seed pod newsletter
© Maria Pahls 1999
the seed pod #046
© Copyright 1998 Maria Pahls
Published to the internet
by arrangement with Homespun Peddler.

Fence Post
the fence post
(editor's letter)

dear friends:

the seed pod is changing again! i have changed my newsletter to be seasonal rather than a bi-monthly publication. more information will be posted as it becomes available and the archives of issues all the way up to 73 will all eventually be shown here at homespun peddler.

primitively yours,

drop a line
miscellaneous letters sent in by readers

a letter from lori baker about the bear show she recently participated in:

"The name of the show was "BEARLY Spring" That was an Understatement!!! The drive up to Sauder Village was in torrential rains, where you could hardly see the highway (although that didn't stop me from stopping at a few antiques shops to pick up some neat things!!!) Once there the weather turned in Ice storm Friday nite...and "beautiful" glistening ice covered trees (and roads) the next morn. (not great to travel to a Bear show!) On the good side.... The Sauder Village Inn is an absolutely beautiful place to stay and do a show. Everyone there bent over backwards to make things very nice.

We started Fri. nite with a banquet at their restaurant, then a "room tour" I think these are unique to the bear business....You set your bears up in your room the night before the show for convention guests to have a preview or do some early buying, It's really a nice social time and very relaxed. The Show was Sat. Set up was very easy, The show was small but intimate... with some very nice bears. Also 2 vendors with mohair and supplies. One , Linda and Gordon Mead from Spare Bear Parts in MI. The crowds weren't tremendous but due to the weather.... I did have a few customers who ventured from MI, all in all it wasn't such a bad day. The first show anywhere is always a gamble, it takes time to get the word out and to educate people about Teddy Bears. My friend Pat Murphy (an artist from MI) and I set up a booth together, so it was good even to go and spend time with a good friend. Also to see other artists that I don't see too often.

I know that they also host a doll show at Sauder sometime in the year. Don't know much about it but might be of some interest to some of the "Pals". I also plan on going back this summer when they host a rug hooking show. My mother went last year, had a great time. She's a "Hooker". Sauder also has a historical Craft village."
a note from paula on the bee swap dolls she received:

"The bee swap was the first completed swap that I've participated in. I have enjoyed it so much. I received two dolls. The first, "Beatrice" came from Diane. She has a square body embroidered with flowers and the saying "bee mine".

Her face is painted and embroidered and aged. Her expression is wonderful. She has black strip arms and legs and holds some dried flowers. Her wings are painted a neat golden-olive.

The second doll to come came from Sylvia. Her name is "Claire". She has elegantly long arms and legs and long wool braids. Her dress is rust and white. She has an embroidered apron of flowers and the words "flower music" Sylvia made these neat little fabric bees with metal wings on the apron. She is carrying an aged watering can.

It was really exciting each persons interpretation of the bee theme. The dolls were so creative! This bee swap was special to me because I had a favorite uncle who used to keep bees. He passed away a few years ago and since then I have started a collection of small bee skeps. These two dolls will be a special addition to my collection."

"Beatrice" © Diane Braund

"Claire" © Sylvia Ricks

"You make a doll that you've come to love as you bring it to life...give it away and hope that it will endure. Then someone else comes to love it and you realize that you've got a friend." spoken about trading dolls by diane braund

a note from penny about a "visitor" that admired one of her dolls a bit too much:

"Last year, one of the dolls Frannie made disappeared from my porch. I usually keep a few out there because they are so good at greeting visitors. Well, I looked all around for that doll for days--figured the wind blew it off the porch. Then, I heard a squirrel scurrying up one of the pine trees just a few feet from my front porch so I looked up. The squirrel had built a nest at the very top of the pine tree. Guess what it was using for "fluff"? You got it, Frannie's doll! I could see white poly-fil in the nest and as I looked down the trunk of the tree, there was the rest of the doll body, looking as if someone had beaten the stuffing out of it and intentionally "hung" that poor doll from a very high branch. It hung there for weeks and I got a chuckle out of looking at it until one day the wind must have blown it away. Just the other day as I was cleaning out my little wilderness bed in front of the house, I came across what must have been part of the doll's shirt, all shredded, tattered and torn. I thought of that squirrel.

