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:


:-)

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

Love, respect and friendship forever

So yes, there was Christmas and I had a lovely one, thank you! More importantly though, my son married his lovely lady of seventeen years, my grandson's beautiful mummy, the day before Christmas Eve and they gave me one of the proudest and happiest days of my life.


It was a beautiful marriage celebration, handcrafted by my talented daughter-in-law and set in the unique 'East Quay Venue', one of Whitstable’s oldest buildings at the end of the East Quay Harbour, originally home of the Seasalter and Ham Oyster Fishery Company.


It was utterly magical to see my son and his new wife so happy on their wedding day. The celebration was perfect, relaxed, fun and with the warmth of closest family and friends wrapped around our newlyweds.

Me 'n my son on his wedding day

I don't think this mother-of-the-groom stopped beaming all day long!


Heartfelt congratulations to you Ants 'n Han ... I am so happy you made the commitment to formalise your life together as a couple and also as a family.

In the words of Dr Seuss, 

You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away!

You have brains in your heads.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourselves
any direction you choose.
You're on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guys who'll decide where to go.

So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life's
a Great Balancing Act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.


I wish you a life of love, respect and friendship forever.
With much love and immense pride,
Mum.

xxx

Monday, 12 December 2016

Half a million!

I have just noticed the number on the counter at the bottom of my blog and it says more than half a million visitors have popped in since I first starting scribbling ... goodness me, that's a very big number!


Thank you so much for taking time to read my posts and 'listen' to my ramblings, I really do appreciate you stopping by to share a little of my world.  Besides taking a look at my latest teddy bears, I hope you have found something to make you smile, or capture your interest, or perhaps a little something that has given you food for thought ...

Whether you are a regular visitor, or have just popped in for the first time, please leave a comment, I always love to hear from you!

:-)



Christmas catch up..

I don't think I have ever had quite such a disorganised lead into Christmas! Between my son's wedding, dog training and the usual pre-Christmas family commitments, there has been very little Christmas teddy bear making time available, so for the first year ever, horror or horrors, I don't have even a tiny clutch of festive teddies to offer collectors ... I know, shocking isn't it?! Thankfully I have squeezed just enough time to work on a couple of long standing commissions, so hopefully these at least, will carry smiles to their new owners on Christmas Day.


It has been a long time since I created a careworn teddy bear, so the sweet fellow above was a real pleasure to make.  As he is to be a surprise Christmas gift, I'm sworn to secrecy and can't tell you anything more about him ... no sorry, not even his name!


And this cuddlesome autumnal alpaca teddy bear is rather overdue, not to mention still not quite ready to travel. Thankfully his lovely owner has been very patient. I was asked to create a bear to celebrate the season, so hand dyed alpaca to create a unique autumn teddy in a pretty soft russet and pale bark brown combination. As you can see by the pins, I haven't yet stitched on his ears and still need to add a few finishing touches, but he really is a super teddy bear. Fingers crossed he will prove well worth the wait ...

And on that note, I'd better hop away from this keyboard and up to my workroom to finish 'Autumn' while there are still leaves on the ground and before the Winter snows arrive to hide them!

:-)

Monday, 28 November 2016

Festive flurry!

I heard whisper there are only four weeks until Christmas and as my son will be getting married the week before, I very much doubt I will have time to create many festive bears this time. I am currently finishing a few overdue collectors' orders and trying to fit in a couple of teddies for my website, but I know I am cutting things very fine this year, so sorry!


I managed to finish this snuggly bear's hat and scarf while I watched 'I'm a Celebrity, get me out of here' on telly yesterday evening, so first thing this morning, popped into the garden to photograph him on my little stone bench in the garden (it was chilly out there, so we were quick!)

Lined up next on my work table are a couple of commission orders, a vintage style mohair teddy and a gorgeous autumnal alpaca clown, in hand dyed fabric and then I am hoping to bring you a fabulous large dark purple mohair teddy before Christmas ... fingers and toes are crossed I finish that one done in time.

Niklaus is now available for adoption from my website (which has had a little festive makeover today) so do please pop over to visit if you have a moment to spare ... we'd love to see you there.


And in 'other news', I am still searching for a 'mother-of-the-groom' outfit and trying to do the Christmas shopping ... I really do seem to have excelled myself at leaving everything to the very last minute this year! Ah well, I suppose all the fuss and excitement will as come and go as usual, then real life can hopefully resume in a more orderly fashion in the New Year.  

I do hope your seasonal preparations are more organised than mine this year. Wishing you all plenty of time to enjoy your festivities!

