Saturday, 18 September 2010

Random Crafting Urges

I know the answer, with almost certainty as most creative people are alike.

But does anyone else suffer from Random crafting urges?

The bears have taken a little backseat right now and I have been working on a massive super complex cross stitch right now - I find them theraputic in an almost mindless way. look at the chart, do a few stitches, change colour, off you go. Nothing I like better than to 'watch' a movie or a show whilst stitching away.

I have stitched for a fair few years now, easily over 10 although I am very prone to starting something and not finishing it through sheer boredom - or another random crafting urge hitting me square in the face. This whole thing not helped by the fact I like super complex cross stitch - cos it just looks so much cooler when it's done.

This is what I'm working on right now. Simple huh? I've done about 1/6 in a couple of months. I do love Tigers.
I might put up progress reports so you can watch it grow. My living room is all creams and browns so it should look lovely when done.

Anyway! I was stitching along most days (in between bears) quite happily. Then one day I read a trade magazine at work.

For those of you who don't know, I work in a Jewellers. Not a fancy bespoke designer one I admit, it's a High Street Jewellers. Not the best know but we have around 126 branches in England and Wales.

No-one else reads those magazines I don't think, but I love to keep up with what is cool in the jewellery world.

I came across a lovely bracelet, which consisted of a half persian chain used as a charm bracelet. It was seriously nice.

Now half persian is a Chainmail pattern. For a while now, people have been making jewellery using jump rings in Chainmaill patterns. You will hear it referred to as Chain Maille when used in this manner.

I stumbled across it really when I found a kit one day. I have done a couple of patterns, Byzantine and Kings Helm.It is really simple and straight forward once you have learned the pattern of the rings; and working with jewellery I am very used to opening and closing jump rings. Fiddly but you get a really cool effect when it's done.

So I have decided I need to learn half persian to make a bracelet just like the one I saw. As stunning as it was, I have't got £375 when I can spend £4 on some rings instead!

Rings arrived this morning much to my Fiances amusement. He sees me with a package and says, what have you got? and just gave me a real funny look when I said a pile of jump

So yet again, my crafting as been derailed by a random urge/inspiration.

Still, Never a Dull Moment, is it??

Monday, 6 September 2010

Food for Thought: Teddy Bear Natural History.

A very good friend of mine shared an artist website that she came across which I find  fascinating -

Stephanie makes a statement about our desire to shape our world using the Teddy Bear as an example. The resulting needlefelted pieces look as if they are indeed copying something real - she also does more biological work.

I would share this with the Teddy Community at large on TT; But I get the feeling that it may provoke strong reactions in some people.

A little statement about our constant need to mess with the world around us.

Hope you enjoy,

Love Julia xxx

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Summer Swap Bear

Here's my Bear for the Teddy Talk Summer Bear Swap.
He was sent ages ago, but my partner has been very ill and had to have a knee operation, so everything has been a little delayed. She has just let me know that he has arrived so I will now share him with you. 

I went for a little puppy in colours that remind me of summer, and ice-cream for some reason. I went a bit mad on the insets. He has white inset muzzle, paws, toes and the tips of the back of his ears. I like to think of him as a rather pretty scruffy street dog. 

It reminds me of just how far my skills have progressed in such a little time - and my noses are getting better with every bear.

Clare loves him, so that is what matters most.

So a little piece of summer for you all - even if it feels like summer is now well and truly over. 


Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Boot Camp Bear

Here he is! 
I am very happy with the way he turned out. He's a very 'proper' looking traditional bear - don't you think? 

I love that mohair, it's just a same it was second hand on eBay so I have no way of reliably getting any more although there may be a small, rather hairy bear left in the remnants (or maybe a Panda!)

The best waxed nose I have done too, although it's not perfect, but that's how you know it's handmade - right?

I'm going to write a note for inside the box as well explaining what he is made of etc.

