Saturday, March 31, 2012

Sharing Saturday

Welcome to Sharing Saturday, wherein I share with you, well, anything that strikes my fancy. And I have a lot that strikes my fancy. Don't you?

I can't remember whether I have shared this picture with you before, but if I have, I think you'll forgive me because it is so sweet. Here are Crew member Herr Gruenhosen (Mr. Green Pants) and Strider, the cat:

Herr Gruenhosen and Strider in a sunbeam

At the time, about 10 years ago, we were living in the Seattle area, and like all cats, Strider loved to sleep in the sunbeams that made their way through our windows. He was adopted by a new family, as was Herr Gruenhosen. I would love to have a cat again someday, but for now, I am content to visit with the cats of my family and friends. And I'd like to make another bear similar to Herr Gruenhosen, who has design-incorporated "Lederhosen"; you can see a picture of him finished above on the far left of my blog header.

Thank you for dropping in to visit with the Crew on Sharing Saturday!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Two More Lovely Ladies

I was a bad blogger for a while, especially last year. Sometimes, life throws curveballs, and you find yourself in the outfield. That's what happened last year and why I didn't write on the blog or make bears for a while. But once again, I have found that I really need to express myself artistically, both in designing and making bears and in writing. My doctor told me on Tuesday that I am right-brained...I think I had better get busy creatively, then!

Anyway, while I wasn't writing last summer, I did travel back to New Avenue to see my parents and my husband's parents (who live in a nearby town). It was so nice to see them again and also to spend time on the beautiful California coast. On our drive back to Colorado, I got to meet up with two lovely ladies in the Phoenix area: Joanne Livingston of Desertmountainbear and Janice Woodard of Booh Bears. Look! I even have a picture!

Joanne Livingston, me, and Janice Woodard

Though it was about 108 degrees Fahrenheit (42 degrees Celsius) there that day, it was refreshing to meet them and talk teddy bears. (And we ate lunch in a nice, cool ice cream parlor.) Joanne had one of her bears in progress with her; I enjoyed seeing how she uses armature to give her bears movement, and the sculpted feet were wonderful.

I hope we can get together again if I'm driving through Phoenix this year. Thanks for the memories and friendship, Joanne and Janice!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Teddy Bear Tidbit Tuesday

And one more tidbit I'd like to share for today: teddy bears have allowed me to meet so many lovely people who love bears and create bears. There are two teddy bear creators who live here in the same town as me, and I was able to go to lunch with one of them last week and one this week. I am hoping to have a gathering at my house so we can have tea and talk teddies and even work on them together. Wish you could all come!

Last week, Kelly Dauterman and I met for lunch and had such a grand time talking teddy bears, supplies, shows, and even wounds. She creates her sweet bears under the name Blondheart. Can't wait to get together again!

And this week, I had lunch with Carolyn Robbins. We had a good time getting to know each other and seeing each other's creations. It was fun to see her little bears and friends in person; I especially liked her duck, Jacques. Her bears are called Warm Heart Bears.

There are other bear makers in the Denver area and one or two in the Rocky Mountains. I would love to meet all of them someday.

I don't have pictures for you of our lunch gatherings, but I'll include a photo of my little white guy (who is not finished yet, but don't feel bad for him--he would be getting into mischief were he finished!):

Little white guy, not quite finished

Teddy Bear Tidbit Tuesday

Welcome to Teddy Bear Tidbit Tuesday, where you'll hear a tidbit or two about teddy bears.

We're all familiar with our good friend, Teddy, but just how many pieces of fur fabric go into making him? In a standard teddy bear (if there is such a thing as a standard teddy bear), there can be about 23 pieces. Those 23 pieces are as follows: 4 pieces for 2 ears, 3 head pieces, 4 body pieces, 6 pieces for 2 arms, and 6 pieces for 2 legs. Some bears are made with arms and paws that are only 2 pieces each, with legs and paws that are 2 pieces each (as I do), with 2-piece bodies (as I do on my smaller bears), and with 4 (or more) pieces for the head. Some bears have multiple colors and so have many more pattern pieces.

Two bears' pattern pieces
(Goldenstern and Cinnamon have been completed and adopted.)

Yesterday, I completed a new pattern and started tracing the pieces onto the fabric I'll be using for my next bear. I am always optimistic about how long it will take me to draw up a pattern or sew a bear...much more optimistic than realistic, I'm afraid. So the bear is partially cut out. My other little bear is all sewn and is awaiting his stuffing. There's a third bear partly sewn, and a fourth bear ( a little panda) all cut and ready for fur to be trimmed from his seam allowances so he can be pinned and sewn. There's a lot going on in the Crew studio. I hope soon there will be pictures to share and bears available for adoption!

