It's great fun to share about the rewards of what we do, and learn something interesting about each other in the process. So jump in and spill it... What's your favorite part of bearmaking?
I have many things to share on this topic myself, that reach into many different pockets of my life... but I'm gonna hold out on you until I get at least one reply and this becomes something more than Shelli's monologue. Anyone who knows me knows that's an easy place for me to land... ;)
Who will be the first?
ME, ME . . . I'll go first!!! For me it HAS to be creating the facial expression!! It's the part of the bear/friend that first catches the interest of potential adopters. There seems to be an immediate "connection" or "bonding" that happens when one looks into the face of a particular bear. The bear "speaks". As artists, most of us have observed this phenomenon at shows and it's a huge thrill if it's your bear they are connecting with. It's what got me hooked on teddy bears back in 1996 . . . a major turning point in my life!!
Okay I'm second!!!!!! Me too..It has got to be the face. This is where my bears come alive. The gateway to the soul is through the eyes. I want my bears to "speak" like SueAnn said , too. I LOVE adding the final touches with my airbrushing, which is just like icing on the cake ( and since I cannot have real icing because os my diabetes, well this king of icing is perfect for me). I also have to say with my recent venture in to needle sculpting I have so thoroughly enjoyed wacthing the facial features of my bears develope and come to life.
Second would be creating the paw details. There are so many ways to create these it is lots of fun for me.
Maybe even most of all is designing the details in my mind , then anxiously working the pattern on paper after I have drawn my bear. This is such a satisfying biz to be a part of. The only down side is that I often become attached and do not want to sell some of my bears.
Okay SHelli. Your turn.....
My turn... so it is. :D
I'm afraid that the already-mentioned, perhaps expected answer is my first-impulse answer, too -- I love, love, LOVE working on the facial details of my bears.
It starts getting exciting right around the time the head is stuffed and closed, with that silly, silver cotter pin dangling beneath. I start getting REALLY fired up, though, once the nose and mouth are embroidered... and the eyes set deeply in place.
But when I add those eyelids and then, finally, complete all the needle sculpting and shading... Well, that's the part that just gets me so pinpoint focused on what I'm doing, I swear I could tolerate a tornado swirling around me and not be distracted from my bearmaking one iota. That's the part that keeps me up until 2a.m. because I just CANNOT walk away!
There are other wonderful parts of bearmaking, too, though. I really enjoy researching about period costumes and hope to grow my work in the direction of the occasional "dressed" bear. I've found that I can actually design a fairly nice pattern! I've been able to participate on boards like this one, where I can use my teacher training (my Bacherlors degree is in Psychology but my Masters is in Education) in ways that (I've been told) are truly helpful, and to share what I've learned with an audience that's mature and capable and passionate and really, really wants to learn and will try, try, TRY again until they can get to that place where they want to be. Elementary school children, I probably don't need to mention, aren't always that way... :P
It's also been wonderful that bearmaking has allowed me to "check off" so many "boxes" on my imaginary resume. I've been home with my sons for over a decade now -- the "job" I always wanted most, truth be told, and am still delighted to have at the very center of my life -- but it was, nonetheless, very difficult to look a return to the work force in the face a year ago and feel confident with only "room mom" on my resume of qualifications at that point in time.
Now, thanks entirely to bearmaking and the connections and friends I've made in this industry, I can claim to be a columnist; an award winner; a help advisor!; a teacher; a published "artist" (that's a wonderful thing to call myself, truly); a website designer; a businesswoman; and -- I hope -- a helpful, present, proactive friend. So that's really something. And I mean it, right down to my toes, when I say I'm just incredibly grateful, grateful, grateful for all these gifts I now have in my life. Grateful to my collectors; to my fellow bearmakers; to editors and publishers and shop owners... and nominating committees and mohair suppliers... to all of them, and to my family (who tolerate endless mohair dust bunnies and pattern pieces strewn left and right), for their belief and trust in me, and their validation, and their support. I'm grateful in ways that I simply do not have the words to express.
So yeah... the physical act of making those little faces is my favorite part of bearMAKING. But the best part of "BEARMAKING" is that it's just brought so many gifts into my life. Even if my arms fell off tomorrow all this bearmaking time, everything that encompasses it, would continue to be something with which I just have such fond remembrance. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop but so far, it's just been a delight.
And of course, I'm sure you'll both agree and have heard similar things yourselves... it's just absolutely warming when someone writes or calls to say that my teddy bears have touched them at the heart level.
Anyway, that's me, waxing rhapsodic about all things bear. But the truth of it is that my "favorite" parts of bearmaking exist on a lot of levels. Between my wonderful family and my incredibly fun and rewarding career, I feel like the luckiest girl on earth.
