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!

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


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.


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! 

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 ...


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!


Friday, 26 August 2016

Mellow Yellow

After my Buttercup post, I had yellow bears on the brain, so started hunting for photos of some of the yellow bears I have made in past years. Sadly, some were lost thanks to the failure of an old hard drive (am hopeless at backing stuff up) but I did find these and couldn't resist putting together a little 'Mellow Yellow' montage to share here with you today ...

Sunny Jim, featured in the central pic taken with me, is one of my all time favourite teddy bears ... I can't quite believe it has been ten years since I made him, where on earth did they all go?!  Looking at these bears, it seems I have used yellow mohair for Spring, Summer and Autumn teddies - I couldn't find a wintery yellow bear though; maybe yellow is just too cheery for a chilly winter teddy bear?  Or maybe there lies a challenge for me to rise to this coming winter ... create a wintery yellow bear ... hmmn, might give that further thought!


Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Build me up, Buttercup!

It has been quite a while since my last smallish bear, let alone a yellow one, so this this little girl is long overdue!

'Buttercup', is a 12" teddy girl.  I do hope she makes you smile!  During the twenty years of my bear making career, I haven't created many yellow bears (proper yellow mohair, rather than pale gold, is quite hard to source) so I was delighted to discover this pretty lemon yellow Schulte mohair, a few months ago. I tucked it away in my stash 'til Summer arrived, as it's a perfect Summer teddy colour!

I knitted Buttercup's lace dress from a vintage dolly knitting pattern; vintage doll's clothes patterns are perfect for teddies, with a few tweaks to the pattern to ensure a perfect fit.  It has been lovely sitting knitting under my garden parasol, sipping coffee in the gorgeous sunshine this week.

I hope you will be happy to learn, Buttercup is now available to adopt from my website and hopes to find a lovely new owner very soon.

Please visit the link below if you would like further details:

Update: Buttercup has been adopted!

Monday, 22 August 2016

Simple Pleasures

Sunshine, a freshly part-cut field and our goldie girls for company.
Simple pleasures are most definitely the best!

I hope you too have had a lovely weekend ... wherever you are.


Wednesday, 17 August 2016

A new arrival!

It's been a while since my knitting needles were gainfully employed, but with the safe arrival last week, of Esmé, my second beautiful Great Niece, it was time to bring them out of retirement ...

I popped along to meet little Esmé on Saturday and was welcomed with a precious newborn cuddle and a cuppa.  It was so lovely to find my niece Leah, relaxed and radiant at home with her family, after delivering her new daughter into the world only a couple of days earlier.

Welcome to the world little Esmé and welcome to your wider family too.  We are all very much looking forward to getting to know you!


Friday, 12 August 2016

The colours of a rainbow

Keeping an almost-two-year-old entertained each week has proved to be less of a challenge than I at first imagined it might be. Little Toby has a wonderfully curious mind and a delightfully active spirit, so we are having heaps of fun together and as his Nana, being granted an opportunity to see the world through such fresh young eyes once more, is a privilege I truly treasure.

The weather has been glorious here in Kent this week, so I put up my parasol to provide some shade on the garden patio, smeared my Grandson in 'Factor 50', cut up one of my t-shirts to make him a painting smock, rolled out a leftover length of wallpaper, gathered large pebbles to weight it, squeezed out the colours of a rainbow ... and let him loose!

He had a whale of a time with the paint and was completely focused on making his picture with whatever came to hand, be it brushes, sponges, or feet and hands.  It was so much fun to watch him create his first masterpiece.  I sent the entire roll (several feet long!) home with Toby, to share with his mummy and daddy, but couldn't resist keeping a little picture he painted while we were waiting for the big one to dry in the sunshine.  I framed it and hung it on his bedroom wall at Nana's house, for him to enjoy whenever he visits ... and every time I look at it, I can't help but grin and think of my little artist at work!


The Traditional Vibe

I've been feeling my traditional vibe again of late.  It's always good to know classic teddies never grow old with collectors and beautiful mohair is as much of a joy for them, as it is for me!

20" Sterling

This gorgeous golden bear, created from Schulte's finest German mohair, will be heading to the US next week.  He has been a pleasure to create for his new owner and I couldn't be more delighted to send him on his way to share the teddy bear love 'across the pond'.

Bon voyage Sterling!


Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Being Nana

We visited Leeds Castle with Toby yesterday afternoon.  Seeing the grounds of this beautiful place through a toddler's eyes was a real treat.  To keep our little charge entertained, we went in search of showy peacocks, ducks and their ducklings, a big boat, a green train, a castle and an adventure playground with ramparts to climb.  He loved his visit and we loved exploring with him!

Being this little man's Nana is such a blessing; he brings me so much happiness! When I was younger, I had no idea becoming a grandmother would be quite so special ... Toby, Nana loves you to the moon and back!


Thursday, 28 July 2016

What a wonderful world ..

As I stitched on teddy's ears this afternoon, my little orange Roberts' radio crooned the old song 'What a wonderful world' ... I couldn't help but smile because it was a tune my Dad always enjoyed and I remember him singing it when I was a little girl.

And so 'Louis' the teddy was named, a bear christened from a smile, a magical voice, happy memories and a beautiful sentiment.

Update: Louis has been adopted!


Sung by Louis Armstrong 1968

"I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself what a wonderful world.

I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself what a wonderful world.

