Thursday, 23 March 2017

A view point ..


I took this photograph of Westminster Bridge, The Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, from a river boat, whilst bobbing on the Thames one rather chilly April day, three years ago. My husband and I were in high spirits, enjoying the sights as we celebrated his 50th birthday.


It's impossible not to be awestruck when you experience this view of the heart and soul of our democratic nation, either from the river ... or if you happen to be strolling across Westminster Bridge.


Since I was a child I have loved visiting London. The architecture makes such a proud statement against the horizon, a statement of steadfast belief in freedom, respect, equality and the future. It feels as though the River Thames pulls you on its journey through the Capital's history, right into the here and now.


Like so many other tourists, I have paused on Westminster Bridge, to take happy snaps of my loved ones, enjoying the colourful hustle and bustle, whilst hoping to hear Big Ben declare the hour.


And like so many other tourists over so many years, I have wandered through Westminster, eager to photograph the bricks and mortar of our country's Government.


When I heard the news of yesterday's terror on Westminster Bridge, perhaps selfishly, my first thoughts were for the safely of my children because they work in London. Thankfully I was quickly reassured. The timing for other families was tragically less fortuitous ...

I really don't understand how anyone justifies terror, nor how anyone believes human lives should be so instantly dispensable. 

No-one has the right to steal the future from innocent bystanders. 

No-one has the right to strike terror.

Crossing Westminster Bridge may never feel quite so free again.

Happy National Puppy Day!

So today is 'National Puppy Day' ... who knew?!


Never one to miss an opportunity to share pics of my girls, here they are at 7 weeks old, the cutest puppies you ever did see. 

Gotta love a puppy pic eh? One, two, three, all together now ... aw!

Happy National Puppy Day everyone, 
with love from my pair 'o pickles, the delightfully chunky Miss Polly Dog (top right/bottom left) and her adorably cheeky little sister, Miss Betty Boo.

:-)

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Thirty four years..

I remember so clearly, reclining in a hospital bed with my firstborn child swaddled against my knees, gazing at that tiny bundle in complete wonder. Today it really doesn't seem possible that the incredible day which changed my life forever, was thirty four years ago!


I couldn't be more proud of the gentle, loyal, clever, funny, thoughtful, generous, caring, beautiful and determined woman, my daughter has become. She has always faced life's challenges with dignity, grace, humour and wisdom ... she is a very special girl indeed.


Happy 34th birthday to you Fay,
You make me so proud, each and every day.
I wish you the world.
All my love to you, forever.
Mum xxx

Monday, 20 March 2017

A Spring Kitten

Who can resist a Spring kitten needing a kind home eh? 
Not me apparently!


This cheeky little scrap will shortly be taking up residence with us. He will need a name (and just to complicate matters 'he' may well turn out to be 'she', which is unlikely, but not completely unheard of for a ginger cat) so I had better put on my thinking cap.

'Puddle'

Since losing her pal Daisy a few weeks ago, my lovely Puddle has become a bit mopey (cats know ya know), so I am hoping a new kitten will help brighten her days as she has never been without kitty company. Moggies have been part of my family for more than thirty years and at one point, I had as many as five furry felines living together (and a dog!) ... all rehomed from uncertain futures. Now there is only Puddle at home, so I think it's time to move forward from Daisy's sad demise and squeeze in a brand new scrappy cat to keep her company.

'Daisy'

Fingers crossed Puddle accepts her new playmate - cats can be contrary after all! She is a very gentle girl though, so I think catty curiosity is most likely to win her round.  I look forward to sharing further news and pics when little 'un joins us in a few weeks' time.

And of course, I am very excited about our new addition to the family ... kittens in springtime are so much fun!

:-)😻😹

Monday, 13 March 2017

Signs of Spring

I've just returned from a walk with my girls ... the sun is absolutely glorious today! Daffodils are bobbing cheerily on grass verges and yes, Spring is most definitely in the air. The sun didn't quite manage to shine on our Sunday afternoon walk from Teston to Nettlestead yesterday, but the weather was noticeably milder than of late and we thoroughly enjoyed our long hike, spotting the first signs of Spring along the riverbank. Polly and Betty enjoyed their walk too, taking every opportunity to gambol around like Spring lambs.


