Friday, December 31, 2010

Good-Bye, 2010...Hello, 2011!

Brrr... It's a cold one out there this last day of 2010! We had our first winter snowstorm yesterday and overnight, and though it's sunny out, it's only 7 degrees (and feels like -8). They even have the freeway closed because it's so icy. My husband and I are very glad we don't need to go anywhere. We and the kids are snug here at home. I've had my morning tea, and soon I'm preparing to go sew some bear parts!

Speaking of bears, I wanted to let you know that New Avenue Crew has been accepted into the next online Teddies Worldwide bear show coming up in March! Be sure to add it to your new calendar.

Though it's winter and Christmas has just passed, I have two springtime bears in the works and a third ready to be started. Pastel colors, new spring growth, and warm breezes are on my mind.

As 2010 ends and 2011 begins, I would like to say thank you to you all for being friends of the Crew. I have enjoyed getting to know many of you over the past year! I hope to present lots of new Crew members to you next year--I have many new ideas written down, drawn out, and dancing in my head. And most of all, I pray God blesses you throughout the coming year and that you thank Him as the giver of all good things.

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow (James 1:17).

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Teddy Bear Tidbit Tuesday: The Passage of Time

Today on this teddy bear tidbit Tuesday, I thought I would share a little time with you, dear reader. Did you know that I started New Avenue Crew way back in August of 1996? That's 14 years ago! How would you like to see my first Crew member? Introducing Madeleine:

Madeleine is made from white and brown variegated plush that I bought from the fabric store. She is the first bear I made from the first pattern I designed, and she stands about 9 inches tall. (A little bit of trivia for you: Maddie was originally going to be a rabbit, but I couldn't resist making a teddy bear. I started my first rabbit pattern this year and hope to complete it early next year!)

Madeleine still lives here in the Crew studio, and she helps me see how far my bears have come in design and finish work. I much prefer to use mohair with its woven cotton backing; Maddie's synthetic fur has a knit backing that tends to stretch when stuffed.

And now take a look at Cinnamon, one of my newest Crew members. Cinnamon is made from my newest pattern in mohair with wool felt paw pads. I don't really see a family resemblance to Maddie, but that's OK. Each Crew member has his or her own special place in my heart.

Speaking of the passage of time, I thought you might enjoy seeing an antique bear in my collection. No, I didn't make him; he was made by the Chiltern company in England in the 1940s or '50s. As you can see, he was well loved (and I love him now). Oh, the stories he would tell if he could!

Friday, November 26, 2010


I am pleased to introduce Mullins to you!

Mullins was inspired by the smells and tastes of Christmas, but he is a bear who can keep you company all year round. He is named for the mulling spices used in spiced cider or wassail, many of which are also used in gingerbread. His name is also a nod to Linda and Wally Mullins, who did so much to promote our furry friend, the teddy bear, through teddy bear shows and books.

Mullins wears a solid brass "petal" sleigh bell. I love the tone it makes.

Here's a little more about this sweet Crew member:

Approximately 10.5 inches (29 cm) tall
Brown wavy distressed Schulte mohair
Muzzle of cider-colored wavy distressed Schulte mohair
Ultrasuede paw pads with pulled fingers and toes
Embroidered nose, mouth, and claws
Stuffed with polyester stuffing and plastic pellets
Bent legs; designed to sit

Here, Mullins is pictured with brother Goldenstern and sister Cinnamon. I love this photo of the three of them. I hope you have enjoyed meeting Mullins!

A Little More Cinnamon

Thank you all for coming out to see the online Teddies Worldwide holiday bear show last weekend. Did you enjoy the show? I very much enjoyed visiting all the lovely bears, and I've even met some new friends as a result.

I'm happy to say that sweet Cinnamon found a new mom during the show! She should be arriving at her new home anytime now.

I was inspired to create Cinnamon by my memories of the sight, smell, and taste of the delicious cinnamon apples my Grammie made each Christmas. I made Cinnamon from a new pattern I created this summer. I found that I really liked her size (13.5 inches / 34 cm); she's nice to hug and carry around. And her wavy, distressed mohair (from was fun to work with. I love the beautiful red color! I adorned Cinnamon with a solid brass "petal" sleigh bell that makes a lovely tone.