Pattern pieces, paper towel test body, and pink mohair arm and leg
(which belong to Malinka, who has been completed and adopted)

Monday, March 19, 2012

A Pile of Pandas in Progress

As I was pawing through photos of the Crew members, I came upon this one and realized that I hadn't shared it with you yet. So without further ado, here is the photo you haven't seen before:

Chocoli, Ha Lee #2, and Ha Lee #1

OK, technically, you have seen the panda on the right here on my blog; her name is Ha Lee. She is a Christmas panda I made in 2001. I was so delighted when she was chosen to appear in the Christmas bears feature in the November/December issue of Teddy Bear and Friends that year, my very first bear in one of the major teddy bear magazines!

This is a picture of a pile of pandas in progress, so I should introduce the other two bears, er, heads. In the middle is Ha Lee #2 (Ha Lee was an edition of three bears), and on the left is a small chocolate-and-ivory panda named Chocoli (Chinese for chocolate). When finished, Ha Lee was about 8 inches tall, and Chocoli was about 6 inches tall. Here is Chocoli all complete, pictured with William, who is about 13.5 inches tall.

Chocoli with William the Cub

On my desk, I have a pile of sewn mohair teddy bear pieces and another pile of cut-out teddy bear pieces, but no pandas this time. Maybe I need to add a panda to my list of things to make this year!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Crew Loves Comments

Now you've gone and done it...the Crew members know you've been leaving comments, and they're all excited and want me to write more on the blog. Goodness, there are only three (completed) Crew members here in the studio now, but they can be quite adamant about something when they are excited.

So here I am, sharing about comments to make them happy. But really, my motivation is twofold: (1) I want to thank you for your comments. (2) I am curious to know whether you receive notification when I reply to your comments. OK, my motivation is threefold: (3) Wayne said he missed reading my blog. (Hi, Wayne!)

There is a new feature in Blogger that allows visitors and blog owners to reply to comments on a blog, right there in the commenting section. I used to e-mail everyone (when I got a chance) to thank them for their comments. But now, I can comment right there on the blog. Do you receive a notification e-mail when I reply to your comment? Or is this the first you've heard about it?

Once again, thank you so much for taking the time to comment. Your comments make my day. (And they make the Crew happy, too.)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Fun Fur Facts Friday

Welcome to Fun Fur Facts Friday! It's a little late in the day, but I decided it was better late than never.

You may have already gathered from this blog that I love mohair.

Dark copper Schulte mohair

Mohair is the fur-like fabric I make most of my Crew members from. It has a beautiful sheen and a soft, silky texture, and it comes in many different colors and finishes. There are only a few major mohair mills in the world that make fabric for teddy bears: Schulte and Helmbold are both in Germany. There was also a mohair mill in England, called Norton, but I am not sure if it is still producing mohair fabric for teddy bears. Apparently, there is mohair fabric made in South Africa, also. In fact, I just received a small remnant of South African mohair yesterday, and a small remnant of Schulte mohair the day before.

Blue South African mohair

Now, you may be wondering what mohair teddy bear fabric is made from. Angora goats, who thrive in only a few regions (Texas, South Africa, and Turkey) have lovely white curly hair that is sheared and carded much like wool from sheep. The hair is then spun into yarn that is woven on industrial looms into cotton backing fabric. The mohair fabric can be dyed (the hair takes dye well), waved, distressed, curled, and finished.

Angora goats

Mohair has been used to make teddy bears since the early days of teddy, who was created in 1902. There are many bears whose fur ages very well...and many others whose fur has been loved away completely.

Did you have a teddy bear when you were young? One of the bears I played with was a bear from the 1930s who was passed down to me. I remember taking him out to the sandbox to play with my other stuffed animals. Much of his mohair has been loved off and is probably sun damaged; it feels a little stiff. And I always thought that the rip on his muzzle was his mouth; I had never seen his embroidered mouth because it was probably loved right off. He is the large bear on the shelf below.

A collection of vintage and antique toys:
Big bear from the 1930s with plastic Mickey, small white Steiff bear, Steiff Jocko, German doll, and fabric Mickey

I played with all of the toys in the picture above except the white bear and the Steiff truck, which I got when I was in my 20s. The Jocko chimp and the doll were my mom's, and I think the two Mickeys were mine. It's hard to say; I don't remember that far back! But you can see that I've loved teddy bears a long time. And that I grew up with Disneyland nearby.

I hope you've enjoyed this Fun Fur Facts Friday! I'll leave you with a picture of me and some of my mohair. (If you have a good eye, you can probably spy the odd piece or two of alpaca in the stack.)

Me and my mound of mohair (with alpaca, too)