Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Kermode cub is born

A very elusive species, the Kermode bear was known by the Native Americans as the "spirit bear". This unique creature has the white fur of a polar bear but the distinct grizzly head shape and eyes that makes this bear so rare. This colour morph is due to a recessive allele in the population; these bears are not albino. Inspired by these rare animals I decided to try and create one out of 3/8" beige imported synthetic fabric, which turned out to be a challenge... this stuff frays all over! (The fray check and I became very well acquainted)  Here are some pictures of the cub almost finished, I still need to add front paw pads on this little guy and then he is off to his new home as soon as I get the other two bears finished.... enjoy!


This little kermode cub is only 4 inches tall, with a handmade shiny black FIMO nose made by me, tiny little eyelids, and a needle sculpted pink tounge sticking out. He is also 5 way jointed, and has itty bitty little needle sculpted toes. He is filled with polyfil and microbeads for a really heavy feeling, just like real bear cub.

Sewing a traditional German Bear

 Margarete Steiff was one of the first to explore the unknown territory of bear making; her fuzzy creations were quickly bought off by the American market soon after the supposed story of a failed hunting trip president Roosevelt had gone on. The story goes that the President and his friends were on a long bear hunt with little success, when his buddies decided to catch a bear for him and tie it up so that the target would impossible to miss. Being an honorable man Roosevelt declined this offer and immedietly ordered the release of the bear ; this story of the presidents soft side some how leaked out into public and Roosevelt without meaning to inspired the creation of the first Teddy Bears. Thousands of miles across ocean and mountains humble Margarete Steiff was busy at work in her workshop in Germany when an order for 3,000 came in... The rest is history.
A few months ago I was asked to attend a German competition for my school (I've taken German for 4 years now), and my assignment was to design an art project which represented German history with a musical theme. What better than a traditional hand sewn German bear playing a flute made of painted and polished clay? The desicion was clear and I set to work. After months of working very hard on this big bear I finally finished, and the competition went well, earning our school an ausgezeichnet. Along this journey I took step by step pictures to show the judges who were fasicnated to see Hans (I named the bear after my brother who was born in nurnberg) come to life. I hope you enjoy them too!

               Here is Hans all finished up! He is 8 inches tall with needle sculpted toes that were then carefully shadded with acrylics. I sewed this big grizzly out of synthetic fur; his nose was then made from FIMO clay and was painted and polished, and he has soulful brown german glass blown eyes.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Starting out

I was introduced to the world of bear making by a small little yellow teddy. He was given to me when I was eight years old and wow did I think he was the cutest thing in the world... many many years later when I rediscovered this little guy I thought that he was hand made since i had seen nothing like him. Inspired and full of great ideas I collected the materials in my house and began working on my own bear, which proved to be much harder than i expected..! I am so embarrassed to admit that my first bear was far from cuddly, for he was made of wood, and I jointed him using a drill and nails (Ouch!). Despite his unfriendly apperance I was feeling pretty proud of myself for conquering such a massive task so I started working on new bears but this time I did some research on materials and decided to make a more cuddly friend out of fabric. The next few bears were looking better already! I had always been good with clay so I had made my own noses and eyes and created a hole in the back so that I could sew them on securely. I discovered an excellent bear forum online called Teddy Talk, and learned about the materials real bear makers made.. I wondered to myself if perhaps this was why my bears weren't coming out quite right. After many hours of reading about what kind of materials people used, mohair, alpaca, as well as prisma markers, and airbrushes for shading I knew what I was looking for. But there were no fabric stores in my area that sold this... so I hit the Goodwill and found some old teddy bears who were made out of nice fabric. After bringing home one large white teddy bear (that was a great deal... only two dollars) I sat there staring at it on my desk.. I hesitated... and finally his adorable face won me over; I couldn't do it. I wrote and asked the expert bear makers at Teddy Talk if they had ever made a bear out of a old one.. and then something I never expected happened! Bear makers from across the country were generously donating to me beautiful piles of mohair and alpaca.. I could not believe how kind these complete strangers were! Right away I got to work on some new bears and wrote back to the artists who were so nice to send me the materials I needed, and decided that I would work on three bears this summer for the people who sent me the fabric, joints, eyes, and armature. Needless to say I was hooked on bear making : ).

The teddy that started it all.
Compared to the first all of the other teddies were cake.

All of the fabric that was generously given to me