I love to create classically styled bears with long muzzles, long arms, and a slight hump at the shoulders. I've already started working on my next bear from this pattern.

We will miss Cinnamon here in the New Avenue Crew studio. But knowing she'll be loved in her new home makes me happy. I will just have to make more bears!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

It's Showtime!

It's finally time for the online Teddies Worldwide holiday bear show and sale! Visit the website to find the participating artists and their special bear creations. My very own sweet Cinnamon will be there with bells on!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sneak Preview for the Online Teddies Wordwide Show and Sale

I am so excited to introduce sweet Cinnamon to you! She is one of the bears I will be offering for adoption during the online Teddies Worldwide holiday show and sale. (To see the other artists' sneak peeks of their bears, visit the website.)

I've been working hard on my bears and can't wait to unveil them bright and early Saturday morning. I hope you'll drop in to the show--maybe you'll find a cuddly new friend or two!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Teddy Bear Tidbit Tuesday: Show Scramble

Today on this teddy bear tidbit Tuesday, I want to give you a taste of my final 11 days before the online Teddies Worldwide show and sale opens on Saturday, November 20.

As the title of this post suggests, I am scrambling to get everything ready for the show. Many things have happened these past few weeks that have derailed my bear making, but I am determined to finish the three bears I've been creating especially for this show.

Let's back up a bit.

I signed up for the show back in September and right away started brainstorming about the bears I wanted to make. Because the show has a holiday theme, I decided I needed to get in the Christmas mood. I didn't even have to bring the holiday music CDs up from the basement; my head offered up a ready supply of Christmas carols for inspiration. I started jotting down many ideas for special bears and then thought about them for a couple of days.

The next step was to paw through my stash of fur for the perfect colors from which to create my little Crew members. Memories from Christmases past and the sights and sounds and smells of that special season filled my head and helped me select just the right mohair pieces.

Out came my patterns and scissors, and I was off and tracing, cutting, trimming, pinning, sewing, combing, turning, and stuffing. I worked on all three simultaneously, which is not usually how I make bears. Most of the time, I create one bear from start to finish before moving on to the next one. It has been kind of fun to make them at the same time and see them progress together.

My favorite part of making bears came next: finishing the head. I partially stuffed all three bears' heads and then chose one to move forward with. I stuffed the chosen head all the way and then trimmed the muzzle area, paying particular attention to the area where I would be embroidering the nose with pearl cotton floss.

After the nose was complete, I sewed the mouth on and then put two black-headed pins in position for the eyes. The next step was sewing the neck joint into the head. And then it was time to put the real glass eyes in. Sinking the eyes on a bear is my favorite part of working on the head because that's when the bear's personality starts to emerge.

(Above is a photo of Juniper when I had just completed his head. I am holding on to the cotter pin neck joint that goes into the body to fasten the head to the body.)

Once the eyes were in place and tied off, I then sewed the bottoms of the ears closed and pinned them in place on the head. As I do when I position the eyes, I view the head in a mirror to check the ear placement before sewing them on.

I also enjoy shading the bear's face to give it some depth. A little here, a little there, and bear #1's head was finished. And you know what? I love this bear.

Moving on, I completed bear #2's head (another cutie!) and then stuffed both bears' paws and feet and added claws. I am now ready to move on to bear #3. And you are up to date on my progress!

There will be some new sew-in labels coming in the mail this week. I am very excited about them; my New Avenue Crew logo has been printed on Ultrasuede labels. When they arrive, I will sew one into the back seam on each of the three bears' bodies and will be able to joint their heads and limbs to their bodies, stuff them, and sew the openings closed. But can I complete all three bears in time for the show? I sure hope so! I am determined to have three sweet Christmas-inspired bears to present to you.

