Thursday, 3 March 2011

Scaling down, a personal challenge!

I am traditional girl at heart when it comes to making bears, with an unashamed penchant for crafting beautiful, big bears.  A big bear is always such a comfort, he has a sense of nostalgia, a proud bearing and of course, in my case, is a constant reflection of my childhood companion, 'Big Ted' ...

Paula with Big Ted 1964

Making big bears seems to have come naturally to me. I understand their proportions and how to bring to life their endearing expressions. Above all, I understand their appeal for collectors, simply because I share that same passion for these grand teddy bears.

Since my first attempts at bear-making, I have always made big bears.  In fact over the years, some of them have been enormous!  As you can see below, 'Miguel the Magnificent', created over ten years ago, made a significant statement at 32"!

'Miguel the Magnificent' with Paula

And in 1998, I was absolutely thrilled when my 32" bear 'Himself' won the 1998 'British Bear Artist' Award for big bears!

32" 'Himself'
Winner of the 'British Bear Artist Award for big bears in 1998

Much as I love them, I am aware there are considerations to be made when purchasing big bears - for example, space and cost!  These bears need considerable elbow room and their travel expenses can be pretty hefty. Having said that, I am certain the pleasure of adopting one, always outweighs the pain of affording and accommodating a big bear, in the long run.

And speaking of pain, these big guys can play havoc with a bearmaker's stuffing arm!  After months of suffering with a frozen shoulder as a result of working on my big bear designs, I have had to rest my arm as much as possible and am at long last free of pain ... and hoping to stay that way ...

After so many years of confident big bear design, you might now begin to understand what a challenge making a little bear would be for someone like me.  Yesterday, after many year's of avoidance, I decided to make eye contact with that challenge and began to design what for me, will be a positively tiny teddy bear ...

Working in such small scale posed new challenges ... turning little limbs and ears was very fiddly and finding mohair with suitable pile length was definitely outside my comfort zone - not to mention outside my stash of big bear fabrics!  Fortunately I found a scrap of sparse mohair with which to begin my new project ...

One of the benefits of working on a much smaller scale, was that my bear began to form far more quickly than a big 'un would have done!  Within a few hours, I had little stuffed arms and legs and was all ready to start work on my little bear's head!

I couldn't resist showing you a couple of size comparisons; the big foot on the right belongs to one of my 22" bears ...

And this footpad belongs to one of my 13" bears!  So, as you can see, my latest design will be very tiddly indeed by comparison!

Today I need to source teeny, tiny eyes and hardboard joints to finish this wee bear ... please pop back soon and I'll show how he/she progresses!


  1. My 'big bear' size used to be 14" and is now around 9". The when I did miniatures at 3"....well I know how you feel, its so weird. I did a miniature head not long ago and I felt as if my fingers and thumbs were not working right. I can't wait to see it.

  2. Oh Paula, you did make me chuckle at those feet pics. They sure do look small small are you going??? Good luck xx

  3. Good for you, Paula! What a great challenge. I love the big bears, but I think the biggest I've made thus far is about 15.5 inches tall. I'm hoping to go larger this year. The smallest? About 6 inches. Made me cross-eyed, LOL! Yours is looking good so far. Can't wait to see more! :o)

  4. Good change happen, I think different collector will draw to your bears, Paula, Big fellow is nice and huggable, but when space come with choosing who's next in collection, will make for space.

    Waiting to see new Paula's Bears.
    All the best.

  5. Good for you to try the new size but please don't leave the big teddy bears behind. There's nothing on earth like a big ted!

    Pat xx

  6. Good for you to try the new size but please don't leave the big teddy bears behind. There's nothing on earth like a big ted!

    Pat xx

  7. The challenge will be a positive thing Paula ... after fifteen years I have found designing and making the minis a refreshing change of pace.
    Warmest Hugs,
    Sandi @ Ess D'Ess Bears and Bearly Sane Studio

  8. Aww, love the scale comparisons, I'm sure he or she will be fab. I think I've maxed out at 22" until I 'acquire' some more A3 paper for sketching pattern pieces out!


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