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Michelle Helen Chaska, Minnesota
Posts: 2,895

Jodi: Thank you for posting how to make a light box and the equipment. I always wondered how people got beautiful pictures of their bears...

Marlys: Thank you for the idea about a mask. I will check it out.

I have another bear making tip:
1)  For miniatures, I use four or five sequins (they come in all sizes even really tiny ones) stacked together as discs and wire as the cotter pins. When using the wire, put a bead at the fold to keep it from slipping through the sequin hole.  Some bear artist use this technique and I found with the really tiny ones it works well. I only use this for the head and string joint the limbs.

2) For bigger bears, I have trouble sewing the gusset (nose area) on the machine. I hand stitch this up and through mid temple area. The rest I can sew by machine. I also hand stitch my paw pads. I could never get it right on the machine.

3) To trim a face, I section out the area to be cut. I use scotch tape to keep the longer fur from being cut. You know like when you are painting a room and you tape off the baseboards so you don't get paint on it. Well it works for bears so you have a clean line for cutting and trimming.

kim "a bear by kim"
merseyside
Posts: 2,401

I was taught to use upholstery thread to set eyes but just recently (took 7 years!) I tried sinew and WOW! It's so much easier to work with. Thanks to Laura's tip I just tried it on the neck tonight and it worked like a dream.

if you cant get your hands on that then dental floss does the job just as well. theres a cheapy cheap shop in my town that sells a big box of it for 79p, i think iv used two in the last year..... bargain!, never yet had a snap.
and iv heard its great for cleaning between teeth too!

karenaus Melbourne
Posts: 694
Website
sarahjane wrote:

Make sure you have enough mohair

BEFORE

you trace out your pattern!!!!  bear_shocked  bear_shocked  bear_laugh  bear_laugh  bear_laugh

great tip Sarah-Jane hehe......

  I love to airbrush my bears, once I started I just can't do one without it now!
    5 day auctions are for me- I can't stand waiting 7 days for my listings to end tho once I list at 5 I think thats too long too hehe- I worry that 3 days is too short.
    I second the lightbox, it makes a huge difference to your pics! I was lazy and bought one, with the lights, off Ebay, not as handy as you Jodi! bear_grin
   My one big tip would be- Thread Heaven! If you haven't tried this, you need to bear_original  You use it instead of wax for your handsewing, its a silicone based gel sort of stuff used mostly by  quilters it smooths the thread and stops it fraying so easily going through the rough mohair backing. I can't get by without it anymore so I have to have at least two lots of it in case I lose one hehe.
   Karen

Jodi Moisan Storytime Bears
Posts: 1,122

Karen, I have had all the stuff to air brush for about 5 yrs now but am completely intimidated by it all, did you just teach yourself or did you get a book? Or did you take an airbrushing class?
Hugs
Jodi

Marlys Waggle Bears
So Cal Desert
Posts: 4,089

Jodi:  Me, too, but I've only had my airbrush a couple of years...still intimidating though. I made a couple of really sorry efforts. I hope Judi's next scheduled class will help.

karenaus Melbourne
Posts: 694
Website
Jodi Moisan wrote:

Karen, I have had all the stuff to air brush for about 5 yrs now but am completely intimidated by it all, did you just teach yourself or did you get a book? Or did you take an airbrushing class?
Hugs
Jodi

Well I sorta cheated- in my 'other life' I actually learned how to airbrush (on cars and stuff- I actually used to be a painter, and not the artist sort hehe) so I had a bit of a headstart there bear_happy  but I was still scared when it came to airbrushing on mohair, after all that work on a face!
       I'd say play with your airbrush a bit on paper first, that will give you the feel for it a bit before you start on a bear... then maybe a cheap bear from the dollar store if you are still feeling nervous...
     I know Judi is way more expert but feel free to message me if I can help in any way!  I promise once you are over the first hump of scariness (if that makes sense haha) it's *so* much fun! bear_grin

kbonsall Kim-Bee Bears
Pennsylvania
Posts: 5,645

HMMM...

1) don't think starting out that your bears will be perfect, it takes time
2) bear making is a lot of trial and error (at least it was for me!)
3) I can't live without my curved needles for sewing on ears!
4) learn to take good pics - I am still learning this one!
5) If your bears don't sell at first, don't give up--- yep stilll learning this one too!

Judi Luxembears
Luxemburg, Wisconsin
Posts: 7,379

Gosh, I could sit here all day and read these tips.

Where do you get artificial sinew?  I'd like to give that a try.



My thoughts to add here would include:

Try new things.  Experiment and don't worry about ruining a bear or any other critter.  It's not the end of the world if it does not work out.  You might be very surprised at the results.  Don't compare your work to anyone elses.  Be yourself and trust your own judgement.  Enjoy the process.

Shading:  for me nothing beats airbrushing.  If you want to try airbrushing I suggest using a proper commercial airbrush and not the Copic System.  Copic is very limiting and you cannot control the flow for fine detail.  It also leaves a sticky residue.  Yuck.