I am off to visit Baby Alice later so he can go meet her then. Hopefully it is something that she will treasure always. I know I have a soft toy made for me by my Godmother who is still with me (and in a very sorry state I have to say as he has always slept in my bed up til last year, and I'm 28 now) 

Hope you enjoy looking at him - it's nice to made a more 'traditional' bear sometimes.

Love to all, 
Julia xxx

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Poor Bear!

Well my bear now has nicely stuffed and jointed limbs but his poor head is nowhere near his body!

I do like to do my heads first, and then joint and stuff the body. Leaving the poor bear doing his impression of the headless horseman.......

Still. Won't be long now! Part 3 of the classes has opened up. I am considering taking poor bear on a day trip back to my parent's house next week as I know my mum has a massive pile of decorator's chalks in her craft cupboard.....hehehehehe. New shading technique here we come!

Once finished mr. bear will be a gift for my best friend who is expecting her first baby soon. Hope she likes him!

Friday, 13 August 2010

Coming along nicely....

My boot camp bear is getting there!

I was determined to machine sew this time, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it - I love hand sewing so much that I just gave in.

All pieces are sewn and ready to stuff.

My only problem is that I bought some lovely mohair second hand and it smells a bit old - if you know what I mean? I didn't want to treat it with anything. Does anyone know what is safe to use to get the 'old' out of it?

Love to all.... Julia

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Meet Bill and Ted....

As Promised, Here are Bill and Ted. 

Ted is the darker of the two and is sulking on the shelf. Bill in the curious looking one on the floor. 

It's not easy to get them in the same picture at the same time.

This was taken when they first came home and were in Quarrentine - They have now moved upstairs and they have chunked out a bit - Bill is a right chunky lad now.

Ebony is basically a 'wrap around' colour, so they lack the white bellies found in most. Breeders try to breed the darkest that they can, with an all over 'every hair' shiny black being the aim colour wise. Ted is nearly there, he just has some lighter freckles.

The problem with the darker Chins is that the fur is not so good quality. Ted's fur is longish and does not stick up as much as Bill's. For this reason, Bill would be considered the better 'quality' of the two even though he is not nearly as dark as Ted (he looks darker in the fur than he does in photos).

Ebony is believed to be a cumulative gene, that is as the generations go on, the offspring are generally darker. 

This leaves breeders with a big problem.

If you breed two every hair black chinchillas together (or sometimes it is referred to as 'Homo Ebony' i.e. homozygous for the ebony gene). You will get very dark offspring, which is certaintly the more desired colour but the fur quality will usually suffer.

So the way most breeders will do it is to use top notch lighter animals and breed over many generations to try to get a good quality 'Homo' Ebony. It's a wasteful game, with a lot of animals being born that can't be used to breed if they are not darker (and they can't be bred with other colours if you are breeding for white bellies as it will cause a 'muddy' belly) and pet owners not wanting anything other than the darkest ones...

I would love to breed, but it's far too complicated.

I was never a fan of the colour in general, it got a bad name - and I admit, I'm as guilty as the next person of wanting a dark one (hence Ted) but I have to say, I have a big soft spot for Bill.

I hope my ramblings on Ebony Chinchillas haven't bored you too much.... I could talk Chinchillas all day happily. They are such BIG personalities in such tiny bodies. My Fiance often accuses them of winding him up on purpose...

You know what?

I actually believe they probably do......

It's a shame that they need such specialist care really, but I would be the first person to discourage ownership unless you are a 110% committed. 

On the bear front, I won the mohair - Just got to wait for the post. I think I may try mostly machine stitching for once as 100% hand sewing means it takes me ages to make a bear! 

Monday, 2 August 2010

I'm Back!

Back to my blog, and back to school!!

First of all, many apologies. This year has been a rollercoaster and a half!!

I lost my beloved little man in February, I bought my first home, I rehomed two more furries and then my Fiance was forced out of his job.

Things have been more up and down than a Yo Yo!!

