Thursday, 29 December 2011

Spit Spot!

So, it will be New Year's Eve on Saturday and then thankfully, I can wave 2011 goodbye.  I'm not usually so lacking in enthusiasm for any entire year, but this past year has been a battle too far as far as I'm concerned ... 2011, I freely confess you have sapped me!  At last it's time to let you fade away so I can look forward to the brighter days of a shiny New Year.

My website has now been de-Christmassed in preparation for 2012! 

First things first though, I need a little 'spit spot' to help me tidy Christmas away and ready myself for a fresh start ... so off with the tinsel and sparkle, this bearmaker intends to get organised!

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Beach Belles!

After a lovely, busy family Christmas, filled with all things tinsel and sparkle, fresh air and a salty breeze were the order of Boxing Day. Despite being weighed down with Christmas stodge, we took off to Whitstable for a brisk promenade - as far away as possible from the faintest hint of a post-Christmas sale!

'Beach Belles on Boxing Day'

'Anyone seen Edna, Bert and Fred?'

Greedy Gulls!

Cobwebs duly blown away, we returned home yawning heavily, just in time for some tasty bubble 'n' squeak, a glass of wine, the soaps on TV and a much needed early night.

This Christmas lark is exhausting!

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Psst, an angelic PS!

Well, you didn't think I'd welcome Christmas without a secret Christmas bear to share did you?! This sweet little angel flew my way after the 'Christmas Treasures' show and has been waiting quietly in the wings for our clock to tick 'Christmas' ever since.

My Christmas Angel, created by Jane Mogford of Pipkins Bears

Like so many other people who have lost loved ones, Christmas is a bittersweet time for me now Dad is no longer here to share it.  I know he would have been the first to chuckle and tell us all he could never behave himself long enough to be awarded angel status ... but this little angel bear and I both know, sometimes it doesn't hurt to have a little faith.

Thinking of you Dad, at Christmas and always xxx

Monday, 19 December 2011

'Tis the Season!

Christmas, you can come and get me now.  My tree is dressed and I'm as ready as I'll ever be, so let's roll out mince pies a-plenty,  raise goblets brimming with amber nectar to loved ones lost, sprinkle fairy dust with a smile and welcome your 'Season of Goodwill' into our home!


It's time to close the door to my workroom and turn my thoughts to nearest and dearest, so dear blog readers, thank you for sharing this bear maker's ups and downs during 2011; I look forward to writing again in 2012. 

In the meantime, warmest Christmas wishes to you all xxx

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

We Three Bears of Apple Pie House are!

'We Three Bears' of Apple Pie House are! 
At last I can share my latest shop exclusive collection with you and prove I haven't been resting on my laurels of late.

 'We Three Bears' shop exclusive collection
'Dooley', 'Hartley' and Egbert (13" to 19")

I met Graeme, the owner of Apple Pie House at the Hugglets' shows in London.  Having seen him in action during the shows, I deduced that not only is he a very nice man, he is also one of life's natural sales people and a hardworker toboot ... often when I was flagging during a show, lurking behind my stand with a coffee, he'd be knee deep in eager collectors, chatting as if his life depended on it!  So, when I was invited to create bears for Graeme's lovely shop, I was of course, happy to oblige.  Selling is not something that has ever come naturally to me, so putting some of my bears into Graeme's safe hands for adoption, suits me perfectly!  And as if to prove a point, 'Egbert' (the red and gold clown bear) sold as soon as the 'We Three Bears' collection was launched on the Apple Pie House website last night ...  way to go Graeme!

If you would like to find out more about my latest shop collection, please visit Apple Pie House ... thank you!

Monday, 12 December 2011

Winding Down ...

With less than two weeks until Christmas, I am happy/relieved to say, my entire collection of 2011 bears has now been sold.  The only creation I have yet to rehome is an ellie, but truth be told, I confess to making little effort to rehome this cutie, because he makes me smile and I'm rather fond of him myself!

'Forget-me-not'

Today I'm feeling all 'beared out', so I'm going to tidy up a few admin bits and pieces and then settle down with my knitting project and a steaming hot cup of coffee.  I'm clacking away at a lovely snuggly scarf from a pattern by knitwear designer Kim Hargreaves knitted on chunky bamboo needles (8mm) in gloriously soft Rowan 'Cocoon' yarn ...


So, while the rest of the world embraces the festive frenzy, I'm content to wind down quietly with my knitting for a few more days first. 

All tinsel and sparkle madness will be duly postponed until next weekend!

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Buttons and Bow-ties!

I'm sure it must seem as though bear production in the All Bear workroom has all but ceased as Christmas approaches, but that isn't the case ... truly!  I have been working on three lovely bears for the Apple Pie House shop in Gloucester.  I should have all three bears ready to show you in the next couple of days, but in the meantime, here's a hint of what's in store for the biggest bear!