Sewing:  Everything by hand...even big bears.  I love hand sewing.  It takes a little longer but then it gives me lots of time for thought and  for the peice to "speak to me"  with  finishing detail ideas.

Stuffing:  I like to use different types of stuffing for different final results.  I like a firm head and soft body.

My biggest tip( which is one I wish I could follow):
FINISH WHAT YOU START BEFORE MOVING ON TO THE NEXT PROJECT>  I drive myself CRAZY with bag after bag after bag of unfinished projects.  My excuse is that I have to be in the right mood to finish a bear.  I will often be in the middle of one bear when I think of somehting else, another project, and totally switch gears.  I am completely scatter brained in this way.

Tami E Tami Eveslage Original Teddy Bears
Milford Ohio
Posts: 2,367
Judi wrote:

My biggest tip( which is one I wish I could follow):
FINISH WHAT YOU START BEFORE MOVING ON TO THE NEXT PROJECT>  I drive myself CRAZY with bag after bag after bag of unfinished projects.  My excuse is that I have to be in the right mood to finish a bear.  I will often be in the middle of one bear when I think of somehting else, another project, and totally switch gears.  I am completely scatter brained in this way.

I can relate to this too!!!! But I was doing some reading on gifted children for one of my classes and that's called "divergent thinking" and this type of thinking is characteristic of highly creative people!!!  You are not scatter brained, you're gifted!!  bear_thumb

Tami E Tami Eveslage Original Teddy Bears
Milford Ohio
Posts: 2,367

My tip is one that has been stated, but I'm adding to it. Learn to take great photographs. If you sell your work at a show the collectors will come by and pick up your bear. They will hold him, pose him, and cuddle him (and hopefully fall in love with him bear_wub ). If you sell on the internet your pictures are the only way for collectors to interact with your bears. Have fun with them. Use multiple views and poses, including profiles and front views. Play with them. Your selling photographs don't need to be the same sort you would use for the contest (full body on a plain background) they are another chance to flash your creative side.
And if you don't sell your bears on the internet, great photos are a way you can "keep" your favorite bears that you have sold.

matilda Matilda Huggington-beare
WA
Posts: 5,551
Tami E wrote:
Judi wrote:

My biggest tip( which is one I wish I could follow):
FINISH WHAT YOU START BEFORE MOVING ON TO THE NEXT PROJECT>  I drive myself CRAZY with bag after bag after bag of unfinished projects.  My excuse is that I have to be in the right mood to finish a bear.  I will often be in the middle of one bear when I think of somehting else, another project, and totally switch gears.  I am completely scatter brained in this way.

I can relate to this too!!!! But I was doing some reading on gifted children for one of my classes and that's called "divergent thinking" and this type of thinking is characteristic of highly creative people!!!  You are not scatter brained, you're gifted!!  bear_thumb

This was going to be my tip as well but you both got there before me. Even Ellen got there before me.  bear_grin
I'm so pleased I'm gifted. I really thought that I was too easily distracted.
I am surprised Judi that you dont use artificial sinew. It maybe an australian thing. Because all those making bears in WA use the sinew. I use it for eye placement eye sculpting any other sculpting  and for the ladder stitch closures on larger critters. It can be bought from Gerry's. The Teddy Tree also stocks it. I have been making bears for maybe 7-8 years now and I am only on my second roll. It goes along long way. Since each strand can be split into three.
  I use gel pens to draw out my patterns on fabric. It is easily washed off if necessary.It also doesnt bleed with the fraycheck. I always use fray check.          There are many varieties of fray check so persever if you found one that you didnt like.
I do the pin and thread biso for my noses. I have made wee pockets out of felt and stitched them on and embroidered over them. But I like my Puddles the best because they dont need an embroidered nose. bear_grin
  I blanket stich my seams first before I back stitch. I find it easier to keep each stitch the same size. I use a bonded nylon thread for that. My one and only roll that I have used for practically every critter I have made has only used about half of the original roll.
  I personally like wool for my stuffing because I do alot of needle felting onto it.
ONE MORE TIP, if needing to trim for any reason, trim sparingly and only as much as is needed at that moment.
Because its a bugger if you change your mind. :doh:
I also do the same as Ellen with the spots I choose for my closures. I can remember when I first started making bears and a lot of the patterns had openings at the top of the limbs. Do you guys remember that? I thought it was so silly  I changed where the opening went. It just made more sense on the straight. OK I've said enough.......
Wendy bear_thumb

elle Ellifolks
Eastern Ma.
Posts: 494
Website

I use cotton stuffing that I bought from an uphosterer along with excelsior.  Even though the excelsior is messy, I love the "crunchy" feel it gives.  All the stuffings bother my nose, so I  wear a dust mask when using them.  I just got some stainless steel shot and used it sewn in a little muslin bag in the tummy.  I love the heft it gives to a little critter.

I work so slowly, I do as much as possible on the machine.  I take handwork with me when I am chauffering my daughter and have wait time.

