Edgily debasing children’s toys is one of my least favorite underground art moves. With vanishingly few exceptions, it’s incapable of provoking any reactions deeper than a predictable OMG A BLEEDING BABY IN S&M GEAR from normals who wandered into the wrong gallery, or seen-it-all shrugs from the jaded. While it may win you kudos from emos on deviantart, crafting strap-on dildos for Bratz dolls or filling a gallery with cigarette-burnt Cabbage Patch Kids mostly just telegraphs a lack of imagination and probably a not unserious mental disturbance—and if you’re going to be disturbed, why be disturbed in the most boring way possible?
AND YET, despite all the foregoing, I’m absolutely loving UK artist Phillip Blackman’s zombified teddy bears, which he calls “Undead Teds.” I haven’t seen one in real life (though I’m strongly considering giving one a home as soon as I can), but judging from the MANY, MANY photos the artist has posted of his creations, the effect is jarring, and his workmanship looks top-drawer.
Blackman detailed his inspiration and process in a Daily Mail interview:
[T]he inspiration came from a rather obscure in-joke between my partner and I. She had a terrible cold at the time and we’d been talking about a gift for a friend’s baby. With a very stuffy nose “teddy-bear” kept coming out as “deady-bear”, and we joked about zombie teddies that creep from under your bed at night to feast on your brains while you sleep.
I individually hand-sculpt the bones, teeth and other organs from polymer clay or latex, then open the bear’s carcass, scoop out as necessary and glue the bones into place.
Each UndeadTed takes in excess of eight hours to make, not including the time it takes for glue, paint and varnish to dry, and I price them individually depending on size, complexity, materials used and time taken.
They’ve all been great fun to make but of all the ones I’ve made so far, my favourites are the Valentine ones, holding their torn-out hearts aloft as a grisly gift to their lovers. Horrible.
Blackman only releases Undead Teds every few weeks, and if you were hoping for one in time for Halloween, you’ll likely be disappointed—a batch released on October 1 is already long gone. However, if you’re very quick, there’s a new batch going up for sale today. If you miss this opportunity, you can be apprised of further releases on the Undead Teds’ Facebook and Tumblr, and if you absolutely MUST have one, Blackman takes custom orders.
Even more Undead Teds after the jump…