Sunday, June 28, 2015

Adopt One of the Last Bingle Bears

Hurry to grab one of the last Bingle Bears!  I have three bears available now at Silly Bears --  http://www.sillybears.co.uk/artists/index.cfm?page=115 .  I will have 3 more bears available for adoption in September/October and then will be taking a prolonged break from bear-making. 

Iris

Celandine

Gillespie

I've been trying hard to stay motivated to make bears, but it just isn't working.  My heart is being called to do other work right now.  I'm hoping that by taking a prolonged break that I may be able to begin making bears with renewed energy again someday.  But for now, it looks like the break will be indefinite.

I'm sorry to all of you who have been waiting so patiently for new patterns--especially of my award winners.  It's proven to be VERY difficult, one, to put such a large bear into pattern form, and two, to describe the techniques I use in making my bears so that anyone else can make one just like them.  I really wanted to be able to help you.  I just can't think of a way to do it well at this time.  I haven't given up quite yet.  My mind is still mulling over ideas for how to do it.  But for now I need to take the pressure off of me and put it aside.

Thanks for all of your love and support!  I really can't thank you enough!!  I'll post again when I have the next and last set of bears available in the fall.

Love and Hugs,
Cheryl


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Get a FREE Easy Baby Bunny Pattern Just in Time for Easter and Spring!

As a little "Thank You" gift to people who become Bingle Bear Members, I'm sharing the JOY and giving my newest Bingle Bear pattern for FREE just in time for Easter and Spring! 
 
I sell the Easy Baby Bunny Pattern in my Etsy shop for $12, but to you, it's completely free by clicking HERE! 
 
http://eepurl.com/cVh3o


No catches.  No gimmicks.  Just simply, "Thank you so very, very much for becoming a Bingle Bears' Member!"   You will find the link in the final "Welcome" email.   And feel free to save a copy to your computer for future reference.  Enjoy! 

I hope you love this pattern as much as I do!!  I'd love to see your finished Baby Bunny and to hear who becomes the lucky recipient!  And if you want to find out more details about the Easy Baby Bunny pattern or any of my other patterns visit my Etsy shop.

Please "Share the JOY" and let your friends know how they can get a free pattern, too!

Love and Hugs,
Cheryl

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Two Brand New Patterns to Use Now

https://www.etsy.com/listing/223655375/mohair-stuffed-teddy-bear-pdf-pattern?ref=shop_home_active_2
Angela

https://www.etsy.com/listing/223655881/mohair-stuffed-teddy-bear-pdf-pattern?ref=shop_home_active_1
Georgie


Finally!!  Yes, I FINALLY have some new patterns for you! Click on their photos to go to Etsy.  Angela and Georgie are the first two new Bingle Bears' patterns I've made in some time.   BUT now I'm on a ROLL! 

Two new SUPER-EASY patterns (a TEDDY and a BUNNY) will be ready by next week. 

And I just started a new jointed bunny pattern that will be released next week, too.

And for those of you who have asked, I really AM creating an in-depth pattern for you based on my award-winning Thaddeus and Isadora.  I'm even creating a little surprise for people who buy these patterns.  It's just going to take more time--a lot of new writing and a lot of new techniques.  It's also been a bit of a challenge to create patterns for such BIG bears.  I want to make it as easy for you as possible.  So hang in there with me--I am working on it!

In the meantime, check out Georgie's and Angela's patterns at Etsy by clicking HERE or on the photos.

Take super good care of yourself!
Love and Hugs,
Cheryl

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Spring Velvet Collection

Annette

Danton

Trixie

Carwyn


I'm THRILLED that my 4 new bears that debuted at the Hugglets BearFest today sold in the first couple of hours.  THANK YOU to my wonderful collectors!!  You are the BEST!

And if YOU like what you see and want to be among the ONLY ones to get previews of my upcoming bears, sign up on my NEWSLETTER--it's in the Right Sidebar.  Get one jump ahead.  That's right, only Bingle Bear Members get to see my bears BEFORE they are available!!

Take good care of yourself!
Love and Hugs,
Cheryl

P.S.  If you love these bears, share them on Pinterest with the Pin-It Button!!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Thursday, February 12, 2015

What's YOUR Question?

Have you ever noticed how many questions you are constantly asking yourself during the course of a day?  Take a moment.  Any questions quietly floating away as you look inside? 