I love Spring, it's always such a delight to watch the countryside wakening from Winter's grey slumber.  It is also a season which never fails to inspire creativity!

Drawing in progress

As I have mentioned before, I am teaching myself to draw and funnily enough, the gentle Spring palette in the picture above, wasn't actually a conscious decision ... I think the change in season crept up on my creative self!

Primrose teddy bear commission

And of course, Spring is a wonderful time for creating new teddy bears.  I am currently working on a special commission for a collector who wants to celebrate the new season with a primrose yellow teddy. This afternoon I intend to sit in the sunshine in my conservatory for the very first time this year, to knit her a cardigan.

Spring has sprung along the River Medway

Incidentally, I am holding a mini Spring sale on my website this week ... Lisette and Treacle are hoping to find new owners, so who knows, perhaps a Spring discount might help them!


:-)

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

A very special friendship

I am so very grateful for the past four fabulous years of very special friendship with this big, beautiful golden girl ...


Happy 4th Birthday to my Polly today!

:-)<3 span="">

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Mmmn Treacle!

So, life goes on, storm 'Doris' rages around the UK and amidst everything, a new teddy bear is born!


15" Treacle is available to adopt

This mohair is one of my new favourites from Schulte ... it creates such characterful bears, as you can see!


I finished Treacle yesterday and making him has cheered me up this week. Thank you for that Treacle Teddy!


Treacle is now ready for adoption and hoping someone who likes chubby bears will invite him home to live in comfort with them ... and if there happened to be a pot of honey in the pantry, so much the better!

For full details, please visit Treacle on my website:


:-)

Monday, 20 February 2017

A Daisy in May

A sad weekend, saying goodbye to our fat little cat Daisy, a springtime kitten who sadly didn't quite make it to her seventh birthday.





Daisy was such a gentle, sweet tempered girl and she has left us far too soon. Sometimes that's just how it is with cats .. I have owned cats all my adult life and you never can tell how long they will stay. Saying goodbye always hurts, they are such unique characters and so much a part of our family. 

Daisy
 May 2010 - February 2017

So my pretty, lazy girl, sleep tight in your garden, free from pain. I am so very sad you have left us.

xxXxx


The story of my cats ...



Wednesday, 15 February 2017

A travelling companion?

After compiling my 2016 portfolio of teddy bears, I noticed I hadn't made any little bears last year ... not even one! I had a piece of Doodle's mohair left over, so I decided to put it to good use by making a tiddler sized teddy. I think this cheeky wee chap would make a lovely companion for a bigger bear, so am hoping he will find a special friend to sit with, after he is adopted.

8.5" Little Mac

I don't think I will ever make a smaller bear than this as little bears are quite fiddly and almost as time consuming as the big 'uns, but I do like this size. Little Mac sits comfortably in the palm of my hand and would happily slip into a pocket to keep his owner company on an outing.  In fact, now I come to think about it, he would make the perfect travelling companion!

If you would like more information about this pint sized teddy, you are very welcome to visit my website. Little Mac will be delighted to see you there!


:-)

Update: Little Mac has been adopted!

Monday, 13 February 2017

The annual teddy review!

At the beginning of every year since 2006, I have set aside a little time to create a portfolio of my teddy bear creations. Having a book of the previous year's work to flick back through from time to time, is very satisfying and also a great way to remind myself of where I was with my designs and where I would still like to go ...

2016 All Bear portfolio

My 2016 portfolio arrived a few days ago and although there are fewer bears featured than in previous years, I was very happy with it.

2006 All Bear portfolio

Back in 2006, the first portfolio was designed to be part of my exhibition display, so my photographer sister Tina helped me by taking some fabulous photographs of my bears in her studio - this is still one of my all time favourite portfolio books!

