Bettina Groh                    The Glass Dragon                  March 2008
The Makeover or a Bear Maker’s Nip and Tuck
The other day, I was looking at my bears sitting on my workroom shelves. There was one that had never left for any show.  I was unhappy with him from the start and that was quite some time ago. He’d been one of my first attempts at an open mouth using a “gusset”; but his mouth was too close to his nose and he didn’t look very happy with life. When I’d stuffed him the mouth had bulged and I’d made several attempts to correct this. But everything I’d tried failed.
This bear screamed “makeover” to me.  So I dug up the original pattern and a scrap of the same fabric and started to take the bear apart. Taking a look at all the parts (Picture 3) and comparing them with the pattern, I decided that cutting off the original muzzle and replacing it was the way to go. I took the original pattern pieces and redrew them… making the pattern an “add-on muzzle” one. Using the new pattern I traced the templates onto the fabric side of the old head and cut off the old  muzzle! (Picture 5).

Photo 3

Photo 5
Now I was committed!  No going back! I cut out new muzzle pieces from the matching scrap of mohair, pinned them on as shown below, and sewed them.
After picking the seams I turned the head right side out checked to see if everything matched.
With the texture of this type of mohair I couldn’t even see the seams. Was this bear going to look just like the old one but without the mouth?   As I began stuffing the new/old head I knew the answer was going to be “no”! I decided to do a different type of mouth using an add-on lower lip and some facial needle sculpting.
After adding the lip, my new/old bear had a much happier look than he’d ever had before! The nose would be the same.
Since I planned to use the “old” ears and body, I knew I’d have to do some air brushing so that the “new” muzzle had the same look as the “old” one.
  I decided to do the eyes differently with a little airbrushing and a circle of white Ultra suede ™ behind as an enhancement. When that was done, he was ready to have his head back on, his tummy filled and his back stitched.

This new/old bear seems to be laughing at me. Is he thanking me for doing this?

Even if I hadn’t added the lower lip he would look very different now. That well known fact of bear making held true… no two heads are exactly alike, even if you use the same pattern. Minor changes in stitching, seam allowances and an additional seam for the “add-on muzzle” made for a very different looking bear!

The final picture below shows the old bear on the left and the improved, happier new bear on the right.

He is certainly not going to sit on a shelf any more!

Bettina Groh
Glass Dragon Teddy Bears
Member since March 2007

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