I draw my own patterns: a same pattern can be used once or twice but I always change details (arms shape, paws length, belly more or less plump…) and of course the materials. Consequently, I never create the same bear twice: each piee is a OOAK artist bear, even if they certainly look like siblings! Each bear is 5 or 6 way jointed, which allows it to take many life-like poses. I also add wire in the upper arms to add even more realism.
The workshop… where OOAK artist bears fall from the stars!
My bears are made of mohair or alpaca. These materials are soft and dense, I love working on such high quality fabric! I chose to only work with straight fabric, more difficult to use because you have to be careful at the fur’s direction and it is impossible to hide sewing mistakes, unlike curled fabric. Straight mohair or alpaca allows to distinguish the bear’s figure and proportions, conversely to curly fabric which blurs everything. I cut the pattern with much care, not to make holes in the fur. Then, I sew the pieces together.
Making the head is the moment I prefer. After all the sewing, it’s time for pure creation! Putting a nose more or less big, positioning the eyes, sculpting the face… I try to create a kind of harmony, this part is decisive: according to me, this is precisely what provokes love at first sight, and the urge to adopt a bear. I create the nose in fimo, so that it is adapted to the bear’s face curves, I place it and it helps me decide where I will sew the ears and insert the eyes. To give life to a bear, I spend much time on the expression: I sculpt the face with scissors. It’s a very delicate moment because i I cut too much, I must start over again. Unlike techniques which allow to add material, like needle-felting, scissor sculpting is definitive, it is not allowed to rectify or hide something that went wrong. I position the glass eyes, I create some shadows and sculpt his wistful look. Then, I insert the joints and stuff the members with filling material and sand, so that the bear gets a good foundation. Sometimes, I also needle sculpt foot and paw-pads to the bear.
I finish with the back seam, which signs the bear’s birth. Every time it’s a surprise to discover whether it’s a boy or a girl… There goes all the magic of OOAK artist bear making! With the help of my daughter Charlotte, who is my best support and critic, we choose a name for the new born.
My OOAK artist bears are textile sculptures: as they are not toys, they are not suitable for children under 14.
I invite you to discover a TV report about my workshop (English subtitles available):