I'm Amber, an amateur from Canada hoping to absorb every scrap of info from the forum as possible! (I've been lurking around the library, all unregistered and sneaky like, for a long time, but I've never had the courage to join in any conversation without the fear of sounding like a know nothing newbie)
Bear making started for me when I was in grade 7, when we were forced to do home ec in school while the boys did shop class. It was a pretty rough go for me, a ton boy, until they brought out the sewing machines (they were dangerous big impressive things to me back then) and then introduced stuffy kits. I made ducks because I couldn't afford the beautiful teddy kits, but I was hooked! From there I made bears out of every material I could get my hands on, mostly old clothes and table cloths, pillow cases, that sort of thing. I had no idea where to get patterns, so I winged it. But I never had the chance to learn how to do the finishing touches or the more technical stuff like jointing n such until recently when I stumbled across a chunk of really cool faux fur in the local fabric shop and put together a real teddy bear! In highschool I started doing clay headed, wire armatured art dolls, dragons and such, but I still count that pink bear my first. That developed into a demand for a teddy each from my 5 children and the project is turning into a fantastic skill building excerise, and a wonderful excuse to buy loads of different synthetic furs in a huge variety of colours and piles. But I've got this beautiful piece of brilliant fuschia mohair im terrified to touch! Which is why I finally got up the nerve to register, so I can get some advice as I go.. when I finally feel... Ready. ?
Now that my rambling introduction is out of the way, I wanted to ask if anyone has any review of Tami's lovely looking tutorial on mondo "The art of Bear Making". Review is probably the wrong word, as all I really want to know is how extensive the parts on finishing are, sculpting and such, the stuff that helps put the personal touches on your bears is, since I'm pretty darn sure it's a fantastic course, but those are the parts I'm really really interested in. (And is the pattern for the bear in the photo included or would that be hoping to much? God I love that bear!)
Anyway... Umm. Yeah, hello everyone and thank you for having such a lovely collection of sometimes heavily guarded advice available to hopeful bear artists like me! ?
Welcome to Teddy Talk, Amber!
I think you’re going to love working with mohair. I find faux fur more challenging and less pleasant (just my view).
Before you cut, take some time to figure out the pile direction and lay out your pattern pieces accordingly. Cut from the back side - only through the backing fabric; try not to cut the pile itself. Then before you pin and sew, trim most of the pile from the seam allowances. That will give you the best finish, and there will be less fur to pick out of the seams.
I had my computer gasp it's last breath without letting me retrieve my data, but I've got one of my art dolls I can share (one of the fluffy dragons I've attempted more recently.) And I'll snap a pic or two of this pink fluff ball and it's "unique" face, shall we say?
I've got lots of experience sewing bodies, but all my heads have been clay so far, other than my early, early attempts with flat faced random material teddy's and the few not so perfect practice heads in some less than co-operative faux fur I've done more recently. I've got a stash of nicer stuff, but after the pink disaster, the longer pile on most of it is worrisome at the moment . Scissor sculpting muzzles is finicky, tricky business! Oh well, you'll see what I mean soon enough.. As soon as I figure out how to shrink these pictures a bit anyway!
Okay, so... It's okay to laugh. These are the best I've got at the moment. I've got these and a few more, a giant six legged Falcor like luck dragon for instance, that's sitting in storage because I love to create but don't know what to do with them afterwards. I'd just give them to the older kids in the house except for the fact the oldest who would demand first pick is the worst at removing heads no matter how well attached they are.
That blue fur... oh that fur.. horrid, horrid stuff to work with. Gloriously soft but ridiculously stretchy and prone to fraying and shedding no matter how gentle without painting generously with products for that purpose before AND after stitching. And removing a lot of fabric to keep some shape to him after stuffing. I ended up experimenting a lot and ended up with a white glue and water mixture working the best to keep the seams flexible with the amounts I had to use. Turns out the headache was worth it though, as he is super, super soft. He's got soft spikes on his tail now and a set of wings that I never attached because I wanted to do some detailing on them with my sewing machine... that finally died. (It owed me nothing, since I'm the third generation to use it heavily, but I haven't gotten around to replacing it, something I'll have to ask everyone on their opinion of soon!)
