Friday, July 31, 2009

Bears on Etsy

What a busy computer day! My etsy shop is now all set up and running. I had planned on having four bears up for sale, but it didn't quite worked out that way--which in no way has been a bad thing. One bear sold. Another bear is on hold. And the third bear, Chiparoo, is staying in our hug for a while. As I was preparing Chip for etsy, our 11 year old pleaded with me to keep him for a while because she "might want him for Christmas." So Chip has found a cozy spot in our corner cabinet for the time being!

However, one pretty girl did make it on etsy today. Cassie is the lone bear in my etsy shop and ready to find a new home--she's such a cuddly, fluffy girl at 13 1/2 inches with her long golden beige mohair. Update on 8/3/09. Cassie has been adopted.
I'm expecting that she should have company with at least one other bear in the next week or so.

I also thought I would show you Charlie, the bear that sold today. He's an 11 1/2 inch, vintage-style bear with a very soulful expression. I had fun working on his hand coloring and distressing. I think he turned out quite well.
Have a great day!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

A Little Sassy

Here's Sassy sitting for her formal photograph. She's a sweet, fuzzy little thing at 10" and will soon be off to her new home.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A 44-year-old Practical Artist

As of today, I am officially 44 years old. I say "officially" because I have been referring to myself as 44 for the past couple of months. Remember when you were little and, when asked your age, you'd say, "I'm ALMOST 8" instead of 7 1/2. Unlike then, I'm not trying to rush time, it just seems more "logical" and "precise" to round up. Hey, I know I would have flunked math if I kept answering 43 when the number was precisely 43 years and 364 days--like it or not, it rounds up to 44. And, as a bonus, I've never had any trouble accepting a "milestone" birthday as of yet.

Okay, now I hear you asking, "Why such precision?" I truly do not know. I have been pondering this question for the past few days and I'm not sure I have a good answer. Perhaps it's a quirk of my nature. Or perhaps it's due to being surrounded by engineers. Yes, and lots of them--my husband, father, late father-in-law, brother, uncle, and 2 sister-in-laws. I should also include our nearly 15 year old daughter (yes, I know, she's 14 1/2) in the engineer count since that is just who she is and that is her plan for college. And, let's see, I shouldn't forget my mother the math major as well.

I see you nodding your head, as perhaps you well should be, "she's just a practical, precise type of person." Well, yes. And, no. Yes, being around so many math-oriented people has made me able to "be one with math"--it was one way to communicate with my family. And having spatial abilities has been quite handy. But, no, I don't think it's my natural way of being. Instead, I tend to be a feeling-oriented, art-oriented person. Art and feelings are just how I am with the world. I see the world in terms of color, texture, balance, and feeling. This used to drive my poor husband nutty with the way I continually moved furniture and decorated until it "felt right." Now, after 22 years, he just lovingly accepts it.

So where did the art come in? Perhaps day one. Remember my mom the math major? She's also an artist. Being surrounded by and creating art was just part of growing up for me. My mom taught art classes in our home, so going to galleries, art stores, and doing all the other things artists do was just a part of life. It wasn't until relatively recently that I realized how diffirent this was from most people's childhoods.

So, I guess one could call me a "practical artist." Do you suppose that's a contradiction in terms?


Monday, July 27, 2009

Lots of Things Accomplished and I Only Whined a Little Bit!

We had a quiet weekend. On Saturday, I finished a vintage-style teddie and a commissioned bear (poor little chap has been sitting on my shelf without ears for way too long!). I also made a new pattern with a certain young lady in mind (keep watching this space, Miss Jessica). Goodness, I was just chugging along! I went to sleep Saturday night with my head happily filled with plans for Sunday--I was going to cut out the new pattern, set up an etsy account, photograph the two bears I finished and show them to you, and have the official photos taken of 3 other bears and put them up for adoption on etsy. Is this where I say, "the best laid plans...?"

I don't know what I was thinking. I knew that a storm system had been and was working its way through our area. That's generally enough to push my fibromyalgia over the edge and, to top it off, I had probably not paced myself well enough on Saturday. I just LOVE making my bears. It's so hard to stop working when I have the energy--but I should know by now that if I push myself too hard I will pay for it later.

So, of course, Sunday didn't go as planned. Instead, I had to spend my time lying down and resting. That can be so boring. I tried to amuse myself with the latest "Teddy Bear and Friends" magazine and I tried to keep my spirits up. Honestly, I only whined once about how tired I am of having this disease that makes me hurt all of the time. By mid-afternoon, I had gathered enough energy to have little spurts of work time. So, between scenes of "Sense and Sensibility" (that at least made the lying down time pass enjoyably), I had worked enough to at least cut out the new bear and to start an etsy account. I suppose even little bits of work can lead to progress.