Remember to visit the online Teddies Worldwide show and sale website on Saturday, November 20. Look for the link to Debora Hoffmann and New Avenue Crew, because this blog is NOT where the bear show is being held. If you would like a reminder e-mail from me, you can sign up for my mailing list in the sidebar at right. I hope you'll drop in to visit me and my bears during the show, and I hope you'll like my new Crew members!

Oh, and one more teddy bear tidbit: I updated my blog header last night. What do you think?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Fun Fur Facts Friday: Pieces and Parts

In these final four weeks leading up to the big online Teddies Worldwide show and sale on November 20 and 21, I am trying to grab every spare minute I can to work on my three show bears. I am pleased with how they are coming together so far! All three are sewn, and I've been stuffing their heads and paws. So what I'm seeing now looks a lot like this:

But all three have their legs and feet sewn and turned; this photo shows what the legs and feet look like before that step. This is actually a photo of Logan when I was making him. And below, Logan is pictured with Ben (both bears have been lovingly adopted).

Where was I? Oh, yes. Pieces and parts.

Because I'm surrounded with the pieces and parts of my show bears, I thought you might like to see a teddy bear in progress. My typical bear has 19 pattern pieces that need to be sewn together. The top photo shows teddy Logan in various stages of completion. The head is stuffed, most of the pieces are sewn and turned, and the legs and feet are still awaiting attention.

What else is pictured in the photo? There are two stuffing sticks, which help with pushing the stuffing into the far reaches of the arms, legs, body, and head. There are two "ropes" of stuffing. I pull my stuffing into ropes before putting it into a bear's furry mohair "envelope" pieces. I find this helps the stuffing go into the parts more smoothly. And then there is a plastic zip-top bag for keeping all the pieces and parts together so they don't get lost. I also keep the joint disks and hardware in the bag with the bear parts, so that when the time comes, I can put all the pieces together into a sweet little bear.

Here are Ben and Logan all put together, before they were completely stuffed and finished. I kind of like their saggy look.

And so, I am enjoying having all these pieces and parts around, but I'll be quite happy when there are three little bears looking back at me, all ready for hugging and eager to appear at the show.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Bears Bounce with the Raspberry Rabbits

Today, I am so touched and honored that New Avenue Crew and I are featured on Michelle May's beautiful blog, the Raspberry Rabbits. Michelle has so graciously put me and the Crew in the spotlight for the day! I hope you will hop on over to see her lovely needlework creations and her sweet rabbit assistants and take a peek at her blog post about the Crew.

Thank you so much, Shell! xoxo

Saturday, October 2, 2010


Have you ever been to a teddy bear show? It is such fun to wander the aisles looking at the sweet faces on every table, chatting with artists and bear lovers alike, holding and hugging fantastic furry creations, and falling in love with the little--or big--bear across the room.

The last show I participated in as an artist was in 2002, eight years ago. I miss bear shows! So I'm happy to announce that I will be participating in a brand-new show coming up this November, Teddies Worldwide, produced by Daphne Blau of Back Road Events. (She creates bears, too, under the Back Road Bears label. Talent!) 

And the best part? It's ONLINE. Yes, that means you can visit in your pajamas, if you prefer!

There will be 75 teddy bear artists from around the world participating in this show. This is the biggest online show to date!

I will be making three new Crew members especially for the show. The fur has been flying here in the New Avenue Crew studio! One bear is almost completely sewn, and the others are slated for sewing soon. I can't wait to work on their faces and see them come to "life"!

Please be sure to visit Teddies Worldwide for more information about the show. You can sign up for a reminder e-mail there, too. (If you like, you can sign up for my mailing list in the box in the sidebar at right, and I'll send you a reminder e-mail about the show, as well as news about New Avenue Crew and notification when I have new bears available for adoption.)

Don't miss this fabulous show featuring holiday bears by 75 international artists!

I thought you would get a kick out of this picture of me and my Crew members at the Nevada City teddy bear convention in April 2001. Enjoy!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Fun Fur Facts Friday: Bears in Literature

Growing up, I was a voracious reader. I remember stacks of books coming home from the library with us, and that's not including the books wedged tightly into every inch of the bookcase in the living room. I know that my parents fostered a love of the written word and illustrations in me very early on because they read to me. They may have tired or grown a bit raspy in voice, but that doesn't stick out in my memory. Their loving gift of reading to me does.

