Grateful Dead Dancing Bears Card Case (detail)
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Bear Tracks: Needlepoint Accessories by Smathers & Branson

In celebration of “Play It Loud,” these hand-stitched Dancing Bear accessories pay homage to the Grateful Dead

Currently on view at The Met Fifth Avenue, the exhibition Play It Loud: Instruments of Rock & Roll looks at the iconic instruments that gave rock and roll its signature sound—from Chuck Berry’s Gibson guitar to Keith Moon’s drum set. Enthusiastic visitors have been thronging The Met’s galleries to appraise instruments once owned by Joni Mitchell, Jimi Hendrix, Ringo Starr, Joan Jett, Prince, and many other musical luminaries.

To complement this exciting show, The Met Store’s jammin’ product selections highlight themes from the exhibition. Among the many appealing and unique items in our Play It Loud assortment, these small but eye-catching Dancing Bear needlepoint items stand out—chosen in honor of Jerry Garcia’s famous guitars Tiger and Wolf, which are both currently on view at The Met. Garcia played Tiger (1973) as his main guitar with the Grateful Dead from 1973 to 1979. He first played Wolf (1973–79) in 1979, and he used it almost exclusively until 1989; it was the last guitar he played publicly with the Grateful Dead.

The Met Store’s products for “Play It Loud” include catalogues and books, tees, jewelry, home goods, limited-edition prints and guitars, and more

Long associated with the Grateful Dead, the Dancing Bears first appeared on the back cover of the live album “History of the Grateful Dead, Vol. 1 (Bear’s Choice),” released in July 1973 by Warner Bros. Artist and musician Bob Thomas created the kinetic bears in homage to Owsley “Bear” Stanley, who recorded and produced the album.

Back cover of the 1973 album “History of the Grateful Dead, Vol. 1 (Bear’s Choice)”

Smathers & Branson has transformed the beloved Dancing Bears into charming and functional personal accessories. The items are all carefully hand-stitched by talented artisans, then trimmed with fine leather and other quality materials to create durable key fobs, flasks, card cases, etc., that improve with use. The time taken to make each piece by hand gives them one-of-a-kind appeal.

Clockwise from top left: Grateful Dead Dancing Bear Coasters, Bottle Opener, Card Case, Flask

Visit The Met Fifth Avenue to experience the exhibition before it closes on October 1, or shop the show online here.

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