So, that's enough of my whining. I really do feel so blessed--I have a great life! I love my life and am thankful for it every day. I really didn't want to have fibromyalgia come into this blog because, to me, this blog is a celebration of what I love to do and of life. I guess I'm just going to have to accept that fibro will occasionally be part of this blog because it's an inseparable part of who I am. I will try to keep my whining to a minimum! :-) I hope you don't mind.


P.S. My etsy account should be up and running within the next week or so--I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Just Dreaming

Okay, so is it just goofy me or do others have silly dreams, too?

Yesterday the girls asked me how I slept. "Fine," I replied absentmindedly, "but I had a silly dream." I went on preparing my morning oatmeal, assuming that that was the end of the discussion. But, no, silly me, I had piqued their curiosity.

"I dreamt that I was awake. I didn't even know that I had been sleeping until I woke up and was confused because the events in my memory, my dream, didn't line up with what was happening. It took me a few moments to figure it out." They just smiled and lightly snickered at their goofy mom, but at least they were back on track gathering bagels and cereal for their respective meals. I thought all was forgotten as I continued with my morning routine. Having just sat down at the office desk, I was ready to putter for a bit on the computer while the oatmeal cooked.

Then a head popped into my peripheral vision. "What were you doing while you were awake in your dream?" Now normally they don't ask because I rarely remember many details of my dreams, but this time I did remember and knew that it was going to get a response. I paused to consider--do I fib or just brush her off? Not going to work. I just feel too uncomfortable to lie to the girls when I expect them to tell the truth. Oh, well, at least they'll get a kick out of it. Prepared for the upcoming peels of laughter, I smirked, "I was trying to fall asleep." Laughter from the three of us filled the room.

May you sleep well tonight, and as our youngest said to me before bed last night, "I hope you dream about dreaming tonight!"

Sweet dreams,

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Adventures in the Renaissance

I didn't tell you yet about our adventures on Sunday. The weather was absolutely beautiful (sunny and 73 degrees) so we went to the Sterling Renaissance Festival. It's situated in a lovely grove of trees where artisans sell their wares (hmmm, could Renaissance teddy bears be in the future?) and actors dressed in period costume wander the lanes interacting with all. Many guests also dress in "period" costume or rent costumes at the festival--all seem to enjoy the raucous atmosphere.

Here's a gentleman actor in the middle of a scene. I didn't notice it before, but the bird mask reminds me of the masks the renaissance doctors used to wear to ward off the plague when treating patients. My youngest daughter just told me that the doctors used to pack the metal beak with strong smelling and sweet herbs to protect themselves. I didn't know that! Cool! Whatever works!
And of course, one can't forget one's remembrances and snacks. Vendors roamed the streets selling sourdough pretzels, candied nuts, pickles, and bananas and beef jerky. The girls particularly enjoyed watching the latter vendor because she wore a bunch of bananas on her head! Of course, there was also a flower girl.
Here's one of my favorites! A caterpillar! He's such a riot.
Oh, and look, Matt got this great shot at the jousting tournament. The girls know it's all staged, but enjoy it nonetheless. Although they did mention that they liked watching the caber toss last year as it was a real competition--that's when hefty men dressed in kilts toss telephone poles.
And, lastly, as a real treat, it's always a privledge to meet Good Queen Bess!
Enjoy your day!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Ol' Singer

Oh, I've been having fun with the ol' Singer 401a. It just clickety-clacks along and turns like a dream! It goes through mohair like nothing and yesterday, within a relatively short time, I just about finished sewing up a bear (I'll post him as soon as he's ready later this week). So what took me so long to start using a sewing machine to stitch up the little critters?!

I have found though, that the 401a really is not the most fond of upolstery weight thread. I've been experimenting with different stitch lengths, threads, and tensions on scraps to see what works well with mohair. Regular weight thread with lots of stitches per inch and it hums like a dream. Super-duty Mastex upolstery thread and it just doesn't want to move--it will with some coaxing, but you can just tell that the old machine is not particularly pleased. Ah, well.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Good News

Yippee! Good news about the Singer 401a! It IS basically a little tank! The repair shop said that even though it's 50 years old, it's still a heavy duty machine that will be great for sewing mohair bears. It was top-of-the-line for its day and what is great for me is that I won't have to buy a new day-to-day sewing machine (which saves me lots of moola) and my hands will be given a break from hand-stitching every part of my bears. Apparently, people who own these machines rarely give them up because they just keep going and going and going. The "Everyready Bunny" of the sewing machine world! Thanks great-Aunt Elaine!