And now, I still love to read, but I also do it as a profession. I am a proofreader for an advertising agency, once again exposed each day to words and images. I love my job, but that's not why I'm writing this blog post for you today, dear reader. Today I would like to take you back to your childhood, when you heard the classics, the fairy tales, the Mother Goose rhymes. And I know there are images in your head that might be different from mine.

Bears have their place in literature and legend. I would like to explore that subject some more in the coming season, but today, I'd like to share an illustration that so masterfully brings to life one of the most-loved classic fairy tales, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, attributed to the Brothers Grimm.

Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Scott Gustafson

As I look at the details in this painting (click for a larger view) by Scott Gustafson, one of my favorite painters, the story comes flooding back. I can almost picture myself there as it unfolds, as Goldilocks uses the belongings of all three bears and then retires for a nap. Imagine her shocked surprise in the next instant to see these three bears scrutinizing her!

There are many different versions of the story written for children, with likely just as many different illustrations of the key scenes of the story. What scene sticks out the most in your mind?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


I couldn't resist giving you a sneak peek of a little white bear I'm working on. He is only a head at the moment; I haven't even designed his body, arms, and legs yet. But his personality is already apparent. He looks a little mischievous, perhaps impish, don't you think?

Ah. Can you see his little grin? He has been making me grin, too.

As I work on my bears' heads, I place them in antique teacups on my desk. That way, I can look at them critically to see what else needs to be done. Seeing their faces also helps motivate me to finish them.

Next step for this little guy is to shade his face, and then I'll get out my pencil and paper to design the rest of him. I'm so glad he's patient.

Monday, September 20, 2010

A World Awash with Color

I've been finding lately that I've been enjoying color immensely. It's not that it wasn't there before, lurking in a shadow, warming up a cloud, beaming and refracting into a prismatic rainbow. No, I suppose it has always been around me, delighting my eyes, but recently I've been more aware of it.

I often cook a stew that is sort of this American's version of Ukrainian borscht.* (We adopted our daughters from Ukraine in 2009, and I loved the borscht in that beautiful, hospitable country!) As I cut the vegetables, the carrots and beets in particular tickle my eyes. Such wonderful color God has created in the simplest of things! So many vegetables and fruits are brightly colored, perhaps to alert us to those with the most nutritional punch.

In our home, we've added splashes of color here and there while leaving a lot of white to reflect the bright, sunny days we have so often here in Colorado. The sun peeking into the dining room and kitchen warms the curtains you see above--a dramatic backdrop for our culinary creations.

Of course, all this color awareness prompts me to use color in my teddy bear creations. My latest bear, Pumphrey the clown, has a beautiful combination of purple and gold. He is looking for a new adoptive home (see his post below), but is content for now to clown around the studio.

As I paw through my mohair fabrics to find the piece I will use for my next bear, I so enjoy seeing the colors and how they work with each other or even clash a bit. How can I use the flaming orange tipped piece? How can I use the red, the pink, the blue?

In my idea sessions for the bears I'll be making for the upcoming ONLINE Teddies Worldwide Holiday Bear Show, to which you are ALL invited, I've been dreaming in reds and golds and greens and twinkly ivory whites, and Christmas carols have been playing in my head. My bears are cut out, and the next task is to get my sewing machine humming. There's not much time until the show, happening November 20 and 21 (mark your calendars, and join the Crew's mailing list [use the box in the right-hand sidebar] to receive an e-mail reminder), so the fur has been flying here in the New Avenue Crew studio. But I can't reveal all the colors just yet!

*My borscht recipe is a simple one, and you can customize it to your tastes. Chop a bunch of the vegetables you like best (include some beets--they are required for borscht!). I use onion, celery, beets, carrots, mushrooms, zucchini and yellow squash, tomatoes, and green beans.

