Friday, 30 May 2008

As promised, Primrose and her duckling ...

Well, I did it, I made the deadline and here she is! This is 'Primrose and her duckling', my entry for the 'Teddy Bear Artist Event, Four Seasons' competition, which will take place at the show in Stratford Upon Avon on June 8th. Primrose will be entered into the 'Spring' category of the competition. She will be available for sale on the day, but will have to remain on display until the competition closes at 3.30pm.

22" 'Primrose and her duckling'

The competition has been designed to raise funds for the 'British Heart Foundation', so if you are able to visit the show, it would be lovely if you could empty your piggy banks and bring along a few coins to vote with. The idea is that each entry will have a cup placed by it and visitors to the show will be invited to vote by placing a coin in their favourite bear's cup. At the end of the competition all coins collected will be donated to the British Heart Foundation and in each category, the bear with the most coins, will be declared the winner!

I'm really looking forward to taking part in this brand new show. It promises to be a fun-filled day out, showcasing some of our very best, original bear art. Luckily for me, my son and daughter have offered to stay home to house-sit and look after the cats, so Stuart and I will be able to enjoy a well-earned weekend break and take in the sights of historic Stratford Upon Avon (and of course, the odd coffee shop or two!) It's such a beautiful place for a visit ... I do hope you can come along too!

The Civic Hall - Stratford Upon Avon

For full details of the TEDDY BEAR ARTIST EVENT 2008, please visit the show website at www.teddybearartistevent.co.uk

Where to find us!

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Loose ends

I've been feeling a little 'beared out' today, so have taken a break from teddy bear making and instead, worked in the conservatory on a few odds and ends of knitting which needing finishing up, while the rain crashed onto the glass roof (not to mention on my washing hanging outside!) This little waistcoat is all ready for its bear now. Cute buttons eh?

Yellow waistcoat for 15" bear

And I can almost share my Teddy Bear Artist Event 'Four Seasons' competition bear with you, but ... not quite! Unfortunately the rain stopped play before I could get her into the garden to take photographs (yes, there's a clue, it's a girl!) I finished detailing her this morning (claws, ribbon, shading etc) and even found time to make her a little friend this afternoon. If this dismal weather ever perks up tomorrow, hey ho, I'll try again with my camera!

Rainy 'loose ends' day in the conservatory

Time now to put the heating on (yes, I'm chilly and it's almost June for heaven's sake!) and cook the evening meal before flopping into my armchair. Weary this bear maker may be, but at least she can rest assured she has successfully completed enough bears for the show (and if she can face it, maybe there will still be time for 'just one more'!)

Hopefully, after the past hectic few weeks, I can now slow the pace for a few days to catch up with myself. If my little car passes its MOT tomorrow (oh please pass little car!) I will be bundling my bears into the boot and taking them to visit Tina for their official photo shoot one day next week ... yes, all in the line of duty of course, but also a great excuse to take a day out from my workroom and enjoy a sisterly natter and a long overdue giggle too!

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

New Zealand Teds

I received a lovely email a little while ago, from a lady called Hazel, editor of the 'New Zealand Teds' magazine. Hazel and her co-editor Pam are dedicated to introducing New Zealand to teddy bear art. They stumbled upon my 'Bearing All' blog and decided to contact me to see if I would be willing to contribute an article and some photographs to their magazine.

New Zealand Teds magazine - June/July 2008 issue

I was delighted to be invited to put something together and then yesterday, a complimentary copy landed on my doormat, all the way from the other side of the world!

After receiving the depressing news about Teddy Bear Scene magazine being wound up earlier this week, the New Zealand Teds have definitely put a big smile back on my face, so I would like to take this opportunity to say,
thank you very, very, much ladies!

If you would like to support the 'New Zealand Teds' magazine, subscriptions (including overseas subscriptions) are available at a very reasonable cost. Please email: hurlys@xtra.co.uk for further information.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Do it yourself ... ahem!

It is traditional on a UK Bank Holiday weekend, for it to rain and boy, did it live up to tradition this weekend! Our other UK Bank Holiday tradition is D.I.Y ('do-it-yourself') which is a wonderful excuse for we women to tuck ourselves away on the pretext of 'mumbled non-specific somethingorother jobs to complete', while our partners manfully resign themselves to three solid days of decorating. Well, that's what happens in our household anyway!

So, for me, three days spent sewing, stuffing and pondering the complexities of design work and for Stuart, three days armed with paintbrushes and a couple of rolls of pretty 'Kimono' patterned, 'eau de nil' wallpaper.

Bank Holiday - Project dining room/All Bear office!

