Meet Fantastic Mr Fox
When I was a young girl my mother, being the amazingly talented creative soul that she is, made porcelain dolls from scratch, embroidered, made quilts, most of my clothes, everything under the sun and years later had her own shop with her own clothing range, which I look at today with a very critical eye and can't find a single fault. This, not because she is my mother, and yes offcourse we are all a little more bias when it comes to family, no, because I am yet to meet someone as gifted as her. I have stopped counting the number of quilts she has made by hand and each one of them to perfection. When the Great British Sewing Bee was on and they made the shirt, I thought to myself, my mother could do it with her eyes closed, as I have countless shirts that she has made for both my husband and myself and they are all better crafted than the likes of Boden or French Connection, just to name a few. Anyway, I digress. So when this was all going on when I was young, my mother moved in very creative circles, as often is the case, and one day she took me into her friends shop, another very talented and gifted lady who made and sold bears. It is strange how it only feels like yesterday. I remember walking around her shop in awe, completely speechless and dumbstruck for what felt like an eternity, picking up and examining bears. I couldn't believe that someone had made these and I remember leaving the shop that day with a note to myself to make a bear one day and now many years later, I would like you to meet fantastic Mr Fox, my very first bear playing fox.
As a child my favourite toy was always my bear. I still remember the day my Dad came home with this rather big brown bear, which if my memory serves me right he bought from a BP Garage (I must ask him!), and Beer (bear in Afrikaans) became the best friend that any girl could want. He bathed with me, he swam with me (we had a pool as the weather was a great deal warmer in SA, and how I miss it on grey days like today!). Beer did everything with me. I loved Beer more than any other toy I had, so it seemed only natural that the very first toy I gave to both my children were bears. Little J got Toffee and Little E got Treacle and they have been their besties ever since. They go everywhere and do everything with them. Yes years down the line they don't look their best, but they bring such comfort and out of all their toys their besties are the only things that really matter to both my lovely children.
It was actually quite funny, years before J was born during a visit to SA we visited this friend of Mum's shop and I decided to buy a bear, Toffee. He was perfect in every way and little did I know that I would give it to my first born. Ironically when Mum arrived a couple of months after J was born, she brought with her a bear for J, not something we had discussed in any shape or form, and ironically she had bought the exact same bear (great minds think alike, haha!), it was so funny and clearly meant to be. To be honest it has been a blessing to have a second bear to fall back on to when one needed a wash and a little time out, so when E was born we did the same and bought two of the same bears (which we bought when mum came over just after E was born, yes it became a little tradition). In fact little E has gone through three, and only yesterday and the day before we had complete meltdown because Treacle was lost, but how?, we definitely knew that she hadn't left the house (Treacle has been known to be a little rascal of some sorts at the best of times!). Fortunately Dad found her last night amongst he piles of wood by the back of the shed and this morning there was one very happy girl giving loads of cuddles and kisses to her bestie, Treacle, and telling her just how much she had missed her and never to run away again, it melts my heart!
So here are the two besties, maybe not at their bestest, but all the same from left to right, Toffee and Treacle.
So a few months ago, whilst reading the lovely Paula's blog 'Sugar Sweet Pink', which unfortunately is no longer available, I was so inspired by her first little bear that I decided the time had come. You can have a little look at some of Paula's beautiful creations here. It was serendipitous to say the least.
I immediately bought a pattern from Sasha Pokras's Etsy shop and then later bought my supplies from Christie Bears, a UK based shop. It was actually quite funny as the first pattern I bought was going to be a very different bear, but then after showing little J the bears on Pinterest (as he loves bears) he told me that he wanted one for his birthday. I have to add here that this was exactly a week and a half before his birthday. Fortunately the supplies were sent out and I had a week to complete the bear and I was delighted to be able to wrap it up and give it to little J for his birthday. He was so exited about Fantastic Mr Fox, I just hope it is going to survive the journeys here there any everywhere and stand the test of time as he is already being dragged along with Toffee. This makes me think of the lovely book I love you Blue Kangaroo by Emma Chichester Clark and I just hope that little Toff is not feeling to sad about this new arrival!
So this is where it all started before he finally got welcomed into our home.
Basically you cut out all the pattern pieces out of Mohair and then there is a great deal of hand sewing and sewing involved before it is stuffed and the cotter pins and joints are all put in place. All his limbs can rotate and move and it just feel like a lovely vintage bear, or bear playing fox as in this case. I had such fun making this bear and can't wait to start the next.
I think he quite enjoys posing... and is not at all shy, true to form, just like fantastic Mr Fox before he lost his tail.
and with that, a very warm goodbye from both me and Mr Fox.