erm if a panda can be Welsh that is!! Meet Berwyn, Braith and Bran, three bears who have been in my sketch book forever and are finally coming to life. Just as 2008 is to be the year of finishing books, and cross-stitches, it’s also the year in which I hope to bring some of my sketch book pieces to life.
I am not a one bear at a time person much to my detriment I think. I’m good at ideas and big pictures – I’m not good at finishing. Hence, I have a box of halfmade bears and am always working on several at a time. I so admire those people who can design a bear, cut it out, sew it and finish it then move on to the next one. I also doubt my abilities a lot so more often than not I won’t make a piece from my sketchbook because I’m worried it won’t be as good as it is in my imagination. Stupid I know and in 2008 I am trying to break those bad habits…so here are the first of my sketchbook ideas brought to life.
I’ve always wanted to make a set of bears – one black, one white and a panda – give them the same accessories and see how different/similar to each other they are. A couple of months ago, with much trepidation I cut into my one piece of vintage black long pile and a soft oyster long pile. I know that I’ll probably never be able to get more of these fabrics so they are like gold dust to me. I started the bears and then chickened out. An all black bear just seemed so hard! How could I use that much oyster for just one bear! So they languished in my sewing box for a while longer. Over the last week I’ve finished all three. I hope you enjoy!
Bran (from the Welsh for raven) was the first to be finished. I was so nervous about this fellow. How on earth will I sell a black bear from a photograph? He’ll be one black blob! Lots of blacks that I’ve used for pandas in the past have been more charcoal or blue black but this has such a wonderful depth of colour with a fairly matte finish. It was so difficult to work with – very prone to fraying and I remade a few pieces to make sure that Bran was a sturdy wee man. Because of his diminutive size (just 2 inches standing) I wasn’t quite sure how to do the whites under his eyes – and he needed those whites to help define his face. Ultrasuede and wool felt were too thick – in the end I used ordinary white cotton floss to stitch the whites and they turned out so well. I’m looking forward to using that technique again. I really like the way he appears to be peering up at me – in fact he’s been coming to work with me and sitting on my desk each day.
Braith (Welsh: diversely coloured) is a panda and as you know by now, Pandas are among my favourite bears to create. Braith has bigger feet than both Bran and Berwyn and I wanted to make him a little different to my regular pandas so decided to trim his chops right down. It’s not something I usually do with my minis – mainly becuase the fabrics don’t normally allow it but the oyster long pile I used is really dense, so it was fun to do something out of my comfort zone. I also gave Braith quite large eye patches (for me anyway!). Although his facial features are quite different to my regular style I still think he looks Honeythorpe-ish.
Bewyn (Welsh: fair-headed) was the last of the trio to be completed. My vintage oyster longpile is a carefully hoarded part of my fabric stash. I think the last piece I bought cost me near to $40 for a 9×9 inch square. Yikes! This particular piece is super dense and the base of the pile has a slightly richer creamy shade, which contrast nicely with the shiny tips when trimmed. Despite being made from the same pattern as Bran, he has a very different look. The cream fabric has a little more give than the black making him a little chubbier and taller. It’s lush denseness was a bit like working with a dense mohair on a bigger bear. It meant I could give him real chops! He has just a touch of shading to his eyes. Like the other two, he wears a frill from some vintage rayon ribbon. it coordinates perfectly with his nose and claws.
So all in all, I’m pretty happy with my experiment. it is interesting to see how every fabric is so individual. The black and oyster are the same grade of fabric, from the same manufacturer yet both act so differently. I’ve got a bear or two to finish and then I’ll be back to recreating some of my patterns from a few years ago. Now that shall be interesting….
UPDATE: Braith and Berwyn have found new homes