giovedì 4 agosto 2011


When I am asked about my creations by people that are not familiar with the world of teddy bear making, I have a hard time explaining exactly what it is all about. I feel that defining my craft as "soft sculpture" might feel pretentious, but simply saying that I make stuffed animals is reductive.
There are elements that are well known by collectors and teddy bear makers that I would like to explain to the non initiated...:-)
Every animal that I make is OOAK. This is an acronym that stands for One Of A Kind. It means that every creation is unique, it is like a person, or a real animal. You cannot find two exactly the same. This is not true for mass market soft toys that are made in many exemplars all alike.
A couple of examples.
Two penguins that I recently made, PUCK and ZAC. They are from the same design. You can see they come from the same family, but they are clearly unique, like two brothers.
 Here below pictures of the two Igel brothers, Vladimir and Igor. They are both from the same pattern, but their needle felted faces are clearly different and unique. 

Each creation is entirely made by myself. This means that the designing, the sewing, the needle felting, polymer clay sculpting, shading, trimming....all the techniques involved into creating this unique animal are my own achievement. It also means hours of work.

What does it really involve, imagining and crafting a little furry creature from scratch? 
Sometimes I start with a vague idea. "I want to make a dog". Sometimes I have a precise idea . "I want to make a welsh terrier". The first step is always...'research'. In the internet age, it is oh so easy. I start looking on Google for images of real life photos, or sometimes drawings of what I have in mind. I put every 'inspiring' image into a folder. Sometimes an image has only an interesting element to it. The proportions of the animal, a nose, the colours. When I have enough inspiring images, it is time to start designing.

Designing is one of my favourite steps. It can be awfully long and full of mistakes, but I like the challenge of translating the image in my head into a three-dimensional project. At this stage, I already have chosen the fur that I will use but I always try my new designs on cheap cotton fabric first. Proportions change when using fur, but this first step is very important for me.
Part of a  prototype for a fox cub
When I am sure of my newly designed project, I can finally start: tracing the shapes on the fabric, cutting, trimming, hand sewing, turning the pieces. There are many different stages in this long work: probably the most important and defining one is the face-head shaping. In my case, the muzzle-eyes area is shaped through needle felting. I enjoy using this technique as it is  very versatile, you can obtain any shape you like.

Vladimir Igel when he still had no face
Valdimir Igel with his sweet needle felted face
As for the noses, I prefer sculpting them with polymer clay.
Sculpting a bear nose Click here to see how I do it
Another part of the process that I always like very much is the shading. I love seeing a 'rough' creation taking life thanks to delicate brush strokes.

Finally, when my creation is born, all sewn, stuffed, needle felted, trimmed, shaded...I spend some more hours designing a cute accessory to go with it. My 'brand' is felt, as I love doing little felt projects. 
Oscar the cat and his felt fish

Tino Elefantino on his paraglide
When the accessory is done, there is one last important thing. The identity card. All my creations have peculiar and distinctive identity cards, sewn from felt in matching style and colour with the accessory. I always use a piece of the animal's fur, it is a sort of DNA proof!
On the identity card I write the name of the animal, the date of birth, and FB, that are my initials and my signature.
Igor Igel on his daiseis felt mat...

....showing proudly his birth certificate

I choose the best materials for my creations. It is very important to me as so many hours and efforts go into giving life to them, I like to think of the end result as a high quality achievement, not only for how it is made, but also because it can last. 
I use mohair, alpaca and sometimes high quality faux fur. There is a very wide range of choice of those beautiful materials, and choosing the 'right' fur for each project is very important....and it is also fun!
I stuff my creations with sheep wool, and add enclosed granulate for adding a nice weight. 
As for shading, I use different mediums, depending on the project. Oils and pastels are my favourite.
As for the eyes, I mostly use black German glass eyes. 

I hope this has been an interesting read. Most of all, I hope it will help you appreciate the time, passion and  efforts that go into creating one of these little creatures.

Pin It!




Pin It!

mercoledì 3 agosto 2011


If you are interested into adopting one of my creations, or being notified through my mailing list when a new one is available for adoption, you can directly e-mail me here:

You can find a complete overview of my creations available for adoption, and already adopted, in my Bearpile shop here:

I sometimes sell on auction through e-bay . Some of my customers left very kind feedback. If you would like to read some


To see my creations available for adoption CLICK HERE

Pin It!

martedì 2 agosto 2011

My studio

I'm lucky enough to have a working space of my own. It is a long and somehow narrow room with a wide west facing window that allows me a good deal of natural light in the afternoons.

A tour of the premises, from the left side.

 Part of my stash of felt. On the shelf on top, you can see the 'for adoption shelf', where I keep the little ones waiting to find a new home.

My working table. Now it looks quite tidy...don't think it is always like that. It can be very messy in certain stages of my crafting. One rule I have: always tidy up and clean after a new project is completed. 

 On the wall above the table I have this metal hanging line. It is perfect for my prototypes, memos, drawings....everything is right there under my eyes, if I want!

My table is long enough to have a space for my laptop PC, and my CD player. What would I do without them?

This is where I keep the folders with my most recent designs, most of my sewing tools...

 ....eyes, joints, eyelashes, wiring...

And this where I keep my mohair and faux fur, my needle felting tools and wool...a part of my stuffing wool...

I have many, many cardboard boxes like these on the picture. They contain just about anything. My sewing threads boxes, knitting wool, fabrics...

More materials: my brushes, my oils, pastels, glues, sandpaper, wax....

I could go on forever. This is my small world, were little dreams come true!

Pin It!

lunedì 1 agosto 2011


My name is Francesca Boretti. I'm Italian but I live in Switzerland since 2010.
I've always enjoyed creating, and through the years I have experimented in several crafts: papier mache', cross stitch, embroidery, mosaic, decoupage, fabric painting, polymer clay sculpture....just to name some.

In 2004 I was able to finally convince a dear friend to teach me the basics to make a jointed teddy bear. That was the beginning of a passion that I think, and hope, will fuel my creative life for many years to come.
This is my first bear ever. His name is Romeo, and he lives with me. He sits on a shelf in my work room, and observes with a kind eye as I sew new creations.
All through 2004 and 2005 I worked hard at this new found hobby. After Romeo some more bears out of other people's patterns came to life.  My main goal though was to develop my own design for a teddy bear. My learning experience was a very solitary one, as nobody in my friends circle had any knowledge or experience of the teddy bear world. Trial and error was the everyday approach, and I must say that I enjoyed every minute of it, even if it meant many many errors and few results! :-)
Some of the first bears from my own original designs
In 2006 my first son Pietro was born, and my teddy bear passion was put aside in favor of intensive cross stitching and baby caring. Then in 2008 my son Fabio was born...and the teddies again waited patiently for their turn.
It finally came in 2011, and I must thank my eldest son Pietro that at five kept making all sorts of questions about the cute teddies that sat on the shelf, and "can you make me one for my birthday mummy?".

Since 2011 my technique and my designs have gone through great changes and improvement. I must say that the internet, and the possibility it gives us teddy bear makers to share ideas and seek inspiration has been  an important factor.
And here I am. I am lucky. I have two great kids, my husband supports my crafting whims... I have a great passion. When people ask me if this is a hobby or a part time job, I answer...IT IS A FULL TIME HOBBY! :-)

Pin It!