I haven't used a felt template, but I draw the outline with a blue water soluble pen and go over it first with the pearl cotton.  Then I keep going from center to outside on both sides until I have something that looks sort-of nose-like.  I hate doing noses!  I'll have to try the template.  bear_grin

Tip:  I have needle grabbers - little rubber circles about 1 3/8" in diameter.  Edinburgh carries them.  (Maybe everyone already has these  bear_laugh ) When I have trouble pulling a needle through the mohair, I grab it with a needle grabber, and it pulls the needle through easily.  I like them better than pliers, because I tend to bend the needles with pliers.  bear_tongue

Jodi Moisan Storytime Bears
Posts: 1,122

I hate doing noses too, I admire anyone who can do noses well, Michelle Lambs noses amaze me, there is not one stitch out of place on her noses which boggles my mind.

Tami E Tami Eveslage Original Teddy Bears
Milford Ohio
Posts: 2,367

Jodi, your sculpted noses are perfect for your bears!!!

annalong MadebyAnna
Posts: 425

My tip may be a little strange...but it works for me and may for someone else..I like to make my nose and attach my eyes BEFORE closing my head..Then I don't have to deal with dimples. I sometimes close the head and leave the eye strings out by the cotter pin so I can pull tight and knot close to the bottom. One last good eye sinking...
Love all the tips from Jodi..especially about doing well and then not so well on auction sites...I find the roller coaster ride hard sometimes..and tend to take it personally. Thankfully I have a husband that never lets me give up..
Happy bear making
anna

Jodi Moisan Storytime Bears
Posts: 1,122

Tami you are so sweet, if you saw how many reject noses I go thru to get that one good nose you crack up, I've done more noses than a Hollywood plastic surgeon bear_grin  I just wish I got paid as much.  You know the up and down of ebay is the hardest , you have to get really thick skin in this business and not look at slumping sales as a reflection of your work. I have had a bear set at 70 and not hit reserve and the wait 8 months relist it and have it hit 700, for the exact same bear.  I have learned to not take myself too serious.  I always try to look at making bears as a hobby that sometimes I make money at, very few artists make a living off of it on a day in day out, year after year basis. 

I am loving all of these tips , there are so many good ones.

matilda Matilda Huggington-beare
WA
Posts: 5,551
Ellen Borggreve wrote:

I missed that part of Tami, was distracted again I guess....I am so glad that I can now call this bad trait of mine ''gifted''. Actually, my dad said the same thing that Tami said....I have to say I think being this ''gifted'' can be quite annoying :crackup:  bear_tongue  I keep running through the house and constantly get other ideas then the original one I was acting upon. At the end of the morning I find myself doing something entirely different from what I had planned and often wonder how in the world I ended up doing the thing I am doing at that time, when I was so well intended in the morning to finish up my projects...




Yes Wendy, EVEN I managed to get there before you.... bear_tongue Imagine that????
Ellen :hug:

Sorry Ellen, I didnt mean it to sound as bad as it is written.  :redface:  bear_grin  bear_grin
I had my hands full the other day while running up the passage. I saw something on the floor so thought I would step over it and pick it up on my way back. Well as I stepped I caught my foot behind the ankle and ...tripped...I turned around to see what it was that had tripped me and found it was a...........sunbeam..... bear_grin  :redface:
Wendy

Shelli SHELLI MAKES
Chico, California
Posts: 9,939
Website

Shelli Retired Help Advisor, Banner Sponsor

Jodi, this is an EXCELLENT thread and you've got my thanks for making it a part of the forum.  I borrowed your idea, giving you full credit, and narrowed it down to "Tips for Noses" in the Tips & Techniques area, so we could hopefully get the same great response on that topic, over there.  At some point we may move this thread to the Tips & Techniques section because it has so much great information and that's where, in the future, people will look for it.  Just FYI.

bear_flower

fredbear Fred-i-Bear
Johannesburg
Posts: 2,243
Website

Threads
Synthetic Sinew
Synthetic sinew. 8 oz. spool. Natural is approx. 1000', Black & White are approx. 800'. Very strong, makes a small tight knot. Can be split into thin fibers

This can be purchased from Sassy Bears, advertised here in Teddy talk,

Lynette

Jodi Moisan Storytime Bears
Posts: 1,122

Shelli, thanks , I should have started that thread over there, but I know this is bad, I mostly only visit the general thread area, I have no idea why that is, but I get so used to doing something I am terrible about changing,  I just seem to find a niche and don't venture out to new things. I have always said I am like a cat, I love things to stay the same.  I will venture over to the "how to make a good nose thread"  Wonderful topic because it is so important to a bears look but sooooo hard to get just right.
Hugs

Dorothy Miss Dorothy's TeddyFolk
Alpine Ca.
Posts: 85

Dental floss works well also, in place of the sinew and it comes in a neat little container!
Dorothy

SueAnn Past Time Bears
Double Oak, Texas
Posts: 20,098

SueAnn Help Advisor, Banner Sponsor

I can get artificial sinew at any of my craft haunts . . . Hobby Lobby, Wal Mart, Michael's, JoAnn's, etc.

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