This time it was the turn of the dining room/office to have a makeover. There's still a wee bit of paintwork to complete another time (oh alright, maybe by then I will be able to assist!) but even so, I'm very happy with the results of my scouring over the Laura Ashley catalogue again ... (yes Stuart, my tongue is firmly in my cheek!) Joking apart, after just over a year and much hard work from the very special man in my life, the place is now feeling like home and no longer as though we're camping out in someone else's taste.

So, after the long weekend, I have a few pics of the almost-but-not-quite, end result to share, oh and of course, my weekend bear too, sat patiently in front of the computer screen, waiting for me to put the camera down and write this very post!

Pretty glass shelves for my precious knick-knacks ...

Little 'Finley' will be coming to Stratford on June 8th. At last I have eight bears completed and this week, will be working on my show competition entry. The theme is 'The Four Seasons' and I have chosen 'Spring' ... there's only a couple of days until the entry deadline, so time for me to get cracking!

14" 'Finley' - Bloggin' it!

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Picking up and dusting down

So what does a bear maker do in the face of such dire and deeply disappointing news? For several hours I pondered that little connundrum yesterday after hearing about the closure of Teddy Bear Scene magazine, then the answer sprang forth, crystal clear ... she picks herself up, dusts herself down and gets on with the business of making bears, that's what.

Yes, we have lost a wonderful proponent for our bear art here in the UK, but no, the world of bear artistry needn't cease because of it. We'll simply have to conjure up new and exciting avenues to promote our work in the absence of one of our favourite specialist collectors mags, that's all. Life moves on and changes will no doubt be what we make of them, so to coin an old phrase, onwards and upwards!

17" 'Finnegan'

Oh, and on this picked up and dusted down note, I would like to introduce you to 'Finnegan' and tell you that he will be coming to the Stratford show on June 8th with me!

Friday, 23 May 2008

Teddy Bear Scene magazine ceases publication

There are ups and there are downs, yes, even in the bear world. I learned today that our UK 'Teddy Bear Scene' magazine will cease publication after the July issue. To say I am downhearted is a polite understatement.

TBS has been a wonderful supporter of teddy bear artistry over the years and the editor, lovely Kathy Martin, has worked tirelessly to provide a specialist magazine which showcased the teddy bear, without preaching to, or patronising its readership. Losing such a vital and uniquely altruistic outlet for our bear industry has left me feeling very despondent today, to say the least.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Creating Pansy Posy, a Springtime Celebration clown bear

I mentioned my lavender and honey coloured mohair in earlier posts this week and now I can share the finished bear with you and of course, with the visitors to the Teddy Bear Artist Event on June 8th!

20" Pansy Posy

'Pansy Posy' took a little longer to finish than she should have done because I didn't like the original head I made for her ... the pattern I created first was too short in the muzzle and deep in the chin, which works well for some bears, but wasn't really feminine enough for what I wanted to achieve this time; trouble was, I hadn't really worked out what style of head I did want before I started work on the pattern! Will I never learn?! Luckily though, I averted a crisis because I knew I had enough of the lovely Schulte honey mohair leftover and time enough too, to create a pretty new head, one far more in keeping with my Springtime bear theme. This time I've used a more slender snouted design with a centre-seam, to give a nice rounded shape to the bear's head. I have also slimmed down her arms and given her a more feminine, slender paw shape.

For this bear, I decided sparkly hand painted eyes would be too over the top when combined with a multi-coloured nose, so opted instead for plain black glass eyes, subtlely shaded into the sockets to create depth of expression. The springtime palette nose is created from randomly dyed thread and required patience and extremely careful embroidery to ensure no overlapping or slightly off centre stitches because the colour changes in the thread really show up anything slightly adrift ... troublesome but well worth the effort!

Initially I wasn't sure what to use for the paw pads, but then I remembered the beautiful velvet silk blend I received from the US a while ago and thought it would be ideal - the shade is truly feminine, perfect for my pretty girl clown.

I've used the pale mint green and lilac chiffon ribbon from my stash to trim Pansy Posy. Trimming the clowns is always a pleasure and for this bear, I found some gorgeous pink hearts from my local Hobbycraft store and have combined them with some pretty round sparkly buttons from the local haberdasher's ... would you believe I have been shopping there for almost thirty years?! I love hunting for bits n' pieces for the bears - sometimes I will keep those pieces of satin ribbon, interesting buttons, delicate lace collars, for years before I put them to use, but then one day, the perfect bear will come to life and those special little odds and ends from magpie stash will be used at last!