Looking back through these old photographs always makes me smile but not only that, I find it interesting to see my work evolve across the years. To help me recall what was happening in my world during any given bear crafting year, I have more recently started to include a brief review on the first page.

2016 review

I wish I had made portfolios for my earliest teddy bears, but unfortunately, I didn't think to do that. However, I do still have a few old photo albums featuring some of the first bears I designed (sadly not all) so perhaps it's time to buy a little scanner to create a book of my first decade of work (1996-2006) and keep those precious teddy bear memories safe too!

:-)

Monday, 6 February 2017

Time together .. a birthday celebration

Yesterday, yet another birthday crept up on me, so determined to enjoy it to the full, I invited my husband, kids, their partners and my grandson to my favourite local park for a family tromp with the dogs and then later in the day, my sister, nieces and great nieces came to my house to share birthday cake with us. 

Happy Birthday to me - a fun family selfie taken by my daughter.

February birthdays are always chilly, so we wrapped up warm and kept on the move.  The dogs had an absolute blast charging around together and young Toby made the most of his time exploring for sticks. As for me, I had the best walk of all laughing, chatting, strolling and generally loving having my family around me for some special birthday 'outdoorsing'!

Polly and Betty enjoying their birthday blast

Exploring the playground with my grandson

My thoughtful future son-in-law made certain my happy birthday memories were kept safe, by discreetly photographing my day as it unfolded. Thank you so much Neil, I will always treasure these super birthday photographs.

Strolling with Toby and Betty

And of course, there was a birthday cake and candles ... and believe me, by the time you reach my age, a little help blowing out all those candles is much appreciated! 

Never too old for candles and birthday cake!

To my very precious family, thank you so much for your lovely cards and gifts, but most importantly, thank you everyone, for showing me you care by sharing time with me on my birthday ... I loved spending it with you xxx

Friday, 3 February 2017

Gute Reise Doodle!

Between dog training sessions, a fun-filled day with my grandson and a hair appointment this week, I have been working on this little chap.

10.5" Doodle has been adopted!

It has been a while since I made any small teddy bears, so I thought it would be fun to make a couple for my website. 'Doodle' is only ten and that all important 'half' inches tall and as you can see, turned out cute as a button! He hopped into the shopping cart soon after settling onto my website, so my apologies if you missed him.

The other little bear I have in-progress, is the same mohair but even smaller (about eight inches) ... that is if I can remind my fingers and thumbs to how to work neatly on such a weeny one! All going well, that wee teddy bear will be ready for viewing on my website later next week. In the meantime, I am delighted to tell you, dear Doodle will be up-sticks-ing to live with fellow 'All Bears' in Germany. 

Gute Reise Doodle!

:-)

Monday, 30 January 2017

The Bearmaker

It's been years since I last had a photograph taken of me with one of my teddy bears, so I thought it was about time to remedy that. With the aid of my trusty Iphone a few moments ago, I snapped this quick'selfie' with my latest teddy 'Lisette' in my workroom, with the idea of using it to introduce myself to visitors on my 'All Bear' website ... 

'The Bearmaker'

 Anyway,I hope you like this photo of 'The Bearmaker'! Previously such photographs always involved travelling to my sister's studio in Hampshire, so this little pic was much quicker to sort out; I really don't know why I didn't think of doing this sooner!

By the way, if you would like to visit my website, here is a link:


:-)

Friday, 27 January 2017

A perfect teddy bear

After finding some old photographs, it occurred to me this week, I made my very first teddy bear 25 years ago!  My goodness, it is hard to believe that defining moment was a quarter of a century ago.  I can't lay claim to having created my first artist bear back then, nothing quite so historic (!) but that was definitely when the first stirrings of bear-making curiosity struck me enough to go and find a child's toy crafting kit in local toy shop. I recall my main interest was of practical concern, I wanted to find out how to make a teddy's arms and legs move - that mystery was solved when I pulled a set of white plastic safety joints from the bag. I hadn't a clue about hardboard discs and cotter pin joints to begin with, in fact I didn't learn about those until bear number two ...

