Gabriella Solomon-Henry, a local doll maker, was discovered through her ETSY website by one of the movie’s prop masters. Newly relesed movie, “Paul” is about about an alien who crash-landed in the 1940s and the government found him. When the crash happened and the government cleaned up the area they took everything away including a girl’s teddy bear. When Paul escapes (60 years later) he wants to find the little girl and return her teddy bear. That’s where Henry comes in.
The directior provided Henry with photos of old bears to explain the look they were going for. She purchased 1940s replica fur fabric and old-fashioned acrylic eyes to create the six bears she would need. She made a test bear out of muslin to test out her pattern and after the producers approved the test bear she started her process. Since the bears all had to be identical she created her own assembly line to produce the bears.
She put a lot of thought into the design to keep the bear authentic giving it plenty of shape and a longer muzzle. She hand embroidered the nose, rounded the belly and padded the paws. Since they wanted the bear to look huggable, she gave the arms more movement by removing some of the stuffing and handstitching seams to give that hugging affect. Henry says the most difficult part came after she delivered the bears. The prop master called with a special request: to distress the bears she had already sent. She agreed and had a deadline of 48 hours to distress the bears and send back.
How did she distress the bears you ask? She created a mixture of tea, coffee, salt and a little vanilla and used a spray bottle to mist the mixture on the bears before popping them into the oven. She says you must bake the bears at a temperature of 200 degrees, any hotter and you might melt the stuffing! After the bears were finished baking she used her husband’s sander to wear down the areas where a teddy bear might be hugged a lot. This included the belly and the hand-embroidered nose, she even made a small hole near one of its eyes. She said she hated to do that to one of her creations, but she did keep one of her bears that she didn’t distress for herself and she calls it the Hollywood Bear.
If you’re interested in checking out some of Henry’s work or to take a look at her Hollywood Bear she has a display at CliffDwellers in Gatlinburg where she sells her dolls, bears and handmade soaps. You can’t purchase a Hollywood Bear there but you can put in an order for one and choose if you want it distressed or in its original state.