Joanne Livingston is one of the best realistic bear artist based in USA. She has been making bears for more than 30 years! Her bears are all very highly sought after and highly priced due to all the intricate details she has given to a bear to make them realistic. Her techniques are extremely time consuming especially since she gave her bears needle felted faces and later root fur onto the felted faces. To enhance the realism, armatures were built internally so that her bears can pose as close to look like real ones.
Wayne has known Joanne for more than 7 years; from the very beginning when he first started bear making. Joanne has been his mentor as well as very best friend. Her works have been the greatest inspiration to Wayne to becoming a good bear artist. We have discussed for a long long time that we will visit USA one day to learn from Joanne.
Taken at the Philadelphia Airport. L- R: Philip, Wayne, David and Joanne
The day finally came that we did go. Joanne and her husband, David came to the airport and brought us to stay with them for 4 nights so that we can learn to make a realistic bear from her.
Joanne is a very experienced teacher. She has carefully planned all the instructions for us before we arrived. Prior to our arrival, we have sewn all the parts of the bear and applique all the paws and foot pads.
Joanne taught us how to build a lockline armature, how to needle felt the bear's face as well as rooting fur onto the face.
One of the challenges Wayne faced was rooting fur onto the bear's face. Extremely time consuming, each piece of fur need to be unraveled from the mohair fabic, sorted before rooting the good ones onto the bear's face. When rooting the fur, you need to observe the flow direction of the fur as well to determine the spaces between each fur. The angle which you insert the felting needle is also crucial. The whole process takes time and patience to complete. We really salute Joanne for all her determination and passion.
Due to the lack of time, Wayne and Philip managed to complete felting the face and worked on rooting only 1 side of the eyes. Joanne also showed us how to needle sculpt the paws and foot pads and later using colours to add shadings.
Work in progress bear.
Besides making a bear, Joanne also showed how to make a doll wig for Wayne's cute little doll, made by Nikki Britt!
Of course, we did have some fun time walking the puppies, Piko and Thor every morning! We are glad that they both liked us!
On the weekend, we visited the art flee market down the street.
After the many days of lessons, we are both confident that everything that we have learnt would be very useful for our future creations.
We want to specially thank our mentor Joanne for her time and patience for coaching us as well as her husband, David, for hosting us.
As a token of appreciation, Wayne gave Joanne one of his handmade squirrel, Chestnut.
We hope you enjoyed reading our learning journey :)
Greetings everyone! We are finally back home! We were away for 2 weeks as we traveled to USA! It was a long journey, taking us 22 hours in total flight time from Singapore!
Thankfully, we had a transfer in London after 13 hours which allowed us to get down from the plane to ease our stiff necks and legs.
In the next few blog posts, we are going to share our learning journey in USA. We still find it hard to believe that we learned from Masters in Bear Making Industries. Wayne and Philip took a private class from Joanne Livingston, and learned from Michelle Lamb during her workshop conducted at the Susan Quinlan Doll and Bear Convention. Not only that, we are so honored to be able to personally visit the R John Wright Studios and Kelly Dean.
This trip to USA is not a holiday for us, our main objective is to learn advance techniques from different teachers as well as to participate in the Susan Quinlan Doll & Bear Convention.
We will be writing much on our adventures and we hope you will enjoy reading our learning journey.
On 15 May, Maki Manabe from Japan came to visit Singapore! She had arranged for Wayne to organise a meetup with the Singapore Teddy Bear Lovers Group members. Maki is also a bear artist, under the brand, "ALOHA BEAR". All of her creations are Hawaiian-style themed, each having their unique personality.
Maki choose the finest Japanese fabric to make her bears and animals. She has good judgement and taste in combining vibrant colours to make her bears stand out, and having that "Kawaii" factor. One look and you will definitely know it's made in Japan!
Our meetup was held in at Paradise Dynasty at Orchard Ion, having Tim Sum for dinner. We were glad that one of our members, Winnie was able to assist in the translations. Otherwise, we would have difficulty communicating with Maki-san!
L-R: Paula, Wayne, Philip,Chio, Maki, Amanda, Esther and Winne
After dinner, we met Esther and Paula for coffee. We took another group photo before we left for the night. Thank you Maki-san for visiting us. We hope to meet you again next time!
P.S: You can join Maki-san's FB page to view more of her wonderful creations!
Thank you to all our friends who came and visited our table last week at the Susan Quinlan Doll & Bear Convention! We are very pleased that 10 of our creations had found new homes! Thank you for your support! We are in the midst of sorting out the pictures and will be writing a review of the convention.