day 8 – send a hug

It’s easy to be kind. This little hug is fun to make and will teach kids to think of others, including you. A ‘hug’ consists of a piece of card or paper in the shape of a bear. The bear comes to life when kids add facial features, tufts of ear hair, claws or paws, and the inevitable belly button. When you fold the four legs over its belly, teddy looks like it’s giving a hug. Write a simple message across its tummy (hello, thinking of you, hope you’re okay, I love you) or something longer on a separate piece of paper. Then post it or go for a walk and pop it into someone’s letterbox. Imagine the delight of a little child who finds one of these in their letterbox. Or an elderly neighbour who’s feeling isolated. You might even find one under your pillow.

First, you need a pattern, especially if you’re going to use card. On scrap paper, draw a teardrop shape, flattish on the bottom, with head and ears on top (no neck). Draw in four legs as if they are folded over the tummy, and then mirror those same four shapes outside the outline (see photo). Cut out the bear and fold legs in. How does it look? If it needs adjustment – longer legs, legs at a different angle or in a different position – make these on a new pattern. PROBLEM-SOLVING is part of creative endeavour, and indeed life itself. These are not mistakes, they’re part of the process.

Once you’re happy with your bear, trace around the pattern onto card or clean paper. Cut it out, draw in the details and write a message, if there’s room. Fold in the legs and your hug is ready to go. Simple.

Except that teddies are so bossy! This one wanted to be yellow. And it wanted a waistcoat. That wasn’t too hard because we had yellow paint and scrap material. First trip to the craft boxes for fabric scraps, paint and glue. Simple.

BUT, having peeked over my shoulder at the stuff in the boxes, teddy then insisted on a set of goggle eyes. And it harped on and on about fake fur. There was a scrap left over from a long-forgotten project. I pulled that out too. Then it was the bobble braid. Perfect for a teddy bear tail. I drew the line at a bow tie and watch chain.

Once you start, these little hugs are addictive, and the possibilities are endless. Spend time getting the pattern right, muster whatever bits and pieces you have around the place, and start your own teddy bear factory. Personalities emerge with facial expressions, different fabrics, lace, buttons, etc.

WARNING: your kids are always going to side with the teddies.

Published by Dr Toni Risson

Dr Toni Risson is a storyteller and a cultural historian who has penned everything from children’s picture books to a PhD on the Magic of Lollies. An expert on the Greek cafe phenomenon, Toni curated Meet Me at the Paragon for the State Library of Queensland, and her latest book, Brisbane’s Greek Cafes: A Million Malted Milks, was a finalist in the 2019 Queensland Literary Awards. Having encountered the elegant Paragon Cafe in Katoomba as a child, Toni developed a fascination with silky oak panelling, bevelled mirrors and Art Deco wall lights long before she understood the stories behind Australia's iconic Greek cafe. She continues to document our lost café culture.

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