Thursday, 31 December 2009

New Tricks for a new decade.

As you may already know, during the past decade I have battled my way through the vagaries of learning to maintain and develop my website, participate on selected internet forums, sell my work at online auction, create this very blog (which has to be my favourite modern 'must have'!) share photographs on Flickr.com, run online teddy bear webshows, join the Facebook network, build 'The Top 100 Best Bear Artist Blogs' and 'The Guild of Master Bearcrafters' and now, she who has never created a video in her life before, has decided to test out 'You Tube' for no other sensible reason, than plain old curiosity ... I know, there's not much hope for me is there?!


My first You Tube video slideshow created 31st December 2009

After a very frustrating morning which began in total ignorance and ended here with you in time for lunch, this is my very first video 'You Tube' slideshow featuring many of my bears past and present - a fitting end to this bear maker's decade of work and maybe even a fresh skill to offer 2010!

So, here's to a forthcoming year full of new challenges, creative thought and much happinness for us all.  Thank you so much for sharing my thoughts throughout 2009 ... I look forward to seeing you again in 2010!

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

A raggy birthday wish for Leah!

This little lady was kept top secret until the day after Boxing Day, a special day in our family because my eldest niece Leah-Marie celebrated her twenty second birthday. 

I visited Leah in her new home that morning to wish her a 'Happy Birthday' in person and have the pleasure of seeing her open her gift ...


Sweet-Marie

Now 'Sweet-Marie' is settled comfortably on Leah's sofa, I'm sure she won't mind me sharing a quick peek with you - by the way, I'm very happy to say that as grown up as she now is, lovely Leah was thrilled to receive her special birthday raggy doll!

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Step inside ...

After my snowy post yesterday, I thought I'd warm things up today, by welcoming you inside ...

 
Welcome!  Come on in ...


...  share our Christmas tree and say hello to Miss Tingle Twankey sat by the fireside.


I hope you like my frosted glass baubles ...


A little Christmas sparkle ...


And some festive pazazz ...


It's all so pretty!


And here's little Rica waiting under my Christmas fairy tree ... if you look carefully, you'll spot Blitzy by Elanor of Shantock Bears too!




Can you see the tiny Christmas fairies on my little tree?


Please  join me in a sip of sherry and a slice of the Christmas cake my son and his lovely girlfriend made for us ... enjoy! 

I'm feeling cosier now, I hope you are too.  Thank you so much for visiting!

Wishing you all a very Happy Christmas!

Monday, 21 December 2009

Deep and crisp and even ...



For the first time in heaven only knows how many years it looks as though we will come within a hare's whisker of a white Christmas!  Who would have thought it here in Kent?!  We woke to a Winter Wonderland on Friday morning, a thick blanket of pure white snow laying as far as the eye could see.  It was so pretty!





We're not used to heavy snow here in the South East of England, so cars couldn't make their way to work, schools were closed and children and adults alike delighted in snow ball fights and building snowmen.  Stuart and I wrapped up well and went out for a very slippery walk with my kids ... which naturally descended into a snow ball challenge between the boys!



Puddle cat was very excited by the snow and bounced across the garden up to her little black nose, before deciding the white stuff was a little too chilly on her paws.  It didn't take long for her to bounce right back into the warmth of the house!


Our snow Puddle! 


My kids enjoying their snow stroll.
 

Our snowy road!


Snowy smiles with my daughter.

It snowed again last night, so there's still about a foot of snow outside ... I wonder if it will all melt away by Christmas Day?


If you would like to book tickets for the panto, please visit www.fairfieldhalls.co.uk

The boys dug my little car out of the snow on Saturday, so we could slip slide our way to collect Stuart's grandson yesterday and take him to see the pantomime at Croydon's Fairfield Halls ... well, some Christmas traditions should be upheld whatever the weather (not to mention the fact I was on a mission to introduce the little man to 'Sooty and Sweep')! 

Fortunately by the time we set out the main roads out of town had been salted, so we arrived at the theatre without too much trouble and had a wonderful afternoon full of fairy dust and laughter!

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Ssssshhhhh, a Christmas secret!