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Planning ahead

This time the lavendar and honey won! I dare say I'll get to the lemon mohair later this week; I have enough of it to make a lovely big bear, somewhere in the region of 23". I'm never sure whether it makes good economical sense to take such large bears to a show, show days are so hard to predict, but I love making those big 'uns and that's always a good enough reason for me to make sure I have at least one with me on show day.

The All Bear workroom May 2008

The lavendar mohair works so well with the honey! I'm in the process of making a clown style bear as I mentioned yesterday and so far, I'm thoroughly enjoying the process ... there's something utterly satisfying about working with colour, I really enjoying planning my palette! He/she (I won't be sure of gender until later, although I'm erring towards 'she' ... but that doesn't guarantee a thing!) is ready for the sewing machine and as soon as I've finished this post, that's where I'll be heading for the rest of the day.

It's reassurring to see several bears sitting on my workroom shelves (Cherry Blossom, top right, will be off to the US in a couple of days' time) ready for the show, but I need to stay focused if I'm to have my full complement for Stratford on the 8th. I do at least have the rest of my designs floating around my head, I simply need to turn them into reality now!

Pretty chiffon ribbon

I've been keeping my eyes open for appropriate trims for my show bears, it's important they look smartly turned out after all. Don't the colours of these chiffon ribbons work well together?! So pretty! Also, I was delighted to stumble across another vintage crochet collar ... it may or may not stay white, I'll make that decision when I know which bear it suits best.

Vintage crochet collar

Also, isn't this sock wool gorgeous?! It's so soft to knit with and I absolutely love the colours ... if I have time, I may make a little waistcoat or cardigan for one of the bears to wear. I hope I can find that elusive time, but in the meantime, I must dash, I have an appointment with a lavendar and honey coloured bear!

Softie Sock wool

Monday, 19 May 2008

Done and dusted!

I am relieved to tell you I actually have a few furry bums sitting on my shelf ready for the show now! I finished a couple of smaller bears over the weekend and am now about half way through my schedule of work for the big day. So far, Loretta, Rodney, Victor, Flora May and little Peanut are done and dusted in readinness for their special outing on June 8th.

14" 'Peanut'

I think today, I will spoil myself either with a lovely lavendar and honey clown style bear, or perhaps I will indulge myself instead with the fabulous piece of luscious lemon curl mohair which has been waiting patiently for several weeks. Who knows, today could well be a perfectly inspirational day for either bear! One way or another my day will be filled with a cornucopia of creative colour, that's for sure!

18" Flora May

If you would like to see my 'Teddy Bear Artist Event' show bears featured in more detail, please visit www.allbear.co.uk

I will be adding my latest bears to the Show Preview page as soon as they are finished and have their ears sewn on!

Saturday, 17 May 2008

To the Victor ...

When the email arrived, asking me to take part in a magazine competition to celebrate Britain's involvement in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, I almost bowed out, after all, theming bears isn't really my thing; fortunately, a little voice my head firmly told me to stop whinging and just get on with it, so that's exactly what I did. I have now submitted my photograph to the magazine in preparation for publication and can at last share a little peek of my competition entry with you!

'Victor' - 'Olympic Challenge' entry, 2008

This is 20" 'Victor', my Great Britain mascot bear, I do hope you like him! I'm very pleased with the way he has come together and I think I'll take him to Stratford-Upon-Avon with me for the show on June 8th. Not long to go now, I'm really looking forward to the big day!

I'm not absolutely certain of which issue the 'Olympic Challenge' bears will be published in, but I will let you know as soon as I find out. It will be pretty soon I'm sure and when the competition is published, it will be open to public vote, so I hope you will consider buying a copy and taking part! It should be fun and I can't wait to see all the Challenge bears featured together!

Friday, 16 May 2008

Finding a new home for Gisbo

Anyone who knows anything about English artist bears, will know and I'm sure love, the wonderful work of top UK bear artist, Frank Webster. Frank's beautiful 'Charnwood Bears' have been sought after for many years and rarely come onto the secondary market these days.

'Gisbo' by Frank Webster of Charnwood Bears

I have recently been asked by someone close to me, if I would help to find a special new owner for dear 'Gisbo', a wonderful 14" polar bear, created by Frank several years ago. So, here I am, hosting 'Gisbo's' adoption on my blog, in the hope some kindly soul will fall in love with him and offer to purchase him. In the meantime, it has been a treat for me to have Gisbo visit with me for a few days!

Gisbo is beautifully made and a prototype bear, a one-off piece. He is created in short pile white mohair with Ultrasuede paw pads. Frank has carefully shaded the area around Gisbo's toes, paws and nose. This dear little polar bear feels absolutely wonderful to hold and is filled with a mix of polyester fibre and plastic pellets. He has a cute little waxed nose and black glass eyes.

