I'm not a teddy bear maker, but I need related advice and this forum looks like the best place in the world to ask.
I have previously designed wax seals in the shape of my children's hands and feet (see images).
The idea is that they look like a hand or footprint in mud when you make the seal.
(I do offer them for sale, but this isn't advertising; I haven't given a link)
I think they work well, so I wanted to make more. I just finished designing a dog's paw-print, but my wife thinks it's not cute enough. I work from ink prints from an actual animal, and viewing of various real reference images of paws and prints - which produces something on the realistic end of the spectrum. So in an attempt to make it up I proposed making a teddy-bear paw for the cute style.
But the thing is, it turns out that they vary quite a bit. Real bears have five toe-pads, that seems clear.
But searching the internet reveals that teddys have anywhere between three to five pads, in a variety of configurations.
Generally, the finger pads are very round (sometimes vertical oval). The palm print may be horizontal oval, or bean-shaped (either way up), or heart-shaped like a rounded triangle.
So what I'm looking for is advice on which is 'best'. Either most common or traditional, or cutest, or other parameters I haven't considered - please say what is most important. I'm hoping for a number of replies to get an idea of the general feeling on the matter, so please do comment (or PM) even if just to say you agree with someone above.
Thanks very much for your advice.
My daughter's foot
My son's hand
handprint seal in action
I agree with Sue Ann. With teddy bears, the most traditional look is no toes at all - just oval pads. That leaves realistic-looking bear feet, or the many “cartoony” variations in between realistic and plain ovals. But there is really no standard look for those cartoony variations, so only realistic bear paws would be recognizable, in my opinion.
Cute idea. I especially like the little human feet you made.
Thank you both for your responses.
They've given me quite a bit to think about. For one thing, I hadn't really fully considered that real bears front and back paws are different. Also, there seems to be some variation - I see it's noted that the round front heel impression often doesn't show, and at least one representation has a much rounder back heel.
This is an issue because I have been making double-ended designs, with a left and right side stamp. If we wanted front and back paws (on both sides) we'd either need two different stamps or all four together in some arrangement (possibly a bit awkward).
Since the plan was to make a teddy-bear print maker, I don't think fully realistic is the way to go.
On the other hand, I don't think a plain oval pad is the way to go either - the prints the made just wouldn't be very recognisable.
I think I will just make the front paws, in a fairly rounded, cartoony style. I'm a bit concerned that people may generally prefer three or four fingerpad designs, though, given their apparent popularity. I suppose I could make those as well; a range of three is probably manageable, and it would be interesting to see if any are preferred.
I designed it, and had it printed. Here are a couple of pictures.
I would greatly appreciate your comments - positive or negative, because if it's really just not right I can change it and try again.
I did go with five toes, and kept a slight asymmetry, so I labelled them left and right for ease of use if doing a pair, or making a track.
The pads are a compromise between realistic bear (from reference images above and online) and rounded teddy-style.
In particular the base is wider than it is long, and has a scalloped edge following the toe pads. I worry that it should be oval, but that needs a much more stylised 'cute' pad design to look right.
I'm sorry the photos arn't great. I took them on a very sunny day and these were the best of many attempts. All the pictures of a print alone just looked plain wierd. I'll need better at some point.
It definitely looks promising! Brings the parade of prints you might see leading through the woods on Teddy Bear Picnic day to mind!
The only thing I personally may have tried out, and you may have done this yourself, is make an attempt with the hint of claws, maybe simple little tiny ovals st the toes. But that may push it entirely outside the teddy category and push it back into cartoony realistic.. but I personally think your paws look pretty nifty!
Thank you both.
I couldn't leave the idea of adding claws alone. The way I make stuff is a bit fiddly, and I was also worried that they wouldn't look good in the wax.
(The delay since last time is actually pretty much as fast as I'm likely to turn something around.)
I put them on like they were real claws, again using reference images I found online. I really like this one of a ranger holding up a sedated bear's paw: http://www.laboiteverte.fr/la-taille-dune-patte-dours/.
The claws are not quite at the minimum permitted dimensions for printing, but as thin as I trust to work reliably. And with rounded ends, for a less threatening look as much as print quality.
They printed nicely, and I think they work okay - particularly in a thin layer of wax.
In thicker layers I guess it does what you'd expect for deep mud - I don't like that effect so much, but it doesn't stick out as stupid and wrong like I worried it might.The wax bulges up quite nicely.
What do you think?
A print in a shallow (normal) layer of gold wax.
A deeper layer of metallic red-brown wax.
I like how the wax squishes out around the paw.
Thanks very much everyone.
I get them printed using Shapeways www.shapeways.com. You can upload models you've made and they do the tricky stuff using very expensive machines and technical craft.
If you're good at 3D modelling then you can just make the model using a separate CAD program like Sketchup, Tinkercad, Blender or FreeCAD.
That's not what I do, though.
Shapeways have released a system called ShapeJS https://shapejs.shapeways.com/ide which lets you specify your design using code. I like this and it has lots of potential, although ShapeWays are really dragging their feet on that.
So to design something, in general you work out what primitive shapes (spheres, cuboids, cylinders etc) to combine - you transform these and merge them together to get the part. I use this to generate the body of the seal, but this would be impractical for the actual stamp.
If you have a 2D image, ShapeJS can render it in 3D. I'm actually using an earlier version of ShapeJS for these designs, because it copes with that a bit better.
Most of the work in these stamps is getting the bitmap for the stamping face right. This has to represent the contours of the print in greyscale, not just the outline. I have worked out an convoluted pathway to do this, which involves drawing a vector design in Inkscape for the 'top' and 'bottom' layers, interpolating between them, saving as a bitmap and finally changing the gamma in IrfanView. The last step is pretty arcane, but it makes a big difference to the design.
To make the hand and foot seals I got my children to help - we took lots of prints on paper at different pressures, then I could use these as references to get the contours right. That was really hard, but I think it gave good results.
Obviously for the teddy-bear paw I just had to draw it out and retry until it looked right.
I hope that is clear. But I know I'm not always comprehensible, so if not please do ask.