How did you start making bears? I got into making bears when I visited my local library and found some out of date Teddy bear magazines. Although I had always like bears I wondered what on earth could be so interesting that there were magazines especially about teddy bears, so I bought two of these magazines for twenty pence each, (which is about 36 cents) At home I found the magazines really interesting and that they both had free bear patterns inside. I decided to try and make a bear of my own and cut the patterns out. I used a really cheap, very stretchy fur fabric which I could have kept on stuffing as it never seemed full. The first guy (Poor boy) looked somewhat like a squashed mouse. He is five inches tall and string jointed. My son said I should call him Juan as he was the first Juan (one) that I made. The second bear is ten inches tall very under-stuffed traditional type bear who I named Tony. Both of these bears are extremly sad looking efforts on my part but I wouldn't part with them and since I made them I haven't stopped making bears, thinking bears, dreaming bear, talking bears. I am so thankful to the library for having the old magazines for sale. Since my first bear I have learnt so many things, I have taught myself how to use a computer and built two websites for myself. One website is for Doodlebears and one to advertise all kinds of crafts, so if any of you would like a free link please feel free to email me. The best part of being in the bear world is the lovely people that I have met either through shows or online on websites such as this one. I have bear penpals all around the world and love every minute of being part of this lovely society.
I began making bears when i had to give up work due to ill health. I have some lovely old bears that were mine as a child and some even older ones that belonged to my uncle (i'm not quite old enough for my bears to be called antique).
I decided that as i could'nt afford to buy all the bootiful bears that i'd seen on websites and in shops that i'd have a go making one for myself - if it turned out really wonky it would'nt matter!!!
My first bear was soooo funny - bless him, but he was sort of OK so i persevered and made another one which turned out really well, i was a bit shocked when someone wanted to buy him but was pleased that my bear was nice enough for someone to like him so much that they would part with their hard earned cash! He went to live in Athens, Greece and apparently went to the Olympic games too!
I can't stop making bears now - sometimes i'm just dropping off to sleep and a beary idea will pop into my head and i can't wait to get up the next day and start designing the new bear
I think i'm well and truly hooked now
Hi Jane and Penny
I too got started because of illness. I didn't have the energy or strength to deal with quilts, and quilting.
Teds were 'lap' projects. Also I was in need of instant gratification. Oddly in the past year I've made dozens of little itti bitti bears and maybe 13 7" and up. But once they are made I want them to go live somewhere else- my house is way tooo small. I did keep the first one, I like your word WONKY, I think it says it all. I agree, there is something truly addicting .
Besides It's cheaper than therapy and keeps me off the street.:)
I was greatly inspired to make teddy bears by the old (75 years) Petz bear that belonged to my dad. I remember as a child how I would beg my mom to let me play with Dad's bear. She would take it down and let me hold it a minute then he went back on the shelf. Before my mom died, she told my sister that I was to get the bear so he now sits on my shelf. A few years ago there was a crash between my love for animals (both real and stuffed) and my love to create. My first teddy bear was born from this. I am now happily addicted. I must say that I am glad to hear that I am not the only one who goes to bed thinking of ideas for bears.
Hello Again Girls!
So i'm not the only one who thinks about bears when dropping off to sleep - Good, as i was wondering if i was a bit odd!!!
Dilu, i love quilting and have almost finished a cot quilt for my first grandchild called Joshua (the baby is called Joshua not the quilt LOL).
I have gradually been building up a stash of fabrics in beautiful autumn colours for a special quilt for my own bed, i thought that autumn was a good theme beacause i'm heading towards the autumn of my life and i'm just like a bear - when autumn comes around i start looking for a place to hibernate!
Coming from the UK i can only imagine what you Americans think of my use of British slang language, i may have to add a dictionary to my posts.
WONKY - a slang word for being a little off kilter - not straight
I know I will get back to quilting, but don't think in the same way. I am thinking about a large baby bear with a cute little heart quilt and nightgown to match......
I get up in the middle of the night and sneak out into the living room to write down ideas or sketch something out. It isn't easy sneaking out, my husband is a wee bit over-protective to say the least;
"whats the matter, are you OK?"
So I pretend to go into the bathtroom (en-suite) and then I creep to the bedroom door and wait. When he snores in, I start to open the door, when he breathes out I freeze. In-out-in-out. Once free of the confines of "normal people sleep patterns" I play.
