Saturday, September 26, 2009

Up for Adoption: Toffee, the New "Elephump," and Picasso and Puzzle

Here's Toffee, my latest "elephump." I'm pleased with how he turned out--he's such a sweet, cuddly, roly-poly guy. You can find him on Etsy:
http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=31554313 .
Note on 9/26/09: Toffee has been adopted


I've also put Picasso and Puzzle up for adoption on Bear Pile:
http://www.bearpile.com/detail.cgi?id=1270&item=33069 .

Warmly,
Cheryl

Friday, September 25, 2009

Picasso and His Teddy Bear, Puzzle

I know, I know. I've been very cagey about this whole secret bear project, but you are too smart! I just knew if you saw little Puzzle you would guess my plan for my Teddy Talk challenge. So here they are at last! May I introduce to you, Picasso and Puzzle.
Picasso is 14" made of a lovely sparse mohair which I colored here and there to add some personality. And Puzzle, just shy of 7", is made from hand-dyed felted wool fabrics that I found at a local quilt shop. I like the "painterly" quality it gives. And credit must go to our eldest daughter for the lovely design and creation of Picasso's beret. She was very keen to do it and I think she did a nice job--I only helped here and there.

I had a lot of fun (and challenges!) making this pair. For example, I put Locline-style armatures in Picasso's arm so that his arms can be posed, and, most importantly, he can hold Puzzle. And Puzzle himself was a bit of a challenge, too. I studied a lot of Picasso's paintings in order to choose the shapes of his arms and legs and also to make sure Puzzle's colors were discordant but not TOO discordant. I never really realized it, but I now understand that Picasso really did have a plan when he placed his colors.

So, I have now fulfilled the object of the girls' and my conversation long ago. When we were sitting around the table eating and chatting about what a bear would look like if Picasso made it, I really thought it would be too crazy to make at the time. I mean, how could you make a teddy bear that was fairly true to Picasso's work and still be cute? Now the discussions around this house are centered on who the next artist will be. Van Gogh? I'm not sure I'm up for that. One ear missing? Sunflowers?

Warmly,
Cheryl

Monday, September 21, 2009

Sneak Peeks!

As I promised yesterday, I have some sneak peeks of my current projects! I've actually been making pretty good progress despite fighting off a cold.

I've finished one of my two bears for Teddy Talk's challenge, "A Friend is for Life." I had been pretty nervous about doing this particular bear and to my relief it has turned out well. I was really sweating over whether I could pull it off. Oh, I'm not making much sense, am I? Oh well, you will soon understand everything.
Oh, you say you can't see it because it's hiding behind the white bear. Well, yes, that is true. I just don't have the heart to spoil your surprise! If you saw the bear that's hiding you would understand everything about the pair of bears I'm making. So, I'm sorry, but you will have to be patient for a few more days. Soon the white bear will be finished and you'll know the whole story. He just needs some ears, some shading, and I suppose it would be a good idea to stuff him as well. I will tell you a secret though--he's going to have posable arms! I'm very excited about that.

As for my new 18" bear, he is all cut out with his seams trimmed and sealed. I'm pleased with his progress. I just finished sewing his head together about an hour ago--sorry, I don't have pictures of that yet. And before dinner, while talking to Matt, I pinned up his body and legs! So, if you will now excuse me, I have a date with my sewing machine!
Warmly,
Cheryl

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Max and Chip are on Etsy!

I have two "new" bears on Etsy--Max and Chip. For those of you who follow my blog, you may recognize them. I was rather partial to Max and wasn't quite ready to let him go--he's such a sweetie! But now that I am making myself my own bear, I'm ready to let someone else enjoy his endearing little face.
Note on 9/26/09: Max has been adopted.
And, as for Chip (also known as Chiparoo to our girls), the girls were not ready to let me sell him either. I kept hearing pleas of, "But I might want him for Christmas!" However, now they have decided they would like me to make each one of them a larger bear for Christmas so that they can go buy baby clothes from the stores. Our youngest has been quite dismayed that all the new baby cousins in our family have been boys because she wants to be able to buy the "cute, little girl" clothes for them. She reckons that a cuddly big teddy bear should remedy this problem.

