Dec 6, 2009

12/6: The Helen Jones Bear

This is the bear I've been waiting to make since last spring. Helen Jones was the mother of my dear friend, Terry. I met Helen several times and she was one of the sweetest and most spiritual women I ever met. She was a true witness to the Lord she loved so much and unabashedly shared that love with everyone she came into contact with. She prayed for everyone and kept a prayer list inside her Bible. Helen was special. Her funeral service last year was one of the most wonderful services I've ever attended. The church was filled with people who knew and loved her. Some had known her nearly all her life. She was a courageous and loving woman who lived a full life before she left to sing her hymns in heaven.

After she passed, Terry heard about the Memory Bears and sent fabric to have bears made for her own daughter and her niece. Once Terry saw them she knew she wanted one too, so she sent me fabric to get a third bear. Terry sent a pillow sham, one that she and her mom had shopped for together. As soon as I opened the box and held the sham I knew I was supposed to make this bear. I needed to make it as a gift to Terry and as a way of honoring Helen.

All I had to do was learn how to make one! They hold classes for making the bears a few times a year and I signed up for an April class. Sadly, I got very sick just before the class and had to cancel. I had to wait until November to take that class!  After I took the class I wanted to make a couple of bears before I started this one. Boy, am I glad I did.

The fabric turned out to be very difficult to work with. It had a backing on it and I couldn't apply interfacing to it. I thought it would still hold together, but it frayed at every little touch. The good news is that I kept hearing Helen encourage me and assure me that her bear did not have to be perfect.  To show what it was like, here is a picture of the head from the outside and  it was like inside that same head! 

Helen Bear was not easy to make but she was an enjoyable challenge. Since I knew Helen and I know Terry, I also know that neither of them care all that much about perfection. They care about love and forgiveness and accept that we are all human. Once I got the bear sewn up I had to smile at her slightly crooked head and her uneven belly. She already has little stitches to repair a couple of places that came apart while she was being stuffed. She is a well-loved bear and I know she will be loved in her new home. 

Two more photos to share. The back of Helen features a bit of fabric Terry sent me to add in some way. Since Helen was of the generation of women who never left home without a hanky, I turned that fabric into one for her bear to have as needed.  The second photo is Helen and Leonor sitting together. They did a lot of this during their preparation and finishing. We couldn't help but notice how similar they were and how they looked like good friends. I like to think that's exactly what they were. Although they never knew each other in life, they spent time together here with me as I turned part of them into a bear for someone who loved them. I'll miss them!


12/6: Making and Finishing Leanor Bear

Leanor was made over several days, bits at a time. Once again I felt connected to the person wore the garment. I talked to her while I cut and pinned and sewed. When I accidentally clipped the inside of the right ear and wanted to cry I felt her support. I tried to fix it without taking the head apart, but I could hear my own mother saying that "a thing doing at all is worth doing it well" so I took it apart, cut out a new ear and sewed it all back together. I was glad I did! Thanks, mom.

After that, Leanor went very quickly. I had her stuffed mid-week and left her still open in the back for a few days to let her stuffing settle and then add a bit more before I closed her up and put the pocket on her back today. While she settled, I started making my 3rd bear, Helen. Her story is next!