Saute onion and celery in a large pot in some coconut oil (a good fat) or butter over low to medium heat. When they are translucent or browned, whichever you prefer, add ground beef and brown. Then add homemade chicken or beef broth and your vegetables. I fill the pot with broth to just below the vegetables. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for approximately 25 minutes (more or less depending on how done you like your vegetables).

Ladle hot soup into bowls and top with minced garlic and a dollop of sour cream (also very Ukrainian). When the soup has cooled a bit, you could also add some extra virgin olive oil for its rich taste and good nutrition. It's another good fat. Season to taste with sea salt. You could include some herbs while the soup is simmering, like dill (very Ukrainian) or thyme. Perhaps you would like to add freshly ground black pepper, too. Serve with some crusty bread, if you like. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Winner on Wednesday

This morning, I had a new comment on my blog. Even though it was from Michelle Palmer, I didn't really think much of it. Lo and behold, I read the comment and discovered that I was the winner of her latest blog giveaway for a lovely journal with a bird and quotation illustrated by Michelle herself!

(This image copyright Michelle Palmer)

So beautiful! I love illustrations, and Michelle is so talented. I've been over the moon all day!

When I was 5 years old, my mom asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. She wrote the answer in my "school days diary," and I remember what I said to this day: an artist and a mommy. My first love (artwise, anyway) was drawing. I even earned a bachelor's degree in fine art, though my emphasis was in graphic design. And I had always loved stuffed animals, so when I discovered bear making, I was smitten. Lately, I've been picking up pencil and paper much more often to sketch teddy bears and their friends. Someday, I just might share them with you!

Please go visit Michelle's blog and her Etsy store to see her fabulous work. And let me (and her!) know what you think.

Thank you so much, Michelle!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Pumphrey the Clown

Happy Teddy Bear Day to everyone! A friend of mine told me it was Teddy Bear Day today, and I thought it was so fitting to introduce you to the newest Crew member today. Please meet Pumphrey the clown, who I've affectionately been calling my "grand experiment":

Why is he a grand experiment? A few posts ago, I shared that I had the crazy notion one day to design a two-piece head pattern instead of the typical three-part head with gusset piece. I also decided I wanted this bear to have a ski-slope profile, so I put pencil to paper and came up with a pattern with darts top and bottom. After I cut the pieces out of mohair and stitched them up and stuffed them, I worked on the face. The head sat in an antique teacup on my desk during the process so I could look at him, and he at me. He looked so funny when he only had pin heads for eyes! When I finished Pumphrey's head and liked it, I designed his body and limbs.

I wanted him to be very different, so here also I didn't do my typical traditional-style bear. Pumphrey has shorter limbs and a longer body, perfect for a clown! He also has a little tail!

Pumphrey is named after my great-great-great uncle (there might be another great in there somewhere), whose middle name was Pumphrey. He and his wife, Imelda, were affectionately known as Aunt Meldie and Uncle Pun. Looking at their portrait and the twinkle in Uncle Pun's eye, I can just imagine how their nicknames fit.

Pumphrey the clown bear is 13 inches (33 centimeters) tall and made from curly matted tan Helmbold mohair and a lovely purple Schulte mohair. He has gold wool felt paw pads and black glass eyes, his nose and mouth are embroidered with pearl cotton, and I've given him light shading on his face. Pumphrey has his very own clown hat with a vintage flower button from the button box of one of my grandmothers or great aunts. He is stuffed with polyester stuffing and plastic pellets and has a wobble head joint for those quirky clown poses.

If you would like Pumphrey to come live with you and keep you entertained, visit the AVAILABLE BEARS page on this site.

I have very much enjoyed creating Pumphrey and having him around the studio. I have been posting updates about him on my Facebook page as I've been making him, and I know I've kept many of you in suspense waiting to see him. I'm glad I'm finally able to share him with you!

I hope you've enjoyed meeting  Pumphrey the clown!

Note: You can click on the photos to see a larger version and more detail.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Ben, My "Oldie" Bear

I'm happy to finally be able to introduce you to my "oldie" bear, Ben. This little Crew member is very special because he is the only one who actually lives on New Avenue. He arrived at my parents' home earlier this week, and my mom loves him.