:-)

Friday, 11 November 2016

All walks of life

I can't pretend I wasn't a little surprised when a gentleman of the clergy contacted me to request a special teddy bear to celebrate his forty five years as a vicar and army padre.


Happy to oblige, I set about creating 'Earl Grey' (now settling into life in the Vicarage until the good Reverend retires in a short while). I received a lovely email from the vicar a couple of days ago and it made me chuckle ... apparently his teddy was very well received and, 'grey,heavy, thoughtful.....just like me!' 

This lovely commission certainly goes to prove there are teddy bear collectors in all walks of life!

:-)

Thursday, 10 November 2016

A little Sweetheart!

I was recently digging around in my boxes of mohair and found just enough of my lovely 'Elizabeth Rose' Schulte mohair to make a 15" teddy bear for my website.

15" 'Sweetheart'

Pink teddies are always popular and Sweetheart has been no exception. I uploaded her to my website, took Polly and Betty out for their walk and by the time we arrived back home, she had captured the heart of an overseas collector and made her arrangements to settle in America ... way to go Sweetheart!

:-)

Thursday, 3 November 2016

A Sketchy Halloween Ted

Didn't quite finish this little fellow in time for Halloween ...


Never mind Little Wiz, there's always next year!


:-)

Monday, 31 October 2016

Before we head on to the sparkle of Christmas, I thought you might enjoy one last peek at some my bears and dolls from Halloween past ...


These witchypoos and wizards always make me smile, I hope they make you smile too.


Happy Halloween Everyone!

:-)


The Sketchy Teds!

For anyone wondering if my new 'teach myself to draw' hobby is leading me away from teddy bears ... take a little peek below!

'Ted E. Bear'

'A Trio of Teds'

'Feeling Blue'

They are still very much 'work-in-progress' and I can see plenty I need to improve on, but as you can see, this bear maker has been having fun sketching a few teddies, as well as making them!

:-)

Friday, 28 October 2016

Cobweb

It's almost time for Halloween, a spooktastic time for teddy bear design! This year I have decided to create a clown teddy bear in magical purple and grey mohair, but rather than an being overtly Halloween ted, I prefer to think he is a lovely bear to be displayed and loved, all year round!

Introducing 'Cobweb'!



This super teddy bear has just made his way to my website, so if you would like to know a little more about him, please pop along to:


Wishing you all a safe and fun Happy Halloween 2016!

:-)

Update: Cobweb has been adopted and will be living in the UK!

Friday, 21 October 2016

Excellence in Bear Artistry

Well, well, well, would you believe it ... after my earlier post about the true value of creative life outside the mainstream workforce, I have just received an email announcing the result of this year's 'Excellence in Bear Artistry' awards and as if to lend validation to my point, (not to mention my creative worth!) both my 2016 entries have been honoured with 'Judges Choice' Awards ... I couldn't be more thrilled!


Now the panel of judges has allotted final category awards, their selections will be put forward for public vote to determine the overall competition winner. Voting will be invited on the competition website shortly, so if you would like to choose your 'Excellence in Bear Artistry Award' winner for 2016, please visit the website below in a few days' time when the voting goes live!


Happy voting!

Artistic Demons

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have been attempting to teach myself to draw. It has not been an easy process as this skill is far from natural to me, but I think I am at last beginning to conquer a few of my artistic demons!


I am gradually building a scrapbook to record my progress ...


It is fun to try different mediums and I am slowly finding confidence to build on my new skills. Who knows, I may even try my hand at painting eventually!


I thought I'd share a few of my drawing projects here today. 


I was thinking about all the different skills I have taught myself over the years, from designing teddy bears, to photography, making cloth dolls, knitting, crocheting, computer skills, website building, dog obedience training, running my business, driving (that was a biggy!) ... the list goes on, so whenever I feel a bit as though a 'proper career' in the 'real world' has slipped through my fingers, I take a moment to remind myself of everything I have taught myself over the years.  

For those of us who work creatively, the nag of not being part of the 'serious working world' can bite now and again, but the skills we have developed while living a creative life are worth remembering and taking a little pride in now and again ... don't you agree?!

;-)


Wednesday, 19 October 2016

In search of his VIP

Once in a while, even the nicest of teddy bears doesn't quite fly off the shelf. There's no rhyme or reason, it's just a case of his special someone perhaps not being aware of him, or ready to adopt, or even in the right place, at the right time. I made Scrumpy only a few weeks ago, so he hasn't been waiting long, but he is starting to look a little lonely, so this week, I have decided to give him a turn at auction, in an attempt to do my very best to find his VIP (Very Important Person!)


