Even though the human brain doesn't finish it's development until we are in our mid twenties, we reach our peak of physical attractiveness much sooner. Usually in our mid to late teen years. Our skin is at it's smoothest, our hair it's fullest, our eyes their brightest and our teeth their whitest.
As we traverse on through life we start picking up battle scars and barnacles of age that show we have actually lived our lives. Now most of us attempt to combat the aging process in one way or another. We want to retain the flawlessness of youth as long as we can. But what we don't stop to consider is that these things we gather on our journey give us character.
The life of a childhood stuffed companion is similar. They start out with shiny fur, even noses, bright eyes and crisp bows. But as they are drug along on the journey of the child who loves them they too pick up battle scars and barnacles of age. But we look at them differently than we do ourselves and we can appreciate the character they have gained.
Now as an artist who is a perfectionist at the core, but does her best to recreate that well lived and loved look right from the onset...I fight a never ending battle with myself. It's normal for the human brain to like balance and symmetry. If we didn't, the golden ratio wouldn't be considered golden. Our hearts on the other hand, respond to things that are unique, a little flawed and have a story to tell. In the end my heart usually wins.
But when toys are well loved, they lose that balance. Noses are pushed off to one side from being hugged close to the body, a limb might sag, stains appear randomly, and stuffing moves around. When I distress a piece I have to override that natural instinct to make it balanced. Believe me it's hard to do. I have to walk a fine line in order to appease my own sense of aesthetics and get the look I want.
When I make a prototype for a new bear, I usually feel pretty confident in the pattern. After all I have been doing this for thirty years, so I am familiar with proportion and how this or that will make the final piece look. Despite that, things don't turn out exactly the way I want them to on the first try every single time, and sometimes it needs a little bit of tweaking. One of three things will happen to that prototype. Either it will be good and I will sell it, or if it's not a bear, but a new animal I may keep it for reference. All the rest that I am not comfortable with selling for some reason end up going to the "Land Of Lost Toys." That is another person's house where I know they will be loved despite their imperfections.
At the end of my steamer trunk that I use as a coffee table/work table sits a little chair that I made years ago. Quite frequently a bear will be sitting in it to keep me company while I work. It might be one from my collection who wanted to come out of the work room for a bit, or it might be one that I made.
After I made the prototype for the new 7 inch bear I set him in the chair. (Yes it's a boy despite his pink bow. Bears don't worry about such things as gender specific colors.) I couldn't quite bring myself to sell him. For some reason he had some serious issues. You might not notice them so much if I didn't tell you. But his chin seam was much too long and it was crooked. I don't know why it was crooked, it shouldn't have been...my hand sewing is pretty meticulous. His nose was done in embroidery thread because I didn't have any #8 pearl cotton yet since I hadn't been making bears that small. I didn't even have any black embroidery thread so I used charcoal grey.
I couldn't look at him because I felt disappointed. Especially after the tweaking caused the subsequent bears to turn out so well. He was slated to go off to the "Land Of Lost Toys." But he sat there for many days looking a bit forlorn and hopeful while I worked on the rest. They were that perfect mix that rode the fine line and I was happy with them. After about a week a funny thing happened...he started to grow on me. A lot. In fact I developed a real fondness for him, and I felt he deserved a name. I named him Mozzie after the character in the show "White Collar." I love that show, and that character.
He is going to stay here, he may not be perfect...but he has real character! Hopefully someday I will look in the mirror and appreciate my own imperfections I have picked up along the way the same way I have come to appreciate his.