Aren't these topics fun?
I find myslef sometimes isloated out here in the country. We own and operate a dairy so I don't get out much...which is okay with me since I love to be a stay-at-home mom. It is really beautiful out here and the air is so clean and clear...aaahhhh breath.......
This is why I really enjoy these bear message boards as it gives a way to connect with others who share the same passions in bears.
I have had diabetes since the age of 12 and have never really had anyone else to talk to who is diabetic...someone who can really relate to the daily difficulties and challenges. I found a diabetic message board so I joined. After hearing ao much self pity and misery... and oh "poor me"...I could'nt stand it anymore. I spent all my time on that board just trying to be uplifting...explaining and reinforcing how a diabetic CAN live a normal life with a positive attitude and 110% effort...etc....etc....it just brought me down. I quit going and once again, had no connections with others like myself.:(
Well, that is why I enjoy talking bears and and glad to have found some nice forums, including North Country Teddy Bears. It is nice to feel like you belong and fit in. Thanks guys:)
You know, Judi, I don't think someone with diabetes looks any different from someone who doesn't have it!! I can't think of why ANYONE would say that to a person . . . grrr . . . bad manners! In my opinion, you are a gorgeous, talented lady who happens to have a disease that doesn't hold her back. Hooray for you!!
I can't remember where I heard it -- for some reason I want to say it came from a movie, from the mouth of wonderful, talented actor Morgan Freeman -- but I once heard this most marvelous quote. It went something like this:
"You can either get busy living... or get busy dying."
I love this sentiment, and always admire people who face any kind of difficulty or adversity -- disease, tragedy, whatever -- head on, with the attitude that it's always better to look at what's possible and realistic and DEAL WITH IT, than to look at what's missing and impossible and dwell on it.
I can't believe anyone would say you "look" or "don't look" diabetic, Judi. Just a few years ago I took anatomy and physiology and learned more about this very intrusive, time-eating condition myself, from a medical perspective, for the first time, in an academic setting. And while I remember a lot of talk about syringes and pumps and insulin and pancreatic failings and appropriate blood glucose levels, I don't remember a single thing about the diabetic "look." Man, people can be... less than sensitive, sometimes.
I think you're a fox and I don't just envy, but covet, your slim dancer's figure. I know, I know... coveting is bad. But hey... admitting the problem is half the distance to overcoming it, right?!?
Thank you very much for your kind and supportive words. It really means a lot to me and I am very touched by both of you. Thank you , thank you.
I think that designing and making bears has been such great therapy. It's one of those "feel good" things, a very healthy creative outlet does wonders for the soul. Don't you think?
Oh definitely, Judi . . . I give my discovery of teddy bears in 1996 LARGE credit for literally saving my life! They are tremendously therapeutic and comforting - I can't imagine life now without them. We REALLY need to work hard at preserving and promoting the teddy bear (the stated goal of The Theodore Society) so that the generations coming after us aren't deprived of teddy comfort!
Oh, thank you! Today I have decided that my other missed calling in life ('Shelli as Obsessed Bearmaker" was the first) is obviously "Shelli the Graphic Design Queen," so I've been playing with PhotoShop all afternoon instead of making bears. Oops! Very fun stuff, that! Now, if only I could actually remember... after all that clicking and selecting... exactly how I did what I did, so I could skip the fumbling around part next time. :D
If anyone needs some tips or pointers on logo/banner design and/or PhotoShop, I'm certainly less than expert but am learning the ropes slowly, so I'm happy to help out if/where I can.
Doing these little banners is time consuming but fun and very, very rewarding. If you find a photo you'd like worked into a banner, Judi, let me know. I'll see if I can squeeeeeeeeeeze you into my frenetic schedule of internet addiction and teddybear stitchery and creation.
Actually, maybe you can be my free advertising (which, sorry to say, I don't have the resources of TIME to offer to EVERYONE! Judi is already a good friend and peer.) If people like what I do with a few banner examples, like mine and yours, maybe I can turn this banner/internet logo design thing into an offshoot of my bearmaking career and even get paid for doing it. I certainly love the process of fussing over every little font, color, and shadow, and the end product is very rewarding indeed, so if this could become an income supplement for me, that would be terrific. As with most everyone else on this earth, and maybe even especially for those of us living in high-cost-of-living areas like California, every little bit helps.
