Vintage Mink Bears by Kathy Myers

Vintage Mink Bears by Kathy Myers
Click on banner to visit my Gallery Website

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

OUCH !!! I hurt my sewing finger ... over a month ago.

Oh yeah, it took me a month after I hurt my finger to go to the doctor to get it xrayed (no broken bones) but she does think that I messed up the tendons in that finger ... now I need to see a hand specialist.
Why didn't I go to the doctor sooner you may ask ... well, I won't repeat myself since I mentioned it in the post prior to this one (my WIP post)... but I had a good reason...pretty much the entire month of March was really awful for my family.

This is my hand right after leaving the doctor's office where they put my finger in a splint.
I quickly found out that your pointer finger is pretty important for doing everyday things ... your thumb is probably the only finger that is more important. So the splint comes off and on throughout the day.

After over a month of not working on my bears I gave it a try ...

trying to hand-sew with a hurt pointer finger is definitely not easy.

My bear-making was already slowing down because my hands were hurting more ...
sewing with this bad finger is really really difficult,
but these poor little bears have been sitting on my table for over a month without heads.
They need their heads so I am very slowly trying to get back to work.   

Update ... 

one month later
May 8, 2017
I tried to finish the teddies last month but my finger was just too painful. So the teddies are still unfinished. But the good news is that I finally saw a hand specialist and he looked at my x-rays and did not see any obvious damage that might require surgery. Hooray!!! but he did suggest that I get therapy for my hand. He also said that with therapy my finger should be back to normal in about a month. Even better news is that the pain is almost gone when I use my finger ... I still can't bend it completely but I'm working on that ...

I bought this awesome ball that was intended as a stress ball but it is also a great exercise ball for my hand. I love the little face on it!

So this week I am going to try to go back to working on my teddies (again). I have a feeling that I may get those poor little teddies finished ... soon ... finally!

Oh, I forgot to mention some bad news that the doctor gave me: in my x-rays he verified that I'm starting to get arthritis in my fingers. Which means that I will probably be working even slower that I have been (I usually stop sewing when my fingers start to ache)... but I'll still be making teddies for as long as I can. I will probably put a limit on how many Custom Orders I accept each year because I have a backlog of orders now and I have not been able to design or make anything new for the past year. I need to get back to making my one-of-a-kind creations.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Work In Progress ... Custom Order 11

For Connie

Connie sent me her mother's mink stole and requested a "Mother-Daughter" set, if possible.
Typically I can find two teddies "hiding" in a typical mink stole but I knew that this one would be a tight squeeze because this stole was smaller than typical, the mink strips were narrow, and the pelts were not in the best condition.  
When I was taking the stole apart the pelts started to shred ... but fortunately the shredding was along the stitching. So I just cut the pelt strips along all of the stitching and when I needed a larger piece I just sewed pelts together again ... hoping that they would be stronger since I line all of my pattern pieces with cotton material.

Since this is mink is fragile in many areas I will have to hand sew most, if not all, of both teddies because I can't risk making a mistake with my sewing machine because once the needle pierces the pelt it is just like cutting it with a knife (leather is NOT self healing).

Hopefully this fabric lining on each pattern piece will give the teddy enough strength that it will not shred when I have the teddies all sewn up and start to stuff them. Yes, that has happened to me before with pelts that have been in similar borderline conditions ... so fingers crossed!

These two teddies will take a bit longer to complete because of the extensive hand-work required.

Please note: Connie had requested that I add some extra personalized embroidered words on the foot pads ... sorry, I don't do that any longer on my Custom Bears because it is too time consuming and my hands are always sore (no surprise after almost 30 years of hand-sewing mink teddies).

UPDATE: posted April 5, 2017
Oh My Gosh!!! What happened to March ? I did little to no sewing. The photos below was work that I accomplished by the first week of March and after that, nothing. Why? Well, it was a month of Doctors visits (not for me but for the rest of my family, my daughter, my mother, and my husband ... and my son-in-law). I took a look a my March calendar notes and here is the final count: Doctor's visits: 18, Urgent Care visits: 2, late night Emergency Room visits: 3. My husband, who rarely gets sick, was the sickest one. He even missed 2 weeks of work. He is still not well but he has gone back to work and sometime soon he will be able to schedule the minor operation that he needs.

At this point I only needed to finish making the teddy heads, which is the most important part, so I never work on the heads when I am exhausted or stressed ... of course I was both for the entire month of March ... therefore, no bears were created.

Oh, by the way, I also injured my finger early March ... one of my sewing fingers! But I was too busy with my family to take myself to the doctor. Looking back a my calendar for the month of March: 18 doctor visits, 3 Urgent Care visits, 3 middle of the night Emergency Room visits to the hospital. Of course, none of these were for me ... my role was as caregiver and driver to my husband, daughter, and mother. Which left me no time to take myself to the doctor when I hurt my finger.