And here's another picture that I promised you. This is Cassie, a 13 1/2 inch mohair bear. I used the coloring technique I learned from Ellen Borggreve's "Teddy Tutor" to add some depth around her eyes, muzzle, ears, and paw pads. It was a lot of fun to do! Thanks again, Ellen!
The girls are in a Shakespeare day camp all week and I thought I would be able to get loads done on my bears while they were gone. Instead, it seems like I've been just catching up on my errands. Well, I guess that's just how it goes sometimes. However, I did make it over to a local specialty fabric shop and picked up some woolen squares for a challenge starting at Teddy Talk (a forum for teddy bear artists and their collectors). You'll just have to wait and see what I have in mind for them! And I also had the Singer 401a serviced so it is now all ready for me to play with. So far, tomorrow and Friday morning look clear--Yippee! Watch out mohair!


Monday, July 13, 2009

Introducing Tad

Here's Tad, my newest bear that I promised to show you yesterday. He's 8 1/2 inches tall made from a very sparse golden mohair with felt paw pads. It's hard to tell from this particular picture, but I did add some coloring around his eyes, muzzle, ears, and paws to give him a more vintage feel. He's currently sitting on my desk eagerly looking at me as if to say, "So, when does the fun begin!" I have to admit, he looks pretty cute. I'd be happy to give you more information about or pictures of him--just let me know.
Update on 7/23/09. Tad has found a new home.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A Sunny Day!

'Twas a sunny day today! One of those not-too-hot, not-too-cool, just-right kind of days you get after days of rain and storms. So we went to "play" at Sycamore Hill Gardens in Marcellus, NY. It's a 30-acre, privately-owned garden that is opened only 3 days a year as a fundraiser for local charities. It's just stunning! Unbelievable! It was our first time there and we all decided to make sure we visit whenever they are open. I wish I could have stayed there all day!

This afternoon, Matt and I also spent some time cleaning up Great-aunt Elaine's 401a Singer machine. We have a portable Janome too. It's such a nice little machine that our eldest loves to use--I'd hate to mess it up with that fuzzy ol' mohair when I make my teddy bears. The Singer looks like it may be built like a tank--all mechanical parts and metal. I'm going to call the local Mom-and-Pops sewing machine repair place to see what they think. Last time I spoke with him (which was yesterday!), he seemed a bit concerned about using the little Janome too much for the bears--"It's not really an everyday machine. It's more of an occasional use, take-it-to-class type of machine." I guess I don't really have anything to lose by trying out the ol' Singer so I think I'm going to give it a shot! I so much prefer to hand-stitch my little bears, but if I keep that up, my hands are going to give up the ghost.

And to top it off, Matt's making burgers on the grill and the girls picked mulberries from our tree and made a pie for desert! YUM! What a lovely summer day.


P.S. I also finished a new bear today--an 8 1/2 inch vintage style bear. I'll try to post him soon.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Fun, Fun, Fun!

So many fun things have been happening here. The most recent was the visit of my brother, his lovely wife, and their 2 wonderful daughters. It was truly a delight and a joy to have them here. They left this morning on their way to new adventures at Cedar Point in Ohio. I do hope they will have some time to recover before going back to their daily routines--I think they run the risk of being all "funned" out! It didn't seem like we were that busy while they were here, but between the swimming, playing, and crafting, I know our 2 girls are running a bit low on steam today!

I also have been busy with my bears. I've been playing with a new coloring technique I learned from "The Teddy Tutor" by Ellen Borggreve. Wonderful! I can't thank Ellen enough for taking the time to share some of her secrets. I'm also almost done with the bear that I'm making on commission--just need to attach some ears. And, lastly, I'm really excited about a little bear I'm stitching up with a new pattern that I've designed. So many ideas, so little time and energy! I'll try to get some photos up soon.


Thursday, July 2, 2009

Bear Weather

Another rainy day! I can't believe it has rained everyday since we returned from camping. Ah well, thankfully we only had one rainy day during our week of camping. The weather was so beautfiful that week that we were really able to enjoy all of the state parks in the Ithaca, New York area and we had such a nice time hanging out in the "Twinkie." During our down time, I was even able to finish all of the sewing for a commissioned bear--it's going to be gorgeous! It's all ready to be jointed and stuffed.

So, it continues to rain. Well, actually, that is really good news! That means that I can't be outside doing my gardening chores. I just get more time to work on my bears!

Today I finished Chiparoo (named by my daughters). This little 10-inch mohair guy looks so jaunty in his satin "scarf!" The colors in this photo are a bit off--a bit too cool due to the very overcast sky--but it gives you an idea of what he looks like.
I'm very please with how sweet his face turned out. He's just such a cuddly chap. Please let me know if you would like more information about him. He's available, but it will probably take me a bit of time before I get some official studio photos of him and put him on ebay.

Ah, I just peeked outside and, good news, it's still dreary! I'm off to joint my new bear. If it keeps up like this, I'll even be able to cut out 2 new bears that I'm planning. The forecast is looking really good for all next week! I should have more bears to post soon!