My favorite part is....fussing over the face. Clipping, needlesculpting, shading,making the lids ( recently) oh yes..painting those eyes and now...even embroidering that nose, practice. practice...it's getting better and better...yahoooooo. I like creating the face and coaxing that little critter to life...so I talk to him while I am doing it , even if it is telepathic,he can hear me or should I say...he can feel me. Stange goings on here..LOL...Winney
Huzza!! Another bear list. As a beginner, I have to say that there's no 'down' for me so far in the bearmaking. Totally untedious. Of course, if bears had 8 legs, it might get a little old by the 6th or 7th. At this point, I'm just happy if the second leg/arm/eye/ear looks genetically related to the first!
I'm having THE best time. I've sculpted a clay model, draped it in paper towels, made the oily squishy blue-flowered paper towels into a pattern and stitched up a prototype in muslin. My formerly eye-rolling, tactfully sniggering family were suitably chastened when I got the thing together, complete with eyes, lids, glass teeth and claws--the ears I prefer not to discuss just yet.
Now for the fur version. I'm forcing myself to enter the Ace Awards competition.:| just for the experience of finishing the bear and exposing it to public umm . . . :lol:view. Nothing like a deadline to get the act together.
Anyway, long story short, I am so happy that I discovered this community and this art--I was just hunting for a gently used shearling coat for my hubs, and found myself in bears.
You people are THE BEST
I agree with you %100! I, too, am very happy to have found a bear family here. You guys are my only connection to others who share the same passion.
Get this...this is funny!...I have had two people recently who have said to me..."oh, you make bears? They're really cute...so, you buy the head and stick them on the bear?" !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:lol::lol::lol::lol: One lady asked me, " You mean you make the head and face too?!" LOL... Non-bear people are CLUELESS. When I explained that I make my bears completely form srcatch, and that they are entirely my original designs...they look amazed. Who do they think makes the heads? Some lady in China sitting in a factory????:PLOLOLOL I shouldn't be so harsh. People who are not in the business and who do not collect are just unaware of how large of an industry bears really is. It is then that I enjoy thier expression of shock when I tell them what some of them go for$$$. tee hee hee Only bear folk can relate to this.
So much to respond to. I might never make a bear again. ;)
Eileen... I agree with you. As I waxed on and on about, above, making bears is not just a fun way to pass the time, but has allowed me to practice skills and awaken creative passions long present, but buried, and never before addressed. It's brought me a community of creative, talented, warm and funny friends with whom I can discuss this fuzz-covered passion of mine. One of the biggest gifts of it is that its allowed me to stay home with my sons (I always wanted to be "at home" with them until they reached Jr. High; just a personal goal of mine) at a time when I would otherwise have been REQUIRED to make a return to work, which -- because I no longer felt the pull of elementary school teaching (that's my background) -- I dreaded to my toes. It's been a great and wonderful adventure and fun besides.
I'm curious about what you teach... how you ended up teaching a student with OCD/Anxiety disorder. My husband is a MFT and my BA is in psych, plus we have some OCD issues in my immediate family as well. So it's a topic of interest to me.
Winney... I don't talk to my bears, but my cat, Ginger, sleeps with them. I think THAT's a little stranger than your idle chit-chat...!
Judi... Send away! This weekend I have more free time than usual so if you can send me some options by Saturday morning-ish, that would be great for my timing.
Also... I read somewhere (and I wish I could remember where) when I first started out that teddy bears are the number TWO collectible in the world. (I'm thinking stamps must be FIRST, but I never read that part.) I tell people that when they are near fainting after hearing about the enormous teddy bear collectible industry, including the fact that there is an artist bear component, and that these soft sculpture works are considered "art" by many, just as a painting or hard sculpt might be.
Similar to your story, Judi, I have had the experience of taking a bear with me to JoAnne's, or Michael's, or Hancock's -- to accessorize it "just so" -- and having people see it, and fawn over it. "Oh, that's such a cute little bear! Where did you get it?" they might say. Wonderful things like that.
And I tell them, with not a little pride, and beaming, "I made it myself!" And they inevitably say, "But you used a pattern, right?" And I say, "No, it's my own design."
"Well, what's it made of? Is it knit?"
"Nope... it's mohair, which is from a goat. You have to order it from a supplier, because it's not readily available at the usual fabric stores you might visit."
"The eyes are very pretty. Did you buy them with lids like that?"
"Nooooooooo... <smiling>......... I painted them myself, and put the lids on as part of the creating process."
And so on.
So I've had that same experience; that people; for whatever reason, don't really want to believe that Ms. Josephina Everyday Person at the craft store could, with an investment of time and study, create something so cute and -- if I do say so myself -- pretty. I'm not sure why that is. I think a study should be done. Laughing here...