Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas Time in the Studio!

I added a bit of Christmas cheer to my studio this year! A couple of my ball-jointed dolls became little elves to help me with my own toy-making.

The kitschy Rocking Santa, once loved by toddlers now shunned by teenagers, swings along with the radio in my studio, and a lovely tiny nativity ornament resides on this shelf year round.

And there is the tree! I bought two little trees, one for each of the boys' rooms, but Alex didn't want one this year so I brought it down to my studio. I didn't really want to buy any ornaments so I thought of making a garland of thread spools. But what if I needed a color of thread for my work? I needed a way to put them on the tree, but still be able to access them easily if I needed them. I got this idea from this blog, Sew Many Ways, and I love it! Sean helped me make all the little hooks and it makes a lovely studio tree!

Merry Christmas from my studio!!!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Oh, Joy! A New Toy!

I had planned to do some housework today, but how can I when THIS arrived today!

I have wanted one of these Singer Featherweights for quite a while, and I finally had the chance to buy this lovely girl, "Olive" from fellow Teddy Bear Artist Cathy Forcino. In addition to making lovely bears, Cathy finds vintage Featherweight sewing machines and fixes them up for fellow crafters and collectors!

Olive came so carefully and cheerfully wrapped, I felt like it was Christmas morning!

There is nothing wrong with my "old" sewing machine--in fact I love it, and would not trade it for anything~it sews perfectly and it is sentimental. My mother gave it to me, and I learned to sew in this machine. It was the first thing she bought with her first paycheck from her first "real job" and she made clothes for me on it when I was a baby!

But "Susan" (since Olive came with a name I feel compelled to give this old friend a name too!) will be tucked into her table for just a bit while I learn about my new machine.

I expect I will use both machines. I love that Olive is portable! Although "Featherweight" is a bit of a misnomer as all of these older machines are a bit hefty with their metal geers, she is much lighter than Susan and comes with that neat case.

No playing now, though. I must get back to house cleaning, but I have something to reward myself with when it is finished! Some new fur came this week too! SEW exciting! (Yes, I know I am a nerd!)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Christmas Treasures!

The Christmas treasures online show and sale at www.teddiesworldwide is now open! (Actually, as I am typing this, it is the night before, but when I post this it will be open!!)

The theme for this year's show is Christmas songs and carols and I really enjoyed embellishing my bears to suit the theme. I have made the embellsihments removable so the bears can be enjoyed year round.

Here are Daniel and Holly. Daniel is the "Little Drummer Boy" ( you can see his drum at the show) and Holly represents "The Holly and the Ivy".

Jeremy's simple green bow and bell were inspired by "Jingle Bells" of course!

These two classic style teddies, Nick and Tasha, were inspired by The Beach Boys' "Little St. Nick" and by "O Christmas Tree"
I hope you will join myself and the 84 other artists at the show this weekend! See the link above or click on the banner in the sidebar of this blog. Thank you for looking!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Holly and the Ivy

We have only just turned the calendar page to November, but Christmas songs have been playing in my head for weeks! The each 85 artists participating in the Teddies Worldwide Christmas Treasures online show was asked to create a bear to represent a Christmas carol or song. As I pondered my choice, my head was a virtual juke box of holiday tunes. I finally decided on "The Holly and the Ivy" There are so many Christmas songs I love for so many different reasons, but this is one of my favorites. I have a CD by pianist George Winston called "December" which includes the first version I heard of this song. It is this particular instrumental version that is my favorite, and the CD is perhaps one of my favorite albums ever! Each time I listen to it, a wave of warm emotions crashes over me, and while it brings happy memories, I often find my vision blurred with tears. What a wonderful gift George Winston has to be able to move someone like that with his music!

I also knew I wanted to keep my assessories simple because the bear I created has some nice detailing on her own. At 15", she is the smallest bear I have created with my detailed paw pads, although I realize she is still large by many people's standards.  Here are Holly's paws and feet.

Applique trapunto paw pads before airbrush shading!

In an effort to create a simple assessory that was also unique, I decided to make her sprig of holly out of sculpted leather. I always get the biggest charge out of trying something new--especially when it turns out nicely. I was so pleased with these!

A bit of the scrap I started with, plus some finished leaves.

First I cut out the leaves from a pattern I made. The I wet them and scored the
veins and shaped them with my hands.

I dried them on a low temperature in the oven . I experimented with
painting white on the edges, but didn't care for it. Holly looks pleased!

And here is Holly, all ready for her Christmas Treasures preview debut! The preview is open now! Please visit to see Holly and 84 other lovely Christmas Carol themed bears! Be sure to vote for your favoites in both catagories! Hope to see you at the show November 16-18

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Shows and Orders

I am sorry I have not been blogging or posting any bears--finished or in progress for quite a while. I have just finished an online class in curriculum developmment which I needed to take to renew my teaching license and it was quite the time eater! It was a fabulous class and I learned a great deal I will use my teaching, but now I feel so behind with my bears. I always am at this time of year it seems, but now more than ever. I made the difficult decision to cancel my table at the Hunt Valley show because I knew there was no way I could fill a table. I will miss seeing the lovely collectors at that wonderful show as well as the chance to see my artist friends, but I plan to be back there next year.

I have been working on orders and bears for the online show at which is just four weeks away! I have three bears and a cat in progress at the moment, and a head full of ideas as always. Two of these were started before I left for Hawaii in August!

Here are a pair of special commission bears I finished last month before my online class began. These fellows are similar to one another with variations in  paw and nose color, and one has a larger tummy than the other. Both are made from a larger pattern than the last fellow I made with this fur, and both offer great BIG hugs!

Truffle is going to live with Kelly

Copper decided to wear the gold bow and copper bell to meet his new mom Nancy

Hope to see you at the Christmas Treasures show!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

More Head Shots...

