It has always been my intention to help others to find their way in realistic bear making. The information is here to inspire, not to copy the bears here on this site. Please respect my desire to keep the bears that I have created unique.
Thank you.
Joanne Livingston

Beginning January 2014 this page will not be used for blogging. I have removed all of the posts except where technique for bear, doll or craft has been explained.
They are here in the order written. You will find tags on the right hand sidebar to help navigate.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Ordering Armature

I ordered 50 foot rolls of Lockline type plastic armature directly from the manufacturer Jeton. I also ordered the pliers that go with them too.

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The top one is 1/8” and the bottom is 3/16”.  These are the two smallest sizes they make.  They look bigger than the size says, because they take the size from the inside diameter of the hole where it snaps together.  The special pliers I never used for the smaller sizes because I wire them together. But when I break them apart in the wrong spot, they are difficult to get back together, so I ordered them too.

I usually order from CR Crafts, and I am always happy with their service.  But when I went to order this last time they were backordered on the 1/8” which was the one I really needed.  So I contacted Jeton directly.
It took about a week for them to reply to my initial email, but once they did the process was very smooth and quick.

For a 50ft roll of 1/8” armature they charge $62.96. That equals about $1.26 a foot
A roll of 3/16” was $67.90 = about $1.36 a foot.
The pliers were $14.00 each.
CR’s is about $3.00 a foot and the pliers are $35.00 each.

But not there are certainly other fees to consider; Jeton only takes a money transfer as payment.  I had to do that through my bank it cost me $45.00.  Shipping was another big expense, it was $71.00, they sent it express.  It came to my door in 3 days from Taiwan. So the total was about $275.00.  If I was to do it through Cr’s it would have been about $370 + shipping. 

Something else I was unaware of, from the company you can buy the coolant hose with the hole in it, or you can buy the snap proof armature.  You can only do this with 3/16” and larger, the 1/8” comes only as snap proof.  I told them in my email what I was using it for and they sent me the snap proof armature.  I like snap proof.  It is different from what I have gotten from Cr’s Crafts.  From them I am getting coolant hose, which is what Lockline is, it is a coolant hose.   Why not just buy Lockline?  Because you can not get it any smaller than 1/4" which is way to big  for small and medium sized bears.


Top snap proof, bottom the coolant hose.


I have never had the 1/8” break apart on me.  But one time I did have the 3/16th break.  I was forcing the head into a position it did not want to go.  I should have known better.  I doubt that any bear owner would have forced it like I did. I had to take the whole bear apart and replace the spine.  I wonder now if it would have happened with the stuff on the left, it does seem to bend better.

I now have enough armature to last for a couple of years.  Will I order directly from Jeton again? Absolutely.  Will I still use Cr’s Crafts? yes I will, but not for this, I think I will stick with Jeton.

ps: they also sell it in 25 ft rolls, but I do not know if the cost is the same per foot. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Elfing Ears

I had some questions about how I did this, so I thought I would post a little more about it.

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I have a little family of elves that lives at my house, they all have long pointy ears, because I love long pointy ears.  But I also love dolls without them, so my solution has been to give those dolls an ear makeover.  Here is Fig, she is very cute on the left, but now on the right to me she is perfection.

This is what I used.
Apoxie Sculpt, it is a two part epoxy clay.  I used white. I bought it on ebay.  I added flesh colored paint as I was kneading it to give it some color.  It is a sticky mess, but after it sets up a little it is not so sticky.  Nail sanding blocks, I bought these at the beauty supply, the different colors are different grits. An emery board, you can not see, but the one end is cut into a point.  This is my favorite sanding tool.  I have a knitting needle I used to help me sculpt. A set of small files, nice to have but not necessary. A dremmel and some very small bits.  I used this to sculpt the ear after the clay was set. Last but least a dust mask, to use when sanding, especially with the dremmel.  