Look who's peeking out from under my Christmas tree ... isn't he adorable?!  Little 'Rica' was created by Rita Diesing in Germany and I am so thrilled he has come to live with me!  I haven't told anyone yet - you are the very first to share my special Christmas secret!


'Rica' by Rita Diesing of Ridibears

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Panto comes to Raggy Land ...

I love the pantomime, don't you?  It's such fun and the characters are so wonderfully colourful ... we will be taking Stuart's grandson to watch Snow White very soon, but in the meantime, the spirit of panto definitely seems to be spilling over into my Prim Dolly Doodles ... 


'Miss Tingle Twankey'

'Miss Tingle Twankey', youngest daughter of the Widow Twankey, came to life in my workroom today with only the tiniest sprinkling of Christmas Fairy dust ... I do hope she makes you smile!

Friday, 11 December 2009

Making time for a raggy Christmas treat!

As you know, I've been hard at work with my Christmas bears lately, so this week  I have decided to give myself a little breather for a few days to work on a few Christmas raggy dolls.  'Witch Hazel' has been sitting by my fireplace since Halloween and much as I love her, it really is time she hibernated and made way for my planned special Christmas dolly!


I've had a lovely time in my workroom this afternoon choosing dolly fabrics, while listening to Frank Sinatra croon Christmas tunes.  Needless to say my ideas of making one raggy doll, quickly multiplied into four, because I couldn't decide between all the gorgeous prints I've hoarded over the past few months. 


Well, it's almost time for me to cook our evening meal, so I think I'll leave these headless dollies sitting in row on my worktable for now and go peel some spuds!

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Bah Humbug!

Well, it wouldn't be Christmas without a festive (bah) Humbug, would it now?!


20" Humbug is now available at www.allbear.co.uk/

This Humbug bear hopped into Santa's Sack on my website a couple of hours ago; he's not a true bah humbug though, because unlike Scrooge, he's hoping to spread a little peace and goodwill over the Christmas holidays.

Humbug update:  Humbug will be spending Christmas with his new owner in America!

Monday, 7 December 2009

A sprinkling of fairy dust ...

My Christmas cards have been written, my first little tree decorated, tickets for the panto booked, so I am at last ready to mix the all important Christmas pudding (a little late I know, but tradition dictates the family pud, made to my Grandmother's receipe, must still be made!)  Yes, I think I can safely say, it really is beginning to feel a little like Christmas!



I still have a festive bear or two up my sleeve, yet to be brought to life and even though the days are now hastening towards our seasonal celebrations, I'm certain that with a little fairy dust blown in my direction, will soon have those Christmas bears ready to hop into Santa's Sack ... just in the St. Nicholas of time!

Thursday, 3 December 2009

A Christmas Wish for Santa's Sack!

Last night I mentioned I was about to wax a bear's nose, since then I have photographed him and can now share 'Christmas Wish' with you.  He hopped into Santa's Sack about an hour ago and was adopted within minutes!  I am delighted to tell you, this lovely bear will soon be flying over to Singapore to spend Christmas with his new owner.


19" Christmas Wish

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Time to cosy up.

The curtains are pulled tight this evening; it's raining heavily here so the only thing to do is batten down the hatches, cosy up and enjoy a little candlelight.



My final bear making task of the day will be to polish my latest bear's waxed nose, then I can set him aside and peel the spuds for our evening meal ... 



My armchair is beckoning on this dark December night ... *sighs* ... it won't be too much longer before I can settle into it and put my feet up for the evening ... lovely!

I hope you're cosy out there, wherever you are!

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Christmas in the US!

This little lady flew out of Santa's Sack within moments of settling herself there.  No sooner had I finished uploading 'Christmas Evie's' photos, she was adopted and invited to spend Christmas in the US!  What a super result for a hard Saturday's work photographing, editing and updating the All Bear website!


19" Christmas Evie

Later next week I'm planning a few days of dolly doings, but first I have a rather magnificent length of mohair to work on ... it's absolutely glorious fabric, so I'm really looking forward to starting work on my collector's special bear!

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Santa's Sack is now open!


