Skip to main content

Banner Sponsors

Johnna's Mohair Store - Specializing in hand dyed mohair and alpaca
Past Time Bears - Artist bears designed and handcrafted by Sue Ann Holcomb

Chico, California
Posts: 9,939

Shelli Retired Help Advisor, Banner Sponsor

Hi all.

I'm trying out some real fur bearmaking and find myself stumped and clueless and challenged in lot of areas... but a lot less so after reading Nancy Tillberg's TEDDY BEARS WITH A PAST, which is a fabulous resource book.

I'm totally committed to NOT contributing to the new/vanity fur trade and so will only be using pelts from vintage/heirloom garments and/or pelts from food animals (like rabbit) that would otherwise be discarded or forgotten.

Here's the rub, though...

Usually, when you grab a fur via auction or from a second hand or antique store, the fur type is unknown.

To that end, I've done my share of research.  We don't have a furrier nearby (of which I'm aware, anyway) so there's no direct consultation available to me. But I read Nancy's book about ten thousand times, and also, studied many photos on eBay and from furriers and fur resource URL's online.

I've also posted some photos of the furs I am trying to identify at Nancy's NORTH COUNTRY TEDDY BEARS website, where she hosts another bearmaking forum (can't ever have enough of those, right?) 

If you think you might have some real fur expertise, or are otherwise just plain curious, please check out my photos in her forum entitled, "Fur Teddy Techniques," which you can also find by clicking: … um.php?f=6


Just Us Bears Just Us Bears
Posts: 940

Albert.jpgHi Shelli,
I went and read all the posts on the NCTB fur link.....and lost an hour of my day there!!!
I just wanted to comment that the experience of having the nose perforate and begin to detatch when stitching a nose on a real fur bear is my experience too. This bear is Albert and he's made from rabbit fur. I lined the pelt with homespun 100% cotton, but when I came to stitch the nose over my template, it just started to detach. My pelt was in good condition. So in the end, I was scared I'd ruin the bear so I just glued a latger suede template over my botch marks and left it at that. It WAS only my third bear ever and also my first fur maybe what Nancy said about beginners having troubles is what my problems were...who knows. Anyway...if Nancy has made 2500 fur bears and never had this probelm...that tends to suggest that mine was an isolated one. I have some lovely coloured rabbit furs to make into that I have more bearmaking experience under my belt, maybe I should have another go. Does anyone know if Nancy's book is available in Australia?

kbonsall Kim-Bee Bears
Posts: 5,645

you can order it online at Borders or Amazon....

Judi Luxembears
Luxemburg, Wisconsin
Posts: 7,379

Super cute bear Hayley.  I personally like to do leather noses on real fur bears.  It just my  "thing".  I prefer the stitched noses on mohair.   Just a thought here,  maybe if you used a muslin backing with a higher thread count it will hold together better when stitching on real fur.  Looks like like you came up with a really great idea to fix your nose problem with your bear.

I do love real fur.

Whether you buy an old coat or a pelt, the source is still the same.  Pelts were used to originally make any coat.  Animals die to make a coat just as they did to create a tanned pelt.  I am afraid that either way the industry looks it will hold strong.  I  use both pelts and vintage fur.  I have made real fur bears for 6 years and pelts are much nicer fur on average.  They are cleaner and fresher.  However, I have also found some really nice coats too. It just depends what I "happen" across.

I have never been attacked by animals rights groups...hopefully I never will.  I guess everyone has to have a cause, but don't let them stop you.  You have rights too.  A vintage coat is only a step inbetween the animals pelt and a finished bear.

Chico, California
Posts: 9,939

Shelli Retired Help Advisor, Banner Sponsor

Good points, Judi, and I apologize if somehow you felt judged.  That certainly wasn't my intent.  Your bears are lovely, Judi, WHATEVER the source, and I don't pass any kind of judgement on you, or any other bearmaker, one bit, for using new pelts. 

I'm trying, instead, to be somewhat self-protective.  I have PETA in my family, too -- my niece Katy is a committed vegan -- and so my family environment encourages a certain sensitivity in this area.  I guess, too, that it seems easier on my conscience to rationalize using vintage garments and food animal pelts to make bears, when I can make the excuse that the animal whose pretty fur I'm handling died thirty years ago, or to feed a family of four -- and not because I placed an order for its hide.  With my kitty Emme's recent and unexpected death, the whole "dead animal" thing is just... upsetting to me.

Tolerance is a good thing, for all of us, in every area.  I hope bearmakers, collectors, retailers, and the general public can allow it to flourish in THIS niche of bearmaking as well!


Amanda Pandy Potter Bears
Staffordshire, UK
Posts: 1,864

Sometime in the future I would like to do a real fur bear. To be honest I don't have strong views on the 'fur debate'. I have seen articles in the paper about the rabbit fur trade that did make me feel uncomfortable. I think if I do decide to go ahead it will be with an old garment. I don't know enough about where the new fur comes from.
In time like Judi, I suppose you could source reputable fur supplies. We also have had local problems. A local group of activists 'grave robbed' the remains of a farmer's mother-in-law. The farmer was involved with animal breeding for labs. Very serious stuff.
Like Shelli says it all comes down to tolerance. We have to go with our own judgement and hope people generally except this.

Judi Luxembears
Luxemburg, Wisconsin
Posts: 7,379

AH, Shelli, I was not offended by your post at all.  It's just me putting in my two cents.  I certainly understand it can be a touchy subject.  I have  found that there are buyers who will ask if the fur came from a coat or a pelt but with YOUR amazing talent you will not put anyone off with whatever materials you use for your darling bears.  You are very kind to be concerned about others feelings.  I am soooo sorry about your kitty.  I dread that day our pets go to kitty and doggies heaven.

I think I tend to detach myself from the fact that fur comes from a once living thing.  Living on a dairy farm I have experienced  the amazing wonder of life watching calves being born, to crying at the loss of a cow or calf.  One had to be shot just yesterday and it still makes my heart ache every time something like that happens.

  I remember our top herd cow, Holtex, slipped on the ice a few years ago and split her pelvis "spread eagle".  She was in pain and I stayed by her side stroking her head.... I just cried for her.  I hate to see anyone suffer.  She had to be put down.  Life and death is just part of farming.

There was an article in our local newspaper recently with Miss Wisconsin holding a live mink at a mink ranch.  The text that accompanied the photo stated that she was holding one of the minks that was to be made into her coat! YIKES!  My hubby showed it to me and it really bothered me a lot.  yet, I make bears from mink...I don't know.  Our minds have ways of supressing unpleasantries.

Anyway, I am rambling here.
You make those gorgeous bears girls!!! Then show us pictures so we can all drool!

Board footer

Powered by FluxBB

Banner Sponsors

Shelli Makes - Teddy bears & other cheerful things by Shelli Quinn
No Monkey Biz - Domain name registration, hosting