After mixing I put the clay on the edge of her ears.  Like I said it is very sticky.  That is good, because it will stick to the resin. After I got it on the ear tips I dipped my fingers in cornstarch, that will stop it from sticking to your fingers.  I used a picture of a doll with ears I liked.  I used my fingers to pull the epoxy to a point, then with my finger behind the ear holding it, I used a knitting needle to sculpt the inside of the ear.  I started at the tip and drew it in towards the old ear.  I removed excess as I got to the ear.  When I was fairly satisfied I dipped my finger in water and feathered the epoxy into the ear. 

This picture is after sculpting, before any sanding has been done. 

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Here you can really see the roughness of the clay.

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This next picture is after some sanding with the sanding blocks, but before dremmeling.  I wanted to remove some of the top of the old ear, not all of it, but just enough to make a smoother transition.  I could have done it with the emery board, or the files, but I am good with the dremmel I use it often.  If you are not good, I would not use it. I dremmeled down the top of her old ear. 

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Here you can see how the top of the ear now blends into the new ear.

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Next I painted with acrylic paint.  I used a combination of flesh, ivory, and pink to match the color of her resin.  I used very little paint on the brush so that I could not see the brush strokes.  When I was satisfied with the color I masked off the rest of her face and sprayed the ears with MSC, (Mister Super Clear) Flat UV Cut Sealer.  Then I got out the pastels and blushed the ear tips, and sprayed again.


Here is a pukipuki Ante, she is getting her ears elfed now.  This is a very tiny doll.  You can see how I have this stuff globbed on the ears.  I would rather spend my time sanding it off to make it the way I want it than being too picky while it is wet.


Here is a close up of another pukipuki whose ears are done.  I have sanded the heck out of them to make them thin, and shaped them the way I want them.


I did not start though working on expensive dolls, this is a word of caution.  I started by elfing Hujoo dolls ears.  They are very inexpensive compared to these.  My daughter has used Apoxie Sculpt on a Monster High doll to turn it into her World of Warcraft character.  Any doll will do for practice, but by all means practice first.

Victims one and two. 

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Questions? please ask, I will do my best to answer them. 
So here we are now one big happy elf family. 

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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Making a Doll Wig

I make all the wigs for the dolls.  It is an easy thing to do.  I found the original tutorial here, in BJD Magazine.  This is where you will find how to measure for the wig cap.  I am just going to show you pictures after that fact.

I have the pieces I need together.  I am using some tea dyed muslin as the cap, and Aileen’s Fabric Fusion glue.  I have tried all different kinds and this one works the best for me.

I slipped a plastic bag over her head and added a very small rubber band around her head making it snug especially around her ears. I did notch the fabric around the sides, it helped it fit better without any fabric lumps.

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I put glue on the plastic, then added first the middle, painted glue all over it, then the side pieces, adding glue again.

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Then last the thin strip that goes around the perimeter pulling it snug.

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Let it dry, and then peel off the plastic and fit it on her head seeing where it needs to be trimmed. Trim it up.

Fig 001

You can see the nice snug fit here.

Fig 002

Put the plastic bag back on, and put the wig cap over it to begin gluing on the mohair.  I used locks that I purchased from an Etsy Seller Phoenix Farm,  I dyed them with Kool Aide.

Starting at the bottom I added a line of glue.  The locks will be in clumps, I clipped the end to make them open, then I opened up the top and spread it out.  With the help of a large needle I pushed it across the glue.  Only about 1/4” is actually sitting in the glue.

Fig 003

Row by row, up the head, and around the sides.

Fig 004

Fig 005

Before you begin, decide where want your part, because when you get there the way you add the mohair changes.

When you get to the part area, you need to glue the hair in at a 90 degree angle, so that it will not be flat.  I did this by holding the hair, trimming the end blunt, and applying glue to the ends.  Then I pushed it straight onto the wig cap.  Do this all along the part line.

Fig 011

Fig 012

Fig 006

Let it all dry.  When it is dry, run a line of glue around the inside edge of the cap and glue mohair to it.  It will hide the cap line. 