Gisbo profile

I should point out that Gisbo is in mint condition and has a stitched in 'Charnwood Bears' statin label, with white unmarked tag. He has lived in a non-smoking house, with no pets and has one very careful lady owner!

If you would like to purchase this super special bear, Gisbo's owner would be grateful for any offers over £100, (plus postage) and is able to accept payment by Paypal if required. Gisbo was originally purchased at £175. Please contact me if you would like to make contact with Gisbo's current owner and I will be happy to put you in touch by email ... allbearbypaula@aol.com

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

In which all is not quite lost ...

I thought my lifeline had been cut yesterday after another horrid day of computer frustration. I feel so cut off from the world at large when my internet connection bombs out on me, leaving me at a loss as to how to reinstate it. It is definitely the bain of my self-employed life when things go wrong. I bumbled my way through setting after setting and after a long, painfully squinty-eyed, shoulder aching day, an expensive and annoying call to AOL's technical support line (whose staff, based overseas, are so very difficult to understand over the telephone) I finally switched everything off at bedtime last night, in a sulk guaranteed to repel all anxiously hopeful smiles from my poor family. I know, shame on me.

'Rodney'

This morning I woke with a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach at the thought of another wasted day fiddling with rotten router settings. I trudged dejectedly to my swivel chair, plonked myself down, sighed heavily, booted up, re-set the miserable thing yet again and .... bingo! Here I am, none the wiser, but here anyway! Hallelujah!

20" Rodney, a centre-seam 'Timeless Ted', pictured on my new wicker chair ... I wouldn't mind a little chillout time in this chair myself right now!


So, after eagerly catching up with my email and forums this morning, I spent the rest of the morning finishing 'Rodney' for the show at Stratford. I now have three 20" bears completed, two more smaller bears in progress and three and a bit weeks to finish the rest. After my disasterous day yesterday, all is not quite lost. Phew!

Monday, 12 May 2008

Don't Dilly Dally on the way

Blue skies, not a cloud as far as the eye could see, I could almost have been in the Med! No such luck though and no, I'm not complaining because instead of posing around the Cap D'Azur, or somewhere equally as glamorous, I chose (as if there were truly such a choice!) to spend the weekend in my garden, pottering.

I'm still not sure what this shrub is, maybe part of the honeysuckle family? I really don't know. The blooms are spectacular, very large, unlike any honeysuckles I've met before. If someone recognises it, I'd love to know the name!

Pottering is one of our traditional English foibles and I can highly recommend it! There's nothing quite as therapeutic as grubbing around in the mud, is there?! I just love potting up those cute little summer perennials, knowing that with a wee bit of tlc, they will soon reward me with with a garden full of happy colours!

I'm so pleased I found this lilac bush tucked behind some shrubs in a pot, abandoned by the previous owners! It's much smaller than the lilac tree I had to leave behind when I moved house last year, but it smells just as sweet, especially in the evening ...

It's beautiful here again today, summer has definitely come early to this south eastern corner of the UK. I'm looking forward to popping out before dinner tonight, while the garden is still warm from the afternoon sunshine, to give my little summer plants a good drink but until then, I must behave and crack on with some bear work! I have bears to post and bears to sew, so there's no time for this bearmaker to be dilly dallying in the sunshine today!

Friday, 9 May 2008

Windows to the soul

Bewitching Green eyes

Tis' said, the eyes are the windows to the soul, so if a teddy bear wants to come to life, I believe he needs special eyes, eyes that pledge loyalty and fun, eyes with a hint of mystery, eyes you are drawn irrisistibly to gaze into! Hopefully the glass eyes I painted yesterday will be perfect for a little teddy bear magic!

Mystic Midnight Blue eyes

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Little pots of paint

I haven't done much in the way of airbrushing for a while, so I thought I'd haul out my mini compressor and have a play this afternoon. Airbrushing is a great way to add extra interest to a bear and once you're confident with your equipment, imagination is your only limitation ... or so I'm told!

I'm about to start work with some sage green and pale cream mohair and want some pretty paw pads to complement my mohair. Incidentally, the paw pads are cream UltraSuede, but wool felt would accept the paint just as well, if not better. I didn't have the exact shades of ink/acrylic paint I needed, which meant I had to mix what I did have available until I reached a satisfactory outcome.

Preparation (I've been painting eyes too!)


Suitable paints and inks

It's all in the mix ...

Using a pipette to transfer the mixed paint to my airbrush

First colour application

Second application and finished paw pads

There's no magic formula for airbrushing paw pads in this simple way, it really is just a case of 'point and shoot' until you achieve what you were hoping for. A steady hand helps too! If all goes according to plan, these particular paw pads should soon be featured on a new 18" bear ... watch this space!

As you can see, my airbrushing skills are very basic, so if you would like to see the work of a true master, please spare a moment to visit Judi Paul's blog at
http://luxembears.com/Blog/ Judi's airbrush work is amazing!

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Balancing act

It was a glorious Bank Holiday weekend here in the UK, three whole days of warm holiday sunshine, time to relax outdoors and even time for a family get together on Saturday evening, when we strolled down to the pub by the river to meet my sister, her family and bouncy 'Bugsy', their lively two year old German Shepherd, in the pub grounds.

Teddy Bear Scene magazine, 'Teddy Bear Artist Event' article


So yesterday, it would be fair to say I went back to work feeling refreshed, but as soon as the 'Teddy Bear Scene' magazine dropped through my letterbox, I couldn't avoid my scheduling issue any longer, the 'Teddy Bear Artist Event' to be held at Stratford Upon Avon on 8th June, is well and truly just around the corner and my work/life balancing act seems to have gone a wee bit awry of late! The show seemed ages away, so I'm no way near prepared for it yet. I read the magazine article and each enthusiastic word about the show reminded me of exactly how much work I have yet to do; everyone sounds so organised already! One eager exhibitor has even managed to complete four gorgeous bears in readinness for the 'Four Seasons Exhibitor's Challenge' which will be held on the day and there's me, still wondering how on earth I'm even going to produce sufficient bears from my bearmaker's hat to fill my table, let alone manage a season too ... and there are only four and a half weeks until show day - gulp! Still, it was nice to see my 'Peregrine' bear featured in the article, even if it was simply to let everyone know this naughty bearmaker hasn't yet managed to produce her TBAE show bears!

Karen's beautiful vintage crochet collar - pre-tea dye!

On a more productive note, I must tell you the red, blue and white buttons arrived from the US this morning and I am delighted because they are absolutely perfect for my patriotic bear. I stitched them in place earlier today and as soon as his little flag arrives, I will be able to photograph him. This is one bear at least who will definitely meet his deadline and what a relief it was to be able to confirm that fact to Sophie, the competition organiser! All I need now is a name ... hmmmn ...

Loretta 20" - Teddy Bear Artist Event show bear, 8th June 2008

Don't get me wrong though, it's not as though I haven't started work for the show, of course I have! I finished this lady bear on Friday and she will be coming with me on the big day. She is called 'Loretta' ... such a pretty name, don't you agree? I have Karen from Cider Antiques to thank for the beautiful vintage crocheted collar, although she may not recognise it at first because I tea-dyed it to blend with Loretta's soft beige mohair. I even found a tiny vintage flower button in a suitable shade to fasten the collar. I'm very happy with this bear, she is completely representative of the type of bear I really love to create and has the sweetest face. Susan at Bear Basics recommended some dark topaz glass eyes and they have worked beautifully to give Loretta a gorgeous doe-eyed expression.

Before I return to my workroom, which of course is where I should be right now (!) I've been meaning to share a few quick recommendations for summer reading... now that I have my glasses and my ol' lady eyes can at last see again (oh the joys of being forty something!) I have taken to reading whenever I can grab the odd half hour of peace and quiet. I've read all these titles recently and thoroughly enjoyed them, so if you fancy a darn good story, guaranteed to hold your interest while you relax in your deckchair amongst the summer blooms, I'm sure one of these will do the trick and hey, we all deserve a little chillout time now and again don't we?! Go on, grab a long, cool drink and indulge yourselves, you know you want to! ;o)

Friday, 2 May 2008

Flying the flag

You wouldn't believe how hard it is to find Union Jack buttons! I can find plenty of pin badges, but no proper buttons; isn't that peculiar?! I have surfed the internet until I'm boggle-eyed, but to no avail. Ah well, I'm pleased to say my patriotic bear will still be completed because I have had an artistic rethink and with perseverence, eventually succeeded in finding some suitable vintage buttons from the 1960's/70's. These little cuties are now en route to me, whizzing over from the US - I hope they arrive soon because I'm bursting to finish this bear! I just need to sew on his buttons, give him a little Union Jack flag to wave, take his photographs for the magazine ... oh, and a name! I must remember to come up with a suitable name!

Vintage 1960's/70's buttons

I think I will be taking this bear to the 'Teddy Bear Artist Event' in Stratford Upon Avon on June 8th, so if you can make it to the show, I'd love you to come and see him in person. For the moment though, here's a partial peek, just to whet your appetite!

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