It's used a lot in Australia and New Zealand. My dad was in New Zealand earlier in the year and brought some back for me to try. I personally find it to be a little bit heavier weight than the glass beads. I know that there has been some discussion about it on some of the other groups that I'm on. Even where it is plentiful, a lot of the artists don't use it unless they are making darker colored bears. It's not recommended for use with the lighter colored mohair fabrics, as it makes it look darker. It is a dark garnet color. It doesn't have a consistent texture like the glass beads either. It is truly like a gritty sand.
I used to sell it in my shop but it is a dark red/garnet colour and it can leach the coour of not properly treated and washed . This depends on the supplier and if they are trying to cut costs?????? I have also heard of people having problems at customs as it is a soli/dirt product. Usually they have to leave the bear to be disinfiected in some way and that coul dbe a problem if the bear was fragile in any aspect. It is never really taken on as a popular fill for this problems. Plus a would wonder at its longevity....again it is a soil type natual product which would have some sor to f decay composition to it. Long term it would.could break down to smaller particles ot if the bear was left sitting undistubed for some time could solidify into a lump.....maybe??
Ok .......I want major kudos for this fellow TT's......after writing the last answer I realised that I would have some left from the shop packed in a box ....SOMEWHERE!!! So it the spirit of imparting valuable feedback I went looking...and found some packed into the bottom a box along with several packets of steel shot. (I closed my shop 6 years ago and these boxes haven't been looked at since and are NOT in an easily accessed spot)
So comparing the garnet to steel wa easy and all can say is the state of the two packets was not good. The steel had discoloured bu the plastic bag was still see through....the other?? Well if i hadn't been able to read the shop sticker as to what was in the bag I wouldn't have been able to see it. The clear plastic bag I had made up was now almost a darlk brown opaque colour, it was also having some affect on the plastic bag which felt thickened and stiff.
So placed in a bear I feel this material would most certainly break down into finer material, the colour does darken and will most certainly leach through the fabric if not contained into another bag and would not feel confidnet even then. If in plastic it obviously has some reactionn also with that, which over time would not be a failsafe solutuion.
I feel much happier with glass or stainless steel shot. (Not steel shot as I had)
Thank you Sandra for clarifying the difference between stainless steel and steel shot! I have never been able to convince some people that there is truly a difference. A huge difference! I finally came up with the slogan for the stainless, though it still falls on deaf ears sometimes. My slogan is "No rust, no dust". I purchased a bear a number of years ago from a lady that had used steel shot in it, and she simply couldn't be told that there was a difference and she might encounter problems later on. The bear I purchased discolored along the back seam where she had used the steel. It had the same powdery stuff you are talking about, as it had oxidized. I love the bear, but had to completely re-stuff it after I cleaned it up.
Thanks again! Luann
Hi Sarah Jane
When I had the shop I used to get my "bulk" steel shot from an ammunition/hunting shop.......I don't know if they would have the stainless steel but it would be a place to start but you do have to buy a bit to get it at a decent price (I used to buy with a few professional shooters) ......I haven't had to buy any for ages as I prefer glass. Which is why I still had the garnet and steel shot sitting there.
I used to source my glass beads from a comapny that resurfaced roads in over here. They mix the glass beads into the tarmac or paint for reflective purposes or something......they used to bring it interstate from the supplier and just add an extra can for me........so that my be a place to start sourcing it from.
Copper gets verdigrease on it......so they will discolour over time and this could go through fabric. If it would or not was a point of discussion about 8 years ago........I know many artists decided against them for this point. I don't know anyone who used them, they are not in any bear I own, nor did I ever stock them. So I am totally mute on how they have or will age.
Oh dear I have been using steel shot (from a bear shop I might add) but I don't know if they sell stainless steel shot Where can I get this??
Sarah-Jane, Bear Essence sells stainless fill here in Oz. Its pricey but really great.
I cant imagine that Garnet would break down anymore, if it's crushed rock, unless it was being constantly crushed and pounded. The dust thing always worried me tho, but maybe a little pouch with the garnet inside would help lessen the effect of that.
I have a bear by RidiBears in Germany that I believe is filled with "mineral granulat" which I always assumed was garnet sand. It has really a most wonderful, heavy, schlumpy shape, and sits beautifully in the hand in ways I cannot replicate with pouch-enclosed bb's or even glass beads. It has a lovely, crunchy sound when it squishes. I'd rather have this bear discolor slightly over time or leak a bit of dust than lose that wonderful, crunchy schlumpiness. So those of you who do or have used garnet sand, don't despair! Some collectors, like me, like that stuff a lot!
I also use copper-coated BBs for weight, as we were not satisfied with the heft of glass beads. I did a fair amount of research a while back to make sure they would be OK to use. Hopefully this will help ease your mind, Millie.
The verdigris (green color) that develops on copper will ONLY develop on copper that is exposed to outside elements, such as rain, humidity and pollution. Not a problem for our bears (I should hope). Copper that is not exposed to outside elements will, over time, naturally age from shiny to brown-ish. How much and how fast depends on contaminants and usage. Think of the old copper pennies... they are shades of brown but otherwise totally intact, they are not "degrading" in any way but just turned a new color. Collectors of rare old copper coins are careful to keep new fingerprints off them (oil from the hands is a contaminant which could affect the coloration), but otherwise copper is not a concern.
We place our copper BBs in a muslin bag more for reasons of convenience than any other (though I suppose there is a level of "just in case" there, too!), and then make sure that the muslin bag is buried well within the bear... but even that is more so that it cannot be felt from the outside. I think as has been mentioned recently on the forum, everything changes with age. I don't worry too much about a sealed bag of copper BBs buried in a bear, that has no exposure to... well... anything.
That having been said, if anyone knows anything different about copper BBs, I'd love to hear about it!