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.

8 comments:

  1. Fantastic idea, thank you for sharing. ♥

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    1. I'm glad that was helpful to you, Joyce!!
      Hugs,
      Cheryl

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    2. My steel shot is coated and doesn't rust... I buy it from a hunting supply source and it comes in many many sizes and but only in 25 lb. bags . I bought about 200 lbs originally ( didn't know just HOW much that was...lol ) and it's been sitting in our basement for years as I slowly work my way through it... and NO rust.

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    3. Thanks, Bettina!! Yes, that's what I buy--zinc-coated steel shot or BBs so that it doesn't rust. Only I haven't had the nerve to buy it in such big bags . . . yet. LOL!
      Hugs,
      Cheryl

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  2. Thanks for the tips. that is how I move my stuffing if I need to.I also find that if you look at the head with the back facing you and the front of the bear looking away from you, sometimes you can see if it is a little fuller one side than the other.

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  3. Thanks, Kay! That's a brilliant way to check for symmetry and you wrote it SO clearly!

    Which reminds me that I forgot to add the tip of using a mirror to also check for symmetry. Ooops! (Well, I remedied that!) You see, folks! The bear-making community is the BEST!! Always there to help and share. :-)

    Hugs,
    Cheryl

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  4. Cheryl, these are great tips! Using a mirror is so key. When I first learned how to make bears, I didn't check the symmetry in the mirror and one day happened to cross my vanity with a bear in hand. The HORROR.

    I also find using a variety of shapes and sized hemostats can make a huge difference. Right now my favorite is a straight tipped one. It works just like a needle when moving stuffing or to insert stuffing.

    I haven't used a stuffing stick before, but I'm sure they'd have better reach for bigger bears!

    Laine

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    1. Thanks for sharing, Laine!! I think most soft-sculpture artist completely know the HORROR you are speaking of when we happen to look in the mirror for the first time with one of our creations. Ugh!! The tip about using hemostats is excellent, too!
      Love and Hugs,
      Cheryl

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