It seems only fitting that Ben is living with my mom, because she is the one who found the short, soft, dense vintage upholstery mohair he is made from. She is also the one who introduced me to antique teddy bears and subsequently artist-made bears in the first place; we used to go to doll shows to look at the antique dolls she loved so much, and the teddy bears started appearing at those shows. I was smitten.

Mom has been asking me to make her a bear for years. Lest you think I'm a bad daughter, I want you to know that she had Oolong, the teatime kitty (pictured four posts below and in the sidebar), for a few years before giving him to my sister. And then I was in bear-making hibernation for a while, so there was no Crew member on New Avenue.

I started working on Ben many years ago, and he sat, partially completed, for quite a while. I always wanted him to appear to be older and well loved, so I took a deep breath and set to work "aging" him. You can see my brief post about the process called On Looking Old and Loved.

In the photos above, you can see Ben's worn areas, the "moth" holes in his wool felt paw pads, and the two little mending patches I sewed onto his arm and wrist. I made him a little shirt, too, my very first clothing design. (Did you know that I don't know how to sew clothes?) The shirt is adorned with antique buttons from one of my grandmas or great aunts.

I also took the plunge and aged his nose. I really like it!

Because he was completed on the fourth of July and has an Americana type of shirt, I decided to call him Ben after Benjamin Franklin. I thought he needed a sweet, simple name.

Before they each traveled to their new homes, I took a photo of Logan and Ben together. They are the two friends in the Quiet Conversations post below. I am glad they are both loved in their new homes.

Quiet Conversations

I've been wanting to share this post from my old WordPress blog with you, and now is the perfect time. Please enjoy this post about quiet conversations.
For the past few weeks, I have had my bears in progress sitting on my bed. Two of them always seem to end up in what looks like a conspiratorial pose, or one in which they are having a long chat or are looking lovingly into each others’ eyes…I always smile when I see them. I thought I would share a snapshot of them with you, even though they are not finished–a sneak peek at my sweet little chums in progress–and tell you what I think they might be discussing.

“Goodness, when do you think she will finally finish us?”

“I don’t know, but it’s been years in my case.”

“Mine, too!”

“Did you know that she is a proofreader during the day, and she’s a wife and mother, and she works on us in between everything else?”

“Oh! What’s a proofreader?”

“She makes sure that the written word sounds good, looks good…that kind of thing.”

“But why has it taken her so many years to make us?”

“She and her husband adopted their two teenage daughters last year. That took a long time.”

“I’m sure it did!”

“But you know, I’m really very glad she has come out of her bear-making hibernation so we can be loved and adopted one day, too!”

“Me, too!”

“By the way, though it has taken a few years for her to make you, she is going to ‘age’ you some more. Your fur is what they call ‘vintage’ upholstery mohair, and she has already given you some worn spots on your ear, forehead, and muzzle. Her mom collected antique dolls for many years, and so she became a fan of antique teddy bears. She has made one other ‘aged’ bear; he looked well loved. And that’s what she wants for you.”

“Oh! It must be a good thing to be loved.”

“I think it must be.”

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Pattern Play

Since I emerged this spring from my self-imposed hibernation* from bear making, I have discovered that I love creating new patterns. It is so satisfying to start with a piece of paper and an idea, then take a flat piece of fabric and turn it into a three-dimensional little "soul" that looks at you so lovingly.

When I dug out my bear-making materials earlier this year, I found four bears waiting to be finished, three of whom had faces that looked up at me so trustingly. So sorry I made you wait, little ones! The biggest one, my very patient big brown batik bear, needed a smaller body and some limbs, so I set to work. A sketch here, a test body out of paper towels there, and I had what I thought would be a good size to go with his head. Same thing with the limbs, though I didn't make paper towel tests for them. (It all sounds so easy and breezy, but there's a lot of drawing, erasing, testing for fit, and so on in pattern making.) The batik bear is now jointed and mostly stuffed. I think I haven't completely finished him yet because I love him and would like to keep him around a little while longer.