1992, 'Ivor'

Bear number two, subsequently named 'Ivor', was also a kit bear. I forget who designed that early kit, but I do remember purchasing it from a lovely bear artist at the very first teddy bear show I ever visited.  The prospect of creating Ivor was daunting because this time the process would involve cutting mohair, which was far more costly and fabulous than the little orange synthetic toy shop kit. Even now, all these years down the bear-making trail, I remember the excitement of beginning work on Ivor and my absolute delight when, after much trial and tribulation, a traditional gold teddy with slightly lopsided, but fully jointed, arms and legs, presented himself.

Early 1990's, tentative first teddy bear designs

With two bonafide teddy bears now under my belt, my enthusiasm for bear number three was high and by then I felt ready to select a commercial teddy bear pattern to work with, along with another piece of the fabric I had fallen in love with ... mohair! Teddy bear patterns frustrated me though, nothing seemed to fit together quite perfectly enough and those that I had chosen were for small teddy bears, but I loved big teddy bears!  After my first couple of attempts at using them, I gave up on store bought patterns and instead invested in a teddy bear-making book, written by a well known teddy bear artist who had been generous enough to touch on the process of design. That was a real lightbulb moment for me and from then on, I became completely absorbed in creating my own teddy bear patterns and bringing to life the teddy bears waiting patiently in my head.

Mid to late 1990's, well into my teddy bear bear making stride!

So here I am, twenty five years later, still trying to create that elusive 'perfect' teddy bear. I wonder if any bear artist ever says they achieved a truly perfect teddy bear? Somehow I think not ...

Teddy bears from the past seven years ..

My belief is, we bearmakers are destined to strive for perfection indefinitely which is what keeps our bear-making joy alive and the teddy bear's future secure.

With that thought in mind, here's to my next quarter century!

:-)

Monday, 23 January 2017

A lifetime buddy..

As Christmas drew closer, I was given a top secret commission last year, which, I am delighted to say, I am now able to share with you. However, rather than tell you about this special teddy myself, I would like to share a testimonial and some wonderful photographs taken by my sister Tina ...


"We commissioned a very special bear from Paula, as our first Granddaughter's first Christmas gift. Paula has done a fantastic job. We described what we thought Willow would like... a traditional vintage styled bear, a bit floppy and designed to be loved.....not a toy but definitely not to lurk permanently on a shelf.


Paula took everything we suggested for onboard and 'Doddy' was born. He is GORGEOUS! Willow loves him. We know that he will make the most perfect lifetime buddy for her.

Thank you x"


As you can imagine, I was thrilled to receive these beautiful photographs and absolutely delighted to be invited to create this precious little girl's very first Christmas teddy bear, gifted with much love from her Grandparents.

It is always lovely to make teddy bears for grown-up collectors, but to create a bear to become 'a lifetime buddy' to a child, is very special indeed. I wish Doddy and little Willow much magic and hope they will share many adventures together in the years to come!

:-)

PS ... if you would like to see more of Tina's fabulous photography, please visit her website:

Sunday, 22 January 2017

A good week's work..

My teddy bear making mojo is in full swing at the moment, which is always a good start to a new year! I may have started slowly, but with two bears now under my bear-maker's belt and we're still only in January, I am excited about the prospect of more teddy bears to come ... and hopefully, maybe a few 'Prim Dolly Doodles' too ... fingers crossed.


My lovely red Rufus found a super new home last week and then I finished this pretty teddy girl, the lovely 'Lisette'.  A good week's work I'd say! I had been hunting through my fabric boxes and came across a wonderful piece of Schulte kid mohair tucked away and temporarily forgotten, so I decided to spoil myself by turning it into a good sized teddy (she is 20" tall). You just can't beat a beautiful dense German Schulte kid mohair when it comes to making big bears. It really is the most fabulous teddy bear fur and in my humble bearmaker's opinion, by far the best quality available (just wish it wasn't quite so pricey these days, but I guess that old saying is true, you do 'get what you pay for'. Unfortunately sourcing good quality teddy bear mohair for larger bears sure has become a costly process!)