Why? Because photos help me to see issues with the sculpt. I have done some refining,and I am nearly ready to leave her to dry completely. I think I need to add the tiniest bit of material to her right (on the left in the photo) eyelids upper and lower, and perhaps a bit to the eyeball itself on that side. I need to sand the philtrum a bit better, and add a tiny bit to her left nostril on the other side. The ears need work...

Friday, September 21, 2012


 I love to take sculpting classes! Heck, I love to take any kind of art class! The obvious reason for taking  workshops is to learn from the experience of the talented instructors, but I always have another motive for taking sculpting and painting classes. It is simply to schedule time to actually do those things I love. When one makes a business of her art, it can be challenging  to find time to pursue new artistic avenues. Making bears and teaching art are more than full time endeavors and with family time added to that I have little time for "hobbies". I have been sculpting for nearly 9 years, but since I have so very little time to sculpt, I still sort of feel like a beginner.

I was scheduled to take a doll sculpting seminar this week with Jack Johnston, but he was forced to cancel because only one other person besides me had signed up! So I decided to take my scheduled time to sculpt anyway! I have been admiring the work of Susie McMahon  for some time. I love the way she uses a painted cloth over clay technique which gives her dolls and figurative sculptures the look of a 3-d painting! I want to try this!!! Using some of the refunded deposit from my Jack Johnston class, I ordered Susie McMahon's Pipkin kit from Etsy. I can't wait to make this little doll.

Susie McMahon's Pipkin
But I also wanted to try the technique on my own sculpt, so I started a paperclay head...and I worked on her for nearly 12 hours straight!!! I couldn't put it down. I love to sculpt!

I covered a styrofoam egg with paperclay


Eyes are a challenge!

I wiped out the eyes and lower lip.

It helps me shape the upper one the way I want.

Then I put in the lower lip.

Getting rid of some clay in the eye sockets.

Better, I think. I need a but more material inside of the browbones.

With a shoulderplate.

I am pleased overall...Still need to work on the eyes.

I tried drawing in the eyes temporarily, but something is not right. I am in love with her though, because I am in love with sculpting! I can't wait to try the "cloth over" method. I have to leave her to dry and get back to work on my bears. I have a few orders and TWO shows coming up fast!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Chasing the Perfect Bear

In a recent discussion on The Guild of Master Bear Crafters forum, several artists mentioned a drive to create the "perfect bear" as a motivating factor in their work. Many also mentioned that this drive can be discouraging as well. I think it is interesting to see how many people express the need to make the ever elusive "perfect bear". In the Guild and elsewhere, I have read this same sentiment from bear artists over and over. It seems almost universal. It is as if there is a “Perfect Bear” jogging along ahead on the path, pausing now and then, but always darting out of reach again when one gets close. What a frustrating little bugger he is! This is a little strange to me, because while I can understand looking at one's work with a critical eye to see what can be improved upon, I don't think I have ever expected perfection- I only expect to do my best.

I saw this nugget of wisdom on the website of one of our guild members, Kelly Dean. “Always be happy with your work; never be satisfied."

It resonated with me because it is exactly how I feel. Each bear, or doll, or drawing, or painting that I call finished, makes me happy. If not, I would say it was not finished. There are things which do not get finished because I can see by where they are headed they are not going to make me happy--the basket of failed kitten parts in my studio from my recent foray into feline design is a case in point! Happiness isn’t complacency—my work is not stagnant. Even though I am happy with it at the time, my work does grow and improve. I think my best work today is better than my best work a few years ago. I'm sure any one of us who has been doing this ten years or more can look back at something we did ten (or even five) years ago and see growth. And the more you do something, the pickier you become. I have one of the first dolls that I sculpted hidden at the back of a shelf in my studio. There is so much wrong with her, I cringe when I see her today. But I am also amused, because I recall positively blushing with pride when I brought her home from the workshop to show my husband!

Another example of this is the portrait painting class I have been taking. After doing three paintings of the models who sit for the class, I painted a portrait of my son. I was so very happy with it. I felt like I had really captured a likeness of Brendan at age 5. When my instructor was critiquing it at the end, she said, “It is a very good painting for where you are now.” And “This will not be your best painting.” My mom, who was taking the class with me, wondered if I might take offense at these comments. I didn’t. I knew exactly what she meant. If I keep painting, I will get better. However, the knowledge that better paintings were in my future did not diminish the happiness I felt for the best painting I had done so far.

Perhaps it is all a matter of semantics. It really is the same thing, I suppose. Some artists are chasing “Perfect Bear” and I am chasing “My Best” and both are leading us on a path to improve our work. There is a difference though. Perfect Bear keeps right on running with barely a backward glance, but My Best stops every now and then to offer a congratulatory hug before he takes off down the path again!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Friends of Teddy

The Friends of Teddy online show is still open and if you have not had a chance to stop by please do. I am pleased and grateful to report that eight of my creations found new homes. There is still so much to see! Zander is still available from my page and I wanted to share with you some of my favorite animals from other artists in the show! Be sure to check out Elena Donat's darling mini hedgehogs and other critters, Petelina Natalia's sweet faced chubby creations, the charming primative cats and bears from Sharie Reetz, and the delightful vintage-looking animal pull toys from Sue Jennings. If you love realistic animals, the work of Karen Lyons and Krista Griffiths is not to be missed. Really there are too many wonderful animals to mention so grab a cup of your favorite beverage and sit down to browse!

Tiny Little Floppy Zander

Friday, July 13, 2012

On with the Show!

The Friends of Teddy Online show at is now open! So now I can show you what I have been making... I hope you enjoy seeing them. They are available right now at the online show!



Tiny Little Floppies--Zeke, Zander and Ziggy

Scamper and Scooter

Penelope and Peter