16th July 2011
I'd love to introduce you to Wee Teddy. Wee Teddy was a very special commission for a very special boy's birthday. The commission was from Tracy of Ruby Spirit Designs and Kev of Dig the Earth, two extremely talented and lovely people who just happen to be married to each other! (And in actual fact, I own works of art created by both these lovely people - do pop along and visit their websites when you get the chance :)
Back to the commission. Teddy is a much-loved bear who has been in the family for many years. As a result, he is a little the worse for wear, but has been expertly patched by Tracy, and he now wears his love-wounds (as opposed to war-wounds) with pride.
I very much enjoyed making a wee version of Teddy for Tom's birthday, and this was the first time that I'd recreated a toy into clay form. There was something very special about being able to immortalise in clay form something that held so many happy memories and meant so much to the family.
I started off by creating a foil core for the body. This ended up being a fairly large piece at about 7cm tall, and so the foil core helped to keep the weight of the finished piece down a bit. Once I'd shaped the foil into a cylinder, I covered it with a base layer of clay, blending it carefully into all the nooks and crannies so there would be no air pockets which would expand when curing the piece.
I shaped each of the legs, the one arm (poor wee mite) and the head, and assembled these using wire armature to strengthen each join. Tracy had sent me lots of great photos of Teddy, so I was able to work out the proportions and general shape of each part of Wee Teddy. (Getting the proportions right is the key thing to focus on when sculpting from an object like this.)
Next up was adding the embellishments - his handkerchief tummy, eyes, nose, scars, etc. Thin strips of clay formed the stitches on his tummy, and you'll see that I gave him a line of stitching where his arm had been lost.
Teddy has a blue and yellow checked ribbon, and so I created a 'tartan' cane to create the same effect. I found a very good tutorial for tartan canes (called plaid in the States, I believe) on the blog Dora's Explorations and followed the principles set out in that to create the right effect.
Lastly, I wanted to include the writing on the bear's right foot. I rolled out very, very thin logs of brown clay and then carefully shaped them to spell out the word 'cuddles'. I love the way it turned out.
Thanks again to Tracy and Kev for asking me to do this lovely commission - I'd love to make more wee versions of treasured toys - you know where to find me!