Words completely shape and guide our lives.

We have to be very, VERY careful with the words we use.  The words we use to describe our lives.  To describe how we are feeling.  To describe how our day is going. 



And questions have the power to change our trajectory at the very moment we utter them.  We can be deep in sadness, asking "Why me?," and that can completely change by asking DIFFERENT questions.  "What is going well in my life?  What am I grateful for?"  Suddenly, light enters into our life -- we stand differently, a smile may cross our face, and we've started a different journey.

All day long, we are asking question after question.  But generally there is ONE question, one OVERARCHING question that governs our lives. 

One question that is core to our being. 

This is the question that feels like we will die if we can't answer it.  That's it--your overarching question that guides you in everything that you do and feel.  Mine used to be, "How can I help?" 

It worked for a long time, but, like every question, there is a darker side of it too--and I paid the price.  Let's think about it.  There are SOOOO many ways that people need help.  It's rather overwhelming when you think about it.  Food.  Shelter.  Feelings.  Safety.  People.  Animals.  Environment.  (The list goes on and on!  For the sake of our sanity, let's stop the list there.)

I think "my question" made me feel kind of crazy.  If I could help in one area of a person's life, there were still at least six other areas in their life that still needed help.  And that was just ONE person!  How was I supposed to COMPLETELY help.  And by focusing on helping others, I certainly wasn't focused on helping myself and taking care of my health.  I focused SO much on helping others, that I wore myself into the ground. 

Well, I'm slowly coming back.  I'm gaining health and wellness.  So what next? 

It's time to CHANGE MY QUESTION! 

Awareness is amazing.  When we are AWARE, that means we have power.  But if we continue down the same path without any awareness, without thinking, we are doomed to keep walking that path.

Awareness brings the power to change things. 

So I'm changing my question!  My new question is, "How can I spread JOY?!"  I can't spread joy, if I don't FEEL joy.  And I can't feel joy, if I don't have some measure of health and well-being.  So far, so good.  Like everything in life, it's an experiment.  I'm sure there will be a dark side.  But, for the time being, it feels like a very, very good question to guide my life.  I feel it deep in my bones.  (grin)

What's YOUR question?

I'd love to hear about it!  Make a comment below and let's talk about it and help each other on this path.

Love and Hugs,
Cheryl 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Tuesday Tutorial!

Sorry, I missed a Tuesday Tutorial last week.  I was finishing an order of 4 lovely, "loverly" bears for Silly Bears which will debut at Hugglets in London on Sunday, February 22nd.  I wish I could, but I can't show them to you yet.  Shhhhhhh!  Has to be a secret!!

Anyways, let's get started!!
 
The Head Joint

This tutorial may be a bit basic, buy, hey, it's important!!  No head . . . no bear!  First slide a small metal washer onto a cotter pin and then slide on your fiberboard disk.  Put this assembly into the neck hole with the legs of the cotter pin sticking out. 
 
Tip #1:  Use artificial sinew or waxed dental tape.
 
Using waxed dental tape or artificial sinew, hand sew a running stitch around the edge of the opening.  The picture below shows this without the cotter pin and disk. 
 
 
After you have gone around once, be sure to put the cotter pin/disk assembly in place and close the opening by pulling the floss tight. 
 
Tip #2:  Protect your fingers when pulling sinew tight.
 
I use a leather finger thimble/cover when I do this because the sinew is tough stuff and I can't count the number of times it has cut me. 
 
Tip #3: Use a backstitch to hold your stitches in place.
 
When your stiches are pulled as tight as possible, take one backstitch to prevent the stitches from slipping and loosening. 

Don’t worry if the head is not completely closed yet. Go around a second time with a running stitch, this time pulling occasionally between stitches.  At the end of this, the opening should be almost closed if not completely closed. 
 
If necessary, stitch a third or fourth set of running stitches around the cotter pin.  Since I stuff my bears' heads pretty firmly, I generally need to stitch around the cotter pin 3 or 4 times until the opening is completely closed.  Knot securely and bury the floss into the head.

 
TaDa!!  Now your bear's head is all ready to get a FACE!  I know we would all love to hear if you have any other neat tricks.  Or do you have any questions about what I've written?   Let's hear them in the comments so that we can all learn together!  Thanks!!

Love and Hugs,
Cheryl

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Diddly Daily Doodles!!

