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Hobbit-y Ever After: Teddies take on the Lord of the Ring, the Hobbit, and other wizardly designs. PDF Print E-mail
Written by Stephanie Finnegan   
Friday, 17 May 2013 10:03
Donna Griffin fashioned a loving tribute to “The Hobbit” with a rabbit interpretation of Gandalf and a Bilbo Baggins bear.
“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole. . . . It was a hobbit hole, and that means comfort.”
Donna Griffin’s incredible interpretation of Bilbo’s house serves as a whimsical backdrop for Gandalf and Mr. Baggins.
Clockwork and Cthul fashioned this tribute to Mr. Bilbo Baggins on Etsy.
Galadriel is one of the enchanting figures who presides over the world of J.R.R. Tolkien.
This majestic re-creation of a Lord of the Rings tableau was on display at the Incheon Global Festival in Korea. The photo was furnished by Herenya Undomiel—an Elvish pseudonym.
Gandalf the Grey is a plush pal of the highest order.
Elves, Hobbits, Dwarves, and Halflings are some of the inhabitants of Middle Earth.
The otherworldly characters live in an alternate world, but share some of our own foibles and follies, virtues and vices.
J. R. R. Tolkien is the gentleman scholar who mesmerized the world with his imagination and his insight.
Donna Griffin fashioned a loving tribute to “The Hobbit” with a rabbit interpretation of Gandalf and a Bilbo Baggins bear.
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Children live a great deal of their lives wrapped up in wonder and fantasy. For us grown-ups, we only allow ourselves an occasional dip into the pool of imagination and “let’s pretend.” In my household, my two kids are always breaking into spontaneous live-action games inspired by Percy Jackson (aka, “The Lightning Thief”), “Star Wars,” Harry Potter, and “iCarly.” (They are an eclectic duo.) Recently, they’ve been adding backyard epics influenced by “The Lord of the Rings” and now “The Hobbit.”

Both kids—ages 8 and 10—are able to discuss the merits of Gandalf the Grey versus Gandalf the White. (They prefer his white incarnation.) They can hold court in expressing why the character of Gollum is a tortured soul, more to be pitied than punished. They really get into all the layers of this saga and can express why heroism isn’t always found in traditional heroes. Sometimes the smallest amongst us can have the biggest impact. Think Bilbo and Frodo Baggins.

Because we just watched Peter Jackson’s first installment of “The Hobbit” trilogy—a series that really should be just a single motion picture—we started to talk about how those characters are a great canvas for artists. My son has really mastered first-rate drawings of wizards and dragons, ogres and trolls. My daughter was taken with the rabbits that pull a sled in “The Hobbit,” a comical-looking variation of an Alaskan “mush pack.” She has been sketching wizards standing on sleighs being pulled across hills and slopes by a team of bunnies. The pictures are really sweet. Apparently, lots of people have been smitten by the films and the folklore and have even posted their homemade efforts on YouTube. Check out these two heartfelt creations:   

Luckily, with my job, I’m able to hobnob with folks who tap into their make-believe side for fun and finance. Teddy bear artists are able to unleash their inner dreams and visions; and if they are fortunate, they can earn a profit or raise charitable funds by doing so.

The rich tapestry of J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth world is perfect fodder for bear makers and other crafty folk to build and fashion characters and scenes from the text. Some of the results are cute and whimsical; others are downright dramatic and sophisticated.

A very talented bear artist (and an extremely nice woman, to boot) is Donna Griffin. She fashioned a Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf duo, along with Bilbo’s Hobbit house. The tableau is so detailed, with Bilbo’s home being painted and decorated to match the description offered in the original book. Donna’ handiwork is splendid, and anyone who looks at the photo just wants to while away an afternoon inside the house, eating tea and cakes, or perhaps having “second breakfast,” one of the Hobbits’ mandatory meals.

On the dramatic—I can’t believe these are miniature bears lined up and posed—front comes a towering vignette from the Korean Incheon Global Fair & Festival. One of the themes at this annual event (I think it’s the 2009 edition) was the “Lord of the Rings.” This absolutely magnificent re-creation of the Fellowship, attendant characters, and even Gollum are caught in this photograph. The attention to detail is stunning, and the sweeping nature of the books and the movies are really captured by these teddy bear stand-ins. If anyone knows the artist who made this terrific setting, please share the name. It’s not identified in any of the online clippings.

When Tolkien wrote these books, which have emerged as classics and as the touchstone for all future fantasy realms—he spun an alternate reality where good is triumphant, and evil is vanquished.

In the real world, we know the lines sometimes get blurred, and we also know that villainous deeds and people often go unpunished.

Perhaps this is why my children and I—and teddy bear artists the world over—enjoy the invitation to spend some time in the shire with Bilbo, Frodo, Sam, and the rest of the Fellowship.

It’s calming and fulfilling to see gentle folks—and gentle bears—acknowledged for their bravery, selflessness, and sense of decency. It warms our hearts to know that a heroic nature can reside inside all of us. Yes, inside each of us adults and children, we carry a little bit of Bilbo. It’s reassuring to know that when we need to, we can become more courageous than we ever imagined. And that’s a fact—not just legendary fantasy.