The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces of people going by
I see friends shaking hands saying how do you do
They're really saying I love you.

I hear babies crying, I watch them grow
They'll learn much more than I'll never know
And I think to myself what a wonderful world
Yes I think to myself what a wonderful world."

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

We're having a heatwave!

As pavements sizzled and temperatures bubbled into the 90's here in Kent yesterday, there was nothing for it but to dip my toes and join my Grandson for a welcome paddle.

With a parasol to shade us and water to cool us, we managed to enjoy our afternoon safely.  Polly and Betty (my golden retrievers), slept indoors on the kitchen floor for most of the day, instinctively hiding themselves away from the scorching rays until sunset, when it felt fresh enough to take them for a lovely walk around our local bean field.

It is so warm here this week, working on my teddy bears isn't an option, so best to eat ice lollies, dip toes in the paddling pool and enjoy the Mediterranean blue sky from beneath my garden parasol!  I've no doubt we will soon be treated to the 'crash bang flash' of heatwave thunderstorms and until then, we intend to stay as cool and sunburn free as possible.

Normal bear-making service will resume again shortly, just as soon as this sizzling weather eases ... phew!


Monday, 18 July 2016

Summer breeze please!

The weather has been way too hot for making bears today, but with a cold drink to sip and the shade of my parasol to shade me, I did manage to add the finishing touches to my new alpaca teddy this afternoon.

I found a shady spot among the flowerpots to take Fuchsia's photograph, then popped indoors to upload her to my website and send out a newsletter introducing her to all my mailing list collectors.  Being inside on the computer was a welcome relief from the heat of the day outside I can tell you ... my goodness it's been hot out there!

Fuchsia flew off my website to a new owner in a heartbeat, so if you visited and missed her, I am sorry for any disappointment and promise to have another lovely new bear to share with you very soon.


Thursday, 14 July 2016

Rambling Inspiration

I have been enjoying my garden this summer, planting pots, pruning roses, sitting and breathing the summery scent.  It has been lovely to have my gardening mojo back as it went into hibernation when Dad passed away. Dad lived in a countryside cottage and was a keen gardener, often regaling me with stories of how his plants were doing and what he'd been up to in his garden ... he always preferred to be outdoors rather than in.  I think of him often these days, when I'm pottering in my own garden.  

Anyway, I digress!  Recently, I was admiring a honeysuckle I had planted in a big terracotta pot, in the hope it might climb and disguise a drainpipe.  This summer it climbed high, wrapping that boring black drainpipe with lovely soft green leaves and delighting me with dainty peach and pink flowers.

As often happens, nature kindly provided me with a teddy bear inspiration and my rambling honeysuckle led to 'Honeysuckle', a 19" teddy bear!

Full details for Honeysuckle may now be found on my website. 

I hope you enjoy your visit:


Update: Honeysuckle has been adopted.

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Mr Buddy Guy

Oh what a night! 

As a special birthday treat, my daughter took me to see a genuine blues legend, Mr Buddy Guy, play live at the Hammersmith Apollo in London last weekend.  

We had a fantastic night!

With no regard whatsoever for his octogenarian status, Mr Guy kept both us and the entire audience, completely entranced with his colourful repartee, boundless energy and breathtaking guitar playing.  It was a rare treat indeed to share this man's rich talent with my daughter, who, after queuing with a determined glint in her eye, went home clutching a vinyl copy of his latest album, 'Born to play guitar', signed by the man himself, while she waited patiently.

Thank you for a wonderful night Fay and for knowing me so well.  I am so glad we were able to share such legendary live music together!


Friday, 8 July 2016

Making a Statement..

It has been a little while since I made an enormous teddy bear, so I was thrilled to be asked to create this summer clown for a keen collector ...

'Peaches' is a whopping 25" tall when standing!

Making such a large bear is jolly hard work, but very rewarding. I enjoy making BIG bears (as long standing readers will already know).  They take a heap of stuffing and are tricky to manoeuvre when it comes to stitching on ears, but the end result is always worth the extra elbow power required to bring them to life.  

I think it's fair to say, a huge bear makes a huge statement in any teddy bear collector's hug and I think this bear's statement is something along the lines of, 'Summer is beautiful, so let's have fun together!'


Monday, 27 June 2016

A slower pace of life

Devon was lush, green and beautiful ... we loved it! Our holiday home was a 250 year old Devon longhouse, renovated to provide a most welcoming family home and the garden ... oh my, that garden! It wrapped around the house with sheep and cows greeting us over the fence each day. Polly and Betty had so much fun out there!

After behaving perfectly in the car throughout the long drive to Devon (six hours on the rear seat with brief pit-stops to stretch their legs) my accommodating pair made themselves right at home as soon as we arrived. From then on, we all had heaps of fun together, playing games, visiting beautiful beaches and making the most of the wide open spaces whilst generally making the most of a slower pace of life.

Betty visited her very first beach on holiday and after a moment of wide eyed wonderment, dipped her paw in the sea and was soon rock pooling excitedly with Polly. I was delighted after three solid years of dog obedience training, to be able to allow my girls to run free on the dog friendly beaches, safe in the knowledge they would return at the beep of a whistle. They were so well exercised and entertained each day, they slept peacefully in our holiday home, from the very first night.

After our much needed break, it's back to real life and of course, back to work on my bears. Devon in June was a perfect relaxing break for us but now I'm refreshed and raring to get started on the mohair again!



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