If that person could be you, please click the link below to visit Scrumpy on Ebay!

Visit Scrumpy on Ebay

Thank you from me ... and from Scrumpy too.

:-)

Update: Scrumpy has been adopted via the All Bear website!

Hugglets, a salute

For 30 years, Glenn and Irene Jackman, organisers of our much loved 'Hugglets Festivals', have painstakingly created this fabulous guide to teddy bear businesses, both in the UK and around the world. The Guide not only offers a valuable resource to anyone with an interest in collecting, selling or creating teddy bears, it is also a fascinating history of teddy bear artistry throughout the past three decades.
  

Having my bear 'Chester' featured on the cover of the Guide back in 2014, was one of my proudest moments, so I know first-hand how excited lovely Dawn Jellis-Jones of 'The Old Post Office Bears' will be to have had her super antique style bear, gracing this 30th edition cover as it is such an honour in the teddy bear world! Huge congratulations to you Dawn!

Wonderful new bear artists have joined our ranks over the years, but sadly, some slipped quietly away. Someone much missed this year, is our lovely Sandra Hobbs, creator of the adorable 'Sally Anne Bears'. May you sleep tight Sandra ... you and your beautiful teddy bears, will be forever remembered.

This year, the Guide features a special mention for one of the loveliest bear makers in the business, Pamela Ann Howells. Pam is the longest standing UK bear artist, first working with the famous Chiltern Hygenic Toy Company back in the 1950's. She is celebrating 60 years of teddy bear making - an outstanding achievement!

Many thanks to Glenn and Irene Jackman, for giving us thirty years of Hugglets. We, your bear artists, salute you.

xxXxx

The UK Teddy Bear Guide's official publication is the 27th October 2016, but you can order a copy from the Hugglets website now, by visiting the link below:



:-)



Monday, 10 October 2016

Oodles and Noodles

Today is my Grandson's 2nd birthday!


Two years packed with laughter, fun, colour and cuddles. This cheeky, inquisitive, determined, fun-loving little lad, makes my world turn. Being his Nana is such a joy!

Happy Birthday to you Toby,
with oodles and noodles of love today and all the other days.
From your very, very, very, proud Nana ... who, by the way, loves you all the way to the moon and back again! 
xxx

Friday, 7 October 2016

Far and wide ..

I was just about to tell you about my latest teddy bear 'Barleycorn', who I released onto my website only moments ago, when my Iphone buzzed to tell me he had been adopted. Huge thanks to the power of the World Wide Web!

14" Barleycorn has been adopted

So this introduction is also now a goodbye and 'bon voyage' to little Barleycorn, who will be flying to Singapore to meet his new owner shortly.

It made me ponder, how did we bearmakers ever find new homes for our creations before the WWW?!  The plain truth is, it may well have been a more complicated marketing process back then, but in the days before the birth of internet websites, our teddy bears still managed to travel far and wide to find new owners around the globe. Teddy bears and their makers have always been a most resourceful bunch it would seem!

:-)

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

A Dress Dilemma ..

I'm so torn with this lovely bear, should I dress him for the Autumn weather and cover his beautiful Schulte kid mohair, or should I simply leave him 'nekkid' and show off that glorious fur? It's a bit of a dress dilemma, I can't make up my mind!


 So, here are the photos of him 'au naturele', showing off his gloriously silky fur.


And here, the pics of him cosy in hand knitted hat 'n scarf ...


He's a very handsome bear and I must admit, I like both looks ...


I wonder, which do you prefer?

'Scrumpy' is currently waiting patiently for his 'special someone'. He has requested a cosy home, friends to chat with and if at all possible, a comfy seat beside a window, so he can sit and watch the Autumn leaves falling ...

Fingers and toes are crossed for you Scrumpy!

If you would like to know a little more about Scrumpy, please visit my website on the link below. Thank you!



Monday, 3 October 2016

Family Trompin'

If you have been reading my blog for a few years, you may remember that each Autumn, my sister Fiona and I, like to gather together our families and dogs, for a good long tromp through the beautiful Knole Park deer park estate in Sevenoaks.


Yesterday was a perfect Sunday for our family tromp, the sun shone, the deer were having a fine time chasing through trees and snuffling for chestnuts, it was surprisingly warm for the time of year and everyone was in excellent spirits!  We enjoyed a long walk around the perimeter of the estate, snapping photos and chatting as we strolled.  To conclude our lovely afternoon, we purchased a round of hot drinks at the newly refurbished cafe and took them out to the grounds to sup in the open grassland ... perfick!