First the bad. Things at my Fiance's work went wrong; there was an investigation. He was the only one honest enough to admit he had made a mistake, by taking the advice of someone more senior in a matter of security and it backfired. Basically, everyone sat back and let him take the wrap for it all - Even though others were, IMO more to blame and not doing their jobs.

He was forced to resign to stop a hearing go ahead that would have stayed on his permanent record. No matter what the outcome (although he had a strong defence) it would not have allowed him to safely walk out of his job and into another had it gone ahead.

As it is, He has been offered another - which we hope will not fall through but it leaves us in a bad place finacially. Our mortgage cover will not kick in as he had to resign therefore his unemployment is 'his fault'. Luckily we have a bit put by, but not a lot. We are currently living off cheap beans, noodles and worse of all, cheap meat (urgh!! Won't make that mistake again, I'd rather go veggie than eat the mince we bought again). Hahaha that almost read Mice...I'm not unconvinced that mouse would taste better tbh.

We are without his half of the money until the end of september, and when he does work, it will be further away, for less money. But at least it will be a job.

On the up side.....

I do have two more special little men in my life. A lovely pair of young Ebony Chinchillas, They are around 16 months old each and although they aren't related to each other they have been together since they were weaned and are devoted to each other.

They were bred by a friend of mine, who for personal reasons has had to rehome quite a few of her Chinchillas. I contacted her to see if she had any babies due and she told me about this special pair of boys. We renamed them Bill and

Bill is the nosiest Chin I have ever met, ever. He will follow you around and just *has* to know what is going on. He's a friendly little soul. His Mum died when he was a few hours old, so he was hand raised a little and rushed miles away to be fostered by another Chin. To say all that, he's a proper Big bum Chin - just the way they should be.

Ted is a sweet heart. He's a little more shy but will happily be held with no protest (once you have caught him!). He's got a corkscrew tail like a pig and had bald patches on it when he came to live here. They have grown back, I am happy to report. He was the only survivor of a triplet litter and is a little battered on the way.

They like to tease Lucky through the bars who remains a proper Mummy's boy. They both eat like horses though and are very good with people - most are shocked by how friendly and laid back they are - Just goes to show you how important a good breeder is in their upbringing. They were never supposed to live with anyone else, she was so attached. I am honoured. I was even more honoured when she offered me her all time favourite and most special boy - but we felt that it would be unfair to the Chin in question and the mardy Mr. Lucky, who would have to had shared. He's not a 'sharing' kind of guy.... lol.

I will post pictures when I have time.

I haven't had much time for bear making. I made a swop bear that went to australia - but I have yet to hear if he made it or not. I made another couple and started another.

That's all on hold though, I have signed up for Basic Boot Camp at EBearz University.

For anyone interested in bear making, it's a Free course run by a top Bear Artist. Sign up and join the fun!! -

I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that I win a nice piece of Mohair I'm bidding on, On Ebay! 

I will try to be good and get back into the swing of things - Now I remember why I never managed to successfully keep a diary. 

Love to you all xxx

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

In Chaos!

Hi all,

I know I've gone a bit quiet of late, but there's a good reason.

Not only did I loose my Baby back in february, But I also had put an offer on a house.

As I result, I have just bought my own home! exciting stuff! of course it means the bear making is all on hold just now as there is just so much to sort out and do! Due to buying a repossession, it has been both fast and very hard work. The house itself is in good condition with not much work required to live in it but the water people and the electric people are refusing to connect us on the basis that we may be the previous occupants. So we have to supply a legal letter, stating that we are not these people before we can turn anything on. As a result, I have a house, I can't live in right now.

We have pretty much nothing so we are relying on family to buy us major appliances and furnature. Again, until we are straight, everything is up in the air. The end is in sight, but man is it exhausting...I just want to hide under my duvet and ignore it a while. I would, if I had a

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Sad News


October 2006- February 2010

It is with a heavy heart that I announce that my special little man was put to sleep yesterday.

After a long fight, since being diagnosed with an untreatable condition in May 2009, He contiued to loose weight, despite being on a large amount of pain killers.

