Thomas - new mohair Bear in Etsy Shop

Thomas I have added Thomas, a new mohair bear, to my Etsy shop.  Please check him out.

Thomas

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Thomas is a reddish-brown bear made of sparce, distressed German mohair and has  glass eyes with wool felt bordering.  He has a primitive, vintage style and  is hand dyed and hand shaded.  He is wearing a vintage rayon ribbon scarf fastened with a vintage vegetable ivory underwear button.  He is 8 ″ tall.  You can see his Etsy page here.

Thomas

Using the Digital Camera as a Design Tool

Most of my art is designed at least to some degree as I work on it.  When I am working on a teddy or other artwork, I frequently come to a place in the making, where I am stuck on a design decision.  I may have several options I am considering, but am having trouble picking the right one.  I try adding the different options temporarily and going back and forth looking to see which I like best, but it is hard for me to tell this way. Recently I started taking digital snapshots of my various design options.  This way I can quickly go from one to another and view them in the camera.  This also puts an extra step in the viewing (like looking at your work in a mirror) so your view is less biased and more distanced.  I have found this so helpful.  If I am really still stuck, I can upload them to my computer and view them at the same time in a photo-editing program.

Here are some snapshots I used when designing the face of a mohair rabbit and the accessories for a bear.

rabbit line mouth

rabbit upside-down v mouth

When I was making this rabbit, I couldn't decide what type of mouth to make, even after trying out one then the other using pins to hold the mouth in place.  Finally I took a digital snapshot of both variations and by comparing the photos was able to choose the upside-down V mouth.

isabel bell

isabel enamel ingle bell

isabel flower

isabel button collar

Here is Isabel before her accessories were added.  I tried two types of bells and a flower with a tarnished copper chain, and then a fabric collar with a large vintage pearl button.  I took digital photos of each variation and was intrigued to see that they all (except the flower variation) seemed to give her a boyish quality.  I had already decided that Isabel was a female bear.  My final solution came from a combination of ideas from the flower pendant and the button collar as you can see here.

isabel

New Bears in Etsy Shop

I have added some new bears and a bunny to my Etsy shop if you would like to check them out. Pete is a peach bear made of German mohair and has hand-painted glass eyes.  He is hand dyed.  He is 8 1/2" tall.  You can see his Etsy page here.

Pete

Petra is a dark turquoise bear made of German mohair and also has hand-painted glass eyes.  She is hand dyed and is 7 1/2"tall.  You can see her Etsy page here. (Petra has been sold.)

Petra side view

Petra

Maxie is a pale beige bunny made of German mohair.  He is hand shaded and is holding a vintage millinery carrot.  He is wearing a lace scarf.  He is 8" tall including his ears.  You can see his Etsy page here.

Maxie front view

Maxie

The last two bears I showed before, and have now placed them in my Etsy shop.

Isabel is an orange bear made of German mohair.  She is hand dyed.  She is wearing a French trim headband and a handmade vintage lace collar with a vintage pearl button.  She is 7 3/4" tall.  You can see her Etsy page here.

Isabel

Isabel side view

Ruthie Ann is a miniature red and dull purple panda made of German mohair.  She is hand dyed.  She is wearing a vintage lace skirt, a necklace of vintage glass beads, and a cotton floss bow on her head.  She is 2 1/2" tall.  You can see her Etsy page here.  (Ruthie Ann has been sold.)

Ruthie Ann

Ruthie Ann and Madison

Madison (a Dal doll) holding Ruthie Ann in her lap

On One Shelf - Some of My Teddy Collection

For the Studio Shots - Tuesday this week, I am showing some of my bear collection that lives on a shelf of my computer desk. computer desk

Here is my computer desk with the teddys on the top shelf.  At the top of the shelf unit, I have five bears, an elephant, and a dog.  The two animals on the right are a bear and a dog I made as samples for classes I taught.  The others are artist bears and an artist elephant from my small bear collection.  I bought them at bear shows before my now teenage daughter was born.

alpaca bear, polar bear, old fashioned humpback bear

Here they are from left to right:

elephant, artic bear

This is a mohair elephant by Steve Van Houten.  He has hand painted details and feels wonderful to hold.

The second bear is "Artic Bear", a mohair bear by Clare and Matt Herz.  I love his pointy snout.

alpaca bear, polar bear, old fashioned bear

The smallest bear is hand-dyed llama by Grandma Lynn (Lynn Lumly).  She has clay flowers on her chest, hat, and purse.  She also has an embroidered rose on one foot.

