlyBears1@gmail.com