Tuesday, 13 September 2011


Hmmm, Poinsettia - is that how you spell it?

Anyway, I have finally finished my next bear!  She is a bit of a strange one - but I am really proud of her, for lots of reasons.  I started out with the aim of altering my panda design.  I was really happy with Benjamin, but I thought he would look more panda-like (in terms of demeanor) if he were leaning back more.

So, I was making a cotton prototype of the new leaning-back design.  It took absolutely ages to get right, because of the weighting.  The head is the heaviest part, and usually I would put bags of steel shot in the feet to counter-balance that.  With the new design though, the head was so far back, that wasn't sufficient: she was still over-balancing.  I tried loads of things.  Eventually, I ended up with steel shot in the feet, steel shot in the stomach, and using an extra-lightweight stuffing in her head, neck, arms and upper body.  And her feet still sometimes don't touch the floor! 

But she no longer over-balances, so I decided that I was happy with that - the feet-in-the-air-thing just seems to add to the nonchalant panda pose.

Anyway, having made this cotton model, it was so sweet, I thought I really ought to make her into a proper, full-colour bear.  First I patched her body all over in recycled denim, so she has this really cute blue onsie.  Then I thought she ought to have a jacket.  I'm really chuffed with how it turned out.  It is the first item of clothing I've ever made (for a bear, or anyone else).  Usually my mother makes the clothing, but she's a bit tied up right now.  It took me about twenty tries - and that's no exaggeration - but I think I finally got it right.

Anyway, she was left with a very white face, hands and feet, which looked wrong, so I ended up patching the body over with yellow cotton.  This gave me a chance to cover up all her original seams (although she'll be a nightmare to repair, should she ever need it) and to give her wrinkles behind her ears (see last pic), which is a feature I always wanted to try.  Glass eyes, clay nose, embroidered mouth... I think she turned out really well.  In case I forget to measure her later, she is almost exactly 11 inches, sitting.

There are a few disadvantages to the patching technique.  Because I didn't turn any edges in, I had to fray check them all, which has left her a bit... crispy?  And I expect the fabric will continue to fray a little bit - even with the fray check - so she will look tattier and tattier as time goes on.  And, because I patched her after she was jointed and finished, there are necessarily areas where the white cotton shows - particularly around the joints. 

I don't think that's a problem for her though: she is an 'odd'-looking bear - I think that's just part of her character.  It is nice to create something that looks (and indeed, is) a bit experimental.  We'll see if anyone likes her.  In the meantime, it's onto the proper leaning-back panda!


Rachel Kilby said...

Well, it's a bit of a weird one, I'll give you that, but is still quite sweet, the ear-wrinkles are cool!
Have you decided if you're coming over here yet?

Ruth said...

Thankyou. I don't think I'm going to be able to afford to come over - and I REALLY wanted to go to Seattle! Perhaps another time? In 10 years time, when I can afford it (sniff)?

Rachel Kilby said...

Fine, if that's the way you feel...sniff!
S'okay, when you eventually get the wherewithal, we'll make it to a festival there or something, or maybe to a rodeo or something - apparently bumbershoot (I think that's it) is supposed to be quite good.

Ruth said...

What kind of festivals do they have in Seattle? And why would we want to go to a rodeo?! I would like to go to Pike Place Market - which is the only place in Seattle I know of.

Rachel Kilby said...

Time you look up a little more about seattle, they have some great music festivals, and I don't know, I'd really like to see a rodeo sometime, we haven't managed it this time and my exams are at the end of next week, so it's a little hairy right now.
I'll look up some vintage places for you also...