Vintage Mink Bears by Kathy Myers

Vintage Mink Bears by Kathy Myers
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Tuesday, October 15, 2019

WIP Custom Order #19

for Mary Jo

This custom order is for 3 teddies. This is a long shawl and it looks like I should be able to find three teddies hiding in it. One from Pattern 1(mother bear), the next from Pattern 2 (mother bear) and the third from Pattern 1 but this last teddy will have to be my smaller version (daughter bear).

It was requested that there be an initial from the shawl on each teddy foot pad and I will see if they fit.

I will be updating this post with my Work In Progress photos of this three teddy order ... so please check back to see as the teddies are being created.

My first step is to finish taking the shawl apart.
Next, I will make my cotton pattern lining for each teddy.
Then, I will lay out and attach the lining to the pelt ... it is at the end of this step when I will know for sure if I have enough pelt for two mother teddies and one daughter teddy.

Right now,  the only thing I know for sure is that I will have absolutely no room for error. I will have to double and triple check my teddy layout before I start cutting out the mink teddy pieces.

********************UPDATE ... OCT 22, 2019********************

cut out pattern & lining

prepare mink pelts

attach lining pattern pieces

at this point I've cut out the two larger bears
and I'm hoping that there is enough pelt for the smaller bear

I cut out the small bear pattern & lining

Hooray!!! there was enough pelt for the smaller teddy.

Now I have all three teddies cut out.

The next steps are: 
(1) to cut out the seam lining on each pattern piece
(2) to clip the pattern pieces together
(3) to sew the pieces together ... mostly by hand but thanks to arthritis in my fingers I'm going to try sewing also by machine
(4) to clean up the seam lines
(5) to turn each pattern piece

Nov. 6 update
halfway through step 3 (sewing) ...
this is the most time consuming and tedious part
due to the large amount of hand sewing that is required

Dec 8 update

turned and stuffed

jointing together

first teddy with head attached

😟😟😟  Sorry, I was delayed again from my bear-making because my poor sister had to go in for surgery. So I spent a couple of days at the hospital with her. Happy to say that her surgeries were a success but she will be recovering for at least 2 months so I will be helping her when needed. 

In the meantime, I can get back to these teddies who are near completion: they need to have their bodies stuffed and sewn up, their ears sewn on, and the hand-painting on their muzzles. I used a different  heavier embroidery thread on their noses so I will not be waxing their noses. Last I will see if I can get the initials to fit on their paw pads.

😫😫😫😫😫😫😫😫 Update: Jan. 21, 2020 😫😫😫😫😫😫😫
Obviously I did NOT finish these teddies before Christmas ... or before New Years. What can I say? It was the Holidays and I just didn't find any time to work on the teddies. I had high hopes at the beginning of the year that I would be able to get back into my teddy routine. But then my dog suddenly got sick and even with several tests they could not find a reason. After a week or so of medications he was better. But I still wanted to know why he suddenly had tummy troubles so I did some research and I'm convinced that he accidently ate some toxic plants (that I had no idea were toxic if eaten). So I spent the next few days changing my garden (thankfully I have all my plants in containers). All of my toxic plants are now out of reach of my pets.

At this point I expected my problems were out of the way. Nope. Now it was the cat's turn to go to the vet. She has kidney stones. Smooth sailing yet? Not a chance ... now a cold virus is knocking off the members of my family. Not all together but one by one. As soon as one person starts feeling better another gets sick. Last week it was my turn. 

As luck would have it just as I was starting to feel better the plumbing in our old house decides to become a major problem. AAAUGH!!!!! Well, we are currently in the middle of a major plumbing overhaul with old pipes going out and new pipes coming in. I won't mention the expense because its all too depressing.

Believe it or not, I did get some work done on these teddies, despite the chaos. I need to take some photos but they are finished except for the final detail painting and seeing if I can put the initials on the paw pads. Wish me luck.

