Saturday, 30 June 2007

BAO A great success!

I woke at 7am this morning to find three of my five Bear Artist Online Summer Show bears had sold while I slept! How exciting!

After answering my emails, I dashed across to the BAO website to see how things were going and discovered the show was well underway and already a resounding success! By 3am BST, we had already received 18000 hits on the show site and sold 35 of the bears already! WOW!

Te
atime update: At 6.30pm BST I can report the show has now sold 66 of its bears and there are still several hours left to go until the doors are closed! I can't quite resist checking my inbox every few minutes ... I hope I can stay awake until the witching hour to keep in touch with everyone, but I fear I may doze off in the armchair!

The show runs until midnight tonight, so there's still plenty of time to browse through the fabulous bears, I warn you though, be prepared, you may well fall in love!

And at long last I can stop the teasing and share my own show bears with you properly ... I hope you think they are worth the wait!

So, introducing Billy Buttons (bowtie), Domino (black and white), Dippitty (sleepy lids!), Dolly Daydreams (pink and white) and Whisper (standing) ... as you can tell, all bar Whisper are as the result of my recent 'clown thang'! I hope you enjoy them as much I enjoyed creating them!

They range in size from 15" to 23" and are all one-off pieces.

As I had so much fun with the clowns, I've recently thrown down the gauntlet for a clown challenge on the Teddy Talk forum. It should be fun to see how many clown variations we bear designers can develop ... I'll keep you posted!


Thursday, 28 June 2007

A little Porridge anyone?

I'd like to introduce you to my latest 'Half Pint' cub bear, 'Porridge'. He's just 16", which by my standards, is quite little. (A positive giant to miniaturists though!) You may recognise his knitted waistcoat from my earlier posting ... as soon as I started work on Porridge I knew he would be exactly the right bear for that waistcoat - it really suits him doesn't it?!

Those buttons have set me off on a quest to find out more about button collecting too ... there are so many fabulous vintage buttons out there and hunting them down is much more fun than buying modern buttons from my local haberdashery (although time spent mooching there certainly has its pleasures too!)


The 'Bear Artists Online Summer Show' starts at midnight on Friday! I'm very excited about it. There are over 160 individually designed bears created especially for the show and I think it's going to be a heap of fun. I hope you can pop in to see what's happening!
Here's the show preview link for a taste of what's to come ...




Well, my latest big bear 'Rudyard' sold so quickly, I didn't have time to mention him earlier ... so I will post his photo here for you to see, as I wave him goodbye across the Atlantic to the big 'ol US of A!

I'm going to take a breather today and rather than start work on a new bear, I'm think I'm going to relax a bit and do some knitting in the conservatory ... there was gorgeous sunshine streaming in through the windows earlier, but now ominous black clouds are rolling my way, so I shall knit a cardigan in readinness for my next new bear, while the rain thunders against the glass!

Thursday, 21 June 2007

If you want to get ahead, you gotta get a hat!

You may have noticed, my website is crying out for new bears, so this week, I'm back to work on a new big bear for the website. It's not going too well so far, because I made the stupid mistake of only cutting out one side of his back and then running out of fabric. Yep, twelve years in the business and I still make daft mistakes! Once I realised what I'd done, I quickly ordered some more fabric (thank heavens for internet shopping) from my UK supplier, so I don't think I'll be too delayed in finishing him. The fabric is absolutely beautiful, a real treat to work with ... dense Schulte straight pile 'zotty', a fabulous soft taupe mohair with soft frosting, oh yum! It's definitely one of my all time favourite fabrics.
Yesterday I tucked myself away in my sewing room to plan my design, cut out my lovely fabric (with the exception of one half of the back of course ... grrrr!) I trimmed the edges of each piece to give a professional finish to the seams, pinned and machined and today I will sew in the footpads, finish the machining and set to work creating the head, which is my favourite part of the process. With luck, this bear should be ready for the website in the next few days!


