Teddy Bears

I've always liked teddy bears, but I didn't get really into studying and making them until I got involved in kites and formed the Rainbear Skydive Corps. Since I generally end up making just about everything I get involved in, it was a short step from training teds to parachute to making everything: kites, parachutes, rigging and bears. Bears were experiencing a resurgence of interest at the time, with custom bears bringing good dollars if of quality. Making custom bears supported my hobby interests for quite awhile, then I drifted off to archery and making bows and arrows. Now, with age and health problems, I'm back to sewing and railroading as being less strenuous. After getting a few kites and a new quilt under my belt, I made a couple of nice bears and now feel that I'm back up to speed there. Most of my earler bears left home and sought their fortunes elsewhere, but a few remained with me and/or stayed with the Corps. Here is a review of the bears who stuck around and the new ones...



Horace II (or maybe III)

April 2014

This long story is a bit weird, but then, consider the source. Long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far away (known as High School), a rather silly teen age boy wanted to get the attention of a pretty young girl. On a traditional high school event day when all the girls brought their teddy bears to school, he bearnapped her bear and, using a properly tied hangman's noose, hanged it on the window shade cord in the high, high old school casement window. As stupid as this sounds today, it worked and the boy got a date with the girl. The girl's name was Ann, the bear's name was Horace and the boy was me.

Early in our married life, Ann gave Horace to the daughter of some friends of ours, which upset me greatly. I was quite attached to Horace. Many years later, when I started making bears, I named one of my best creations Horace (see below). I went on to make many traditional type hard stuffed, jointed bears. Ann did not really like them, which made no sense to me because the original Horace was just that type of bear. She always complained that my bears were too hard, not cuddly.

Events came together last week to inspire me to try to make a softer bear for her. I found a spectacular piece of very high quality fake fur on a remainders table. (Although I guess at this quality level I should refer to it as "faux fur".) Other than my first very simple bear more than 20 years ago (John Quincy Bear, see Rainbear Skydive Corps pages.) I have worked only with the very high end Steiff type mohair, but this fur seemed really nice, was very attractive, very soft and sleek. It actually felt like fur and it was in a color I had never worked with. It turned out to be somewhat hard to work with, since the fur was so thick you can't get down to fabric level to count the woven threads for careful stitching, you just kind of have to "have at it".) It was also so dark you can't see the thread you're working with.

In spit of all this a nice bear resulted. I used the my own pattern, but since he wouldn't be stuffed hard, internal joints (other than the head) weren't practical, so I used external button joints. I stuffed him just hard enough to be squishy, but not floppy like drug store stuffed animals, and Ann loves him. I thought his name should be Herschel Girardelli, but she insisted on Horace II, so now we have two Horace's in the living room. I kind of thought that since we were going this way, he should be Horace III, but I guess to her my first Horace, which was mine, doesn't count.




Horace preparing to pose for his formal portrait.





Lucky April 2014

This bear was indeed lucky... lucky I didn't throw him in the trash midway through the week and half I spent making him from the worst pattern I have ever encountered. I decided to do one more bear from a book pattern before tackling new pattern project I've been mentally working on for the last couple of months. What a mistake. This was supposedly a pattern made from an old original bear. If so, it was done purely by eyeball. Pieces didn't align right, seams didn't end up straight, several proportions were off... head too big, arms too small. I threw the arms away (after cutting, darn it) and substituted arms from a different pattern made from a scrap that wasn't quite the right shade but awful close. I ended up assembling and reassembling him several time to get the limbs into workably positions on the strangely angled body pattern. But, I hung in there and would say that I did get a bear, so he's "Lucky"




Bear au Lait

December 2013

Since I must provide at least half of Starbucks' advertising budget every year, how could I resist making a bear with a coffee drink in mind? Actually, I didn't have quite enough of either the light or dark fur to make a bear the size I wanted, so...



Tiny Broadwick

Summer 2013

Tiny Broadwick. Tiny is named after the woman barnstormer who actually invented/developed free fall parachuting and taught parachuting to pilots for the Army in WW II. Look it up!


Douglas Bearbanks, Jr.

One of the early members of the Corps.


This is Horace, named after Ann's childhood teddy bear. He was my kite flying companion for a number of years when I was traveling the major kite festivals.


Horace had his own box kite and beach blanket. I would set him on the beach with a hidden spike under the back of his Japanese hopi coat (required wear for Japanese kite flying teams) and put his little kite aloft at 75 feet or so. Then I'd walk further down the beach to fly my own kites. Horace would draw quite a crowd as he sat there, apparently on his own, enjoying the flying.


This and the next pic are of Joe, a rather tall teddy I made thinking that someone would enjoy making clothes for him but apparently at 23" he is a bit too big and never sold, so is still with me.



Joe standing. Note that his arms and legs are much more normally porportioned (for a person) than most teddy bears. This is so he can fit into this size doll clothes. I always pictured in in a tux.



These are a couple of other bears that have just stuck around.



Can't not have some real action pix of the Corps. Here is Baron von Oops about to complete a perfect jump in his 14 gore silk parachute.



This is Buck Starr, a Starbuck's bearista bear who got tired of making lattes and ran off to join the Corps.







Dick Wightman, Seattle WA

email: rwightman@mindspring.com

Phone: 206 784 0883


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