Oliver, whom I showed you yesterday, was a big hit when he was finished. People really seemed to like his warm demeanour and his inviting smile. As with a lot of my other work, I was very fortunate to get commissions for more bears after I had developed a range of my own design. Again I was in the business of customising my creations for children and adults alike.
When I was making Oliver I had bought a tiny baby grow. I cut and chopped it to fit his body. I sewed a new hem and neck line and added the slogan with a felt patch I had embroidered. For this guy, I found a toy waistcoat and scarf pattern in one of my knitting books. I feel all these extra details can really help to build up a character for each individual bear.
I have found a strange but good thing when making these bears. Even a small adjustment in the weight of wool I am using or a new texture leads to each bear taking on a slightly different shape and size. They develop in their own way which strengthens their individual look.
I can add to these differences by where I position their ears, the thickness or thinness of their limbs and the buttons I choose for their eyes. Their expressions develop as I sew each stitch in place and before you know it you have a new bear before you.
When creating each new personality I try to think what I would like to infuse into his/her character. Sometimes I am trying to convey something I have learned and I have been moved to communicate it, like in the case of Oliver. With Theobold I wanted to show his boldness and I wanted to be bold myself by making something that was difficult and unsavoury in spirit. If I am making a toy for a child I think about playfulness, friendship and love. When I am making a bear for an adult I will think about comfort and a reconnection with innocence.
I have found by thinking about and concentrating on these things and also the person the piece is intended for, a kind of layman’s magic occurs. The expression of my intentions tends to appear on the bears face as I sew it and when people hold the bears and encounter them, they more often then not will declare the feelings I had been focusing on when making it. It is a wonderful process to behold and it says to me, you don’t always have to say how you are feeling, sometimes you can just show it.