Because I like the batik bear so much, I decided I needed to make a smaller size version of his pattern. Once that was finished, I cut the pieces out of beautiful wavy distressed pink mohair. Now I need to trim the fur from the seams and sew her up!

And then I got a wild hare of an idea and decided to design something completely out of the norm for me. Two somethings, in fact.

The first is a first for me: a rabbit. Can you believe that in 14 years of bear making I haven't made a rabbit before? I've designed and made three cats and even a pig, but not a rabbit. So I gathered photos of rabbits--so cute--and designed the rabbit's head. But I haven't gone farther than that with the pattern design. If you look closely at the two photos of my desk in the post that shows where I create, you can see it. It's only a sewn furry "envelope" in the pictures, but now it's stuffed and has test eyes in position. Nothing else. So funny but endearing at the same time.

And the second is what I'm calling my grand experiment. Why is he my grand experiment? Because he is such a departure from my usual designs. He has...drumroll, please...a two-piece head. Yes, you read that right. There's no middle gusset piece. He also has a different body and limb style than my usual bears. Right now, he is waiting for me to tighten his limb joints, just lounging here on my desk looking cute. I can't show him to you just yet, but when he's finished, he will appear here on the New Avenue Crew blog. I like him. I hope you will, too.

*By the way, I plan to stay OUT of hibernation. I am enjoying playing with the fur and fluff far too much to give it up, and I plan to create my Crew members for a long time to come. I've found that I really do have a need to create, whether it's sketching, writing, or making a teddy bear "come to life" with my hands. I believe that's the way God wired me!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Inspiring Finds: Cute and Creative

Back in May, I posted about some inspiring finds in Prims magazine. Susan Pilotto of Crowsnest Pass Primitive Folk Art is one creative lady! I so enjoy her little creations, and I know you will, too. She is having a blog giveaway for this darling little mouse on a spool. Pop on over to visit and enter!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

It Runs in the Family

Recently, my sister took some photos of Oolong, her New Avenue Crew teatime kitty, who I created in 2002. They came out cute!

Oolong playing on a family heirloom quilt

What I really liked was that she set the cat on some antique family quilts in her photo session. She mentioned that the quilts were likely made by our great-grandma Carrie Engle. So the stitching passion runs in the family. On both sides, even. My mom was always sewing something when I was young...sure wish she had taught me to sew clothes! But you know, I wasn't much interested in sewing. And now, here I am, creating my Crew members. I have always loved stuffed animals, particularly teddy bears, and now I get to bring them to "life" by sewing. How about you?

Oolong showing off the stitched kitten on another family quilt

Saturday, July 24, 2010


I'm happy to introduce you to the newest Crew member: Borealis.

Though he is white, he is not a polar bear--he is a kermode bear. (See the post below this one for some photos of kermode bears.)

Kermode bears are not albinos; they are a rare white phase of the North American black bear. They are striking!

Borealis is named after the aurora borealis or northern lights that are sometimes visible in the night sky in the kermode bear's home range of western Canada and Alaska.

His multicolored nose reflects the beautiful colors of the aurora borealis.

Borealis stands 8.5 inches (21.59 centimeters) tall, is made from an ivory-toned alpaca, and has black glass eyes. He sports pulled fingers and toes and needle-sculpted pads of Ultrasuede.

He is five-way jointed, has a hand-embroidered nose, and is stuffed with polyester fiber and glass beads for a nice weight. I have carefully added some light shading to enhance his features. Borealis comes with his fish pendant, which is accented with two small stones.

Borealis is available for adoption directly from me for $135 plus shipping. Send me an e-mail if you would like Borealis to come live with you.

Update: Borealis has found a new home! He has been adopted and will be going to live with a very sweet girl in Minnesota.

I hope you have enjoyed meeting Borealis. I've enjoyed creating him and having him around the studio; he looks cute nestled with the bigger bears. He will likely be my last small bear for a while--small bears make my eyes work extra hard!