ANGY Heng had spent more than an hour trying to explain her passion and was seemingly all talked out. But just as pen and paper were being put away, she let slip a vital fact; she had a pet bear as a child. 'My father loved animals and we kept a black sun bear in a huge cage in the garden. Its claws were far too long for it to be let out,' she said, staring into space as she remembered life with a bear. Then Ms Heng giggled. 'I always went out to the garden to talk to the bear,' she said. 'All my secrets are coming out.' Talking to a bear as a child is not her only secret: she still talks to bears, only now they are teddies. Ms Heng has more than 50 teddies and reckons she has never been without a bear of some sort to talk to. Last year she started making collectable bears as a hobby and word has spread to the extent she has produced a limited-edition series for The Peninsula hotel's 70th anniversary. 'OK, I'm wacky!' she laughed. 'But bears are always there no matter the weather or the climate. Even if they don't talk, they somehow communicate in their own way. The love from teddy bears is unconditional.' She picks up one of her bears and hugs it, gazing into its eyes and stroking its mohair fur. Ms Heng's bears always look up into their holder's eyes - although it could be they are reflecting their maker's view of the world. Ms Heng, about 1.4 metres tall, laughs at the suggestion. 'There is a saying that teddy bears look like their makers,' she offered. Her bears are 'classic' brown teddies, stitched together by hand. Each stitch is only a few millimetres wide and one bear standing five and a half centimetres high, which she made for herself, had even tighter stitches. The shape of the face is the most important part because it gives each bear its personality, she said. She designs her own bears and stuffs the faces tightly with thin wood shavings, so it is hard and will keep its shape. The body is stuffed with softer artificial material and she uses expensive German mohair or alpaca for the fur and suede or felt pads for the feet and the front paws. All of her bears have movable joints and glass eyes which are sewn on with a long needle so they can be secured at the back of the neck. 'With every bear that I make I draw blood, getting pricked by a needle or something. When I'm stitching the nose on, I have to pull the needle out with pliers,' she said. It takes two days working full-time to complete one bear, but Ms Heng has to do it out of office hours. She is a human resources and marketing manager for a furniture retailer during the day, having moved to Hong Kong eight years ago from Singapore. It was a friend in Singapore who introduced her to the idea of teddy bear-making in April last year. A course was being offered there but Ms Heng could not make it, so she started looking into options from Hong Kong. She ordered a couple of do-it-yourself kits from the United States and in June last year learned of a workshop here with Dutch teddy bear artist Annamieke Koetse, who has since become a good friend and adviser. 'As I grew older I'd wanted to do something with bears but I didn't know what. Making bears was something I stumbled on,' Ms Heng said - and she got more from it than just another bear. 'It's so therapeutic and de-stressing, I hope a lot more people take it up.' She began making bears for her nieces and nephews and for friends' children, then she started getting orders from all sorts of people. She thinks there are few other teddy bear makers in Hong Kong working on such a scale, as most who try it are satisfied to make only one or two bears. 'It was hard to give them away at the beginning because they have personality and a quality of their own. But when I thought I'm making it for my niece or nephew, I thought: OK, it's for this person. It's easier to part with them,' she said. What started as a hobby has grown into a small money-spinner. The cost of bears varies with the size and the material used, with the 28-centimetre Peninsula bears, complete with bellboy outfits, costing $1,200 each. But the business aspect never overtakes her passion for bears. Ms Heng pulls out a champagne-coloured girl bear from her bag - she claims each bear has a gender, revealed in its face - which she originally made for someone else. 'After I made it I picked it up and thought: I'm going to give you away. And it said 'don't give me away'. And I said 'OK, I won't',' she said, hugging it. 'There's something special and magical about their character. They look at you with those eyes.' Notably, none of the teddies have the long sharp claws or black fur of the bear from her childhood. They are all cuddly and Ms Heng says many of her adult friends have taken to sleeping with the teddies she made for them. 'What is very touching for me is when grown men tell me they had a bear as a child and it was a passion. That's very, very sweet,' she said. 'For me, it's nice to see bears bring a smile to people's faces.'