How exciting! I have an article published in an online German magazine! Would you like to read it? You would? (!) Okay, here's the link:
I do hope you have more luck understanding the article than I did - sadly, my schoolgirl German is horribly rusty and limited to counting to ten, telling someone I am hungry and ordering a beer, so I can only guess hopefully at what is being said about my bears ... still, on the plus side, at least you can rest assured I should never go hungry or thirsty in Germany!
Postscript: I have just found the original interview questions and my answers, so if you are like me, linguistically challenged and would like to read the article, this is the gist of it:
Please describe your bears with your own words.
When I was a toddler, my parents bought me a large teddy bear (who, at the time, was almost as big as I was!) from the English manufacturer 'Chiltern'. This special bear gave me a wonderful sense of security for many years to come and for that reason, I have always been drawn to bears of significant proportion. My own designs stay true to this concept; they are substantial teddy bears with their roots based in traditional English teddy bear design, yet with a contemporary flavour - I like to think of them as modern classics.
- When did you start making bears and what was the occasion?
Initially, as an adult, I indulged my fascination in the early Chiltern Hugmee teddy bear, by hunting out books to discover more of their history. One thing led to another and before long, I had stumbled across a specialist collector's magazine, which of course told me all about artist bears and how to find them. I visited a London show and was so excited to find such that artistically designed bears of every shape, size and much character were being created today! I came away from that show clutching a bear-making kit and from that day to this, approximately fifteen years later, I have continued to create my own bears.
- Do you recollect the first teddy that you made yourself?
The first bear I ever made was from a child's toy making kit. I hand sewed him from start to finish and when he was complete, named him 'Orange Blob Bear'. He wasn't very handsome, my son loved him though!
- How do you get ideas or inspiration for new bears?
I am constantly thinking of new ideas for my bears, I take inspiration from almost everywhere. Poetry, stories, places I love, food, unusual names, elements of nature, beautiful fabrics ... there is always something to inspire me! I also love to research antique bears and that will often lead me into an idea for new work.
- What do like most when making bears?
I really enjoy the whole process of making bears; there's something entirely satisfying about creating personality from raw materials. However, I think it's important to stress that for me, making bears isn't just about bear craft. It is about the process of design, creation, promotion and administration. As I sell my work to achieve an income, the art of running my own business is every bit as important to me as the craft of creating my bear designs and that involves being a 'Jack of all Trades'. As well as my crafting skills, I also rely heavily on my computer skills, marketing techniques, administrative ability and so forth!
- Do you have a personal great dream regarding the bear making?
My goals are quite simple. I would love to continue to be able to create beautiful bears of quality, for collectors to enjoy. It is important to me to continue to be part of the movement promoting bear art, working hard to bring it to an even broader audience.
and especially regarding England
- Please tell us something about the place where you live. What's your place of birth?
England is my home and I wouldn't want to live anywhere else. These days I live just outside the county town of Maidstone in Kent, but I was born in Hampshire, near the sea and have always loved the British coastline; it can be rugged, dramatic and yet always so beautiful. I also love the hustle and bustle of our Capital city, London, which is about an hour and a half's drive from my home. London is such a fascinating place, with wonderful architecture, fabulous museums and of course, the bright lights of the West End!
- Is there a teddy bear scene in England (regular fairs, competitions, magazines ...)?
England was the birthplace of several important teddy bear making manufacturers throughout the past century: Chiltern, Chad Valley, Merrythought, Deans, to name but a few. These days there is a thriving teddy bear scene in the UK and we have many dedicated bear artists bringing exciting new designs to the industry. Specialist collectors shows take place throughout the country but my favourite UK shows are held in Kensington Town Hall in February and September. Both shows are run by www.hugglets.co.uk and they showcase an amazing array of talent, both from the UK and overseas. Definitely a must for any collector's calendar! We also have two important UK monthly publications, the 'Teddy Bear Scene' magazine and 'The Teddy Bear Club International' magazine. Both magazines work extremely hard to support bear art and each sponsors an annual competition, designed to promote the status of the teddy bear as art.
- Do you think that your bears are influenced by your place of residence/country or would they look the same if you lived elsewhere?
I think the fact that I am British has played an important part in the way I approach my bear making. I love the early English bears, (particularly those manufactured by Chiltern from the 1920's/1950's) and have always been hugely inspired by my country's bear making heritage.