Monday, May 30, 2011

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Bears and More Bears

It's crazy!  I have 7 bears sitting on shelves in my living room, 3 more critters in various states of assembly in my studio, and 3 in Scotland waiting to be introduced to the world at the end of June.  All these bears and I can't show you any photos!

At least I feel like I can't show them.  I suppose I might be able to give you some sneak peeks as the days get closer to the Teddy Bear Artist Invitational (TBAI) in August.  I've always thought that I wasn't supposed to show my bears before they were available, but I'm truly not sure.  Could it be okay?  Maybe I'm just looking for an excuse because I'm just ITCHING to show you all of the sweeties I've made.

But I can show you some photos that I've found inspirational while I've been making all of these bears.  Little Faith always makes me smile.  I read about her, Lily, Hope, and all of the bears at the North American Bear Center in Ely, Minnesota every morning.  It's part of my routine--I've even gotten my girls into it!  How can you resist that face?!

And my dear little Chester, a vintage Chiltern, has inspired me to make a quasi-vintage style bear--the first in over a year. 

I should be able to finish the little quai-vintage guy in the next day or two. He's looking pretty cute, I must say, AND I found a neat old toy typewriter for him to play with, too!  I'll try to get a photo of him for you soon.  And if I chicken out on that, at least I can show you a picture of his toy typewriter.


Monday, May 23, 2011

Bearbits' Giveaway

Ginger from Bearbits is giving away sweet little May-bee.

Isn't he the sweetest?!  Just look at that sweet face! 

Remember to buzz on over to Ginger's so that you can enter, too!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Eye Tutorial

A while back, someone asked me how I get my bears' eyes in so nice and firmly.  I shared that information with her and I thought some of you may like to know, as well.  So, here's an excerpt from Sammy's pattern on how I put in my bears' eyes:

Eye Placement
Using a pin to represent each eye can help you decide where to place your bear’s eyes. Try them higher and then try them lower—it’s all a matter of preference. If the pins aren’t helpful enough, make two 11 mm circles, color them black, put a pin through each, and use these to help you with eye placement. Don’t rush—the eyes really define the personality of the bear. When you think you have the eyes where you want them, check to make sure that they are the same on each side. Look at the eyes from as many different angles as possible and also in a mirror. When satisfied, make a small dot with a permanent marker like a Pigma Micron right where each pin entered the mohair.

Eye Sculpting
Sculpting the eye area isn’t necessary, but it reduces the amount of pulling necessary to sink the eyes and makes it easier to see that each eye is indented the same amount into the head. It also puffs out the bear’s cheeks. Thread a long doll needle with waxed dental floss (or artificial sinew) and knot the end. Insert your needle at the bottom of the head near the neck joint and try to make sure the knot will be hidden by the joint when your bear is complete. From the neck joint, take the needle up and out near and below the dot you made for the eye on that side of the head. Take a small stitch—make the stitch small enough that the eye will cover it when it is in place, but also long enough that it won’t tear the mohair which will make the thread disappear back into the head. From here, go back to the neck joint on the same side of the head as the eye. Pull the thread to make a pleasing indentation. From the neck joint, take a small stitch and go back to the same eye area, make a small stitch above the eye dot this time, return to the same side of the neck at the joint, and pull. If you are pleased with the effect of the sculpting, make a knot where it will be hidden by the neck joint and bury the thread in the head. Repeat this process for the other eye area being sure that the eye indentations look the same.

Attaching the Eyes
This is my favorite way of attaching eyes. Using an awl or a pair of small, sharp, pointed scissors, poke a small hole into the mohair where you marked a dot on the fabric for the eye placement—try to separate the threads of the mohair backing to make a hole for the eye loop instead of cutting them. Cut a long piece of waxed dental floss or sinew (around 2 feet). Thread one eye onto the floss and center it on the floss. You may want to crimp the eye loop with pliers. Now you have 2 equal sides of floss with an eye dangling from the middle.

Thread both ends of the floss onto a long doll needle leaving a short tail. Put the needle into the hole you made for the eye and bring the needle out in back of the neck joint in the middle of the head. Come as close to the neck disc as possible so that the threads will be hidden by the joint. Pull snugly to sink the eye but do not make a knot. Simply pull the 2 threads off of the needle leaving them dangling by the neck joint.

Follow this same process for the other eye and bring the final stitch out at the back of the neck approximately 1/4 inch from the first eye’s threads. Take one thread from the first eye and one thread from the second eye, pull, and tie a double knot. Repeat this with the 2 remaining threads from the first and the second eyes. Hide the threads by threading a needle with one of these threads and bury it in the head. Do the same for the remaining 3 threads.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Sammy's Pattern

I've finally gotten my act together and finished making Sammy into a PDF e-pattern! 

So, now, you can make your own little Sammy complete with his overalls.  His pattern is currently available in my Etsy shop along with Toffe, the "elephump."  If he's not there at the moment, never fear, I will put another one up as soon as is humanly possible...(grin).

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Growing Pains

Alas, our girls are growing up.  Our eldest is starting college in the fall...(sigh).  Since she is only 16 (turning 17 in the fall), she's going to start her Mechanical Engineering degree at a very good local college and then transfer to a big university for her last 2 years.  So, thankfully, she will be able to be at home with us for a couple of more years.

And we still have some years with our youngest.  I shouldn't complain--I guess I'm just getting wistful.  She's becoming a beautiful little dancer at the ripe, old age of 13.  Matt caught this lovely photo of her last week when they had a little performance at her dance studio.  I was amazed that she had this beautiful smile in every photo that he took of her.  She really has a wonderful stage presence.

Ah well.  I guess we really wouldn't want time to stand still.  Very boring.  So I will continue to savor each day.


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Pins and Stickers, Stickers and Pins

As you already know what a goof I can be, this will come as no surprise.  I was playing around one day with Photoshop when I really should have been making bears.  My excuse--I needed a rest.  Well, anyHOO, whether I needed a rest or not, I designed this little "whatchamajigger" and had it made into a pin.

I quite like how it turned out.

Then, Zazzle was having a half-off sale last week on stickers and I thought, "What the heck!  I already have a design."  So I bought a bunch of those.  Now, what I will do with them, I'm not quite sure.  But the stars were aligned and my design was the perfect size for the stickers, so soon they will arrive in the mail.  My excuse--they will be great for packaging and notes.  Silly me!

Heaps of Hugs,