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Stuart had a wonderful day at the races when he went to Royal Ascot on Tuesday, by the way. His group was in the Royal Enclosure, very posh! There is a very strict dress code for this event, top hat and tails for the men and beautiful dresses, complete with hats (no strapless dresses please!) for the ladies. I'll include a couple of pics for you ... by the way, if you look really closely, you can just make out Her Majesty, the Queen, in the fuschia pink dress and hat in the centre of the top photograph. You'll probably need a magnifying glass to see, but I promise, that really is her!

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Just one more ...

With a show looming large on the horizon, it's always impossible to resist the urge to create 'just one more' bear! The 'Bear Artists Online Summer Show' is only 11 days away, so I've indulged myself and spent the past few days working on another big bear. I'm delighted with the way he has come together and I'm really looking forward to showing him off properly, but as I don't want to spoil the excitement of the build-up until the big day I'm going to keep all the bears under wraps until the show begins. In the meantime, I will just share a tiny snippetty peek here with you today to give you a taste of what's to come on the big day!

'Domino'


Stuart has gone to Royal Ascot with colleagues today. Top hat, tails, the whole kit 'n caboodle! He looked very handsome in his penguin suit, but that hat! It did make me chuckle! I'll try and share a pic if I can get my digicam back from him without him having erased the photographs I took this morning. I was invited to accompany him, but all that dressing up is really not my thing, so I'm going to watch from the proceedings on the tv this afternoon instead, where I can admire all the gorgeous frocks and hats, without having to wobble on high heels of my own. I'm strictly a flip-flops and trainers kinda gal!

Talking of cameras, I've been very frustrated this week. After umming and ahhing for absolutely ages, I finally treated myself to a beautiful digital SLR camera recently and I have been itching to play with it, but the memory card didn't arrive until about five minutes ago, so the camera has been sat in its box teasing me all week. I'm really looking forward to using it for shots of my bears and also for landscape pics when we visit Devon in a few weeks.
Oh boy, am I ready for a holiday!

Friday, 15 June 2007

Fair exchange is no robbery.

Here's HUGHIE!

Recently one of my suppliers contacted me to ask if I would be interested in receiving a sample of a new fabric they were introducing, in return for photographs of any bear I could create from it, so they could use the pics to give their customers an idea of how the fabric looks when made up. I thought it sounded a fair exchange, so set to work and 17" 'Hughie', now available for sale on my website http://www.allbear.co.uk is the outcome.


The fabric is less dense than I would usually choose to work with and has lent Hughie a very sweet faced, slightly tousled, appeal. I thought the gorgeous traditional dark amber glass eyes worked very well with the colour and was drawn to traditional gold velvet paw pads to complete his overall look. I created a new pattern for Hughie and am pleased with the outcome. He's a lovely size, a manageable 17" hug ... just right! Oh, I nearly forgot to tell you, I've given him a growler too, so that when you tilt him forwards for a cuddle, he can growl his appreciation.


Now I must get back to work on my BAO Summer Show bears ... let's see if I can get at least one more completed before the deadline ... I can't wait to share them with you them properly!



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It's been an odd week really. A week of mixed feelings. I don't know if you will remember, but for many years I worked with my sister Fiona creating bears under the 'Auntie Bears' banner.


'Becks' by Paula Carter and 'Scrump' by Fiona Smith ... created mid 90's.


We were proud to be bear makers and shared a great deal over the years as we created our niche. Many's the time we've dashed excitedly to the local newsagents desperate to get hold of a teddy mag we know our work is about to be featured in, or have packed up the car with our precious teds and made our way, Thelma and Louise stylie, to take part in a bear show.
Showtime! Early days ... The 'Auntie Bears' stand.

We've planned for the future together, built British Bears on the Net together, launched our charity project 'Dare to Care' together, munched cake, drunk copious amounts of coffee and above all else, laughed and sighed together, during our decade shared as teddy bear designers.
'Beau' by Paula Carter and 'Lottie' by Fiona Smith .. these were available exclusively in Singapore, an edition of ten bears apiece.


