Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Making an Armature

As I was working on a bear yesterday, I though it would be fun to show you what allows my bear arms to bend and hold their poses. It is simply a wire armature that I make. There are some available for purchase, but mine are more economical and so easy to make. I get my supplies at the hardware store.

I think the photos explain the process - be sure to click to enlarge them for a better look.

Oh, and watch for a new bear soon !

Monday, April 28, 2008

A Youth-full weekend

What a wonderful ,uplifting weekend . Don't I look relaxed ! My hubby and I, along with 3 other adults and 9 teenagers spent the weekend at our cabin. A very rustic place- no electricity, plumbing , or running water ! We took our Church Youth group there to do some team building for a future mission trip to Brazil. I have to admit, at first I though I was crazy to spend the weekend with moody teens ! Where was my head ! Even 90 minutes with them on a Sunday night can be a challenge sometimes LOL. I have to say though it is an honor to be able to be part of their lives, and give them some love and direction in this crazy world.

We all had a great time enjoying the outdoors, lots of yummy food and campfires. It was so wonderful to see these kids enjoying nature, away from life's pressures and distractions of TV,computers, IPODS, PSP, DS, phones -all the bling & gadgets. Just being kids in the outdoors ; what could be better.

This view from our cabin never gets tiring. It is beautiful no matter the season. Wow, I am really inspired to create !

Now, where are those 3 bears that I cut out last week ???

Friday, April 25, 2008

Back to Bears

I have been contemplating the idea of doing a show on my website. This would mean I'd make a few bears and offer them all at once at a certain time. I'm still deciding though.

I got really inspired when I received this piece of gorgeous purple mohair yesterday. I swapped some fur, I no longer need, with a friend who seems allergic to mohair. I discovered I have the same type in an antique ivory color. I see a yummy bear in the future.

Today I plan to get a bear started, but may be a few days until I get it completed. I've got a full schedule the next couple of days. I need to look for a new camera for one thing. Along with my son's IPOD, my nice camera died the same day. It costs more to fix than it is worth so the camera search begins. Thankfully, we have an old back up in the meantime.

Oh, and what a wintery surprise to look out and see snow on my tulips this morning. Just a little Spring fertilizer !

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

My BAD ?

It's official, I am now the worst mom in the world ! Imagine that. First thing out of my son's mouth this morning was ," I have no jeans to wear, did you do the wash yesterday" . NO, I didn't ...he has lots of other jeans, but no they weren't acceptable . Well, I decide I would do laundry this afternoon so the same thing doesn't happen tomorrow.

Guess what I found dead in the bottom of the washer after the first load.....his IPOD.

It is his job to check his pockets, but for some reason I am the bad guy. Good grief ! Let's hope it dries out and works again.

I need to make another bear :) In case you missed it, my mink bear Silvester sold in a flash. I am so thrilled that he found a new mom.

Monday, April 21, 2008

A Golden 'Pickle"

I have found myself in a bit of a "pickle", and it has made me sad :(
I received my official invitation to the Golden Teddy Awards in Washington, DC. But, I just can't go.

You see, last year I PROMISED my best friend
that I would come visit her in western Canada in 2008. I haven't been in almost 16 years !! She has visited me may times so it really is way beyond my turn to go. Problem is, I am scared to fly alone, but I am determined to do this if it kills me ( heaven forbid ). She is my best friend afterall.
I really want to attend the Golden Teddies too. I know I won't win, and that is totally ok. Heck, I am still shocked to even be nominated. I just want to be part of the event, and meet some wonderful bear people.

I just can't justify spending the huge amount of money for 2 days when I am also spending a huge amount to go to my friends shortly after. I'd have to sell my first born. My hubby says, do both. (Not sell our first born of course LOL.) I say, my friend is more important than bears, and a promise is a promise !!!

I always try to keep my promises !!!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Titanic "Mourning Bear"

After posting about the bear novels yesterday, I remembered some photos I wanted to share. One of the novels is called the "The Mournful Teddy" based around the famous mourning bear. I learned that the famous bear company, Steiff, created 600 black Steiff bears and exported them to England in May 1912 . They were a symbol of mourning after the R.M.S. Titanic sank in the chilly waters of the North Atlantic, April 15, 1912. It is said that the bear has red rims around it's eyes to appear as if it was crying. (In 2000 one of these rare bears sold for $184,000 Canadian !!!!)

Now...this was so interesting to me since 121 Titanic victims are buried in a local cemetery near me as Halifax was the closest port to the tragedy. I visited there 2 years ago for the first time, and it was a very somber experience to see all of those headstones in a row with the same dates. So many victims were so young.

Here are some pictures I took of that cemetery. You can click to enlarge them and read the plaque.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Bear Collector Novels

I recently received a fun set of Novels by Author John Lamb. These "Bear Collector" novels are a mystery/suspense series with plots related to artist teddy bears. I am not an avid reader-I'd rather be crafting than reading, but I have to admit that they were so fun and quick to read through. So, if you are looking for a fun 300 page novel with likeable characters, plots involving Teddy Bears, deceit, suspense........have a read !

Be sure to check out John Lamb's website. He is a Teddy Bear Collector and former homicide detective !