I can hardly believe we're nearing the end of 2009 already ... the year has raced by!  Christmas and bears go hand in hand and I love the festive inspiration this season offers, but I do have a problem at this time of year because taking photographs while the weather is so dark and the garden so bare, is a nightmare!  I recently had a long chat with my sister Tina and she pointed me in the direction of a set of basic studio lights to enable me to take the bears' photographs in my lounge - perfect!  Needless to say, I also had to master the manual settings on my camera with Tina's guidance and after several long hours yesterday, my first three Christmas bears had been photographed and uploaded to 'Santa's Sack' on the All Bear website.


My indoor photographic studio

Creating new web pages for the site is also very time consuming and I must admit, I do occasionally wonder if collectors realise how much work is involved in presenting new bears online.  To give you an idea, yesterday's photo shoot and website update took all day and well into the evening to present just three bears!  Then as soon as the Christmas bears went online, email enquiries had to be answered and sales processed ... I finally logged off and staggered from my swivel chair to bed, at about eleven o'clock last night.


23" Christmas Rose

I nervously submitted my first studio shots to Tina for assessment and you could have knocked me down with a feather when she cast a critical eye over them and gave them the thumbs up!  There's hope for me yet!  I must admit I have missed being able to visit Tina in Hampshire this year because it's lovely to catch up in person, but we're both so busy with our businesses, this seemed a sensible solution to my immediate problem.  I'm happy to say Tina will be popping up for a pre-Christmas visit in mid December and we're looking forward to having a good ol' natter over a festive mince pie then!


21" Yuletide

By the way, I am absolutely delighted to be able to tell you all three of my Christmas bears were adopted from Santa's Sack last night and they will be spending Christmas in Singapore and America!


17" Robin Red

Time for me to head up to my workroom now to work on my next Christmas offering, a pretty lilac bear this time ... I will let you know when she's ready to hop into Santa's Sack!

Thursday, 19 November 2009

A Perfect Ending!

I was so thrilled when my copy of 'The Teddy Bear Annual 2010' dropped through my letterbox this week.  I couldn't wait for it to arrive in WH Smiths on the High Street, so I pre-ordered it from Amazon and luckily for me, they dispatched a few days prior to the offical publication date!  This is a very special magazine for All Bear as not only have I been honoured with a lovely three-page feature and invited to create a special Christmas Bear for a lovely 'Teddy at Christmas' article, my bear 'Morris' is also the magazine cover star!  As you can imagine, I'm over the moon!


'All About Paula' ...

This bumper (one hundred pages!) Annual has been created by Kathy Martin, well respected teddy bear authoress and editor.  Kathy has put her heart and soul into this project and worked hard to produce a fabulous new publication for the bear world and in particular, for teddy bear collectors.  The magazine offers a super balance of bear related features, including vintage bears, artist bears and manufactured bears, together with fascinating, well researched articles.  Believe me, if you love bears, you really do need a copy of 'The Teddy Bear Annual'.


The Teddy Bear Annual 2010 starring 'Morris' on the cover!


Also, if you live in the UK, you can find it in branches of WH Smiths from today!

The best news is that if 'The Teddy Bear Annual 2010' sells well this year, the publishers have said they will support its publication next year too, which would give the bear world such a boost.

On a personal note, I'd like to say a big thank you to Kathy for supporting my work and also to Jo Rothery, for writing such a super article about my life as a bear artist.  These wonderfully dedicated ladies have generously given me the perfect ending to my year's work!

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Festive findings!

Hobbycraft is definitely one of those stores in which a girl should shop alone.  I'm a magpie moocher and rarely visit with a set plan ... (after all, I'm not a man!)  If I shop in Hobbycraft with Stuart he finds it soooooooo hard to behave himself ; the poor old stick trails around wearing a woeful expression behind me, checking his watch every couple of minutes and raising his eyes heavenwards if I so much as suggest we need to visit the first floor - honestly, you'd think he was being tortured to see him!  No, Hobbycraft is definitely to be tackled solo ... it requires time to browse, time to ponder, time to ignite the creative flame!


Festive findings!

So, with the seed of Christmas beginning to take root, I quietly slipped away from my sewing machine and had a lovely time shopping for twinkly trims and twiddlings all by myself this afternoon ... ho, ho, ho!

Monday, 16 November 2009

It's beginning to feel a little like Christmas ...

The days are galloping away and there are only a few weeks until Christmas!  I braved a visit to my local Hobbycraft store yesterday, to find some Christmassy trims for my first 'Santa's Sack' bears.  It was a glorious day, so Stuart and I walked over the Millenium bridge into town (against all my principles on a Sunday, but needs must!) for a spot of shopping.  It's only mid November, but already the town is decked in festive lights, windows are decorated with colourful baubles and Santa tunes are warbling from shop doorways.  I can't say I'm in full festive spirit yet, but yes, it is beginning to feel a little like Christmas!


Maidstone's 'Millenium Bridge'

The little chap below will be going into 'Santa's Sack' on my website in a few days ... he's not quite finished yet, but I wanted to share him with you because he is the result of the new design I was working on last week.  Rather than use a traditional three piece head pattern, I've drawn a six piece pattern to create a lovely round head shape ... he is still a classic bear, but with a very different look.  I think I'll work with this shape again, I really like it!


Head in progress!


Profile


Back view


Aw!  Cute eh?!

So, as you can see, I have been hard at work lately!  My new bear is not quite ready to debut - I will be finishing him this week so that he is all ready to hop into Santa's Sack in a few days' time!

Monday, 9 November 2009

Remember, Remember the 5th of November!

Christmas is clearly on the horizon now, but before I embrace the tinsel bedecked festivities, there's one more traditional celebration to honour - Guy Fawkes Night!  I can't imagine how our overseas friends view the UK celebrating the 1605 Gunpowder plot, which was designed to bring down our monarchy all those centuries ago, but such traditions are what make a country unique, don't you think?!


I have loved to see the fireworks each November 5th since I was a little girl living in Titchfield, back in the early 70's; Titchfield is an ancient village in Hampshire and every year since the early 1800's has celebrated Guy Fawkes Night with a spectacular carnival which my sisters and I always enjoyed when we were kids.  This year Stuart and I walked with my kids and their partners to our local community display in Allington ...


My daughter and her boyfriend


My son and his girlfriend


... big as they are now, they still enjoy wrapping up warmly on Bonfire Night to 'ooh' and 'ahh' as fireworks explode across the night sky!

Traditional British poem

Remember, remember, the 5th of November
The Gunpowder Treason and plot;
I know of no reason why Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.

Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes,
'Twas his intent.
To blow up the King and the Parliament.
Three score barrels of powder below,
Poor old England to overthrow.

By God's providence he was catch'd,
With a dark lantern and burning match
Holloa boys, Holloa boys, let the bells ring
Holloa boys, Holloa boys, God save the King!

Hip hip Hoorah!
Hip hip Hoorah!

A penny loaf to feed ol' Pope,
A farthing cheese to choke him.
A pint of beer to rinse it down,
A faggot of sticks to burn him.

Burn him in a tub of tar.
Burn him like a blazing star.
Burn his body from his head,
Then we'll say: ol' Pope is dead.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

The Witchypoo School Photos

So here she is at last, better late than never I suppose.  Wisteria Witchlet finally deigned to put on a frock and do her hair yesterday, but only after I had promised to take her Witchypoo school photographs - talk about witchypoo airs and graces! 

20" Wisteria Witchlet

Wisteria and Hatty Halfwitch are now 'bezzy mates' and in the best tradition of naughty little witchlets, are giving poor old Witch Hazel the right run around during spelling lessons! 

Hatty Halfwitch with 'bezzy mate' Wisteria Witchlet

I don't think I've introduced you to the witchlet's teacher Witch Hazel yet, so here's 'Witch Hazel', a good witch charged with using a little green-fingered magic to take care of the woodland ...

20" Witch Hazel

And here is she is again, proudly posing with her witchypoo students ...

A proud Witch Hazel with her two favourite students.

These witchypoos have been such fun to make, but with Christmas looming fast, it's time to get back to work on my bears ... and fast!

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