I think one of the advantages of menapause is that a lady might not sleep as well at night, but since she isn't working in the morning who cares!
I know exactly what you're saying Dilu - Oh the joys of the menopause. I'm taking the pills now so sleep a lot better and my other half would need a brass band playing next to his head to wake him up, but i did spend half the night sewing, designing eating choclate etc before the pills.
I hand sew and cut all my quilts because it's just how i like to do it, you should see the fun i have when the quilt gets full size and i'm trying to baste the wadding and the backing to it. I've only made one full size quilt so far - but i've made lots of smaller throws and loads of mini quilts for bears. Bear quilts are so nice to make as i can carry them around with me and sew a little bit at a time.
The large baby bear idea sounds lovely Dilu, you'll have to post a photo of it when you get around to making it
You betcha.....but first the teddy for my son's new love- She belongs to PETA-
do you know this group? If not it is a sometimes radical group of folks that are against people having anything to do with animals. ( some of them don't think we should live with live furbabies! I can't imagine!!)
Anyways, they are both super vegatarian and wont use any type of animal product. Like wool for instance. (And he tells me they will be moving to Canada.....hmmmm I don't know, but I think old Canada is lot colder than Redondo Beach, California.)
I admire her ideals, just don't understand some of them, but she sticks to it, and out of respect I can't use mohair....so I got four half yards of synthetic ( I couldn't make up my mind on the web site) then discovered that I can't use all my regular dye , so off I went to Australia- (unfortunetly I didn't get off the superhighway therfore missed all the sites) but did get the synthetic dye.
Now I gotta dye and make it.
I haven't asked yet, but if they wont use wool does that mean they wont use silk? Iguess there's always virgin acrylic! :/
I'll load the virgin synthetic bear when she's/he's done.. I can never tell the sex of a BEAR till the nose is on.
Wonky-i really like it- Dilu
Hi Everyone :D
I have Been really enjoying the talk on how you got into bears. For me, it's a rather boring, uninspired story but rather like a lot of you here.
When I was 16 (8 years ago now) I got sick. So, I had to stop school, and to keep myself busy I got into crafts. I have tried lots of things, not really clicking with anything apart from Cake Decorating and rubber stamping (sorta) Anyhow, I had always wanted to try bearing, but I really wasn't confident enough. I thought the bear would turn out ugly and wonky and I would just never take the step to order supplies or a kit. I guess it was because I have never had any sewing or needlework experience.
So, last year, I finally took the plunge, and gave it a go. I figured, at least I'd be able to get it out of my system if I'm not able to do it! Much to my suprise, I could actually do it, and I think my very first bear is - not - too - bad. He's not wonky, or ugly (in my eyes anyhow) and was a huge thrill. The rest as they say is history!
I am just so pleased that I gave it a try, because I would still be bored, looking for something to do!
Golly! Bears, menopause, bear dreams, snoring husbands, creeping out in the wee hours to play, animals real and stuffed, coping with the interesting lifestyles of offsprings' significant others . . .
Where was I? Oh, right . . . I literally stumbled into bearmaking when I was cruising eBay, looking for a pre-owned sheepskin coat for my husband. His was literally in tatters, which never stops him wearing anything.
Some combination of "fur" and "vintage" landed me on the "artist bear" page. I visited websites, googled bears, etc., all the while drooling into my keyboard, and in no time had a huge file of real bear pictures, a list of bear artist and bear supplies websites, and a serious obsession.
I had so many ideas, and so many techniques I wanted to practice that I couldn't seem to get down to any one project, so I decided to go for broke and enter the Ace Awards competition in order to set myself a deadline. Unfortunately, my little bear didn't make it in time, and I'm not sure I'd have found the nerve to carry through, but the effort kept me working, and to very high standards. The little dude is now mostly jointed, and just needs his head and neck attached. He's no prizewinner, but I'm a very proud sow!! :D
I really wish I'd discovered this years ago, but I guess it's never too late to discover what you really want to do when you grow up, right!? :rolleyes:
Wow I've really loved all these stories!!!
I used to be a photographer... and have only really been happy if I'm creating SOMEthing! I had to quit photography to get a 'real job' in an office.
I'd been collecting bears for a few years (thanks to my girlfriend) and found a class on making a jointed mohair bear thru our school district's adult education program.
