Thursday, 23 February 2012

The Magic of Bear Making

I think it must be difficult for non-bearmakers to understand the fascination of bearmaking.  After all, a bear is usually made from similar components - head, arms, body, and legs.  For me, a large part of the appeal is that I never know what my bear will look like when it's made.  Today, I created two bear heads from the same pattern.  One is made from a gorgeous, curly ivory white Schulte mohair, the other from Schulte alpaca in a lovely rich brown.  I took a sequence of photos of the heads as they progressed.  In my opinion, although the processes used were identical and I worked on them together, the look of the bears is completely different.  Each develops its own personality and appearance. I don't think I will ever tire of the pleasure and surprise at how the bears turn out!

The heads start out as two rather shapeless blobs.  I always feel that this stage requires faith!  When I started bearmaking, some heads never got beyond this point, because I thought they would never turn into anything resembling a bear.  Now I know it's important to keep the faith, and the bears usually turn out OK.

 I have done some basic trimming and have attempted to straighten the mohair in the muzzle area.  It is very difficult to trim when it is very curly.  I wet the mohair and then dry it with a hairdryer and brushing as I dry.  I have positioned pins where the eyes will go.
I have replaced the pins with eyes.

I have positioned and sewn on the ears.
Next, needlefelted around the eyes, then moulded the noses freehand using epoxy clay and have attached them.
So, same pattern, same treatments but completely different look!  The mohair has a firmer backing that the alpaca, so I believe the apparent difference in head shape is caused by the alpaca having more 'give' in it.  The alpaca is extremely dense.  The mohait is very dense as well, but it's curl, when straightened around the muzzle area, narrows the appearance of the muzzle.
They just need bodies now!


  1. I agree with you wholeheartedly, Sue! The best part of making bears is finishing the face and it really is amazing how the same pattern will look so completely different depending on the fur you use, eye placement, nose, etc! I wouldn't have had any idea you used the same pattern on both of these heads if you didn't mention it ;O) Happy Bear Making! Hugs, Janice

  2. Yes, you're quite right, always so different, which is partly what fills me with dread when someone asks for one like 'X' o.O

    Now get to those bodies ;o)

  3. It is nice to show new bear makers the difference a choice of fabric can make.