The white polar bear is Clara, a limited edition by Linda Spiegel-Lohre of Bearly There Company.  She is wearing a ruffled felt collar.

Irma is an "old-fashioned type humpback bear" by Louise of Bear Witness.  She is made from an old coat lining and has shoe button eyes.

samples for classes - crochet bear and sock dog

The last two critters are the ones I made as class samples.  The crocheted bear was made as a sample for the Creative Crochet class I taught at our homeschool co-op.  In the class, the girls learned how to do basic and fancy stitches, do shaping, and create three-dimensional shapes.  Suzy has a blue dress that is incorporated into her body.  The top of the dress is part of her actual body, and the skirt and sleeves are crocheted to come away from the body.

Riina is a sock-dog that was made as a sample for the Renegade Sewing class that I also taught at our homeschool co-op.  She was based on a design from a Japanese Craft book about sewing animals from gloves and socks.  You can read more about her here.

Studio Shots - Tuesday, As Is

The topic for this week's Studio Shots - Tuesday is As Is or No Tidying Allowed. I am getting ready for a teddy bear show in July.  I decided to do a mock-up of the table display, so I will have an idea of what it will look like at the show.

Here is one of my work tables set up with the great hatboxes I found at Home Goods.  As I finish pieces, I add them to the display so I can get a preview of the finished table display.  I have found this so useful, although it does take up a lot of work space.  It lets me know how full the table looks and gives me an idea of how many finished pieces should be on the final display.   I have grayed the photo out some so you can focus on the design and placement of the table display rather than the individual pieces (some are still in progress - can you tell which is still missing its arms?)  I see a lot of pink-peach-orange- red on the left side and beige on the right.  I'll have to play with moving around the pieces to get a better balance of colors.  Messy cutting table is in background.  I will also add a sign with my business name, business cards, a few magazines with articles that include my work, and a book for guests to sign.

I do a lot of my hand work, including hand sewing, shading, stuffing, and jointing using a tv tray table next to the couch to hold supplies.  I find I enjoy working while being curled up on the couch.  This does mean I am always finding pins, teddy bear joint disks, glass eyes, and other small supplies between the couch cushions.  Here are some tools and materials currently on the little tv tray table.

Here are jointing disks in a few sizes, washers, and cotter pins - all jointing supplies, a bag of vintage buttons for possible use on accessories, thread, faux sinew (tall gold spool) for attaching glass eyes, some shading tools, a bag of cut teddy pieces, a lone glass eye, and some vintage lace trim.

teddy joint parts, vintage buttons, etc.

Here is a closer look at the vintage lace trim with pink elephant tail poking out from behind.

lace trim

Spools of thread found in various places in the studios - gathered in one place until I have a chance to put them back in their tub containers which are organized by color and type and are on my sewing table.  In the background are vintage millinery flowers, silk ribbon, new Shiva Paint Sticks for shading, and my Holga camera.

thread spools

Some New Bears

I finished three new bears. All were hand-dyed .

Thibaut

Thibaut is a dusty purple mohair bear. He has a traditional, vintage feel with shaded and distressed fur and a collar of rusty jingle bells.

Thibaut

Isabel is a deep orange mohair and is wearing a handmade lace collar and a flowered head band.

Isabel

 Isabel side view

Here is Ruthie Ann, a miniature mohair panda (2 3/4").  She is hand-dyed and shaded.   Ruthie Ann is wearing a lace skirt and has a cotton floss bow by her ear.  I sewed  Ruthie Ann by hand while we were on vacation.

Ruthie Ann

ruthie Ann

Kat with Duk - New Mohair Kitty in my Etsy Shop

Kat holding Duk

Here is my new mohair kitty, Kat with Duk.  Kat is 7 1/2" tall and has a 4" needle-felted wool companion Duk, a runner duck.  Kat is made of distressed German mohair and has glass eyes that I hand-painted.   She has armatures in her arms and tail, and can stand on her own by balancing with her tail.   Her arms can bend to hold Duk.

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Kat's companion, Duk, has onyx bead eyes and hand shading. He is wearing a green silk neck ribbon.

Kat with Duk is available in my Etsy shop.