BEE Happy!!
 



Just a quick little sculpt that I did this morning!
Love and Hugs,
Cheryl

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Fiercely Choose JOY

Or whatever you most desire in life . . . choose it FIERCELY. . . as if your very next breath, your very life, depended upon it.

Because it DOES.


I know this sounds dramatic, but I can't emphasize enough how critically IMPORTANT your choice is. 

We make choices every day.  Every minute.  Every second.  And they can lead us down into a spiral of sadness, depression, anxiety, or pain.  OR . . . they can lift us UP.  Dragging us out of the mire.

Our youngest daughter turned 17 this past week and has been living on her own to pursue her dreams, her passion, for the past half year.  People ask me, "How could you let your 16-year-old move to a major city to live on her own?"  My question, "How could I stand in the way of her dream?"  So we fiercely support her, lift her, carry her as much as we possibly can in a long-distance-sort-of-way. 

Sometimes, understandably, our Young One struggles with overwhelming worry and anxiety that generally stems from putting WAY too much pressure on herself.  Yesterday she said something that almost left me dead in my tracks.  Not a surprising situation considering that she's a bright, perceptive, and intuitive young woman.  But I almost didn't know what to say to help lift her out of her mire.  And, hey!, that's my job!

Some background.  She and I were discussing how the questions we ask ourselves profoundly affect how we feel.  How our minute-to-minute questions shape our daily lives.  As humans, we are always asking ourselves questions--it's our nature to be curious and to learn.  So we ask questions.  Notice it today.  You might be surprised by how many questions you ask yourself or how many over-arching statements you make about your life. 

My point to her . . . make sure these questions or statements bring you closer to the life you want, to the feelings you want.

So she tells me, "Yes.  I do feel better when I ask questions that get me closer to feeling happy and confident.  But those OTHER questions are still there.  Can I do it?  Am I good enough?  Will I achieve my dreams?  They don't go away.  They are STILL there."  God, she's smart!  It sometimes makes my job so hard! 

My reaction? . . .  "She's RIGHT!  How am I EVER going to get out of this "truth" to help her pull herself up?"  Breathe.  Reflect.  Go inside.  I look to my own truth.  The only way I can help others is by sharing the truth I KNOW deep inside me. 

Look.  And there I see it.  Those questions of "TRUTH" that every person like me who lives with chronic pain has way down deep in their depths that can make us completely fall apart in tears.  The questions of "Why me?  Why do I have to live with this pain?  Why can't I live like other people and do the things I want to?  Why do I have to build a life around restriction, pain, and more pain? Etc. Etc." 

Immediately, I share these AWFUL AND DARK questions with my daughter.  My daughter who KNOWS the pain I live with.  My daughter who has seen it all.  Times in the ER.  Times in a wheelchair.  Vacations cancelled.  Outings cut short or cancelled.  Oh, God!  The list could go on and on and on and on . . .  I SO wish I could have shielded her from these experiences. 

As I tell her these things . . . am asking these dark questions . . .  I'm holding back the tears and feel the downward spiral swallowing me.
But I FIERCELY hold on. 
It's important to share so that she, so that YOU, can learn to climb out of your own pits of darkness.

The answer?  I CHOOSE not to let these questions lead my life.  I CHOOSE to focus on other questions.  Questions that bring JOY.  Questions that lead me away from the darkness and towards the light. 

Every day I wake up and DECIDE how I want to feel.  While I'm still in bed I ask, What am I grateful for?  Who do I love?  What do I want to feel today?  And my answer everyday is . . .
I want to feel JOY!  I want to feel ALIVE!  I want to feel FREE from pain, past and present! 

I choose these feelings FIERCELY.  As if my life depended on it.  Because it does.  I have other feelings I want to feel, too.  Creative.  Abundance.  Generous.  BUT if I can just get to the first one, the all-important one for me . . . JOY . . .  that's good enough!  The others will follow.  They are all connected.

And all through the day, every moment, every second, I examine the questions I ask myself.  The statements.  The beliefs I'm focusing on.  And if they lead me to darkness . . .
I CHANGE the QUESTION until I'm lead to LIGHT!
I hope this helps even just one of you to choose to focus more on light today.
 
What about you?  Do you have any thoughts that might help us all lean towards the light, towards a happier life?  I know that we would all LOVE to hear them below in the comments sections.
 
