Now that the base structure of the head is there, it’s time to get on to the finer touches. I always start with the nose, pondering the best shape for it. Sometimes I use nostrils, like for Bluegrass:
And other times I use a more rectangular shape, like for Maple:
As TBB II is Maple’s mini-me, he’ll be getting the same shaped nose, so I break out the sticky back felt, and cut a base shape for it. I check that this fits, then it’s time to grab the fine tipped embroidery scissors to trim away the fur that will be underneath – nobody likes a hairy nose!
Sticking the felt down, I then apply magic tape all round to hold the fur out of the way, then I thread one of my ridiculously long doll needles with perle cotton #5, and starting in the centre of the nose, go down into the head, pulling only enough thread through to be able to remove the needle and tie off the end, then pull the other end back up so that it’s taught.
I always work from the centre out to one edge, then go back to the centre and go out the other way.
It usually takes 3 – 4 layers to build up a good nose, plus one layer for the mouth that I work in, and often by the end of this, I have holes in the tips of my index and middle fingers on my stitching hand – no-one ever said bear making was glamorous!
Now I start looking at the eye area, and the bridge of the nose to check the fur length. I always trim back just behind the eyes, but sometimes the fur on the bridge of the nose obscures the eyes, and so needs a bit of a trim with those wee embroidery scissors. Moving on to the shading, I grab my Copic markers and blender pen, then I gently start shading the eye sockets, moving the position eyes in and out to check the effect, and using the blender pen to smooth the colour in. I often also blend out from the nose to help to show the bridge of the nose. Once I’m happy, I give a quick blast with a hair dryer to set it.
Now it’s time to insert the eyes. I think there are more ways I’ve seen to insert eyes than I’ve had hot dinners, but this is how I do it. I use linen thread, which is very strong, and use a double length of thread. I put the thread through the loop on the back of the eye, then taking my needle nosed pliers, I crimp the wire down. The one on the left is crimped and on the right is still open:
Using my bradawl, I go to where the pin from my position eye was, and use it to widen the hole a little, as well as working the path into the stuffing a bit for the needle. Taking another ridiculously long doll needle, I go from the eye socket to the base of the head on the opposite side, aiming for about 1/4″ – 3/8″ from the edge, and making sure the 2 ends of the thread come out through different holes in the backing fabric, as I need to tie these off against the head eventually (not yet though, that will come in week 9 )
Finally it’s time for the ears. Using T-pins I mark out the corners of the ears, and then how I want them to cup. Once I’m happy that they match, I then sew them in place using a ladder stich:
Whew, that’s it for this week! Next week we’ll be stuffing the limbs and pulling some toes.