Yesterday, I noticed the wool hair on another doll on the porch is getting a little "frazzled". I think a bird is stealing her hair for it's nest! I'm going to put a basket of poly-fil and wool doll hair on the porch and watch it disappear!" Penny DeHoff

rosie did her first primitive doll for the black doll swap:

"The primitive Black dolls I swapped were my first. I was just thrilled that the recipients liked them. For me to think primitive and simple was very difficult. I certainly learned to play down fancy and embellishments. Most of the dolls I do presently are "art dolls" and I spend lots of time with the beadwork, dyeing the wool for hair and sometimes over painting on the fabrics. I had to think about the slaves that may have made that doll and how they would not have had the luxury of using beads, gold thread or fancy ribbon. I am a professional storyteller and I do a one woman dramatization of Harriet Tubman and the Underground railroad. Making this doll was like portraying Harriet...I had to feel it. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to express how I felt while making this doll."

primitive ponderings
questions asked by readers, then replied upon in later issues.

new question: "how does your garden grow?" tell us about the things you put in your garden,border beds. etc. to make it primitive..."

on manufacturing (#45)

I wanted to respond to the primitive ponderings by Caryn in issue #45 about 'manufacturing'. I am one of those who designs and manufacturers my own items for sale (both retail and wholesale) and I'd love to 'chat' with others who have to put together lots of items in a short amount of time.

I love sewing and although someday I may get into the pattern end of things -- right now I just like making the stuff myself and can't give that part up. However, I know I could certainly use any ideas other people have to help speed the process but still keep the quality high.

I'm not a glue gun person and stitch everything, Many times doing things by hand and time being what it is -- it's often very hard to complete big projects without becoming totally stressed out! Any other 'manufacturers' out there with ideas to share?" penny baugh

LINDA MEAD, bear artist

ppals: tell us a little about your "history" as a designer.

lm: "I have always done some type of crafting. My first needle project at age 5 was embroidery. I stitched the little piece of fabric to my dress!!! I started making doll cloths at age 8 by skipping the pattern part and just cutting out the fabric. My Mother was a sewer and my Grandmother was a quilter. My older sisters also enjoy sewing. It was just a natural thing one did in my house as I grew up. I opened a fabric store and taught "Stretch & Sew" type classes. I learned a lot about patterns from that. My first bear was from a Vogue pattern about 15 years ago. It didn't take me long to make changes and then start designing my own patterns. I started selling my work almost with the first bear. It took me another 6 years before I published my first pattern. Writing easy to follow directions is always a major challenge. Once I started the mail order business I no longer had time to make bears to sell."

ppals: do you specialize in bears? if yes, is there a particular style? do you dress them?

lm: "I do specialize in bear patterns. I try very hard to vary the style to appeal to a broader market of bear makers. I don't dress them because people want the pattern for the bear more than the clothing. Personally I prefer just a bow, vest or hat. Just enough to give a personality but not enough to hide the fact it is a bear."
© Linda Mead 1999

ppals: what materials do you work with most often? any particular colors?

lm: "Because dark colors do not photograph well for the pattern pictures I most often use medium to light color fabrics. For my personal work (gifts, charity auction etc.) I dye or over dye mohair or distress synthetic fur fabrics for a custom look. I like a lot of texture in the furs I use."

ppals:are there other things that you make or design patterns for?

lm: "Sometimes I think of creating bunny designs but they haven't happened yet. I am known for my bear making instructional materials so that is the type of patterns I specialize in. Actually my instructions would apply for anything that was made of fur."

ppals: tell us about your business.....Spare Bear Parts.

lm: "It is a mail order business specializing in teddy bear making supplies. We are based in northern Michigan and ship around the world. We have patterns, synthetic fur fabrics, mohair fur fabric (we import our own line from Europe, glass and plastic eyes, growlers, music boxes, perle cotton and for stuffing we offer excelsior, kapok, plastic pellets, glass beads and firm-pak & fluffy stuff. My husband and I travel and teach classes. We also have a number of Certified Instructors that are associated with us. We stress our instructional materials such as our Learn Bear Making Video and Learn Bear Making Kit series. The series offers a wide variety construction methods. The bear maker is encouraged to try all of them so they can best select the method that suits them."