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Stuffed - New Stampington & Co. Magazine

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Stuffed magazine published by Stampington and Co., pieces on front cover by Susan Mitchel (Sweet Pea of It's a Whimsical Life)

 

I just bought an issue of the new Stuffed magazine published by Stampington & Co. The publisher also publishes a variety of beautiful magazines such as Somerset Studio, Artful Blogging, Art Doll Quarterly, and Somerset Life.   Stuffed, like the other Stampington & Co. publications, is full of yummy eye-candy and lots of inspiration.

Stuffed includes articles by several talented artists including Pamela Overmeier of Kingfisher Farm, Q. D. Patooties,  and Susan Mitchel, Sweet Pea of It's a Whimsical Life.  In the articles, artists talk about their work and share their techniques.   Patterns are interspersed throughout the magazine.  There is also a fascinating article about www.theneedle.org, a group blog maintained by softie artists.

I first found the magazine mentioned on Sweet Pea's blog, It's a Whimsical Life.   In her January 17 post, she talks a little about the magazine.  Two of her pieces grace the cover of the magazine.    She has a shop on Etsy where she sells prints of her illustrations (as she is also a talented freelance children's book illustrator) and her softies.   Sweet Pea  is a very talented artist who makes endearing children's book illustrations and who also makes adorable, huggable softies.  Please check out her charming blog, too.

Kool-Aid Dyeing - A Simple Mohair Dyeing Tutorial

 
Mohair samples before and after dyeing

Mohair samples before and after dyeing

Supplies:

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  1. Mohair - fabric rectangle, cut pattern pieces, or cut and sewn pattern pieces
  2. Kool-Aid
  3. microwave
  4. White vinegar
  5. Water
  6. Casserole or microwave-safe bowl
  7. Wooden spoon
  8. Rubber gloves
  9. Plastic Wrap
  10. Paper towls
  11. Plastic drop cloth - optional

Please note - any containers and utensils used with dyes, even Kool-Aid should not be used for food. Fabrics or yarns may also have chemicals that shouldn't be ingested.

Directions:

Here are the steps I take to do the dyeing for smallish bears, 10" tall and less.

1. Lay plastic wrap on counter. I also cover floor with plastic drop cloth to protect it from dye.

2. Prepare the mohair:

A. Piece of uncut mohair large enough for all pattern pieces - You can dye enough yardage for your project by laying out the pattern pieces on the mohair, then cutting out a shape that is big enough to incorporate all the pieces.

B. Cut out mohair pattern pieces - You can cut out the individual pieces for the pattern and dye them.

C. Sewn but unstuffed mohair pattern pieces - You can cut out and sew - but don't stuff before dyeing! - the individual pieces for the pattern and then dye them. This will give the seams a little extra darkness which can be nice.

2. Fill a large microwave-safe bowl with hot water. I use a casserole.

3. Put the mohair fabric or cut pattern pieces into the water. Stir with a spoon, and let the mohair sit a few minutes to absorb the water.

4. Take the mohair out of the water and set aside.

5. Open and pour out 1 to 2 pagkages of Kool-Aid into the water-filled bowl. Stir to distribute dye evenly. I am using one package here because I am only dyeing a few small pieces.

6. Add 2 tbs. to 1/4 c. white vinegar. I used 2 tbs. here because I don't have a lot of water. Stir.

7. Put the mohair back into the bowl and stir again.

8. Cover casserole with plastic wrap, leaving a small opening to release any steam. Put bowl into microwave and microwave for 2 minutes.

Here is mohair in Koolaid dye bath after dyeing:

9. Take out a piece and check the color.   Note - I'm wearing rubber gloves for this.

Wool felt dyed in Kool-Aid:

10. If you want a darker color, repeat the cooking for another 2 minutes. Then check mohair again. I repeat this until I get the desired color. Remember, the mohair will dry a little lighter than it looks wet. Some colors are stronger than others, so the first time you dye with a color, it is good to be conservative with the time, checking often so the color doesn't get too dark.

11. When mohair is desired color, remove it from bowl and rinse until water is clear. I then wash gently by hand with dish soap or Woolite.

Washing mohair after dyeing:

12. Cover plastic wrap with paper towels and lay mohair on top to dry.

Photo below shows:   mohair drying on paper towel - The sewn pieces are a deeper shade because they were beige before dyeing. I also microwaved them twice. The cut pieces were white before dyeing.

I found that the wool felt I used took longer than the mohair to absorb the water well, and also took longer to reach the desired shade.