I took that and was INSTANTLY hooked! I later found out that my favorite local bear artist gave one on one classes and I took a few from her.
I soon started creating my own patterns and gave eBay a try. I was still working in the office at the time. I created more bears as time allowed and those sold also.... so... I started saving my "extra" $ from my job and decided to take 2 months off and give bears a shot full time. (I hated my job) Hubby was all for it. He'd been trying to get me to find a new job for a couple of years.
I'm now in my 4th year of bearmaking full time. I don't make nearly as much $ as I used to.... but I'm sure a LOT happier now (and so is hubby!)
Doesn't it help when we have supportive husbands? I've spoken of my little home-it's less than a 1000sq. feet and the shape is round. My sewing room is the size of a master bedroom's Bathroom. You have to get really creative in storage. My sewing room, which is about to under go a massive renovation is so full, floor to ceiling boxes, due to lack of storage, that most all the work I do is in the living room. (the reason behind this long explanation.)
My sweetie pie never complains. There was one, only one consideration he asked for. NO PINS ON THE FLOOR!!!!. (My Heman Hero has tender feet)
I appreciate his support so much-couldn't have nearly as much FUN If he were grumpy; I wouldn't be very happy. :(
Everyone has had such wonderful fun stories.
Wonky Dilu Dily:
Hey all you lurkers out there, speak up, tell us a story, talk to us, come out and play, WE WANT TO BE FRIENDS!!!
I wanna play...
I've always been one of those crafty types and one day in fall 2003 I decided, just on a whim, "What the heck? -- I've never made a teddy bear. Might be time to try."
So I bought a pattern at JoAnne's and made this GIGANTIC bear, three feet or so tall, which was designed to be unjointed but which I WANTED to be jointed, anyway -- I'm so dang contrary sometimes -- so I string jointed it with these giant buttons. Can you imagine? The thing weighs, like, ten pounds, he's so full of stuffing -- which stretched the plush felt I used to make him from totally out of shape, I might add -- and he's got string joints. I'm surprised he's not losing limbs left and right.
When I was finished with him -- and it took me forever, because while I'm a lifelong crafter, I am NOT a lifelong seamstress -- I looked him hard in the face and thought, "Dang, he's ugly."
Being something of a perfectionist, I was determined that he would not be my last attempt at bearmaking, and knew that my character and personality demanded that I keep going until I got to a final outcome that I could deem, "Just right."
So I scoured the internet, and our local used book store -- which had an odd number of teddy-bear-making books on its shelves; thank God and fate for that -- and I researched. And I mean researched, like spending hour upon hour upon hour upon hour checking out websites (Michelle Lamb's in particular; she was and is a huge inspiration in my work... but also Lora Soling, and Victoria Dickinson, and Jane Perala, and Karen O'Brien... just to name a few early influences and inspirations.)
I used a pattern from a book for bear two, which was also hideous, and then started creating individual pieces -- body, limbs, finally a head -- across the next few bears. I think it was by around bear five -- still, hideously misshapen, out of proportion, and with a face only a mother could love -- that I was creating my own patterns entirely, and learning to work with "fur;" meaning the cheapy synthetics you can grab at the craft store, at the time.
After about fifteen bears I had developed something of an individual style and things were coming together bear-wise. Serendipitously, it was around this same time that financial circumstance was forcing me to consider re-entering the working world after over a decade as an at-home mom -- something I had hoped to keep doing, as my primary "work" focus, for at least several more years, until both my sons had finished elementary school (and we still have 2+ years to go on that!)
I realized that, with all that research, I had accrued a certain familiarity with eBay sellers and pricepoints... retailers... and sort of a "feel" for what the collecting audience -- myself included, by the way! -- seemed to like, and I thought, "Why not try selling a bear? Maybe I could make a go of THIS as a career. Maybe that dumb ol' adage IS true... that if you find something you love doing, the money will follow!!!"
I was waaaaaaaaay too chicken, as a total unknown, to put myself out there on eBay and risk total annihilation. But with the anonymity allowed me by the medium known as "the Internet," I somehow found the courage to contact a retailer with some photos and ask, "Would you be willing to associate with a newbie like me and sell my bears?" And to my surprise and delight, she agreed... and by March of 2004 my teddies made their official debut at Bear Paths.