Vintage buttons and bow-ties!

Once my shop order is safely on its way, I'm hoping to find time to create one or two more bears for 'Santa's Sack' on my website ... I have the softest, prettiest piece of tipped alpaca, absolutely crying out to be turned into a teddy bear!

Monday, 5 December 2011

Sherry and sparkles!

I was busy making Christmas cards, calendars and a porfolio of my 2011 designs last week.  Thankfully, most of the prep work is now complete and I can spend this week working on my last few pre-Christmas bears, before allowing my focus to shift towards trees, baubles, twinkly lights and hopefully the occasional mince pie ... (washed down with a sherry, or two!)


Speaking of sherry, I confess to suffering a teensy weensy sherry induced headache on Saturday evening - well, how else should two sisters share an evening to mark the arrival of yet another 'forty something' birthday?!  Sherry, coffee and walnut cake, a natter, an open log fire ... perfect!
Happiest of birthdays to you Fo xxx


And yesterday, it was finally time to face up to the impending festive season.  Stuart and I escorted his excited six-year old grandson to watch a sparkly, lively and extremely rowdy production of  'Aladdin'.  As always, Panto worked its fairy dust magic, leaving our little guest wide-eyed with wonderment.  Luckily for us, wide-eyed wonderment is pretty tiring, so he fell fast asleep on the journey home ... result!

So that's another week flown past too quickly!  I do hope the next couple take things a wee bit slower ... I'm really not ready for Christmas quite yet!

Friday, 25 November 2011

This Sceptered Isle

I know much of the world is in a right royal fug and wherever you live, disgruntled folk will no doubt complain about weather, economics, Government, neighbours - even the numbers of potholes in local roads!  Yes, you name it and I'm sure someone will be moaning about it.  

'Victor' 2008

But I'm an old fashioned girl and have never been touched by the 'grass is greener' lure of the great wide beyond.  I'll pack my flip-flops, hop on a plane and dip my toe in warmer waters once a year with the best of 'em, but despite potholes a-plenty in my tiny corner of the world, a depressing economic climate and weather so unpredictable you might be wearing t-shirts one minute and raincoats the next, I wouldn't want to live anywhere else.

'Jack' 2010

I love our beautiful British countryside, the hustle and bustle of historic towns and cities, the freedom to wander up hill and down dale ... yes, I confess, I even love the mystery of our English weather!  (After all, whatever would we talk about if the sun always shone?)

'George' 2011

So, on this sunny November day, here in the 'Garden of England',  I would like to introduce you to three special patriotic bears ...
Victor, Jack and George.

And a rather lovely poem ...

This Sceptered Isle

This royal throne of kings, this scepter'd isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall,
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England



From Richard II, Act 2 (Shakespeare)

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Finding the key ...

I may have said before ... this year seems to be flying past, with me clinging to its coat tails in a rather undignified fashion.  I don't remember losing an entire year before - usually my years are punctuated with family fun and well defined seasons.  There has of course been an element of both, but in truth my head has been pretty much on auto-drive this year.  Much of it I am sure, is to do with losing Dad just over a year ago ... as you can imagine, such a profound event swallows you whole for far longer than you could ever imagine and leaves you wondering where you parked your sense of self ...


Christmas will be with us in less than five short weeks and with or without the key to said sense of self, it really is the one time of year which is categorically impossible to drift through in oblivion ...  even this woolly headed bear maker can't fail to notice the arrival of twinkle and sparkle heralding the impending festivities!


So this week, I have taken my festive bull by the horns and decked the All Bear website in preparation.  Inspired by that small token, who knows, next week I may even feel the urge to begin some Christmas shopping!

Friday, 18 November 2011

Ready, steady, go!

I'm sat here, way past my bedtime, sipping a warming glass of brandy as I wait hopefully for adoption notifications to arrive from the 'Christmas Treasures' show.  Yes, after weeks of anticipation and preparation, the online show has at last started ... I'm delighted to report my little 'Angel' bear found a new home in the first few minutes and will be flying Stateside for her Christmas!

My 'Christmas Treasures' collection
(Angel is the little pink bear in the middle of the group.)

I experienced a brief flash of panic at the start of the show when for some unknown reason, the show website wouldn't allow me to change little Angel's status from 'for sale' to 'adopted', but fortunately that was soon ironed out.  Now, after the initial flurry of anticipation, I confess, this particular bear maker is beginning to wilt ... the five hour time difference between the show host in New York and my swivel chair in England, is definitely starting to make its presence felt and already I'm yawning between each sip of my amber nectar!