However, time moves on and lives take unexpectedly different turns, so a while ago Fiona made the difficult decision to move into a completely new field of work. Initially she felt she would want to return to bear making on an occasional basis and would be reluctant to give up entirely but subsequently, she has become so involved with her new world, she can no longer imagine herself returning to teddy bear design work.

Naturally this is very sad for me, because I miss all that we built together and shared as sisters in the bear world, which let's face it, can be a lonely place to be whilst working, but I am pleased Fo has found fulfilment in her new role and am grateful to her for all the support she has given me over the years and for the huge stash of bear making materials she so generously donated to me a few days ago. Who knows, with luck maybe one day she will get the urge to create again and if that happens, I'll be ready, willing and able to help with components, coffee and of course, cake!

High Spirits with my sister Fiona, on my 40th birthday!

Friday, 8 June 2007

Beartease!



Oh dear ...


It's no good, I've can't wait until the 30th June to show you my Bear Artists Online Summer Show bears ... but I've promised I'll be good and keep them under wraps!
What a dilemma!



So, I have a little tease preview especially for my blog visitors. Here are snippets of four of my show bears ...


You'll have to visit www.bear-artists-online.com on the 30th June 2007 to see them properly though!


Exciting isn't it?!!

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

A bit of a yarn.

Since the birth of my first child more than twenty four years ago, I've loved to knit. In recent years it's a craft which has supposedly achieved fashionable status as a result of celebs spotted clacking needles in the corners of film sets, but more often than not over the past two decades, I've found it to be a skill with the potential to raise quizzical eyebrows from those less well informed, who can't believe knitters are anything other than of pensionable age, with a penchant for knitted socks.

When I was a little girl, crafts were valued in school. Sewing, knitting, cooking, beadwork, crochet, woodwork, metalwork; each skill was made available to us. My own children haven't had these opportunities at school, which is such a shame. It seems traditional craft skills are not high on the list of priorities in these computerised, mass produced, days.

I am hopelessly left handed and I remember my teacher struggling to teach me to knit and at best, helping me to achieve a wonky, not to mention loopy, garter stitch square, to be stitched together with many other similar shaped offerings into a rainbow coloured blanket, for the local old folks home. So, by the age of seven, we were already beginning to understand the value of creating something 'useful' with our hands, relishing the process of turning a simple piece of yarn into a small contribution, and sharing the process in a companionable circle.

It's probably those very early days, which rooted my first instincts for craftwork firmly in place. I remember too, watching my mother clack at lightening speed as she churned out jumper after jumper for me and my sisters to wear. Not for us the shop bought school sweaters, Mum took pride in knitting sweaters for us to wear to school. Not that we appreciated her efforts of course because in those pre-pubescent days, we yearned to wear the same thin knitwear our friends' mums purchased in the town!
Mum tried in vain to progress my knitting skills, but 'wonky, loopy' simply couldn't be improved upon, it seemed there was little hope for left-handed me. Years later, when penniless and pregnant, my early craft instincts were resurrected and led me to purchase an instruction book. With grit I worked my way through, determined my new baby would have a full layette when born. I mastered the basics and knitted frantically throughout my pregnancy, taking such pride as my bottom drawer began to fill with tiny lacewear!

When my son was born two years later, I kept on knitting and as you can see, at the age of three, he loved his Thomas the Tank Engine sweater. He's twenty two now, so more than happy for me to turn my knitting skills away from him and towards my bears instead!



These days, bear-making has to take priority, but I still manage to find time to clack my bamboo needles now and again. I've just finished this little waistcoat (recognise the buttons?) for a teddy bear and as you can see, I have several other bits n' pieces on the go too.



My favourite place to knit is the conservatory, it's so relaxing to be surrounded by my garden. With a mug of coffee ready on the table while I work, it really is the perfect place to hide away from the stresses and strains of real life, while I knit to my heart's content!

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