This is a quick photo of the bears, all completed except for their final detailing. That is our little 3-legged Marnie who thinks that she always needs to be the center of attention. She saw me putting the bears on the chair and just had to join them.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Custom Order #18

Well, this Custom Order took a long long long time to complete due to my home renovations ... I am still not finished with my house "To Do" list; nevertheless, I am trying to get back to working on my teddies. Of course, trying to find the time to get back to my Bear Making Routine is harder than I ever expected. I am also trying to find the time to get back to my First Love of drawing, painting, and sculpting but there just isn't enough time in the day.

To see more photos of these teddies

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

NEVER leave your dog in a hot car !!! I just watched 2 dogs die...

I was on my way home from the art supply store and had no plans on stopping by my favorite thrift store (to look for things I could use on my hummingbird water fountain) but I thought I would make it a fast stop. It's a small store so I was only in there a few minutes but just as I was leaving a frantic woman came rushing into the store screaming that she had left her dog locked in her car while she was  shopping and she could not get into her car. I just happened to be parked next to her so I ran to her car window to see a pit bull obviously dead from the heat. I don't know where her keys were but she picked up a huge rock and started throwing it at her window to try to break it ... it wouldn't break. I went to my glove box in my car and found the "window breaker" that my daughter had given me at least 15 years ago ...

to my surprise, one hit with this little thing and her window shattered! The woman came and pulled her dog out of the car (right onto the broken glass ... it had been dead so long that it's legs were already stiff). I'm screaming at her not to pull her dog into the broken glass. Next thing I know she is going into the back seat of the car and pulled out another dog (I had only seen one dog so I was surprised to see a second pit bull). She pulled it across the pavement and tossed it onto the grass (poor dog hit it's head on the big rock that she had tried to break the window with ... so I'm screaming at her to stop). Then she runs back towards the thrift store and I'm trying to give the dog chest compressions because I can see that it is not dead yet. So the woman comes back with a garden hose and starts spraying the dog with water ... I'm screaming at her again to stop because I was afraid that the dog would go into shock. She did stop, so I had her do the chest compressions and talk to the dog. The police arrived (3 or 4 cars), a police officer took over the chest compressions and another woman came to help him but the dog died. Animal control arrived. And the paramedics arrived, the woman was a complete wreck by now and needed medical attention.

I was there for about 2 hours since I was the main witness, I broke her window, and tried to revive the dog. I had to give my information to several officers. The woman told the police that she was only in the Thrift Store for 20 minutes and she swears that she left the air conditioner on in the car for the dog (all the windows were up and the car was locked). She was blaming the dogs by saying that they must have turned it off somehow. The store volunteers that were outside watching told me that she was in store about 2 hours (yes, they told the officers the truth about the time). The animal control officer told me that they could do testing on the animals to see the temperature that they died from and then they would be able to charge her with a crime depending on what they found.

Two beautiful dogs lost their lives in a horrible painful way ... for no reason.


Thursday, August 29, 2019

I have a studio!!! I'm finally getting back to work ...

Well, after my last post ... way back in May ... I found that I was much too optimistic about finding the time, space, and supplies to work on my mink teddies. It has taken me this long to finish building my storage cabinets, unload and sort through my supplies (bear making supplies, drawing and painting supplies, sculpting supplies, airbrush supplies, silk painting supplies, wood burning supplies ... and other various arts and crafts supplies). Then I had to organize a space for each and label their location. Of course, after filling all of my storage spaces I then had to decorate the doors. Yes, my studio is full but it is organized.

I had maybe 3 or 4 times as much before the reorganization. I made multiple trips to make donations. And I filled 11 trash bags ... yes, eleven ... full of scraps of mink that I had been holding onto for the past 30 years. Even with getting rid of all that I still have a closet full of mink stoles and coats for future teddies.

The arthritis in my fingers has been bothering me from the stress of building and moving things. So I decided to get back into teddy making gradually by finishing some mohair teddies that I found in my old storage boxes (working with mohair is so much easier than mink pelts).

I also need to figure out a new place to do my photo shoots ... this is my first attempt at a new location indoors with two lights set up:

 These are the mohair teddies that I have completed recently. They range in size from two inches to eight inches. The two light colored teddies in the middle are my designs and the others were unfinished bears from teddy bear conventions ... I would sign up for classes taught by other artists but I would spend most of my class time socializing instead of bear making. That resulted in a box full of unfinished teddies but I always had a good time because it was something to do until the showroom opened and I had to go to work selling my teddies.