Check Max and Chip out on Etsy--they are both real sweeties!
As for my secret bear project and my own teddy bear, I'll be posting sneak peeks tomorrow!
Warmly,
Cheryl

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Secrets...Teddy Bears...and Me

"Where have you been? Goodness, it's been over a week since you last posted! I thought you had fallen out of 'blogland.' Very inconsiderate, you know."

"I really have been busy...honest! In fact, I will be posting 2 bears on Etsy within the next two days--Max and Chip."

"Yes, I know. But that doesn't really qualify as having been busy. Those bears were made months ago!"

"Ah. Yes. Too true. But I did just 5 minutes ago finish a new 'elephump.' It took a while for me to decide on how to color his paws--poor thing has been staring at me from the kitchen hutch for a week with his sad eyes questioning when and how he will be completed. So, Toffee will be on Etsy soon, too."

"Okay, I'll give you that one. But can that really be called 'busy?'"

"I see you won't easily be put off, so I'll lay it all out on the table. Besides Toffee, I have nearly completed one of two bears for a secret bear project--it's for the Teddy Talk challenge, 'A Friend is for Life.' I don't want to spill the beans on that one yet, so I beg of you to be patient. If it works as I think it will, it should be a wonderful pair! I had just been waiting for some supplies to arrive and today I received the last of what was needed to proceed with the first of the two bears. And I have the pattern drawn for the second of the two bears and have begun the process of tracing and cutting it out--and, yes, I honestly do have everything I need for that bear, too."

"Okay. Keep going."

"Well, on top of that, I spent quite a lot of time designing a completely new style bear. He'll be a big bear for me and he has a completely new way (to me, that is) of doing the neck joint. I'm REALLY excited about how he is coming along. I really played around with the pattern until I was completely satified with how it looked. I wound up making four mock-ups for the head out of muslin--just tweaking a little here and a little there. Of course, when he is finished I will probably find little things that I want to change in future bears. That always seems to be the way of it. But I finished cutting him out a couple of hours ago and I'm just in seventh heaven with how he's looking. He'll be a big 18" of cuddliness--he's made of the most delicious, thick, and chocolaty alpaca. Yummmm."

"Well...I see you have had quite a few projects you've been busy with. And I guess I can understand why you might want to keep the challenge bear pair a secret. Although you could have at least let us know you were working on a secret. I've been sitting here thinking you were twiddling your thumbs. But, tell me...why did you start all this work on a new 18" bear design with a luxurious 'fur' if you still could have worked on the second bear of the secret pair?"

"Ummmmm...well...funny that you ask...did I tell you about...?"

"I'm still waiting. You can stall as long as you want, but I'm still waiting until I get an answer."

"Well...mumble...mumble...mumble."

"Do you want to try that again, only audible?"

"I give up...I confess...,(note that my head is hanging down) I wanted a cuddly teddy bear for myself. So, yes, I'm making this teddy prototype for myself."

"A teddy bear for yourself? Really? For a big girl like you?"

sniff..."Yes."

"Hmmmm...excellent idea! Do you think we could share it sometime? Yes? Really? Ohhhh, how exciting? And it's going to be really soft and cuddly?...Won't that be cozy on a wild winter's evening--us all cozied up with our bear under the lap quilt watching a favorite Jane Austen movie and drinking hot cocoa. I think this may be a winter to look forward to. Do you think...?"

And I watched her skip away in her dreams about the new teddy bear. So, you see, I may have to work on my teddy bear some more before I can show you the progress of the secret bears. They may have to wait a bit longer. I'm supposed to have them done by the 30th of this month, so I do expect that I will rise to that deadline. But I really must put first things first. I need to work some more on my teddy bear--I certainly don't want to get in trouble with myself again!

Warmly,
Cheryl

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Crazy Homeschool Days

On this auspicious date of 9-09-09, we've had our second day of homeschooling this year. So many people over the years have asked, "How do you do it?" I understand their wonder--it can be a tough life to choose. Like, today...let's see what I've done. I played on the computer. Took a leisurely shower. Read a teddy bear book. Checked some of the girls' work. Worked on the "elephump." Played on the computer some more. Suggested that our eldest go outside to clear her mind--she had a glazed over look after reading "Origin of Species." Had lunch on the patio. Received good news from a friend I've been concerned about and talked with her for 30 minutes. Took a nap (have to for fibromyalgia's sake). Spelled two words for a questioning child. Worked a bit more on the "elephump." Had a chai latte on the patio. And now I'm playing on the computer again. You see this homeschool stuff can be really difficult sometimes!

Seriously, though, I understand that it's not for everyone. I'm not always relaxed about this whole thing. I regularly freak out about the full responsibility of it all--generally once around the time school starts and then again in the February-March time frame. It's just that I don't have much to do regarding hands-on teaching with the girls anymore now that they are in 6th and 10th grade, but when they were younger and learning to read homeschooling was a bit intense.

I've always felt that my job was to help the girls "learn how to learn." Now that they have learned most of the basics, I'm mostly there for discussions (which are quite fun), questions, and checking work. They basically do all of the work on their own. They know what has to get done on each day (I do work out this schedule for them) and they are responsible for keeping track of their work, when to work on each thing, and when to take a break.

The tough part now, and this can take a considerable amount of time, is doing paperwork for the state and figuring out what books they are going to read each year for history, science, literature, biographies, and art (they like their math curriculum so it hasn't changed for quite some time). I do the background work and then discuss it with them to see what they think. They have quite a lot of say in what they do--I suppose that is one reason that they don't complain too much about their work. Of course, they do complain about some of the books, but if they have given it a decent try and their reasons for disliking it are valid, then we drop the book and find something else.

So, I'm not really a teacher anymore. They are the learners and I'm the researcher, buyer, scheduler, book-keeper, checker, and sounding-board. And, of course, just mom.

Warmly,
Cheryl

Friday, September 4, 2009

Do You Hear the New "Elephump" Calling?

Right now my head feels like I have 100 little ping-pong balls bouncing around every which way. It's really rather exciting! All sorts of goodies have arrived in the mail and I'm just itching to start play with them--sparkling Angelina fibers, bouncy wool, hand-dyed felt, and, of course, luxurious mohair. And I've got a bear and an "elephump" who are rather impatient to come to life with stuffing and joints. I'm the impish little girl just waiting to get her hands on all of the candy!

Okay, now it's time to take a deep breath. Practicality must make itself known, bore that it is. It has to have its say and it WILL be heard. The little imp sighs and takes a seat in a straight-backed chair. Practicality says in its sternest voice, "School starts on Monday and you have not finalized your girls' daily homeschool schedule. How will they know how much to read in each book? You certainly don't want to make the same mistake as last year when they only read the minimum number of pages and, therefore, didn't finish all of their reading until well into the summer, now do you? And, don't forget, you still haven't filed away their work from last year. You have a lot of work to do, young lady, so get to it!"

The little girl, hands folded in her lap, sighs again while looking at her hands. Her feet swing back and forth under the oversized wooden chair. Suddenly her face brightens and a sly grin spreads across her face. "Yes, you are right, Practicality. I do have a lot of work to do and, as you said, it must get done. There's no two ways about it. I have much work that has waited much too long to be attended to. So, I shall start now." She slides off of the chair and walks determinedly towards the door.

"Wait a minute!" Practicality bellows, "What are you up to?"

The girl's pace quickens. "Why, I'm off to work, of course! The new "elephump" is calling and must be attended to! I mustn't be negligent. Work is work, you know. Monday is Labor Day. School doesn't start until Tuesday! I have a whole extra day to get things done," she sings as she is now in a full run, out of the reach of Practicality.

And that is the way of it.

Joyfully running,
Cheryl