Friday, January 27, 2012

Meet the Crew's Studio Manager: Sebring Austin Slater

Happy Friday, everyone! Today, I would like to introduce you to New Avenue Crew's sweet, ultra-cuddly, no-nonsense studio manager: Sebring Austin Slater. I love this guy!

(This introduction is long overdue; I've been keeping Sebring to myself for far too long. You'll see what I mean by "far too long" when I tell you his story.)

It all started with an idea for a big bear, a new pattern design, and some luscious wavy batik mohair. In the picture below, you can see the batik mohair in the bottom right corner. (As always, if you want a closer view, click on the photo.)

Did I forget to tell you when I started work on Sebring? Sorry about that. It was in 2002. Ten years ago. And I didn't finish him completely until late 2010...if I'm remembering right. That's a long time for a bear to wait to be finished! Sebring is definitely a patient fellow.

I had an idea for a bigger bear pattern and set to work on it. I designed the head, ears, and body, and then I laid out the gorgeous batik mohair and traced and cut out the pieces. It was a flurry of activity: I sewed, stuffed, trimmed, embroidered, and otherwise finished Sebring and then came to a halt. No arms. No legs. Just Sebring's head attached to an envelope of a body. I loved him right away, but I was stumped because I found that I had made his body too large. Uh-oh!

During this time, I took a few years' hibernation from bear making. When I started making bears again, I still didn't know quite what to do for poor Sebring. He watched as more bears were completed and adopted. But finally--finally!--in about 2009 or 2010, I decided I had to remove his head from his body (while he was under anesthesia, of course) and make his body smaller. This was no small feat, but once it was done, I felt so much better, and he looked so much better. Of course, there was still the issue of him having no arms and legs because I had never designed them.

So I set to work again and made his arms and legs. I'm certain he was relieved! I attached them to his body with joints (discs, bolts, and locknuts), and then commenced stuffing him. I was delighted to see him sitting up for the first time.

About this time, I was creating bears for an online show and thought I would offer Sebring for adoption during the show. Here he is with sweet Cinnamon.

I even had his photos and description as part of my show site--but before I went to bed the night before the show, I found that I just couldn't sell Sebring! So I removed him from the show site and went to bed, thrilled that he would be staying with me as my studio manager. (Sebring is only the third bear I have kept in my 15 years of creating New Avenue Crew. You can see J. Cub, a bear I made in 1997, on the mantel in the photo below.)

Now, Sebring usually watches over the smaller bears as they're being created and keeps them out of the honey jar. I have used his pattern again; Sprout, the green springtime bear, was the result. Here is a group picture. It is not often that so many Crew members are together at one time, so this is a rare photo.

I hope you've enjoyed meeting Sebring!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Mohair, Luscious Mohair...

Hello, everyone! Happy 2012! I can hardly believe we have reached the year 2012 already. I remember when I was in second grade and we changed from 1975 to 1976; it was so difficult to get used to writing 1976 on my papers. Am I the only one, or do you have memories like that?

It has been all quiet on the bear-making front here in the studio. The Crew members and I have been taking a long winter's nap (which has been much longer than winter). I am hopeful that I'll be able to jump back into the fur and fluff soon. I think that Sebring is eager to oversee the making of more Crew members. Oh! I need to introduce you to Sebring. Soon. I'll do that soon.

Speaking of fur and fluff, there's a new group on Facebook for art, craft, and bear-making supplies. It's active with a lot of great materials on offer. Go on and take a peek and join up if you like!

Because of the group, I pawed through my stash of fur yesterday to see if there was anything I wanted to sell. Mohair and alpaca are such beautiful fabrics. I really enjoyed stroking the different pieces of fur and dreaming of the bears that might come to life someday. As a result, I had bear ideas cavorting through my head all night! Now, if I could just find the time to make them! Did I find anything to sell? Yes, a couple of beautiful, soft synthetic pieces and a piece of alpaca, as well as some mini fabrics. But the rest? I couldn't bear to part with it! I kept all the mohair pictured below--and then some. Ah, mohair. I do love it. Do you?