All of this has opened doors for me to friendship, to personal growth on so many fronts, to a feeling that effort CAN equal outcome (and it IS a lot of effort; I've spent many, many after-midnight hours working on my bears, and still do.) It's like a dream, and I have been able to create a "resume" of skills and experiences that showcase a passion and a drive and pro-activity that I'm proud to call my own, and that can only help me as I move on in my life, should I eventually have to find employement elsewhere -- which, living in very expensive California, I might.
--> And this brings me to a total aside. I was watching this TV show the other night about "What 500K Buys Across the US" and even tho I knew New York was pricey, I had NO IDEA that it took 500K to buy a 620 square foot -- 620!!! -- fourth-floor walk-up in the West Village. AARGH!!!! Location, location, location, yes -- and tons of charm. But 500K for 620 square feet?!?!? Even for a lifelong Cali girl like me, that figure is absolutely stunning!
Anyway... I love my bearmaking. I'm glad I "fell" into it. I'm delighted to have met so many wonderful people, and to have this great blessing to be able to do something I purely and totally love, and get paid for it, so I can take my kids to Disneyland, or buy them iTunes, or ... whatever. Life my life. All because of bears, which allow me to stay home and BE HERE for them, which, frankly, was always my main "career" goal in the first place. It's a great, if tiring!, job, motherhood. Bears make it possible for me to STAY TIRED doing it for a while longer...!
Hey, it was fun to share this. Thanks for letting me! ;)
Yes i agree. Where would i be if my other half did'nt support me? Probably back working in a job where i did'nt get any artistic satisfaction ( i was a housekeeper at a very posh public school - i adored the kids but the teachers were dumber than a bag of hammers and drove me nuts).
A BIG SHOUT OUT TO ALL THE GREAT HUSBANDS,WIVES AND LOVERS OUT THERE WHO SUPPORT US ALL ;););)
I just want to tell you that your main career choice, stay at home mother, is a wonderful choice. I too stayed home to raise my children (they are now 24 and 21 years old) and I don't regret one minute of it. Our income was cut almost in half when I quit work, but how do you put a price on those little ones. We learned how to squeeze a penny until Abe cried uncle. I'm not downing working mothers, I realize many have no choice. I am just so thankful that I was able to make a choice.
Penny, your post made me absolutely laugh out loud.
Did I mention that my "working outside the home" qualifications, for that job I ended up not needing to get thanks to my bearmaking, include a Master's degree in Education and a multiple-subject/elementary school teaching credential?!? :P:D
Having said that, I agree completely with your "bag of hammers" comment; at least as applied to SOME teachers. My younger son is having a particularly difficult year and it's mostly due to a boring, skill/drill/kill, negativity-saturated teacher, and very little to do with him or his classmates, who are blamed for every bad moment he has. Ugh.
No matter how you look at it, tho, teaching -- even for boring, negative people -- is a very difficult job, set in a very political arena, where it's literally quite impossible to satisfy kids/parents/administration/city council/chamber of commerce/governor/president/church/GOD all at the same time -- and this is pretty much the task assigned to teachers/schools nowadays -- because it is, in the end, individuals teaching individuals, in an institution where dogma gets... well... institutionalized. Very frustrating, all of it, and all of it designed to take place with nowhere near the financial backing required to make even the most basic of things actually FUNCTION. Don't get me started.
Thanks for the laugh... :D:D
Millie... I hear you!
I'd never, ever turn a critical eye on a working mother, because you're absolutely right; many do not have the choice to stay home. I also feel no judgement toward those mothers who are spiritually and emotionally healthier if they maintain interests outside the home and so ALSO choose to work while raising their kids. I think it's about what works for each individual, and for each individual situation. In the end, if mom and dad are rewarded and happy and financial stresses are low -- whatever it takes to get that -- the kids have a better chance of being happy and comfortable, which is the end goal for most parents anyway.
But for ME, being an at-home-mom was a lifepath choice from a very early age. I remember wanting that more than any other thing. And you're right; those growing-up moments are gone all too quickly -- my older son, 11, is nearly my height (5'6"); when did THAT happen?!? -- and I'm just soul-enriched and delighted that I've been present and available to witness nearly all of them.
