The life and work of UK teddy bear artist Paula Carter.
Visit my website: www.allbearbypaula.com
Friday, 3 September 2021
Up close and personal!
TEDDY BEAR TIPS
I am often asked how I create my teddy bear noses...
A teddy bear's nose is very important. I believe it should be neatly stitched, expressive and perfectly shaped to suit teddy's character and facial proportions. Embroidering a traditional teddy bear nose is an art form, honed over years of practice and in my view, is one of the most important aspects of teddy bear making as it is the bearmaker's unique signature.
Sewing a good teddy bear nose can be tricky as it relies on so much more than simply needle and thread. To embroider a good teddy bear nose, the head pattern must first be carefully designed with a perfectly symmetrical muzzle. When the pattern is transferred to mohair for cutting, it is essential to ensure it is cut accurately, as the odd couple of millimetres here or there may prove disastrous when a nose is sewn. It is imperative that the muzzle is stitched into the head precisely, ensuring it is kept central, either by hand or machine. If muzzle and chin seam are slightly 'off' centre, it will become glaringly obvious when a nose is sewn ... and is if that isn't enough to terrify the most stalwart of makers, stuffing a teddy bear head unevenly, or not firmly enough, also has the potential to cause all manner of problems when the nose is sewn!
Before I tackle the nose, I prefer to fasten in eyes and trim the muzzle prior to settling into my chair, with a long slender needle and embroidery thread. I like to be relaxed and able to take my time for this job! I sit with my bear's head firmly gripped between my knees, at a right angle, ie., his chin pointing towards my knee. Then I take my first stitch, burying a tiny knot under the mohair backing with a firm tug and bringing my needle out in the centre of the muzzle. Taking care to maintain a firm and even tension and keeping the thread central, I take my first stitch down to the chin, just under the seam, then back up to the muzzle to stitch towards the right keeping my stitches equal in length, returning to the centre to stitch an equal number of stitches towards the left. Then I repeat the process to create a second layer with slightly longer stitches across the top of my embroidery (I am left-handed, so imagine right-handers may prefer to stitch from the centre to the left first; either way is fine). A little tip: if the muzzle is cut and sewn in correctly, it should be possible to use the tiny holes in the backing as a guide for your needle ... but woe betide you if the muzzle is slightly adrift!
To finish my teddy bear nose, I take long stitches across the top, bottom and along the sides of my nose, using a deliberate tension to create a slightly rounded shape. Using the remaining thread, I exit through the chin seam, stitch an inverted 'V' shaped mouth using glass topped pins to guide me and finally, make a couple of long stiches from the top of the mouth to the bottom of the nose, along the chin seam.
Teddy bear noses can be stitched in a variety of styles and shapes. I have become known over the years for my classic block noses, neatly embroidered in satin stitch, but have also created many waxed noses, striped noses, sparkly noses, festive noses and even careworn noses, deliberately distressed to give an impression of age. A teddy bear's nose is limited only by the imagination of his maker!