I like to think of stuffing as a noun, not an verb. Never stuff your bear! Filling and sculpting are the terms we should use for this action. Here are some tips for sculpting your next bear:
When filling the limbs, always start by working your way backwards from the end of the limb. Sounds obvious, but so many bear makers fill the limb in one attempt then try to shove the stuffing down with a stuffing stick.
Use forceps to gently fill the toes or hand before moving on to the ankles and wrists. Be sure to fill these sections well, as these are often left slightly softer where the limbs bend and become narrow. Always ensure these sections are well -filled before moving on to the next area, working your way towards the opening.
When filling the head, make sure you sculpt the shape. This is the foundation and forming of the pattern and its intended shape. Be sure to slide the curved forceps up the side of the cheeks along the fabric placing small sections of stuffing in the nose, then into the cheeks. Hold the bridge of the gusset flat so you do not encourage a balloon shape.
Work your way to the neck hole, making sure you have left room for the disc, bolt, etc., as you do not want to fill the head so much it’s a struggle to fit the joint in as well. Don’t overlook how important this one step is in making an appealing bear!
When filling the body cavity, you can place a small amount of steel shot or glass beads into a small sack to give the bear weight. Try using the tip of a pantyhose sock and tie it off, cutting away the excess, and then place the sack into the bottom of the belly. Place stuffing all around the bag and fill the body cavity evenly.
Australian bear artist Helen Gleeson runs Bare Cub Designs, where she offers her own creations as well as patterns and bear-making tutorials. She also runs the website Easy Artspace, which aims to help artists start their own businesses. E-mail your questions and topic suggestions for this blog to her at [email protected].
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