Love and Hugs,
Cheryl

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Tuesday Tutorial

Stuffing
In the comments section of last week's "Tuesday Tutorial," I referred to a nifty trick used by doll makers to shift stuffing around AFTER you have finished stuffing your critter.  I was SURE that I had shared it with you, but, alas, I can't find it anywhere so I'm going to share it now.

Before I do though, let me cover some basic tips on stuffing.
 
Tip #1: Use small pieces of stuffing.
 
I use small pieces of fiberfill when I'm stuffing the head or limbs.  Using big chunks often leads to icky lumps and bumps--at least when I do it!  You can use a stuffing stick or hemostats, but I also find that a chopstick is a pretty effective stuffing tool. 
 
While I'm stuffing, I feel along the areas that you are stuffing to be sure there are no lumps or bumps and check to be sure the head or limb looks the same on both sides as you are stuffing it. 
 
It's important that the head should be stuffed firmly so that its shape won’t distort when you attach the eyes.  I also stuff the limbs of my critters fairly firmly so that I can’t feel the bold heads when I hold them. 
 
Tip #2:  For added weight, add glass granules or zinc-plated BBs. 
 
The tiny glass beads  or BBs are not necessary, I just like the weight and feel it adds to the teddy bear.  Sometimes, I pour some glass granules into the feet after placing a small amount of fiberfill on the bottom.  But I always add glass granules or BBs when I'm stuffing the body! 

 
Tip #3:  Make a muslin pouch to hold the glass granules or BBs.
 
Generally, I put the granules or BBs in a muslin pouch--that way if I don't like how the stuffing is going, I can easily take out the granules or BBs without them bouncing all over my studio.  But it's totally optional!  
 
Stainless steel shot or zinc-plated bbs to add more weight than the glass granules—don’t use, for example, plain steel shot because humidity may cause it to rust inside the bear. 
 
If you want to make a pouch for the glass granules or bbs, cut two squares of scrap fabric and stitch them together on three sides.  Pour in a small amount of glass granules, roll over the top of the bag twice, and stitch closed.  Place some fiberfill at the bottom of the body before putting in your bag of glass granules—it makes the glass beads less noticeable. 
 

Tip #4:  Move stuffing around with a sturdy needle.
 
Yup!  This is the BIG TIP!! 
 
So let’s say that you were really, really, REALLY careful when stuffing the head or the arms or the legs and when you finish you are absolutely frustrated to find that there are STILL areas that have too little stuffing or too much stuffing.  Don’t despair! 
 
This is a handy little trick I learned from doll makers—use a strong, stout needle and MOVE that stuffing around to where you want it!  That’s it!  You don’t need to start all over again. 
 
HOW-TO:  Insert a strong needle just under the surface of the mohair head and, with the tip of the needle, pull stuffing from an area that has more stuffing to the area that has less stuffing.
 
And if you have a place with too much stuffing, you do the same thing—just move stuffing around until it feels right to you.  Neat trick, huh?!

I know we would all love to hear if you have any other neat tricks.  Or do you have any questions about what I've written?   Let's hear them in the comments so that we can all learn together!  Thanks!!

Love and Hugs,
Cheryl

P.S.  I can't believe I forgot to share one of the most important tips in bear-making.  Thanks, Kay, for reminding me.  Here goes!

Tip #5: Use a mirror to check for symmetry especially when stuffing the head.

Monday, January 19, 2015

A Path Appears

Okay, Readers!!  I saw this trailer this morning and I just HAD to share it with you.  "A Path Appears" looks an absolutely moving, touching, and inspiring 3-episode documentary that will be airing on PBS--January 26th, February 2nd, and February 9th.  It looks like a MUST- SEE!!

Check it out!!  http://apathappears.org/film/

Love and Hugs,
Cheryl

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Tuesday Tutorial

Welcome to my new "Tuesday Tutorial" series!  I'm sharing some important tips and secrets that I've learned over the years as a teddy bear-maker.  Some of these tips are straight from the patterns I sell on Etsy.  Heck, when I'm done, you could cut and paste these "Tuesday Tutorials" together and basically make one of my pattern instructions for free!
 
Today, I'll start by explaining a relatively basic technique that has a MASSIVE impact on your bears. 
Sewing in the head gusset. 
 