The white and green thing is a mixture of synthetic and rabbit fur, and another prototype of a creation I've made a few similar of. Her hands were replaced with something smaller after this pic, and she's got a floofy tail about 1&1/2 times as long as she is.
Annnd the pink fluffy disaster that looks like a floofy nightmare. I used a pattern by Emma's Bears, which is adorable if you can scissor sculpt or use a shorter pile... but I'm no good at scissor sculpting.. as is shown by the face I thought I was doing myself a favor when I cut a bunch off the muzzle area pre-sew.. so I added the open mouth to hide my hair cutting technique.. which didn't help my poor bear any at all! :blush: her body turned out remarkably cute though, despite what she looks like in the picture!
But... practice, practice, practice! I've got three more heads going in different lengths of faux fur that I spend my nights playing with. Embroidering noses and needle sculpting mostly, and then cutting it off and starting again until I figure out this going slow with scissors thing!
That's wonderful of you to say, Becky! Thank you so much for your kind words! I'm shocked to say actually have a bear WORTHY or showing everyone very soon! I just finished sewing the last of his parts, and his face is.... better! But I'm out of town and didn't bring any of my fluff or joining hardware I want to rush home and breathe life into him! But, more likely a few days.
I'm glad to hear you're persistent. I keep telling people (and myself): sucking at something is the first step to being good at it. And your work is paying off! I'm looking forward to seeing your newest bear. Being away from all your craft supplies is the worst part of traveling. I just moved house and having all my art stuff packed for several weeks sent me into craft withdrawal.
(Also, please allow me to have a personal vent at your story of home ec. I always wanted the opportunity to take shop class myself. Determining what course students take based on gender is absolutely ridiculous. Everybody should learn how to mend clothes, cook, and build/repair things.)
If scissor sculpting gives you grief, you might want to try working with shorter pile fabrics, at least for the face. It does require more skill with thread sculpting and patterning, but thread sculpting is way less intimidating to me than scissor sculpting. I've also heard some people use electric pet clippers for scissor sculpting, but I've never tried it. I'm sure it makes quite a mess.
Have you tried lining stretchy faux furs with a nonstretch fabric? Do you drape fabric over the armature in order to make the pattern, or do you design it ahead of time? What kind of sealant do you use on the clay portions of your plushies? I always worry about paint chipping.
Thank you for your encouraging words, I can always use them! And often come back to them to reuse them on a rough day! And I'm so well into craft withdrawal that I'm picking and resewing seams
I've actually done this one in a very short pile, I'm just to nervous to come at the face with a pair of scissors again let alone clippers!
I simply try to avoid the stretchy stuff now! But I imagine I'll use a backing fabric with the remaining blue stuff I've got once I get over how mean it was to me.. ( I've got a good 2m sitting here where I can glare at it freely)
I use a spray can of mat finish finishing coat... I can't tell you the brand off hand because my can is covered in paint but Ive picked some up at a craft store,I think it might have been Winston brand? Cost a fortune and worked no better than the stuff I got at Wal-Mart which may have been krylon.. mod podge works well but I don't do well with the brush clear coats.. always streaky when I finish so I personally prefer the spray on stuff. Though resin does really really well to pool in eyes for the "wet" look. And always coat before adding the fur I made that mistake with the feeties once. I usually do a pattern, slightly larger than I need by an inch or two to trim down once I put it on the body, I always ended up underestimating my pattern size and it wouldn't fit right once I had my batting on there, so I do the exact opposite now.
I had started replying days ago, but didn't finish, now that I have a chance to sit down again.. i finished that bear, but he was promptly stolen by my sick little boy and I haven'thad a chance to grab a pic.... But he has some obvious flaws. He looked great before stuffing... I wonder if I'm doing it wrong. Hmm. And I tried waxing his nose, just to see... well.. I'll grab that pic in the morning. Better... But not the handsome prince I had hoped for, but he's absolutely adored by an 8 year old child so he's not a total flunk, oh well, maybe the next one!
Shoulders like a line acer and maybe I upsized the arms just a touch.....
This fur is so shiney I can't get a proper pic, but his flaws are clear enough. My boy adores him though, so he certainly wasn't a waste of my time!