Fig 007

When it is all dry overnight,  I brush it.  I use a wire brush and gently brush the wig.  Lots of hair will come out, that is ok.  I then spray it down with water, scrunch it with my fingers and let it dry again.  When it is dry look to see it you need to add any more locks.  Sometimes I need to add more along the part line.  I save the hair I brushed out and use that.  I always do some trimming, adding layers, or bangs.  When I am done, I spray again and let dry. 


Sunday, May 20, 2012

A Home For the Fae

Shortly after Fern came to live with me I began to work on a home for her. A place where I could take pictures of her and her friends, (I knew there would be more) just being happy in fairyland. That was two months ago, and now it is finally at the stage where it is presentable enough to be seen. 
In my mind these little folks live in our world, so as I was making this house I kept that in mind.  Things outside the house are to our scale.  I like to think of them roaming through the forests living in old trees.

So I began my tree house with some cardboard.

Doll house 001

I covered the cardboard with strips of newsprint that I dipped into a concoction of flour, water, and wallpaper paste. 

I put a second floor in using a piece of foam board.  Then I decided that I wanted the top of the house to be uneven, like the tree was rotten, so I added some more cardboard and covered that.  It took many, many layers.


So here we are now, still no furniture.  I am going to make it myself from vines and things that are growing in my yard.

As you can see Fern has gotten herself a new friend, or as he tells me a little brother, his name is Wren.  I am obsessed with these little ones.  Don’t tell my husband I know that more will be showing up in the future.

new house 003

For the bark of the tree I wrinkled the newspaper and stuck it to the house vertically, after many layers of paint it began to look like bark. 


A trip to the craft store for mosses and flowers and leaves and such, and they are beginning to feel right at home.

Fairy House 003

As for the poor little homeless Hujoo girls.  Don’t worry about them.  Last weekend I found a big old vintage Childcraft doll house on Craigslist for a song.  They have already been bugging me to get to work on it.  One thing at a time girls. 

I need to get a bigger studio now with space for me and the dolls and the bears, and now their houses, and all their stuff.  It’s getting to be a tight squeeze.  

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Wefting mohair.

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Or in my case wool, Navajo-churro to be exact.  I used this to make a doll wig, but I certainly can think of times when a weft of long mohair would be needed in creating bears or other animals, tails, manes, ect.
I wanted to make a straight wig for the doll I am working on.  I have make wig caps and glued the mohair locks directly onto the cap which works just great for curls. But the straight hair not so good.  I could see way to much glue.

I have seen tutorials on how to weft locks of mohair, but I have been afraid.  Necessity called though, so I gave it a try.  It was so easy.

I am using Navajo-Churro wool here because I had it.  This type of wool has a soft fuzzy undercoat and a hairy outer coat.  My usual seller’s sheep have a fine shorter coat for some reason and I can felt both.  But I used a new seller and I had to pull the outer coat out.  It separated easily and it is just like fine straight human hair.  If I didn’t have this I would have ironed some mohair locks straight. 
Anyway back to the wefting.  I combed the hair out with a comb, and laid it in a thin even layer on a piece of tissue paper.  I then sewed it with the sewing machine on the smallest stich right down the middle.

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    Next I folded the paper and hair in half.

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Here you can see the stitch line.
Then I took it back to machine and stitched another line very close to the original.

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All that is left to do is tear away the paper.

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This side came out very easily.  The other side was more difficult.  I think now if I would have wet it a little I could have rubbed it off.

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Then I took those strands and glued them on to a wig cap I learned how to make here, on the BJD Magazine site.

This is my latest little Hujoo doll I have been playing with.  I had to still glue hairs in along the part line to cover the stitching, but I think it worked out really well.

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Here is a picture of the three girls I have made wigs for now. 