My sons and I are also extremely fortunate that their dad is a mostly very good guy, who also happens to be quite wealthy because he's smart and worked very hard for a very long time to become a Partner in his firm (workaholic tendencies = our divorce, actually; I was lonely being "single" and tired of being a "single" mom), and assists our financial health with regular child support payments that I NEVER, EVER have to chase down. And, I'm equally fortunate to have found my soulmate in my second husband, whose income (in addition to my own) also helps create an environment where I can stay home.
Not everybody gets these opportunities/choices, and I just support and applaud the hard job of motherhood in all its forms, because moms -- kid moms, dog moms, cat moms, bear moms... seriously -- are just the best kind of people on Earth.
When i said that the teachers were 'dumber than a bag of hammers' i was referring to their general mental abilities outside of the classroom rather than in it. I did'nt get the opportunity to see what went on in the classes but around the school the teachers were DUMB. They may have been fab with the kids - but the silly things they used to do never ceased to amaze me Shelli. One day an ambulance had to called because one of the games masters had collapsed on the rugby field with a suspested heart attack. It turned out that he was...............................................................
Sorry girls better not tell you the rest of the story in case it gets me in trouble but you would all be hooting likes drains at the outcome!!!!!
Ahhhhh Miss Penny Henny we have ways of making you talk!!!
Dumber than a bag of hammers....love it! It's perfect- I used to have CNA (nurses assistant) that I would say was dumber than dirt. (but never to her or ANYone at work)...but bag of hammmers.....It's downright wonky!
Now all the rest of you ladies.....what tactic do we take to get Penny to talk?
Hooting like the drains at the outcome.....hmmmm........translation please
And Shelli, our fearless leader-getting the answer privately?.....you'll tell the rest of us ...Right?
Well, I've stalled at revealing how I got into making bears because, besides other reasons, it involves a lifetime of repressed personal demons. And who wants to publicize their psychological traumas?? However, I think it important to emphasize how much therapeutic value a teddy bear can have. We in the bear industry all have our reasons for being here, but surely the reasons must have something to do with the charisma of our beloved teddies. There's just something about them that charms us in some way.
My story begins just a few years ago . . . way after I had retired from my lifetime career of medical technology. All of us have problems, big and small, throughout our lives and manage to wade through them. Starting in 1996, I was hit with several large ones at once . . . and descended into a black hole of depression - not being able to cope very well or extricate myself from the abyss. And the troubles continued to pile up so I became pretty desperate to find a way to deal with life . . . or not. I was very fortunate to be in a department store one day and discovered a stuffed teddy that seemed to actually know what was going on in my head. His look of compassion, empathy, friendship, understanding, and tenderness seemed to be just what I needed at the time, so I bought him . . . and many more after that. When my budget began to be strained, I decided I could make my own therapy bears. That's when I discovered a whole world out there dedicated to the teddy bear . . . collectors, artists, manufacturers, suppliers, show promotors, magazines, etc. - one that I never knew existed. Wow . . . what an enlightenment!! So now (long story short), thanks to therapy, anti-depressants, but mostly to making bears, I am doing well at coping with whatever life has to offer. No doubt in my mind that teddy bears saved my life . . . and I decided I could declare it publicly so that others might know the powerful influence teddies can have. Thanks for indulging me and reading this. Big hugs to you all!!
Three cheers for stay at home moms and the moms who homeschool.
As a psych nurse I dealt with lots of kids. The youngest we ever had was 3....90% of the time it wasn't the kids, it was the parents, or the lack of parents. Never ever did I have on the unit, or admit through incomming a child who had a stay at home mom or was home schooled.
I think that's very telling.
Oh Sue Ann, Thanks so much for sharing!!!
I do understand how hard it is to tell people about that. As I got near the end of the time I was working at the job I hated (the office job), I would get up on Saturdays and just cry my eyes out... because I would have to go back to work on Monday .... sometimes driving to work I'd have to pull over to the side of the road because the depression got SO incredible bad... I never KNEW it could be that bad.
Creating teddy bears REALLY helped me thru that... and now I'm on anti anxiety/ anti depression medication too. I really didn't know how bad I was at that time..... thank goodness I pulled thru! Whenever I'd get real bad my hubby would tell me to work on a bear... he knew that always made me happier I can't believe I feel 'normal' again... and had no idea that I'd been like this for so long until I came out of it...
Sue Ann, can't wait till ya get back here in Chicago so I can give ya another great big bear hug!!!!!