Morning, afternoon, and evening ladies (and gentlemen),
This is a REAL CONUNDRUM
I am trying to find better and easier techniques for designing and building bears...in order to expedite the process so that one bear does not take SIX MONTHS for me to complete and have come to one of my most dreaded and painful roadblocks...eye cording.
I absolutely love the effect that this gives and have in the past used a number of different techniques as described here in TT to achieve it, with varying success. Currently my method is glueless, pulling the cord through the head of the bear, preferably down the front of the face over the eye in a great loop and back down. It is really tedius, difficult to achieve symetry and physically hard...I sweat bullets poking holes in the bears head around the eyes to pull the cord...and it is hard to achieve the correct angle and tension. The eyes themselves cannot be set until the cording has been pulled and then all are tied off at the same time.
THERE MUST BE OTHER ways to do cording. Just the physics of pulling a leather cord which has a blunted end affording nothing but resistance, through polyster fiber, is on the face of it unreasonable as a methodology. Therefore, I suspect that I missed something in the explanation of this technique.
Has anyone any suggestions as to how I may improve on my technique, expedite or mitigate it in some way before I altogether abandon the look I love...remember, these are big bears and I have to pull long pieces of cord through three or four inches of bear head one way each time....it's hard to do.
Thanks as ever for your thoughts and HELP!
First law of MY universe: Super glue and Pat are not compatable. (Is there no emotocon for copious weeping? It would be appropriate here!) Invariably the glue ends up everywhere EXCEPT where it is supposed to be. Trust me on this. It is what it is. This includes gluing my fingers together.
But these issues aside...I don't want the possibility of the glue deteriorating and the cording popping off or out down the road. I was subjected to horror stories of that happening on bears. And with the difficulty I had gluing...it would be MY bears that would have that problem. I just know it. My general construction philosophy is to prefer 'mechanical' connections, i.e. sewn, whenever possible over chemical bonding.
I don't use cord, but super strong thread (aka top-stitch thread) It's much thicker than sewing thread, but slips a lot more easily through the stuffing than leather would I think. I needle sculpt, then do the eyes and pull tight at the base of the back of the head and sink the knot ends. I hope that was an answer to what you were asking, it's been a long week already and my brain's a little tired!
I use Gutterman's thread, as it seems to be the only brand you can buy round here, but it's just their thick 'top-stitch' thread. It doesn't break when you pull it tight, in fact I can't imagine how you'd ever manage to break it, only cut it. I just buy it in fabric shops here. Would you like me to get you a spool and send it over to you? If so pm me your address and what colour you'd like. I'm away on holiday for a week from Saturday, and off on a course until then, but I can grab some for you on the Monday when I'm back at work if that's okay with you
Try artifical Sinew. You can buy this in fairly large spools at a place that would sell beading materials. I love this stuff. Infact I hand stitch my entire bear with it. It is wonderful for setting the eyes. You just thread it through the head and pull and it pulls through easy and you can get it very tight. It might work for what you are looking for. It works really well for sculpting etc. and pretty much disappears into the bear even if you make a long stitch over the fabric. Just stick to the biege colour. Don't buy brown or black or any dark colours they tend to show when you work with them so I've been told.
I don't know if I'm wierd or just a cheap-skate but I use dental floss?!!! It works well for me in sculpting, eye & nose fixing? The only time I use something different is on short-piled dark coloured bears where the white floss may show.... then I use the same as Katy. I don't use the top-stitch thread all the time as I find it can cut my hands to ribbons when I pull on it too hard!
Hope this helps,
I think I am correct here in assuming that Pat is not talking about setting eyes. I think she is adding the cording as part of the eyelid, am I right Pat?
I use what is called eye floss. It is a cording. I do pull through the head like you do, but I still use glue to hold it to the felt.
I did purchase some very thin leather cording, even the thinnest is thicker than this waxed cord I have. I do not think I can use a needle to pull it through. I will open a small hole with and awl and insert it I think.
I would use the glue, as well Pat, it's not as though you are using a lot of glue. Just a little dab of white glue to help hold it in place, then use a couple of pins to hold the thread in place until it has set. I also agree that the leather cording would make it very difficult to pull through the fibre fill. I would try the cording as Joanne suggest.
I have never heard of any horror stories in using glue, I am sure if you were using large amounts of it you might run into problems with the fabric breaking down but not for a little dab and that's all you need to do the technique you are talking about.
best of luck
Yes Joanne and Shane,
I am talking about leather cording which I use over the eye itself as part of the eyelid treatment...to attach eyes I use artificial sinew. Right now, I am actually pulling the cording through the head (and the stuffing) using 2 mm leather cording...although I have used a thicker leather cord...see my avatar. It is not easy, for me to do, and I've done it now on at least a dozen bears. Love the effect but loathe the process.
I do use an awl to start the holes and an ice pick to lengthen them inside the bear...but it is almost impossible to get a hole of that length to remain stable in stuffing to pass the needle and cord where I can tie it off...so I figured there must be a better procedure for pulling the cord I did not know about. I do know for sure that pulling the cord through the head is an accepted way of applying cording. I've seen it in the literature and Michelle Lamb told me she uses the technique.
I have just acquired some large upholstery needles and am wondering if using a very thick, long needle might be the tool needed here...the trick is trying to line the cord up perfectly behind the needle....