One wall of my studio

The opposite wass of my studio

My desk with the same two custom teddies from my last post still waiting to be finished.

I share my studio space with my cat, Gypsy.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

My unplanned hiatus from teddy bear making...

Fortunately, unlike my previous unplanned breaks from making my teddy bears (those were for illnesses or injuries), this hiatus was due to ... if you are a homeowner you will understand when I say "home renovation". I had no idea that it would be a total disruption to our normal routines and a major decluttering of our house. Well, if it was "just" a house it would have been easier but it is also my studio/work area.

Needless to say home renovations are exhausting. After a day of decluttering, making many trips to my favorite Thrift stores to make donations, cleaning, painting, repairing, and reorganizing I typically fall asleep as soon as I sit down. We had some minor construction done to our house so our decluttering was on a deadline, so I had to stop working on my bears and start moving furniture and lots of clutter away from our walls before the professionals arrived. Since we live in sunny Southern California I brilliantly moved half of the contents of my workroom in the backyard ... so, of course, we are getting rained on ... rain!!! we used to be in a drought. Anyway, I could go on and on but I finally found the supplies I need to finish the detailing on these two teddies. I actually got them to this point over a month ago and they have been patiently waiting to be completed ever since. My sincere apologies to their future owner for the very long delay.

To be  perfectly honest, all of this home renovation has become so stressful that I am really looking forward to carving out some time to work on my teddies because I find it calming and relaxing.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Custom Order #18 ... Work In Progress

For Cathy

I have two mink garments to work from. While they are both brown the jacket is just a little lighter shade of brown. The original request was for two teddies but the pattern choice was left up to me ... of course, if you leave it up to me I will make one of each. So I need to verify with Cathy if she has a preference on the pattern and if she wants me to use both minks or just one. If I use just one I prefer to use the stole because the pelt is solid which is gives a smoother look to the teddies. 

I'm starting on the fabric pattern while I wait for Cathy's reply ....

I got a quick reply from Cathy and she decided that she would like two teddies from Pattern #2 and if possible to use the stole for both.


I cut up the stole 
and I was wrong ...
it isn't a solid pelt afterall.
As you can see it is a lot of little strips of mink sewn together.

It is a small stole so, at this point, I'm not sure that here is enough pelt for two teddies.

When I lay out the pattern I have to be aware of the direction that the hairs grow.

I can't hardly believe it but I managed to get all the pattern pieces on the stole's small pelt ... just barely. I had to switch some pieces in order to make everything fit. It was like putting together a puzzle.

Next, I have to cut out each piece. Then I have to trim the edges around each piece. This can be very messy ... I work over a trash-can to try to catch most of the scraps.

each piece has been cut out

I cut the seam allowance around each piece.

Now I can start sewing.

Just a side note: I was hoping to work on this order on a regular schedule (hopefully daily) ... but life gets in the way ... recently both my daughter and son-in-law were very sick with the flu. Fortunately, they both had their flu shots this year so my son-in-law recovered in less than two weeks. Unfortunately, since my daughter has Cystic Fibrosis she ended up with pneumonia and is currently on strong IV antibiotics. Since she has a port-a-cath in her chest she did not have to go into the hospital ... so I put on my mommy-nurse hat and I help with her infusions 5 times a day. And if that wasn't enough, my cat, Gypsy, got sick! I've spent the last two days in the vet's office. She had to have a procedure where she was sedated. She had labs that showed that she has an infection but they were not sure where. So she had to have an ex-ray today that showed that she had kidney stones. Well, $800 later, I finally went home with Gypsy, new cat food to help dissolve the stones, and antibiotics.  Whew!!! Sorry, if this order is taking longer than I wanted but ... life gets in the way.

Lots of hand-sewing! Both teddies are sewn and now I have to clean up the seam lines, turn the pieces, prepare the armature, and stuff each piece ...

one bear body ....

two bear bodies ....

two bear heads ....

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Custom Mink Twin Teddies

For Debra (order #17)

to see lots of photos of these teddies

The see me making these teddies just take a look at the post below.