Anyway, I thought you would like to meet 'Lisette', before she finds a new home and if by any chance you would like to adopt her yourself, she is currently available to purchase from my website and you are most welcome to visit:


Have a lovely Sunday everyone!

:-)

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Sketchy Teds

I didn't set a new year's resolution this year, but one thing I would like to continue into 2017,  is teaching myself how to draw. Who knows, maybe I'll even teach myself how to paint a little as well!


After a lifetime of  feeling like a clumsy 'leftie' with a pencil, I never had confidence in artistic endeavours either as a child or as an adult, so last year, decided it was time to push a few creative boundaries. I started to create an art journal in my spare time and gradually my silly sketches began to improve and on the odd occasion, I quite surprised even myself with the results!


I suppose it was inevitable a few teddy bears would creep into my art journal and I dare say more will arrive in time as they are fun to draw.  In fact, I may even find sufficient artistic courage to sketch a little teddy to print onto my next batch of 'All Bear' hang tags and never, ever, did I ever think that day would be a possibility!

:-)

Saturday, 14 January 2017

An ol' fashioned kinda guy

Introducing 'Rufus', my very first teddy bear of 2017.
May he be the first of many!

16" Rufus is a mohair teddy bear

This fellow has really been a pleasure to make; I loved the colour of his mohair, a wonderful vintage red which really lent itself to an olde style teddy bear. I gently 'aged' his calico paws (the camera didn't pick it up unfortunately) and I gave him a sweet little 'darned' patch on his foot. I think the little sweater I knitted for him in cosy red and sand coloured alpaca yarn, complements his mohair perfectly. It's been lovely to have an excuse to cosy up on my sofa with my knitting needles these past few snowy evenings!

Rufus has just been made available for adoption from my website, so if you would like to know more, please to visit him at:


:-)

Update: Rufus has been adopted!

Friday, 13 January 2017

Snow Saga

After a nerve wracking four and a half hours wedged in heavy snow at the top of Detling Hill late last night as I waited for a jack-knifed lorry to be moved from the bottom of the hill, I have decided today will be a cosy, indoors, stress free kind of day. It was scary to be alone in my car in the dark, watching snow whirl and ice crystallise on the tarmac around me, but not nearly so scary as having to edge down the steep icy hill when traffic was eventually able to nudge forward. Never was I more pleased to pull up on my own driveway last night ... cars and snowy conditions are a horrible mix!


So today my knitting needles are poised and the couch beckons. This little fellow could do with another arm for his jumper before he hops onto my website and his ears still need stitching on ... today I am more than happy to oblige!

I will don wellies, scarf and gloves for a short walk with Polly and Betty later, but aside from their blast of wintry exercise, I have absolutely no intention of venturing outdoors in the snow again.

Stay warm, keep cosy everyone!

:-)

Update:
Betty (on the left) enjoyed her first experience of snow with big sis Polly this morning!




Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Getting organised for 2017

With all the Christmas and wedding preparations of the past few weeks, I didn't have time to introduce my latest teddy bear 'Winterberry' before I shot off to Whitstable to celebrate my son's wedding day. Winterberry was a lovely classically styled teddy bear in a rather untraditional purple colour ...

19" Winterberry has been adopted

And I am delighted to tell you, this lovely teddy bear was adopted just in the nick of time for Christmas.


So, my final teddy bear of 2016 had found a new home just before Christmas but by New Year, my workroom was still in a right ol' mess! With the help of my grandson, I spent yesterday morning organising it and when I end this post, I will be pouring a cuppa, heading upstairs into a nice tidy workroom (thank you for your help Toby!) and starting work on my very first teddy bear of 2017. 

I hope to introduce my new teddy bear to you very soon and in the meantime, I wish you all a very happy, safe and creative New Year! 

xxx

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