He was loving, happy and bouncy right up until I said goodbye to him last night, he wasn't suffering and I felt it only fair to him that he deserved to die with dignity, not waste away.

Once of my first Chinchillas, He joins his 'brother' Leroy up on the Rainbow bridge, where I have no doubt he is causing mischief and stuffing his face - now it no longer hurts to eat.

One of the sweetest Chins I have ever known, he loved cuddles and kisses and would make friends with anybody. A big beefy boy, who suprised everyone he met with the size of him.

His friend Lucky will miss his taunting and someone to 'chat' too.

Miss You Always Little Man

Everyone who met you fell in love, will miss our kisses and cuddles.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Bentley - All Done!

Here he is - Now doesn't he look better?
Much for fitting for a bear of his style.

This was my first attempt at Airbrushing, using the COPIC system - I didn't have too much choice of colours, as I only have a brown and a black, so brown 'Walnut' it was.

I may have slightly overdone it on  his face, but all in all, for my first try I think he turned out quite nicely. I don't think I have the heart to sandpaper him.

It's been fun! TTFN,
Julia xxx

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Aging Bentley - Stage 1

Here is Bentley in his 'completed' form -

Please excuse the poor light, I finished him late yesterday afternoon and all the light had gone.
As you can see, we have a very new looking old bear.

Here are the results of the first stage of his distressing -

He's starting to look better!

To achieve this, I used some tweezers to pluck out bald patches along the seams. I also thought carefully about what might have happened to Bentley; in what ways he may have been cuddled and kissed.

He has bald patches on the end of his nose, and the middle of his forehead from being kissed.

I like to cuddle bears over my shoulder, so he has been aged to reflect this, bald under his arms, tops of his legs, middle of tummy and the tips of his toes. The fur has been thinned out across his back to reflect how he may have been held.

I'm happy with how it's gone so far. He needs to be dirtied up now as he's far too clean.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Aging a Bear

Hi all,

For Chiristmas my Mum bought me a bear kit from Dempsey Designs "Bentley Bear". He's an old time Barbara Ann bear.

It's been really interesting making a more traditional style bear - although I have decided that 'humps' are definitley not for me, even if it does make him more 'old man' like and is typical of the style. I found the plastic joints easy to use - But I like my joints as tight as I can get them (to this end I am considering moving on to nut and bolt joints rather than cotter pins.

All in all, he has been a great experiment for me to try a VERY traditional bear - and I know that designing such things is not what I like.

Any how, I have decided that Bentley Bear looks far too clean and far too new for such an old style bear; to this end I am going to distress the poor guy. I like traditional bears that look a bit battered so I think that is what poor Bentley is going to experience.

I've read up on techniques a little; so all that remains is to sew on his ears and start aging him! I have aged up prop weapons before quite succesfully but those techniques will not work here. I will try and take some photos as I go - Maybe you can all see Bentley Bear changed into an 'Old' bear.

All excited.......!!!

Monday, 11 January 2010

First bear of 2010!

Hi everyone, I hope 2010 is treating you well.

The weather in the Uk is appaling just now, I have never know either so much snow, or it to last so long! The temperature here hasn't gone much above freezing in a week; the roads are almost solid ice. They were better but it snowed again last night; coating everything in the white fluffy stuff.

It's nice to walk in, play in and feel a bit different.

It's bad to drive in and try to get to work. ick. At least the staff car parks are sheltered at work so no scraping before I can go home!

My first bear of 2010 is now ready for her new home.She likes looking at all the pretty snow....

"Is it Snowing yet?"

"It's so Pretty!"

"Hello! Are you cold?"

"I'm just relaxing - How about you?"

This pretty bear is a rather Girly commission with a sweet face and a double jointed neck. I'm sure her new mum will give her a lovely home.

Now I have a compulsion to maybe design a little anime bear. Hmmmmm......

Friday, 1 January 2010

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to you all; wishing you a prosperous 2010! xxx