Regarding the glue, my primary concern using it is spillage...I really would end up glued to the bear....trust me.
I did a workshop yesterday in which we attached leather cord with glue. The glue we used was leather glue (drys clear and flexible, good for use as fray stop as well!). We made a hole will the awl then carefully squirted glue in the hole (we had a nice bottle with a small tip on it). Then used tweezers to carefully push the end cord firmly into the head, repeating for the other side. I also tried dipping the ends of the cording into the glue and inserting into the hole.
From what I can tell both methods are time consuming and fiddly! A lot of practice and patience is required.
I've just tested a new technique and am trying to get some useful pictures of it to share. I've solved my problem I think. It's easy, fast and doesn't do any damage...and surprisingly accurate. And best of all, doesn't require any strength...or messy glue. I do this BEFORE I SET my eyes.
Best of all...the cord goes all the way through the head giving you the option of moving, tightening, loosening and adjusting it on the eyes before committing to final positioning. It is so much more forgiving then gluing. It wasn't tedious to cord the eyes. I think each one took about four or five minutes including preparing the cord. I removed some of the stuffing in the neck of the bear to facilitate passage of the catheter into the bears head.
This method is so obvious I'm sure I'm merely reinventing the wheel--someone else is probably using it. Basically I'm using the idea of a catheter. Since cord will not willingly pass through the stuffing of a bear...I decided to pass the cord through a catheter (i.e. tube) inserted through the eyelid into the head of the bear and out the neck. However, since the diameter of the catheter is wider than the cord, I found it was better to push it from the neck up to the eye, positioning it at the point of insertion of the cord. At that point you insert your awl to make a hole large enough in diameter to insert an upholstery needle which has been threaded with thread inserted into the end of the cord. Holding the catheter tightly against the fabric you replace the awl with the point of the needle and insert it down the length of the interior of the tube, and then drop it....
I found that its weight will pull the threaded cord behind it through the catheter as the needle falls off the thread and out the neck of the bear. Then gently pull the catheter out of the head leaving the cord behind it embedded in the head.
The other half of your cord will remain in place sticking out of the corner of the eye awaiting the same treatment on the other side of the lid...simply loop it over the eye and insert after you have placed the catheter into the head and inserted the awl where the second hole should go.
At the bottom of the open neck you will have the threads dangling from the end of the cords. These can be sewn to the neck to secure the cord when you have determined its final position and tension over the eye and you close the head and you have set the eyes.
For your catheter, a copper six inch rod purchased at Lowe's Home Center for $3.00 which I had them cut for me worked fine...get the smallest diameter...it will accommodate the 2mm cording easily but can go larger as well...it's 1/4" utility grade copper tubing which comes precut in the plumbing department....Iamb sure other tubing would work fine...I'm also using some plexiglass catheters from the surgery....but those are not readily available...for smaller bears...I think surgical catheters might be the way to go...
You could use the heavy long upholstery needle or a long doll needle because you want to have something to pull the cord all the way through the catheter....
I'm trying to get some reasonable pictures if you are interested...the procedure has not been easy to photograph...since everything takes place inside the head of the bear and needs an extra set of hands to do so.
I knew it! Something so obvious couldn't possibly have gone without someone else having used it.
Brass would be superior to copper because it won't bend...the copper is soft...thanks so much for the source...Originally I asked for it but I couldn't find any brass at the home stores...only the copper.
Originally I got hold of a plexiglass catheter which worked really well (from our surgery used for canine artificial insemination :redface: ) But, again, I didn't think that would be readily available to TT'ers.
For those who aren't sure what we mean by eye cording I have attached a photo example. I corded these eyes using the method I described. I photographed the procedure as I did it, if anyone is interested...
...no glue, the cords are snug and secure to the eye, (once attached at the base of the neck,) by a simple stich at each corner around the cord tightening it secure across the eye.
You could use glue, I suppose if you wanted to be sure, but so far, this has worked for me.
I pull the cord over the eye and after that is done, I use needle felting to create an eyelid on my bears. That is currently the technique I use to create my eye lid...you don't have to do that...you can leave the cord by itself...create a lid of felt, or other ways other artists have done.
You need to pull the cord first because the act of doing so is so energetic it would destroy any other work you did to the eye beforehand. Once the cord is in place...you can make nice with the eyelids, eyelashes and makeup.
First photo shows my bear head ready to receive the cording...the awl is positioned at the entry point...the cording prepared with threads at both ends...the catheter...in this case copper tubing. (this head has a blue loc line neck joint protruding from the neck).
And the tube pushed up to lock into the point of the awl is introduced through the opening in the neck which I do not close until last..you can see the tip of the tubing here...I used a six inch piece of copper tube for this bear. Removing as much of the stuffing as you can from the neck and side of muzzle without disturbing your sculpting eases the process.
In the second photo, the upholstery needle which has been threaded with the cording, replaced the awl at its insertion point and was inserted into the tubing opening inside the head.
The cording is encouraged to follow the needle through the opening into the catheter.
And when the catheter is pulled out of the head...the end of the cording with its tie off thread is ready to secure at the edge of the neck.
Repeat with other side across the eye...
Hope this helps, there is no getting these photos to arrange themselves in order no matter how I try...sorry.