You do not have to start with a white or cream colored mohair. Medium shades will look beautiful over-dyed, too. You can add more than one color of Kool-Aid into the same dye water in order to expand the range of possible colors. You can also dye a color, then overdye with a different color.

Have fun experimenting!

Flurrie, Needlefelted Pink Poodle

 

Here is Flurrie, a needlefelted pink poodle.  She is made of wool fiber.  I blended two colors together for a pretty heathery pink shade.  She is 2 3/4" tall and 2 2/2" long.  Her eyes are onyx.  She has a collar of vintage glass beads with a sterling silver leash with a felt handle and glass bead embellishment. 

She is also just the right size to be a pet for a Blythe or similar sized doll and looks cute "walking on the leash" with a doll friend.

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Flurrie is now available in my Etsy shop.

from Violet Pie - Look What Came in the Mail!

 

I ordered two little critters from the talented Violet Pie and was so excited to find them in the mail box a few days ago. 

The first one is a small, white mohair rabbit with needlefelted legs and tail. 

The second one is a  blue needle-felted elephant with orange ears.  His head and legs are jointed. 

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They are both amazing -- sweet, whimsical, and beautifully crafted.  I am so happy with them.  Violet Pie is as nice as she is talented.  Please check out more of Violet Pie's wonderful work in her Etsy shop , Violet Pie - A Little Shop of Things, and on her blog, Violet Pie.

W.I.P. - Some Needlefelting

 

I've been working on some needlefelted companions for my critters.  This one is a runner duck.  I first saw them a few years ago at a 4-H Fair and loved their unusual shape.  I felted the wool roving until it was pretty hard.  The legs have a copper wire through them that I pushed up into the body.  He's not quite finished -- he will have glass eyes, and I want to bring the white down onto the legs a bit for a more natural join.

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 This one is a dog I'm working on.  He's from one of my doodle drawings that I used to make an eraser carving.  He has a wire armature and will have glass eyes and hand coloring added.   The back leg armature already has the floral tape wrapped around it so the felting will cling to it better than the bare wire.  When he's done, I'll show the dog along with his eraser-carved print.

Website Up - Using Dreamweaver and Illustrator

I finally got my website, ellifolks.com, up and working.  It's here, if you would like to take a look.  I designed the site in Dreamweaver.  The graphics were made in Adobe Illustrator, and then were saved "for web and devices" as gifs.  Graphics can be added to Dreamweaver from inside the root site folder there.  I think Dreamweaver has a pretty steep learning curve, and am just starting to get the feel for it.  The lynda.com videos were very helpful, as was the book Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 Hands-On Training by Garrick Chow taken from the lynda.com Dreamweaver CS3 videos.

A blobby shape is refined by redrawing pencil lines in Adobe Illustrator. The first drawing shows the original drawing in Illustrator. The second drawing shows a revised version after redrawing the left side. The third drawing is the revised version after redrawing the right side. The fourth drawing has a face and ears added to the final revised face shape. Here I have "edit selected paths" checked and "within _ pixels" set to 12. You can play around with the settings to see the different effects you can get.

When drawing in Illustrator, I usually use the pencil.  I like that you can adjust lines that are selected by redrawing them.  The old line is then automatically replaced with the new one.  This is a lot faster than erasing and redrawing with a pencil and paper.  It only works for new lines or lines selected with the arrow tool that are within the distance you have set in the pencil tool preferences.  (Double click on pencil tool or hit "enter" on keyboard when pencil tool is active to bring up the pencil tool preferences.)  You can also manually select any line, and the pencil tool can then redraw it.

Sylvie with Dolly in my Etsy Shop

 
Sylvie and Dolly artist bear with companion
Sylvie and Dolly artist bear with companion
Sylvie and Dolly artist bear with companion

Sylvie and Dolly artist bear with companion

I have listed Sylvie with Dolly in my Etsy shop.  She is made of a sparse champagne beige German mohair that I hand shaded.  I made her silk hand-dyed ribbon flower with vintage stamens which she wears over one ear. She is 7 1/2''.

Sylvie and Dolly artist bear with companion

Sylvie and Dolly artist bear with companion

I designed and sewed her dress and undies. 

I needlefelted Dolly out of cream wool. She has red and blue wool details for her face and shoes and red wool hair. She is 1 3/4'' and wears a cotton lace dress with tiny glass bead accents.

I hope you can come visit!