This is something that plagues even the most experienced bear-makers.  I've seen plenty of muzzles from quality bears have the gusset sewn in off-kilter.  Basically it comes down to this:  If your head gusset is not in the center, your bear's nose will look crooked when you are finished.  You are aiming for as close to perfection as you can get.  Notice I said "aiming"--don't go crazy here!  My personal mantra here is to go for the "best I can do."  Some say that a head gusset which is a little bit off can add personality.  I agree.  But TOO much off and it's . . .   Just.   Not.   Right.
 
So, with your two "side head" pieces together, stitch from the bottom front of the neck to the tip of the nose.  After that and it's time to carefully pin in your gusset.
 
TIP #1:  I always mark the center of the head gusset on the fabric so that I can place the exact center of the gusset’s nose on the center seam of the two head pieces. 
 
After I get this placement right, I pin the sides of the gusset around the bear’s head.  Make sure that each side of the head is pinned evenly.

TIP #2:  Use a LOT of pins to secure your pieces together—the mohair can get pretty slippery when sewing. 
 
I pin with the pins perpendicular to the seams (with the pin heads sticking straight out along the seams) so that I can go right over the pins with my sewing machine, especially in tight or curvy areas.
 
I'm rather particular, so I sew each seam twice on my sewing machine—first with a longer, basting stitch and then with a tighter, sewing stitch.  However, if you prefer, hand sewing works just as well.  When your pieces are securely fastened either with pins or by hand-basting, use a backstitch (picture below) with heavy-duty thread to sew tight and small stitches.  You may also want to go over your seams a second time with a blanket stitch (below) to make them even stronger.

 
 
 

TIP #3:  Start by basting JUST the nose to prevent the fabric from slipping or shifting to the side.
 
I first machine baste both sides of the nose and then continue sewing by basting up and over the top of the head and then down the back side of the head and ending at the nape of the neck.  Then I baste the other side of the head by beginning at the nape of the neck and finish where I started at the side of the nose.  I find that this method of sewing each side of the gusset prevents the gusset from shifting off-center when sewing.  It’s frustrating to pin and sew a “perfect” gusset only to find that it has shifted to one side during sewing making the nose lop-sided.  And by basting, if anything isn’t satisfactory, it is easy to pick out the offending stitches and re-baste them.  When I’m happy with the way the head is basted, I then go over the seam with a tighter sewing stitch.

TaDa!!  A nicely centered head gusset and no crooked noses!  Do you have any tips for sewing in head gussets?  Or do you have any questions about what I've written?   Let's hear them in the comments so that we can all learn together!

Love and Hugs,
Cheryl


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Confession Time! I'm a Growth Junkie!

Have I ever told you that I'm a growth junkie?  There you go--I've admitted it.  I love to change and to grow and to learn.  My Dear One has resigned that there is always something new that I'll do, bring up, or even push him into.  He loves me, so he accepts it.  He doesn't like change.  But, for that matter, I don't like change either.  Strange isn't it?  I don't like change, but it's something I am always doing and striving through.  My mantra is, "The only constant in life is change."  Perhaps it's exactly WHY I don't like change, that I push myself to LEARN to change.

I've been so silent on this blog this past year.  Am I still making bears?  Yes.  Am I still learning other arts?  Yes.  Do I still plan on releasing new patterns?  Writing tutorials?  Telling you all the secrets I've learned about bear-making so that you don't even have to buy one of my patterns?  Yes.  Yes.  And, Yes!  But I think I also need to write.

I've learned SOOOOO much this past year and I've gotten so much healthier and stronger.  Growing is who I am.  It's at my core and I'm tired of trying to make this blog "fit" into some definition of a "craft blog" or an "artist blog."  I just can't come up with pithy things to say or nifty-difty photos about crafts, bears, or art.  BUT . . . I can always come up with what I'm learning and how to grow and how to become more like yourself and fabulous quotes.  It's what I do.  I'm the family Go-To-Girl for advice, recommendations, learning, and balance.  So I think it's time to make this a "ME" blog and time to stop trying to make my square peg fit into a round hole.  Heck, now you can get to know me in all my square-ness.  I've never followed the crowd, so I guess I shouldn't start now.  (grin)


So how about you?  Are you a Growth Junkie?  What do you like to change up and learn?  Any advice for the rest of us poor folk stumbling along this path?  We'd all love to hear what you have to say below!
Welcome to my world!
Love and Hugs,
Cheryl