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The curly headed girls are just glued on the cap.  The curls are very forgiving.  I am glad I took the plunge and tried the wefting.  If you have ever seen the price of wefted locks, well it was well worth the effort.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

I Saved the Best for Last

Yarnell 003
Open/Sleepy Eyes
I have gone back and forth with this one.  Seems to be a secret that is not really discussed. I would like to thank Linda Benson for her blog post earlier this year, she explained enough for a light to go off in my head. Between that post and the little bear that was destined for the trash can I finally figured it out, almost.  I can still not get the eyes all the way shut. So these are not open/shut eyes, but open/sleepy eyes. 

This is not an easy technique,certainly not for the beginning bear maker, it is fiddly. Do not try it on a good bear to sell. 

And again, I say this is my way, I have no idea how others do it.  

eyelids 002

I have glued a very thin piece of wire (I think this is 28 gauge beading wire) to the very edge of thin ultrasuede light. I ordered ultrasuede light off of an etsy seller,it is very thin, and strong. (She does not have plain colors in her shop photos, I contacted her directly.) I have tried it without wire, but the wire helps to push it up and stay in a rounded shape.

eyelids 005

I did very minimal needle sculpting around the eyes, only a back and forth across the bridge of the nose. The eyes are not pulled into the head. The eyelid sewing will do this. I did use a drop of glue under the eye to hold them in place. I have found that without it when you pull the eyelid up the eye will move downward. I did not want that I want them to stay put. The drop of glue went under the bottom part of the eye.


I want you to see a picture of bear eyes, I always look at placement of lids. Where exactly it is that the corners of the eyes are.

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This is just a scrap piece of fabric I am using to make a lid template. It is a little bigger than I need it to be. I used this to cut two eyelids out of my prepared suede.

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Then I used a little of the Fabric-Tac glue to hold it in place. You can see the folded edge with the wire at the bottom of the eyelid.

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Please ignore the stitches there, they are from the sculpting I did between the nose bridge. The camera is so close you see everything. 

I am taking a stitch through each corner of the eye. I am starting from the back of the head and coming up. I will then grab the suede and take it back down and through to the back of the head.  I am using a very long needle.


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These next picture shows that I am putting my needle back into the exact same hole that the thread is coming out of. This way there will be no dimpling of the fabric in the back of the head.

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Now I am at the other corner, both corners done first. Up close to the eye and then grab the suede and pull it back down to the back of the head.

On the next bear I did I marked the corners of both eyes with pen. It made it easier making them both even.

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Grabbing the fabric from underneath.

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Now what I did for the rest of the lid was to come up from the back of the head, and take a stitch on the suede and then go back down close to the eye again to the back of the head. I did this all the way across. It sunk the eye down and made a socket for the lid to fold into.


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Again this is a very close shot. The finished lid. For myself I used a little wool and ran it along the seam and felted it in and you could not see any stitches. If I was not felting I would probably take a few more stitches to make it perfectly smooth. But again this is very close on a little bear, so really you can barely see the bumps
I also felted a brow, but I think that if you didn't cut away the fur so much as me this would be unnecessary.
I did not make a bottom lid. I needle felted one in, but one could be done the same way and then the eyes would close completely. I am only going sleepy.

I have since I wrote this put on a bottom lid.  I did it the same way.  So then both top and bottom lid will move.

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On finished, one just glued. You can see how it sinks the eye into a socket.


Eyes open, you can see how it sits back in the socket, that was sculpted with the thread, but I did add a little felting to build it up.

I do see more and more people interested in realistic bear making.  This I think is part of that.  There really is not a lot of information out there on how to achieve what needs to be done to make a bear look “real.” 

I have learned after working with kids at a school for 10 years that not everyone learns the same way, some people are good at figuring things out on their own, (like me) and others need to see it done in order to grasp the concept of it.  Then they take off on their own.  It has always been my goal to help those people. I will continue to do so.

I know I have said this before, but when one person takes the next step on their journey to success it benefits us all.

I do hope that if one of you out there uses this and figures out how to get those lids to close all the way without a lot of bulkiness that you will please contact me and let me know. I will keep racking my brain over this till I do it.