ppals:do you have a particular method for your creative process or is there anything that really inspires you to create.

lm: "Because of my busy schedule I rarely get to design just for the sake of designing. It is usually for a purpose such as a pattern to be published in a magazine or for a certain type of class. That puts restrictions on what I can create. When I design I try to keep in mind the skill level of the maker. If it is a class pattern I must also include elements that will teach. When I have the pressure of deadlines I look through the notebook that I keep with me when I'm traveling. That is when I often have the best ideas. If I write/draw them in my book I can creative ideas when I need them."

ppals: as a pattern designer, how do you feel about people making your designs to sell.

lm: "As long as they give credit to the designer on any tags I don't have a problem about it. Since I also offer material I am a little more liberal than other pattern designers might be. I invite all of you interested in bear patterns and fur fabrics to drop by our web site."

editors note: look for linda's column in the magazine "soft dolls & animals" called "snip, stitch and stuff".

tips & techniques

professional film developing for best results

when photographing your work for your records or for display keep in mind that convenience film processing only seeks to level the "gray" in a negative. this often leaves all of your photos, regardless of the f stop settings you used the same darkness -or if using an automatic camera they end up too dark... for better developing take your film to a hobby shop where they give the personal touch of adjusting the lightness for best over all prints. ~ stephen

t-style dress

my most recent swap doll was clothed in a t-style dress. it was inspired by a similar dress style in a book called "Cloth Dolls" by Miriam Gourley.

my version had gathers at the waist and the sleeves. to make a basic t-dress, your doll should lay on the fabric which has been folded (wrong side out)in half at the dolls shoulders...

lengthwise: the fabric should start at the doll's shoulders and go to the ankles or knees depending on how long you want the dress (leave a little extra for a hem if desired).

widthwise: the fabric should go from wrist to wrist (again leave extra if you wish to turn the sleeve ends under for a hem).

with the doll still on the fabric, trace under the arms and down the sides leaving a 1/2" space between the body & the traced line. remove the doll and cut along the lines leaving the fold at the fabric top. pin to secure and sew with a 1/4" allowance, trim ends & turn dress right side out.

at the dress center/top of the fold cut a tiny slit and increase it so that the head may pass thru. if the doll has a large head you can make the cut for the neck then cut a slit down the back of the dress to accommodate the head.

place the doll in the dress, turn under the neck slit and stitch into place, if you slit the dress back turn under one side and sew atop remaining side to close the opening. embellish with buttons over the seam if desired.

hem the dress bottom and finish sleeves as desired. the waist gathers can be made by increasing the 1/2" spacing when tracing around the doll. -rosie chapman
drawings by maria pahls © 1999

burlap sack

lincoln wool
424 e. santee hwy
charlotte, mi 48813
(517) 543-7821

magic cabin
po box 1996
prairie edge rd.
peoria, il 61656-1996
(888) 623-6557
a wonderful assortment of child friendly books, gifts,toys,kits as well as hard to find supplies. wonderfully illustrated catalog.

Factory Direct Craft Supply, Inc
(800) 252-5223
book wormie   book reviews
books of interest
Cloth Dolls and How to Make Them
by Miriam Gourley
ISBN 0-913327-32-8

"doll special" the australian dolls and bears magazine north america distributer:
quilter's resource inc.
2211 n. elston ave.
chicago il, 60614

The Ultimate Doll by Caroline Goodfellow.
ISBN 1-56458-273-6
filled with picture after picture of antique dolls which should provide inspiration galore for all us pattern designers and doll makers! some photos show the naked doll so you can see how it was put together.
spider web
web sites of members & other sites of interest

linda mead's site "spare bear parts"
or write to:
spare bear parts
box 56
interlochen, mi 49643
(616) 276-7915 voice
(616) 276-7921 fax

country living gardener magazine

herb companion magazine
(plus they sell great books on soap making & dye gardens)

warm & natural batting site:


"words spoken are light as air
words written are always there"
        k.donovan ?

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