Teddybears are a staple of every toy lovers collection, it seems. People have been loving their teddy bears for years - decades even. Back when I first became interested in toys [the long lost summer of 2009 if memory recalls through the years of oversleeping and procrastination], I remember researching the Steiff Teddybear, the first plush teddy as we know it - complete with moving limbs and a tongue in cheek nod to Teddy Roosevelt.
A teddybear is one of the most recognisable and nostalgic symbols of childhood and innocence. They're a beloved playmate through countless tea parties, midnight kitchen raids, sleepy long car journeys. Sometimes lost under the bed, sometimes propped up on the couch with a plate of peanut butter toast that they're inexplicably expected to eat, but always just there.
I've been making teddybears since I first started making toys. They weren't the first toys I made [that honour goes to a handful of sock mice I gave to my cats, followed by some better designed mice I gave to my housemates], but they were where the seeds of Patchwork Toad were first planted.
I have come a long way with my teddybear designs - and I have plans for them going forward too, but this post is all about one bear. One beautiful sapphire blue bear called Baloo!
While In New Zealand over Christmas, one of my relatives asked me to make her daughter a bear. She gave me the creative freedom to go anywhere I liked with it - which is always an exciting and something daunting task to give a creative. I decided to make a bear to reflect my cousin's interests as I saw them online - she loved being in the water and the beach, being part of her environment and loving every minute of it.
Immediately I thought of a bear made in this stunning electric blue, the way water looks so deep and cold when the beach gives way to the ocean. I have this incredible underwater coral fabric that I've posted before, and will probably post again on my Instagram - it has this glorious quality of shifting light through water, showing the colours and textures of corals and fish just out of reach. It's all a little mermaidy - which is never a bad thing from my point of view! I wanted to go further with the underwater theme, and maybe add some teeny tiny shells to him. I've been very inspired by some seashell crowns I stumbled upon online [which I will post about soon, I promise] and I thought I could build off that idea as well - but a quick visit to Australia's import customs page turned me off - I didn't think it wise to send anything even slightly biological in case the poor bear was traumatised on his journey! Instead, I looked at coral reflective beads and bits of rounded sea glass, before settling on some tiny iridescent seed beads to sew into his fur, as if hidden treasure was just glinting up from the bottom of the sea.
I love adding little elements to this design of bear to give them a few quirks or some added dimensions to their charms - including hand-stitched smiles and toe beans.
I've had a few more commissions come in for new teddybears following the success of Baloo, so I'm looking forward to sharing some of those with you very soon!