If you would like to find out more about my 'Christmas Treasures', please visit the show by clicking the link below -  I would love to find new homes for my special show treasures in time for the forthcoming festive season! 

The 'Christmas Treasures' show will remain open until Sunday, so there's still plenty of time for you to peruse each of the lovely festive teddy bear offerings!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Christmas Treasures!

Together with many other international bear artists, I have created several special seasonal bears for the Teddies Worldwide 'Christmas Treasures' show, which will be held online between 18th and 20th November 2011. This is a fun, festive online webshow ... I do hope you will join us!

 

I'm really looking forward to this weekend and hope you will visit the 'Christmas Treasures' show to share our festive fun!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Dusty Rose

I made this lovely plummy pink bear a few weeks ago and since then she has been sat on my workroom shelf waiting patiently while I busy myself with other, more demanding projects.  It doesn't seem at all fair that she has been overlooked, so this week I am offering her for adoption and as Christmas is on the way and many bear collectors are gazing longingly at bears they can no longer afford in these tougher economic times, I've allowed myself to be a teensy bit carefree and sent her to Ebay with a starting price at almost a hundred pounds less than she would usually retail for.  Once in a while it feels pretty good to do something a little less than businesslike - don't worry, I won't be making a habit of such madness, let's just have some fun while I'm feeling generous!

'Dusty Rose'

If you would like to join in the fun this week, please click the link below to visit Dusty's auction page:

Friday, 11 November 2011

The Eleventh Hour


I first learned this poem at high school and dizzy headed teenager as I was, it struck a chord.  These days I'm mum to two adult children, an onlooker watching fall the tears of soldiers' mothers on my tv, while they weep for lost sons and daughters, sacrificed fighting overseas ... in the here and now.

It is Armistice Day today and at the eleventh hour, of respect, we will fall silent, 

... lest we forget.


The Soldier

Written by Rupert Brooke in 1914

If I should die, think only this of me:
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England's, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Remember, Remember ...

Huntley & Palmer biscuit tins from Christmasses past, packed full of assorted fireworks.  Hats, scarves, gloves, toes snug in wellies, sparklers ... our names momentarily glowing in the air.  Orange flames licking towards a starry night sky.  A saggy, baggy, newspaper guy dressed in Dad's old trousers, flakes of grey ash twirling on a November breeze.  Dad bent double at the bottom of the garden reaching for reluctant touch papers ... rockets blasting unpredictably from milk bottles sunk into flower beds, Catherine wheels flaring on fence posts, Roman candles fizzling ... girlish squeals, eyes bright. 
As kids we loved Guy Fawkes night. 


Stuart and I wrapped up warmly on Saturday, then stepped out into the night  with my kids and Stuart's grandson, for a clomp down the road to watch Allington's community firework display.  We stopped at Humphrey's fish 'n chip shop along the way to warm ourselves with tasty battered sausages and fresh-cooked chips, then joined the local crowds in celebrating Guy Fawkes' night in traditional style.


Remember, remember the Fifth of November,

The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I know of no reason
Why Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.
Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, t'was his intent
To blow up King and Parli'ment.
Three-score barrels of powder below

To prove old England's 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!


I know we're experiencing challenging economic times globally, but sharing tradition binds families together and for me, that's what Guy Fawkes Night is truly all about.


If you would like to learn more about Guy Fawkes, please visit the link below:

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Christmas Treasures!

There are only two weeks until the online 'Christmas Treasures' show and my work table is covered with all things twinkly and festive.  Next week will be a very busy week, as I put the festive finishing touches to my show bears.


'Christobel'

While we wait for this fun show to open on the 18th November, please spare a moment to pop over to the Christmas Treasures Show Preview and have some festive fun choosing your favourite show preview bear from each category. 

Thank you!

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Five Bears and an Ellie!

It is immensely satisfying when the very last ear has been stitched, the final ribbon tied and of course, a good stout box safely sealed for an imminent courier collection.  Yes, drumroll please ... I can at long last introduce you to my 'Five Bears and an Ellie' collection!

Ta da!!!!

'Five Bears and an Ellie!'

This higgledy piggledy group of teds was commissioned by the 'One More Bear' shop in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, where they will soon be made available for adoption.  The bears range in size from 13" to 20" and in case you're curious, the pretty pink ellie is a very cute 16"!

Monday, 31 October 2011

Autumn Gold.

I've lost count of the number of times I have walked around Mote Park over the years.  The first time must have been at least thirty five years ago.  There are 450 acres of open parkland surrounding the lake and every inch of this great outdoors is enjoyed by young and old alike; dog walkers hurl sticks for 'Rover' to chase, small children wobble along pathways on bicycles, families picnic, couples stroll hand in hand, lads kick balls and gaggles of girls giggle on benches, admiring lads.

