Antique Bear Care
It is really important, especially with elderly bears to take great care of them so here are a few tips, first of all, on protecting them:–
Always remember to pick up your bear by his body rather than by his arm or an ear! Mishandling will break up the filling, leaving your poor bear with a saggy arm or loose ear over time. Try to keep your bear in an even temperature, and avoid strong sunlight, which fades the mohair. Dressed bears in particular can end up two-tone! An expensive antique teddy bear is best housed in a glass-fronted cabinet, or dressed in a little outfit to protect the mohair – which is also good protection for much-loved or worn old bears.
Major repairs require professional surgery, but minor ones can be done at home. The most common areas of wear on a teddy bear are the paw pads. It is a good idea to cover worn pads with a piece of felt, slightly larger than the original, stitched securely around the outer edge. This will prevent any further loss of filling. It will also preserve the original pad until it can be replaced or repaired professionally. For another stopgap measure, remember that it pays to check all of the bear’s seams from time to time. You can easily insert a few small stitches where needed: as the saying goes, a stitch in time saves nine! Facial repairs are often easier than they sound. Replacement eyes (shoe button or glass) can be bought and stitched on from the outside. Noses, mouths and claws can be re-stitched in twisted black embroidery silk or wool, if possible marking out the original outline in tailor’s chalk before removing the old thread. Remember though that many bears are best left untouched (unless the filling is coming out), keeping the bear in his original condition, and preserving his history and character.
If you need to store your bear, never put him in a polythene bag, which will draw moisture to him. A brown paper parcel is ideal, as this will let the bear “breathe”. A sturdy cardboard box filled with tissue paper is also suitable. Never store an unprotected teddy in the loft or cupboard : it is an open invitation to moths and other insects to burrow their way into the fabric and lay their eggs there, causing great damage. Damp sheds and garages are certainly to be avoided.The moisture will make a bear’s filling coagulate into lumps and rust the metal pins in his joints so they no longer move.
Most bears can be kept looking good with just the occasional brushing with a soft brush. But if your bear needs cleaning, you can do this yourself. You need two bowls of warm water and two additional soft brushes. To one bowl add a capful of a washing liquid designed especially for wool, and whisk it into a foam. After gently brushing your bear with his normal brush to remove any dust , take one of the other brushes and apply a little of the foam – not the water – to his surface, using gentle circular movements. When all of the bear has been treated, rinse him off with the final brush, dipped into the bowl of clear water. Shake off any access water from the brush and gently work over the bear, in circles, until the foam has gone. If you get his surface at all wet, dab it off immediately with a soft towel. Leave the bear to dry in a natural surrounding, never in an airing cupboard, anywhere too warm and definitely never on a radiator.
Sometimes teddy bears who do not lead active lives, especially if they are antique bears and well into their retirement, may be at risk from moth attacks. A good natural deterrent is to use lavender. Not only known for it’s calming properties, lavender is also a really good natural moth repellent…
If moths are suspected, seal your bear in a plastic bag and place him in a freezer for 3 – 4 days. After bringing him out, leave to thaw at room temperature. Don’t worry he will be perfectly happy and bug free!
Please, never place your bear in a washing machine no matter how dirty he may be, he will almost certainly have his joints and filling destroyed and he may not survive intact.