Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Buttons and Bows

I seem to be in classic bear mode at the moment, my work schedule goes along with what I enjoy most and I have been enjoying smaller vintage bears.

Recently though I did make one larger one and as I had a pattern for a waistcoat in the correct size, I also made one of those for him.   The customer who bought him also asked for a bow tie, so I duly made one and was rather pleased with the effect.  However that gave me another little problem of detail, having seen how smart the larger one looked I felt that they looked a little under dressed with a waistcoat but no tie.

So the latest one, Mortimer, now also has a bow tie, made from the cotton fabric I used for the back of his waistcoat.
 To make these things for an 11 inch bear is at about the limit of smallness with which my fingers will co-operate.  The waistcoat is a common enough accessory for a bear, but I think just about as much clothing as they need or are likely to get from me.

I finally worked out the sequence to sew the parts together to achieve a lined garment and I punish myself by insisting that they have functioning button holes, further more I like hand worked buttonholes.  All a bit of an obsession with detail and I am not really sure if anybody notices but essential for my own satisfaction.

Many, many years ago in my early naive days I entered a competition in a category for "dressed bears" and decided to go for a waistcoat.  At that stage I had very little exposure to the bear artist world and to my mind that seemed plenty for a bear to wear.  So I duly wrestled making a new bear pattern, fought with a piece of vintage hat velvet which frayed as soon as you looked at it, I lined it with silk and then tackled the buttons.  I wanted something special and spent a small fortune on vintage crystal dancing shoe buttons from a collector of vintage buttons and to finish the job also managed to hand sew almost neat little buttonholes. It all took significantly longer than making the bear and I placed it among the forest of fully costumed bears on the competition table.  Of course it didn't get a place but I was upset to be virtually told off by a bear world doyen for having the cheek to enter a dressed category with a bear just wearing a waistcoat.  To add to my displeasure I had made it as a gift for the promoter who invited me to my first US show, he looked at it with disdain and said something like "Oh, is that the one you made for me.... "  I didn't remain friends with him anyway after he informed me that he preferred his friends to be more charismatic.  

I do get bogged down with detail sometimes, Mortimer's waistcoat took me a whole day to make, I experimented with different threads to make the buttonholes until I ended up ordering silk twist which seemed to scale nicely, it frays in my rough fingers and each buttonhole took ages to sew working under a magnifier.  But I do it nowadays for my own satisfaction, it is nowhere near perfect but I am satisfied I have done my best and I continue my journey aiming to improve each time.  I am in danger of wanting to make a fully correct scaled bow tie next so that I don't have to resort to the press stud to secure it.

I often dream about making more fully costumed bears, but as it takes me the best part of a week to make a bear nowadays I can't see that happening anytime soon.


No comments:

Post a Comment