In researching natural fiber fillers for my Healing Bears I have learned a lot about how teddy bears have traditionally been made. Fillers range from natural wood wool, a kiln dried wood shave fiber, to steel and glass beads, to the polyester filling that is so ubiquitous today. My hope in first designing my Healing Bears was to make a bear that is eco-friendly while still being firm yet soft, adding extra character to my bears. That, of course, meant that I couldn't simply fill my bears with an inexpensive petroleum-based filler. So I began my search for a natural fiber that would hold up to daily use, is washable AND affordable.
I have decided to use kapok, a super soft vegetable fiber that resembles cotton and resists moisture. Kapok is sustainably harvested from the seedpod of the kapok tree. The tree is grown chiefly in mainland Asia and in Indonesia and makes a luxurious natural fill. Sometimes called silk cotton or Java cotton, this moisture-resistant, quick-drying, resilient, buoyant fiber has been used in life preservers and other water-safety equipment. A natural buoyant hollow fiber, kapok is so light and fine that the fiber floats in the air. Kapok is commonly used in cushions due to its resilience. It is anti-bug, lasts forever, and is carries a CE safety standard mark for use in making toys.
A very special thanks to Rich Burlew (Order of the Stick) for referring his supporters to my project. Rich, I couldn't have done it without your kind gesture.