Monday, May 9, 2011

Something Old, Something New

I have finished a couple of bears for a Guild of Master Bear Crafters' challenge called "Something Old, Something New". This was the challenge as set by Paula Carter, the guild's creator:


1. Classic/vintage style bear makers:
Create a bear in contemporary style, using at least one of the following additional contemporary elements in your design, ie., extra neck joint, trapunto paws, claws, doll's eyes, eyelids, eyelashes, airbrush shading, open mouth, teeth, alternative nose treatment etc.

2. Contemporary bear makers:
Design a traditional or vintage style bear using traditional materials and methods of construction. In the case of vintage design work, utilise distressing techniques, ie., staining, shading, shaving, patching, embroidery etc., to 'age' your bear.

I first decided that since I make mostly contemporary bears I would try a vintage looking bear. I have done this before, but I had this very sparse lovely blue fur, and I thought this time I would try to take the "aging" of the bear farther than before. The biggest challenge was the nose. I really wanted to make a nose with stitches missing like they had been worn away with kisses over the years. I tried three times and was just not pleased with the result. I finally stitched a full nose as usual, but waxed it to make it look like worn leather. I think it works for him. I also used a razor to "wear" bald patches in his fur and I think this worked out too. If I do another vintage- look fellow, I will be sure to have felt on hand for the paws because ultraseude isn't perfect for a vintage bear--there was no synthetic seude "back then"!

Here is Little Blue.

After reading some of the other artists challenge bear ideas, I thought I'd have a go at a new contemporary bear design, too. I wanted to try the double neck joint. I have tried it once or twice, but have never been thrilled with the result. This time I am pretty happy. Even though I do far more contemporary styled bears than vintage ones this proved to be the most challenging of the two.

The purpose of the double neck joint is, as I see it, to create a bear which can be posed sweetly on all fours as well as seated. The neck allows the bear to look in all directions. Adding the extra wedge shaped piece at the neck changes the proportions more than one might think, and I found it challenging to keep all the pattern pieces in proportion.

My fabric piece didn't leave much room for error, but I did end up having to make the back legs larger.

I finished with him and I am overall quite pleased with him. I took many pictures. Say Hello to Knuti! (Named for the sweet cub from the Berlin Zoo who enchanted so many in his short life.)

Both Knuti and Little Blue will be available at the My Friends and Me signing event May 28 in Leesburg, VA. Please visit my "Shows" link above for more information.


Monday, May 2, 2011

You know it's time to clean up your studio when... lose your 11 year old son in it!!!

Let me explain. I know I am one of the lucky artists who have a dedicated space in my home for my creating, and the best part of having that space is having a place for my stuff (you can read about that in my very first post on this blog, if you'd like). However, just because I have a place for my stuff doesn't mean I always put my stuff away. I love looking at the beautiful organized studios in magazines like "Studios", or "Where Women Create", and sometimes I think I could show my self-designed studio proudly among them. But other times... not so much! When I am working hard, I am a slob. I take out boxes to get something, and just leave them on the floor or a chair. I have a nice handy basket for my oft-used tools, but they don't seem to make it back in to the basket. My work table is always littered with bear parts, mohair scraps, bits of thread, sketches, and lists of things which I must do today as long as I can find the list.

The floor of the studio is usually not much better. It certainly wasn't the evening I "lost" my son!

It happened like this: Brendan had been playing outside with his friends until dark. When I called him in, it was about 9:15. He asked me if he could take the cat to bed. I was surprised he wanted to go to bed so early on a weekend, but he said he was really tired. I told him it was too early to close Missy in for the night and that I would bring her to him when I went to bed. Then I joined my husband in our basement family room for some TV time. Our older son Alex came home from his friend's house around 10:00, and was getting ready to go to bed himself at 11:00pm when he asked Sean and I, "Who is Brendan spending the night with?"

"He's not spending the night with anyone, " I answered.

"Then, where is he?" Alex asked.

"Upstairs, in his room. He went to bed early."

"He's not upstairs."

"Yes he is."

"No, he's not. I climbed his ladder and looked." (Brendan has a loft bed)

I decided to go upstairs and check for myself. I climbed the ladder and pulled back the cover. Alex was right! Brendan wasn't there! I looked in Alex's bedroom, both in his bed and on the floor on the other side of the bed. Then I checked our bed, and next the couch on the screen porch. With each empty "bed" my heart beat faster. Where was he? Did he go back outside? I called his name a couple of times. I opened the front door and looked out at our dark empty street. By this time Alex and Sean had come up from the basement and were putting on their shoes to go knock on the neighbors' doors. I ran back downstairs to get my shoes from my studio where I'd left them--and there was Brendan, cocooned in a white blanket, curled up on the floor next to the cat, sound asleep! A staircase with a half wall on both sides divides our finished basement into two, with my studio on one side and the family room on the other. All three of us had run up those stairs without noticing a body lying there in the middle of my studio floor! Why? Because there is always stuff lying about on my studio floor!!!

Note to self: Keep your studio clean, Tami, or you might lose something important!