I Got to Create a Bear! (Part 1)

I blogged about the entire process on Steemit, rather than here.  So, I am now going to try to add some of those posts & info about this project here – to my “regular” blog.

Earlier this year, and for pretty much the entire first half of 2017, I worked on one of the new bears for Evergreen Federal Bank’s 2017 Bearfest.  This was pretty much an all-encompassing art adventure.  I didn’t really have any idea what I was getting myself into – or how long it would take.

I was hired to do the finishing details & paint on what was supposed to be “Farmer Bear”. Evergreen Federal Bank planned to do five new bear cubs for the 2017 Bearfest.  Each of the new bear cub themes were chosen by a community vote in 2016.  They included:

  • Farmer Bear (In honor of the Grants Pass Food Bank & Raptor Creek Farms)
  • Library Bear (In honor of the Josephine County Libraries)
  • Super Hero Bear (In honor of the Grants Pass YMCA)
  • Club Cub (In honor of the Grants Pass Boys & Girls Club)
  • Graduation Bear (In honor of College Dreams/Josephine County Educational Fund)

Another artist (Del Hearn) was hired to do the initial carving of the bear, and the fiberglass & bondo layers.  Originally I was hoping to just have some input into what the overall concept of the sculpture would be.  But, was eventually given the opportunity to design the bear and do the initial sketches.  I drew several different sketches before a design was approved.

Here are my sketches:

Here’s a link to my Steemit Post about the sketches

How the bears are created:

Several years ago, they decided to start carving each bear individually, rather than continue to purchase pre-fabricated, hollow fiberglass bears.  The bears are all initially carved out of styrofoam, coated with several layers of fiberglass, bondo is added for texture & added strength, and sanded.  The small details are then added on with an epoxy 2-part putty/clay which becomes rock hard within a couple hours. The bears are then primed, painted and a top automotive sealant is added for protection.

I was actively involved in every step of the process.  I visited the studio/shop frequently while the bear was being carved by Del.  I carved all the vegetables that surround the bear.  I got a quick lesson in how to fiberglass, from Del.  (Although I still fell unsure about that process!)

Here’s a link to my Steemit post about the bear being carved and fiberglassed

I eventually received the bear so that I could start adding on the details and then later the paint.


You can see that I had just started adding texture (lighter grey areas around pumpkin face and bear paws)

I will be adding blog posts about the whole process, but here is a peek at the progression the bear’s face took as he was brought to life:

Thanks for reading!  Stay tuned for Part 2…


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