I look forward to his next book in October !

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

It's a BOY

I worked on this bear many, many hours yesterday so I could show you the final outcome. I am happy to announce It's a BOY !

He are some more pictures of the birth process. He,of course, needed ears. I think sewing on ears is the least favorite task of each bearmaker. Trying to get them even is a challenge, and I often redo them many times.

Now he needs to have his head attached to his body. This is a look inside his back opening. You can see the joint hardware for the arms. The screw sticking out of his head will attach with the same hardware inside the body neck area.

The last step is to close all of the openings. A ladder stich is used as it curls the fabric edges inside to make a smooth seam.

Final touches are made to the face , the bear is brushed, trapped hair picked from all seams, and accessories added. Voila.....Meet Sorry Stanley. Who knows what mischief he has gotten into !!!

I hope you enjoyed watching him come to life. If you are interested in making your own bear there are lots of free patterns on the web. My friend Laura Lynn also offers patterns here ( I would be happy to answer any questions you have along the way. Just email me ! Of course I'd love to see pictures of anything you make.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Bearmaking Day2

I spent all day and part of the evening yesterday , and this morning working on the bear . It is not complete yet, the face takes me hours to get the way I want. Here are some photos (well a lot actually !) showing more steps in the bearmaking process.

The cut and trimmed pieces are matched up with alligator clips- no pins for me. I love these clips as they prevent putting holes in the fur pelts. They are sooooo easy to clip on and off too. I sew almost everything on the machine using a leather needle and wide stitch length. A narrow length would almost make a perforation line on the fur and allow it tear too easily even with a lining.

My hands cramp so I can't do much handsewing. I do handsew the gusset, footpads,ears and seam opening. I prefer to sew the head and feet by hand to ensure they match up nice and even. Who wants a twisted face or feet !

Once sewn, the pieces are ready for assembly into a bear.

After the limbs are jointed and lightly stuffed , I choose the color for the toes and stitch them on.

The most important, time consuming and scary part is trimming the face. One wrong snip and the head goes in the trash. It really does take me hours to get everything right. Afterall, a bear's face is what we fall in love with ! At first it doesn't look like much (other than uhm...ugly) , but with time a face starts to emerge. I use curved scissor for the trimming and shaping. I may use a razor to smooth the surface and trim stray hairs.

Many more snips later and the face is taking shape. The nose is in, next comes eyes and more lots shaping.

Check back tomorrow to see more photos as the bear's personality emerges and his/her head is attached. I hope it will be completed by then. Or, at least almost.

(Note:You can enlarge the pictures by clicking on them)

Monday, April 14, 2008

What a MESS !

I though it might be interesting to take you through the bear making process. And, what a messy one it is. First, I decide which pattern I want to use, and cut it out in cotton fabric. A lining for real fur is essential to reduce pressure on the fur seams. It makes for a true heirloom bear.

Next, I choose the fur (a slow process as I mentioned yesterday) and lay out the cotton pieces. Each piece needs to be carefully cut out. I need to go slow and snip carefully so only the pelt is cut, not the fur itself. On warm days I do this step outside. It looks like there has been a cat fight as the fur floats away :) Lastly, I trim the fur from the seam allowances to remove bulk and allow the seams to match smoothly. This makes for less seam picking to pull trapped hairs.

Lastly, I need to clean up the mess ! It looks like a hair salon with all that cut hair. Real fur and faux furs are the worst for "flying hair" I think. It goes everywhere and sticks to everything. You should see my clothes ! I love the look and feel of the real fur bears so it is worth the mess.

Now, where is that vacuum anyway ?

Check back tomorrow to see this bear's progress.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

It takes me "fur"ever to decide

Sometimes I get what seems like "writer's block" when it comes to deciding which fur to use next. I always try to mix it up so I'm not making the exact same color bears all the time. But, mink only comes in so many colors , or variations of. Sure there are dyed mink coats, but they are VERY hard to come by and pricey. I prefer the natural colors for my mink bears anyway. Do you have a favorite ?

So, what color will the next Beckoning fur ball be ???? Eenie, meenie, miny, moe ....I hope to let you now in the coming week.

Friday, April 11, 2008

My quiet place

Do you have a quiet place where you go to just be still ? My favorite place is near the ocean. The sound of the waves is so calming , and the view so beautiful. After a week of working on my taxes I REALLY needed that. So, off I went.

Sadly, I tend to take the ocean for granted and not go there as much as I should . It is only a few minutes away, and it really does refresh my soul. Today I happened upon a kiteboarder. Now that looks like so much fun !

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Woohoo , I'm a blogger !

What can I say ! After months of pondering, I am taking the plunge and entering the blog world. I hope to give you a peek at my life in the den with the bears. Oh doesn't that sound interesting - yawn. So as not to bore you to death , I may have giveaways occasionally, some humor, and who knows what else. Most of all I'll keep you up to date on the bears. Thanks for popping in , and I hope you come back often.
I thought you might enjoy these 2 crocuses in my garden. Everything is still quite brown and a bit frozen, so I was thrilled to stumble upon them. Maybe Spring really is on the way !