:-)

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Autumn leaves..

I have been doing quite a bit of crunching through Autumn leaves with Polly and Betty of late, so I guess it was inevitable my thoughts would drift to Autumn teddy bears and knitting yarn, as we strolled along our local lanes, basked in glorious golden sunshine.


So, this is 'Scrumpy', a rather fine (if I do say so myself!) traditional teddy bear, created from Schulte's finest kid mohair, in a gorgeous shade of pale cinnamon.  I couldn't resist knitting him a hat and scarf, after all, it won't be long before the early Autumn sunshine turns to October chills, when those cosy knits will be perfect for snuggling with!

20" Scrumpy

I hope you will be pleased to know Scrumpy is now available for adoption from my website. Please visit the link below if you would like a few more details ...


:-)


Sunday, 18 September 2016

September song ...




Another year has slipped by ... we girls talk about you often, laugh at our memories, share them with your Grandchildren and when we feel your loss the most, may still shed a quiet tear, but no worry Dad, life has moved us all forward, just as you would have wanted.  

I watched a nature programme recently and the presenter mused that September was the month for leaving; he meant the skylarks of course, but I thought of you ...

 xxx

The Domino Effect!

Domino was adopted so quickly, I blinked and missed my opportunity to post a blog to introduce him at the time. So, here he is, a little retrospective, but still well worth showing off ... he was such a handsome chap!


20" Domino has been adopted!

:-)

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Drawing into a new half century

I was never confident in art lessons. Left handed and ill at ease with paintbrush and pencils, I was usually to be found lurking at the back of the art room, planning how best to skip future art lessons ... in fact, it was with a sense of great relief I dropped the subject from my school curriculum as soon as possible, at the tender age of thirteen.  It wasn't that I didn't enjoy drawing as a child in the privacy of my own home (I always loved using Dad's posh set of Caran D'ache art pencils when I was allowed and to watch him sketching his favourite subject - budgies) but as a shy child, submitting anything artistic to an unimpressed teacher at school, was enough to send my creative self shrinking into a dark corner.

My first eye

As I began to share crayon, paint, pencil and paper with my little Grandson this Summer, I was frustrated by my own lack of drawing ability. A tiny glimmer of determination began to dawn as we happily splashed and smeared colour onto sheets of paper in the sunshine and that glimmer brightened rapidly. Almost before I realised what was happening, a small collection of 'learn to draw' books, tins of graphite and coloured pencils, sketch pads in assorted sizes, a variety of erasers, a green ruler and a drawing board made their way into a big bag, tucked away in the corner of my living room ... within easy reach of my sofa.

Three eye sketches later ...

It was at that point I tentatively mentioned my new hobby to my sisters and discovered my youngest sister had recently started learning to draw and one of my middle sisters was also keen! Spurred on by our shared interest and limited drawing confidence, we launched a sisterly challenge to see if we could each sketch an eye ... one thing led to another and we now have a private family art group on Facebook, set up to encourage one another and anyone else in the family who fancies a dabble ... it turns out, nieces, daughters, daughter-in-laws, a brother-in-law and even a great niece have 'come out' to draw together!

Becoming bolder and starting to play with colour!

We've had loads of fun commenting in our private drawing group and have run several family challenges already, designed to stretch abilities into different directions. 

'Draw a favourite cartoon character'

For me, learning a 'new' skill and facing my drawing demons, is both absorbing and relaxing. I've a very long way to go as there is an immense amount to learn, but at least I am no longer daunted by the prospect ... and the ghost of my old art teacher is fading fast!

Witch in graphite pencil

In fact, last week I even plucked up confidence to try my hand at a couple of portraits based on photographs ... neither of which ended up looking like the people in the photos, but no matter, they are at least recognisable as faces!  Plenty more practice is of course required, but a couple of weeks ago I would never have believed I could even have begun to tackle these!

Portrait drawing in graphite pencil

So, now I've started, I suppose I ought to try drawing a teddy bear at some point eh?!

Challenge: Design and draw a toy

In the meantime, remember my cloth dollies? Well, using coloured pencils, I tried my hand at a little sketch of one of my 'Prim Dolly Doodles', trouble was I made a complete hash of her lower half (who knew sitting a dolly on a flower pot could be so hard to represent?!) so took the liberty of heartlessly cropping her wayward legs off ... until I can find time to try drawing them back on again.

Challenge: Cartoonize yourself!

Teaching myself to draw at this advanced age (let's just say I have edged well into my second half century) sure is proving heaps more fun than my art lessons at school, all those disillusioned decades ago!

:-)

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