(Ah. Some of you with a keen eye noticed that I said that most of the Crew members have fur. I created a bear recently who has no fur. I hope to introduce him to you soon.)
Now where was I? Ah, yes. You would like to hear a fur fact. I have been noticing lately all the different kinds of fur fabrics the bears of today are sporting. Recently, I received a piece of synthetic Belgian plush made by a company called Tyber from a fellow bear artist. It is of very high quality and is very dense and so soft. I look forward to making a small bear from it; I know it will be very different than working with my beloved mohair. So I thought I should tell you about teddy bear fur, since the Crew members and I love it so much.
Me with some of my fur fabrics, mohair and alpaca, spread out in my living room
Here are a few of the commonly used fur fabrics of today:
- Mohair (my favorite!)
- Alpaca (my other favorite)
- Synthetic plush
- Viscose and viscose-mohair blends
- Silk and silk-mohair blends
- Rayon upholstery velvet
Liam (1999) and Trua (2000)
The bear on the left in the photo above (Liam) was made from wool fur fabric in 1999. I still have a little piece of it left, but not enough for a full bear. It is not as silky feeling as mohair, but it has an antique feel to it. The bear on the right (Trua) was made from mohair in 2000. I don't have a photo of the bear I made from some silky plush back in 2000 or so, but I do have a photo of the first bear I designed and made with knit-back synthetic (it was hard to work with!):
Madeleine still lives with me here at Crew headquarters. She is pictured above on the mantel in my childhood home on New Avenue. I don't like her fur, but it is a lower quality synthetic. There are some very nice ones available today that look nice much longer than this kind. But Maddie is still special to me.
Longfellow (2001) and Levi (2002)
Longfellow, the big bear above, is made from alpaca. I loved this alpaca fur; it was a dark chocolate brown with silvery blue flecks in it. Because Longfellow was a large bear, I had to use all of the fur to make him. His little red and blue friend is Levi. Levi's fur is sparse matted mohair in rusty red with a blue backing, and I used some denim from a pair of my husband's old Levi's jeans for his muzzle and paw pads. Though I don't have a picture, I also made him a backpack with the coin pocket and the belt loops from the jeans.
So why is mohair so popular to make teddy bears from? The very first teddy bears, starting back in 1902, were made from it. Mohair is durable and has a nice sheen, and it lends itself to cuddly bears. Yes, it can be worn away with years of loving, but then that's a badge of honor, being loved.
An antique bear from our family whose fur has been mostly loved away