top of page
  • Writer's pictureKaaren Poole

Bear Needs Home

I love Southwest jewelry, especially with turquoise bears set in silver bracelets or necklaces. And one day, as I was looking at them on Etsy, I got the urge to make my own 'turquoise' bear cabochon from polymer clay. It wouldn’t quite be southwest style. It would probably be in the same side pose, but more realistic. But it would be small, and there’s not that much I could hope to do on a bear that turned out to be about 1 ¼ inches long.

My initial plan was to make a beaded bracelet with the bear as the focal object. With that in mind, I glued it to a piece of Lacy’s Stiff Stuff, which is a really nice backing for doing bead embroidery. That’s what it’s on in the photo. And the brown is a bit of burnt umber paint that I used to antique the bear and bring out some of his texture. The black lines are my outlines for beading the bracelet.

So far, so good.

But then, I bent it around my wrist—I have pretty small wrists, by the way—and that’s when I had to reconsider my plan. I should have slightly bent the bear before I cured it so that it would curve around my wrist. But I didn’t, and that created a problem. The shape of the bracelet would be wrong. It would be flat behind the bear, then begin to curve. I tried to convince myself that would be OK, but I didn’t believe myself.

So, what to do with the bear? I had a few ideas.

The first was to make it into a necklace. I’d do bead embroidery around the bear to make a nice pendant, then hang it on a beaded cord. That would certainly work, and it would make a nice necklace, but I had to admit to myself that I would never wear it.

Then I thought of making a bigger beaded background for the bear, mount it on a piece of worn wood and frame it for a small wall piece—no more than 6” x 8”, I thought.  Or maybe I’d display it on an easel on my desk. I liked that idea, and it stuck with me for a few days.

But then I realized that there is one place in my art journals where I can use dimensional elements. The covers! Decision made! Problem solved!

I can’t create the cover art until I’m finished with all the spreads because working inside the journal when the covers are complete would put the covers under stresses and strains. But I could make paper covers and then glue them onto the journal covers later on.

So, here’s the paper background I made. (Sorry about the shadows from my hands and phone camera.)

I’m working on mixed media paper.

At this point, I had a simple layer of collage with clippings with various sizes of text. Then I dotted paint on it and spread the paint with a brayer and old credit card.

Now I’ve laid out the second layer of collage. I’ll be adding paint over it like before, but will be using much lighter colors.

While the paint was still wet, I dropped water on it here and there and after the drops sat for a while, I blotted them up, which removed that last application of paint.

Then it was time for handwriting. I just babbled on and on about bears. After that, I added a light layer of gesso to push the writing back.

Now it’s time to stop until I have my beaded piece done. Once I’m to that point, I’ll be able to tell what else to do with the paper background.

Here are all the components for what I have in mind.

I’m planning to paint a loose forest landscape scene stretching across the middle of the page, and upwards from that center line for a few inches. At that point, I’ll cut the page in half and glue the pieces onto my journal covers. I’ll glue the ribbon across the middle so that it can tie closed over the journal’s spine. Then, finally, I’ll glue the beaded bear patch over the ribbon on the front cover.

Can’t wait to see how it turns out! And I can’t wait to see my little bear in her new home.


I publish a weekly email newsletter, An Artful Path, which contains brief articles on art, animals, writing, and musings on life. You can subscribe on the home page of my website (just click the button below and scroll to the bottom of the page). Don't forget to claim your thank you gift for subscribing - an art instruction video complete with supporting PDF. And while you're on my website,, take a look around!

Your email address is safe with me. I don't share that information with anyone! And you can unsubscribe at any time.

30 views1 comment

Recent Posts

See All

1 Comment

Mar 05

I’m looking forward to seeing how it turns out. I enjoy learning how you proceed with your projects.

bottom of page