Of course, I thought that in time that the swelling would go away. Well, a month later my finger was still swollen and I was unable to bend it. My daughter made a doctor's appointment for me ...

Update April 7, 2017:
A finger splint! This is how I left after my doctor's visit. I apparently did more damage than I thought because she is referring me to a hand specialist. How long did the splint stay on once I got home? not long because I can't do anything with that on my finger ... not even typing (which I am doing now). I do have my finger wrapped but I only wear the splint when I do not have to use my hand to work.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Custom Order #10 completed ...

for Brenda

Please CLICK HERE to see the photos and details for this custom teddy

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Custom Order #10

Work in Progress

This is Custom Order #10 from my Work Schedule
For Brenda ...
Requested one teddy using Pattern #2 using her light brown mink stole.

I have the body finished !

I am often asked how many teddies I can make from a typical mink stole. Brenda's order is a good example because she sent me a typical mink stole ... the answer is two teddies. I am making my almost 12 inch teddy and because I only needed to make one teddy I used a bit more mink than I usually do because I was able to choose from the best parts of the pelts (with the longest and fluffiest fur). This is what remains of Brenda's mink stole after cutting out her teddy.

UPDATE: Monday Feb. 6, 2017

Brenda's Teddy is finished ... just needs a little final detailing before its photo shoot. It is raining today and it is suppose to rain tomorrow too. (I use natural light in my photos). Which brings me to Wednesday. Fingers crossed that we will be enjoying our typical SoCal sunshine on Wednesday so I can do my Teddy Bear photo shoot.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Custom Order #9

For Dawn ... three teddies:

To see all of the photos of this Custom Order

To see my Work In Progress photos as I was creating this order 
please take a look at my post preceding this one ... 

Monday, November 21, 2016

Work In Progress ... Custom Order

 I am currently working on Custom Order #9 for Dawn

Dawn sent me a really beautiful black mink stole and requested 3 teddy bears.

Beautiful fur!

I love the reddish brown undercoat!
This will be more obvious when I trim the teddy's muzzle ... they should be amazing teddies!

Dawn included a brown mink collar but there is no place where I can use it with the black teddies.

Look at the wonderful sheen of the fur.

This is what the inside of the pelts look like after I removed the lining.

I could tell that there was not enough pelt for me to "find" 3 of my 11 inch teddies
so I cut out patterns for my 9 inch teddies
and ....

I had JUST enough pelt for 3 9inch teddies ... with not much reserve for error ... so I need to keep my fingers crossed that I don't need to recut pattern pieces.

Well now it is time to start cutting ....

Update: November 25

Pattern pieces cut out for 3 teddy bears

I counted 96 pattern pieces!

Now I have to trim away the outside edges of EACH piece before I can start sewing ...
this will take awhile ....

Update: Dec 13, 2016

I've been busy sewing and sewing ... and sewing ... all by hand because these are my 9 inch teddies with a 1/8 inch seam allowance. 

I really prefer to sew my animals by hand because I have more control with the tiny details. Of course after all these years of hand sewing my hands have suffered but I still persist on torturing my hands for the sake of my mink creatures. I will occasionally use my machine for a few of the larger pattern pieces but my sewing machine and I are not very compatible. 

This little mountain of sewn together pattern pieces will eventually become three adorable mink teddy bears!

Next steps: 
  • turning pattern pieces
  • making and inserting wire armatures
  • jointing
  • stuffing and closing
  • and my favorite part: scissor sculpting and finishing the head

Dec. 27 update :
The three teddy bodies are ready and waiting for their heads.

I used the Pattern #2 (that can sit puppy-style).

I always try to use the stole lining for the paw pads ... this stole had very decorative lining.

I'm finally getting to my favorite part ... working on the heads ....

Update: Dec. 30, 2016 .....
(I'm determined to finish these teddies before the end of the year ... at least I'm going to give it a good try).
Yes !!!!! I knew this mink would make beautiful heads! This is the first one and I still have to do the detailing on the head but look how wonderful the face is with the undercoat of the mink being a lovely reddish brown. I love it!!!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

In need of a new home ...

I was just contacted by one of my long-time collectors, Alyssa.
Unfortunately due to medical bills she has to re-home some of her collection.

I can verify that this mink bunny and mink teddy bear are my creations:

This is a photo that Allysa sent me so it isn't very clear so if you are interested you will have to contact her for more photos and information.

Due to my busy Custom Order Schedule (and busy family life) I have not had any time to do what I love best ... design new creations to offer to my collectors ... so this may be a good opportunity for anyone waiting to adopt one of my mink creations.

Please note that I had plans to "retire" this bunny pattern and design a new one ... so far, I have still had collectors convince me to make just "one more" for them so I'm not sure that this pattern will ever be completely retired but I'm not planning on making more of this pattern bunny anytime soon.

Please DO NOT contact me if you are interested in either the bunny or the bear.
You need to contact Alyssa: