Friday, February 24, 2012

Fur Friday - Taking it all apart - Lesson 2

So I did not have to send the coat away as previously planned as Nancy suggested just simply washing the lining and that is exactly what I chose to do but first I had to remove it and get the coat apart!

First of all, let me mention that I uses a professional seam ripper to do this and it probably cut my time by a quarter in completing this task!

If you have never seen one they are VERY sharp. They have a curved blade that is a razor and is very thin! This allows you to both get under each stitch with ease or in my case slide the blade along the seam line with no pressure which either will open up the seams or cut the leather very close to the seam.

The coat: had a few tears that had been hastily repaired with chunky stitching which was barely holding it together. Thankfully there were only two areas like this and both close to the armholes. I removed those stitches so as not to forget when laying the pattern that these areas were best avoided.

After removal of the lining which as you can see is really quite cool I was able to see fully the leather backing. Unfortunately I did not seem to see a stamp to tell me what the fur is but I could see the size of the pelts and I believe this verified that the coat is indeed seal. The leather is light and it was fairly easy to cut apart.

The hood trim: this leather is much thicker and a bit brittle so I will tackle this in another post to show you what Nancy says to do in this case to soften the leather! But not this post as I have to go an purchase what I need from the cake shop! ah ha... that'll get ya thinking!

So once the coat was apart I had a small mess to clean up on my studio floor but it was really not bad at all... it took seconds to vacuum. However I do plan to wear my garbage bag protector for the actual cutting of the pattern pieces for the next step.

I am going to be using my own patterns for these bears but if you are new to bear making or just simply want to take a "Class" through your book (if you purchase Nancy's book) then she has some really wonderful and sweet bears you can make using patterns of hers in the book. There are many choices also and even some clothing if you wish to cloth your bear. I have spent years on perfecting my patterns and because they are all I use I want to see how they translate to fur so I will stick to them for this journey. If I find that something in Nancy's book looks interesting and I have never done that I might alter one of my patterns which will give me another lesson!

I also took a course through Nancy's school on designing a pattern a long time ago that I found extremely enjoyable and helpful!

I will get to what to do with the lining another post nearer to the end of this particular journey!

Now all I have to do is decide on the size of bear I wish to make with this seal coat! This is not a long coat as you could see in the photo it is a bomber style so I don't have a lot of fur to work with!

Nancy suggests in her book that seal can be made up into a bear that is 7 - 17" tall. I am hoping in my case to get two bears out of this coat so that I can have one and I can offer the lady who donated the coat to me the other one. It will be a surprise as she was unable to pay for the service but seeing as how I am using the coat as a learning tool... and I am getting so very much out of this journey I would like to give her a thank you!

I don't think that I will incorporate the collar into these bears or bear depending on what I decided to do. There is not a whole lot of that fur and as I said the leather is very dry on that part but I will try to treat it and maybe do another of Nancy's projects on it later! There is a great bear ornament in her book!

Okay so that's it for post number two on Fur Fridays! If you are working along with me... that professional seam ripper is a great tool but if you don't have one Nancy uses a nice sharp pair of scissors to cut closely along the seam line!

DO NOT cut all the pelts individually apart! You are simply getting the coat apart in the biggest pieces possible so you have large areas that lay flat to draw your pattern onto! You want the pelts to stay sewn together where ever possible!

Also if your coat has a black lining! You want to keep that lining on and we are going to make another lining also in another post!

Have a great week everyone! Join me on What's On My Worktable Wednesdays also to see what other projects I am working on! This is just a short one photo post to give you a glimpse at my worktable... a little sneak peak!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

What's on the Worktable Wednesdays

This is the first post for What's On the Worktable Wednesdays:

What am I up to?... beyond Fur Fridays I have a lot of new things in store so here is your first sneak peak!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A Brilliant Artist and Friend - Farewell

Last evening a fellow artist and friend passed away! My friend Roger was a brilliant wood turner and made the most beautiful pieces!

I had purchased his work for gifts but always figured I had time to get something for me later...

His son, Steve came by our wine store today to tell me that Roger had passed. I was really pulling for him but it just wasn't enough! And with Steve he brought a bowl made by his father for me. At a time of loss he still thought to bring a friend a piece of artwork that will be dearly cherished!

I thought I would include a write up about Roger that was done last year...

He had a laugh that was contagious and a spectacular personality and even better sense of humour!

 Boy, I LOVE this photo!

Still turning wood long after retirement

By Meagan Pecjak

Roger Bodley is 81 years old, and has been woodturning for 18 years. He has spent most of his life in Belleville, and worked as an engineer before retiring. He is currently working on a smaller bowl that can take nearly a month to complete. Photo by Meagan Pecjak

Even after retirement, Robert Bodley continues to turn pieces of wood into works of art.
Bodley, 81, has enjoyed the retired life for quite some time. Even though he’s getting up in age he still makes his way down the basement stairs each and every morning to his shop where he turns.

“I come down nearly about every morning, for a couple of hours,” says Bodley as he looks around at his wood-filled basement. Although he is still going strong, Bodley admits his age is slowing him down.
“As you get older, you are limited sometimes,” he says.
He continues to turn wood even though he is beginning to struggle with lifting the larger pieces.
“I have to make smaller pieces now, because I can’t lift the heavy ones,” says Bodley.

It can take almost a month for one project to be completely finished. However, now that Bodley is limited to the size of piece he makes, he adds more detail to his smaller pieces.

“It’s hard work, so you kind of have to slow yourself down as you get older,” he says.
He never thought he would catch the woodturning “bug,” as Bodley calls it. He caught it years ago when he was painting mini-soldiers. He realized shortly after beginning his newfound hobby that he needed bases for them to stand on.

Bodley dragged out his grandfather’s old lathe and began to turn the bases for his soldiers. Small wooden bases turned into bigger, more elaborate projects such as salad bowls and Christmas ornaments.

“When you put a piece on the lathe, you have a good idea of what it is going to be like, but you never really know for sure,” says Bodley.

He finds the biggest challenge is the initial thought going into a project.
“It’s unpredictable, and that is what makes it so exciting,” he says.

Woodturning has been a part of Bodley’s family for many years. His grandfather was also a woodturner, and passed down many of the tools Bodley now uses today.

“That was my grandfather’s lathe,” says Bodley, as he puts a hand on top of the machine.

Bodley may have inherited many of the tools he uses but he also manages to make some of his own tools out of items he either finds around the house, or picks up on his travels.
He spent much of his youth, starting at 12, with his grandfather in his shop.
It took Bodley several years to “catch the bug,” but he caught it in the end.

As Bodley says, many women are not big fans of wood, but some do come by and look at his work.
“They like the rustic ones as opposed to perfectly finished pieces. When they see a piece made of ceramic, they think, ‘Oh it’s beautiful,’ but if it’s made out of wood, ‘Oh it’s only wood.’”

Here are a couple of Roger's pieces:

 And here is the beautiful bowl that I was gifted today: You will be missed my friend! Till we meet again...

Thank you Steve!

Birthday Cake

Hello and Happy Birthday wishes to anyone out there celebrating a birthday!

This weekend we celebrated two birthdays: My Mum and Gramma Rosina!

Mum and I made cakes together and it was so fun to share that time with her and then we all went out to dinner and then back to my Mother in Laws for some cake and wine! Mmmmmmmm!

We made a whole village with one cake which was a golden cake with a lemon glaze and then some icing sugar sprinkled on top!

And we made an angel food cake in a bunt pan topped with icing of cool whip and crushed score bars! You can choose your favourite chocolate bar for this icing and this cake is always a hit! It is so light and love fat too!

Seeing as how these cakes are not easy to write on my husband created signs for them!

Everything worked out so well that I have been named the official cake maker for all events to come!
Better get me some more cake pans!

Monday, February 20, 2012

New Apron for Mum

Hello Everyone

I wanted to share with you the new Apron that I made for my Mum.

Mum is a Red Hatter and not only a Red Hatter but the Queen Mum herself!

So for Christmas I made her this Red Hatter Queen Mum apron! My Mum puts on a lot of events and teas and an apron is a nice thing for a gal who is entertaining! This one has Swarovski crystals and everything and this weekend we finally finished the apron so she could bring it home! I wanted to make the top strap so it would fit her and not have to be tied as those types of straps are far more comfortable!

If you like this apron the pattern is by Vanilla House Designs
It is called the Sunday Dinner Apron!

The pattern was easy to follow with no steps missing!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Fur Friday - Identifying your fur

Hello Everyone and welcome to the very first post of Fur Friday's!

I thought I would begin at the point where you have either been given a fur coat by someone else or you have rescued a fur coat from either a thrift store or a garage sale or what possibly an inheritance... and now that it is yours you are looking at it wondering what it is or what it used to be?

In Nancy's book she has a wonderful chart to help you break down the possibilities of what your coat might have been before it became a coat! The coat I have been given seems to fit into the category of: seal with a collar of either mink or sable. My guess based on the description in Nancy's book that the collar is sable as I feel it is too long to be mink.

I want to add a very important note: If you have received this coat and are not sure where it has lived in the past... it is important to place the coat in the freezer for at least 48 hours. This will kill any mites and bugs that might be living on the coat! You should not put your real fur coats in a plastic bag so I will make a bag for my freezer coats out of an old sheet!

Here is the description of Seal and Sable from Nancy's book:

Seal: short and usually black in colour, with an extremely soft texture. The pelts are medium in size. Usually the longer guard hairs have been removed!

Sable: Beautiful, soft, dense fur with long guard hairs. Brown or black.

Here are some examples of each of these types of fur that I found on my google search:




Here are two photos of the coat I will be working with!

So what do you think Nancy... have I guessed it correctly?

Now here is the next issue: There are no furriers in my town and no dry cleaners here clean fur coats! So this means I have to send my coat with my Mum back to the big city to see if she can get it cleaned and to see if she can get verification on what type of fur my coat is! This also means I will have to either pay to have the coat shipped back to me or I will have to wait until my Mum's next visit to get the coat back. These are all things that should be taken into consideration if you choose to take on a commissioned work as these are all costs and time that need to be negotiated with your customer!

You will all have to wait patiently while this takes place and I will be waiting patiently with you! I have made my uneducated guesses as to the type based on some words and one or two photos but when you cannot touch and feel to compare it is more difficult than you might expect! The other thing is I really have not been around fur much in my life so I am a real novice at identifying where some of you might have owned your own fur coats so you might be one up on me already. 

There is a part of me which would like for this to never come about where I need to know what type of fur it is! Then it is simply just a piece of fabric... once I know what it is I will have a little face to go with it.... Okay Nancy... I am pushing past that and seeing only the teddy bear face to come! Deep breath... I can do this!


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Michele and Nancy

Hello blog friends:

It has been a long time since I have been this excited and I must admit even a bit scared to write a post!

Have you seen the movie or read the book Julie and Julia? Well... I have decided to do something similar on my blog! I am hoping that it will not only be an excellent journey for me as an artist but also for you.

I am not sure if my journey will take me 365 days but I will continue on until I am done!

For those of you who follow me on Facebook you will know that today I had a meeting with an acquaintance who has been given a fur coat. This coat was purchased for a friend of hers from a Saudi Arabian princess and she asked me to make a bear out of the coat! 

I don't work in fur and have explained this to her before but she doesn't seem to understand that there is a big difference in working with fur and working in mohair and alpaca! Well, there is a big difference and I know that! Needless to say she arrived today with the coat and in the end did not want to pay the price I required to take on the task of making a bear from the coat! So instead she has simply donated the coat to me...

Now I have read on making bears out of fur coats and I have really mixed feelings about ME making one... and although I do not condone the killing of animals for fashion and luxury I have come to terms with the fact that the vintage coats came from a different time and I would essentially be giving meaning and bringing love back to an act that was once acceptable and no longer is! If I bring a coat back to life by making it into the most loved toy in the world... I can live with that!

So in my possession I have not one but four fur coats that I have either been given or rescued myself.
I also have a wonderful book called Teddy Bears With a Past by Nancy Tillberg... so I have decided to take this book and work through it just as Julie did with Julia's. 

I will not be following Nancy's patterns, I will use my own and in the cases of patterns that have things that I have never done I will make adjustments to my own patterns to allow me to learn even more in the process! This should be an exciting and challenging experience and I will surely come out the end an even better artist. I have several of Nancy's books and have even taken a course or two in the beginning of my bear making with her online Teddy University: Ebears University

Nancy Tillberg

You can still purchase this book used through Amazon and possibly online somewhere else if you are lucky and the price ranges from $24 to $99 for a copy.

So I am going to call my posts "Fur Friday" just to give them an identifiable name! I will post on Friday each week and you will be a part of this journey in which ever way the journey is taking me.

If all goes well, by the end of this journey I will be a more well rounded artist weather I choose to work in real fur or not. At least then I will be making the choice to not work in fur or work with fur with something to base it on! Right now it is all based on fear! Hahahaha

So on Friday we will start the journey and until then this is your heads up to start following my blog now. I will not hold anything back and I will share lots of pictures and talk all about the trials and all the errors I am having! I will be sure to mention the great tips that I learn from Nancy and will put them into my real life living in a small town where access to things can sometimes be a challenge!

So as I have read this book several times over the years... I thank you Nancy for standing by me virtually while I take this journey. You are a pioneer in this business, a fellow Canadian and a wonderful business woman whom I have admired over these years working in the business myself. I can only hope that your view of me does not end up the same way as Julia's in the movie towards Julie. But if it does I am sure mine will be as Julie's was... I will still love you and be grateful for all you have shared and all you have given to this business!

Big Hugs to all and I will be back on Friday with the first "Fur Friday" post!

Friday, February 10, 2012

New Article in Teddy Bear and Friends

Hello Everyone!

Seraphim Bears has been once again blessed to have been included in a lovely article in Teddy Bear and Friends. The Article is titled "The Delicate Art of Soft Sculpture" and was written quite some time ago by Elaine Looney. I am simply thrilled to have been included in yet another article and thoroughly enjoyed reading about my fellow artists also in this article: Jutta Michels, Karen Lyons and Cindy Malchoff.

I am writing this post today to correct a few things for my readers and collectors as there seems to have been a few misunderstandings and mis-translations in my part of the article... I wouldn't want anyone thinking I had told fibs in the past so here it goes:

I do not use plush fabric! I have but I have only done so once in the time I have been creating so I don't really feel that is a fabric that should be listed and certainly not listed as my soul fabric used. I am not sure but I feel the cotton and leather must have come from the way I create my paw pads. In actuality I use high quality mohair, alpaca or viscose for my creating and have done so from the beginning!

I am a hard working gal who lifts 40lb buckets of wine all day long every day... and when I get some free time I spend that working on the design and creation of my bears! I am not lucky enough to be a stay at home gal who can show up to our family business whenever I have time. For me it is the other way around even though my bears are 100% a love and dedication that gets worked on each day... it is done in the evenings after a long hard days work! The article states:

When she is done and she has nothing else to do, Seraphim helps run the family winery.

Boy, we all had a good howl about this today at the family brew on premise! Wouldn't that be nice... if I could just come in when I had a minute to spare! Hahahahaha what a hoot!

Anyway, my bears are my passion and my love but they do have to come second to my family whom I love most of all!

And lastly: my website address is not and no matter how many times I try to explain that if you type this in it will not come to me they keep printing it that way! When you type in my correct address you will reach me and yes in the address portion it will change to seraphimsattic but if you type that in you will not reach me... one day I will have to sit down with someone and try to figure this out!

All in all I am absolutely thilled and thought the article fun and interesting! It took a long time for this article to make it to publication... about a year so it is no wonder with our lives all so busy that things do sometimes get mixed up.

Some of you may remember me talking about my award winning ELVIS quilt that hung in Graceland? Well, when this all happened there was an article in the Toronto and local papers reaching as far as Edmonton and Calgary about this quilt and how I had KNITTED it! Yes... you are reading that correctly! The person who wrote the article thought that Knitting and Quilting were somehow interchangeable words! Hahahha
I received so many emails about how in the world I was able to knit this blanket with such detail. Hahahahahaha! It was a struggle to explain to everyone that I did not knit it but had in fact quilted it!

Anyway, my point is, we are all human and mistakes happen but I must at least do my part to try to clear them up as I don't want anyone thinking that I get to work on my bears all day long while my family slaves away at work and then I just come and go as I please... I just cannot stop laughing at the thought of that!

Just call me Cinderella and you will have a better idea of how my day really is! And I have a loving family who works just as hard right along side of me too!

My bears are my much needed escape and my relaxation at home in the evenings! Speaking of which... I better get into that studio of mine and get to some of that creating!

BIG BEAR HUGS to sweet Elaine Looney! Thank you for such a wonderful article and I cannot wait to read more in the new joined Teddy Bear Review and Teddy Bear and Friends magazine combined! We're off to a great start!

Be back soon with WHAT'S ON THE ARTIST TABLE... a blog post I hope to incorporate to let you all know what I am working on at the moment!