The lake

As a teenager I would often wile away the hours, gossiping with friends on the grass in summertime and as a student, would avoid tedious economic history lessons by sitting on a bench with my nose buried in a novel, when I should have been in class.  When my own children were growing up, we would tramp around the park in all weathers, feeding ducks, stuffing anorak pockets with acorns and conkers, playing 'Poohsticks' under the old stone bridge and puddle jumping on wet afternoons. 


Of all the seasons to visit, I love Mote Park best in her Autumn golds.  She puts on a wonderfully flamboyant show before Winter steals away her colourful landscape with his frosty chills.


When Stuart and I visited for a breath of fresh air yesterday afternoon, work had been actioned to 'improve' the park.  Muddy pathways had been widened, levelled and tarmacked, lakeside areas stripped clear of unruly foliage and construction of a smart steel bridge was in progress across part of the lake, all in the name of progress. 



I'm sure when we visit again in Spring next year, these upgrades will be ready for the public to use and will look less harsh with the season's new growth to soften the manmade edges. I just pray the planners won't diminish the essence of our natural parkland by over titivating, because I for one love the freedom of muddy, meandering walks around this beautiful park and hope future generations of local townsfolk will continue to enjoy that special sense of freedom too.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Nose to the grindstone.

My poor nose has been so firmly pressed to the bear-making grindstone lately, I haven't had time to scribe even the quickest of blog posts.  I've been busy making bears for the 'One More Bear' shop in Trentham and also for the 'Christmas Treasures' online webshow, which takes place in November ... and when those bears are completed, I have yet another festive shop order to fill before the end of November. Christmas is a-coming that's for sure!


I don't have new bear pics to share just yet, but please pop back soon because my Winter bears are very nearly ready to show off!

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

'The Teddy Bear' - a bear magazine for adults

Today I'm singing the praises of 'The Teddy Bear' ... but not the furry kind, no, this time we're talking about our excellent new UK magazine!  

'The Teddy Bear' is published by Warners Group Publications

The Autumn/Winter issue of 'The Teddy Bear' has just been published and like the two previous issues, it's an absolute gem bursting with well-written, informative features and delightful photographs.  All credit for this excellent publication must go to Kathy Martin, for her commitment to the subject and also for her complete professionalism.  Kathy is internationally respected for her exceptional understanding of the teddy bear, both historical and contemporary; together with her talented editorial team, she approaches the subject from many fascinating perspectives.


And if I may be permitted the tiniest trumpet of my own, I can't tell you how  thrilled I am to have my name included in the list of contributors for this issue!  Kathy kindly invited me to write a piece introducing 'The Guild of Master Bearcrafters' to the magazine's readership and having my article in print is a huge privilege!

I really can't recommend 'The Teddy Bear' too highly.  It is full of interesting features and written for adults, by experts.  We need to protect the future of this great publication, so please visit Collect It to purchase your copy.  

Incidentally, the first two back issues are also available to order (my bear Morris was the front cover star on the first issue!) so why not indulge yourself with all three mags - you'll thoroughly enjoy the read!

Monday, 17 October 2011

Simple Sunday

Who would have thought having new carpet laid could create so much work?  Furniture out, furniture in, dusting, vacuuming, polishing ... by the time we'd set our home straight on Saturday afternoon, I was fit to drop!  I've been battling a bit of a chest infection for the past few weeks too, so on Sunday afternoon, rather than walk anywhere, work, or help Stuart tidy the garden for the winter, I laid full stretch on the conservatory couch in the sunshine, with my book, a cuppa and my cats.


So today I have nothing new to report; not a single bear, or cheeky Prim Dolly Doodle to show you, no photographs of my local great outdoors - in fact, I don't even have a flickering of the tiniest creative flame to share.  All I have to offer is this very ordinary snap of my Puddle cat stretched out in the October sunshine with my book and mug by her side. 


So that was my Sunday ... a day to stop, smell the coffee and simply catch up with myself.  No more, no less.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

2011 Golden Teddy Award winners, featuring Ken Yenke!

You may remember I was delighted to receive a 'Golden Teddy' award nomination earlier this year.  I didn't win my category (but was happy to lose to Kelly Dean, a very old friend and fabulous bear maker!) 

I would like to share the awards presentation with you.  It gives a great sense of the importance of international competitive work and for me, it's such a huge thrill to hear my name being read out in the presence of world expert Ken Yenke!  By the way, please watch the video right through to the end because there is a very charming talk given by Ken about how 'teddy' came into being and it's well worth waiting for!


If you would like to know more about Ken Yenke and his work, please visit his website at:


Aside from being museum curator for 'The Chelsea Toy Museum', leading teddy bear authority Ken has also written several books about teddy bears and their fascinating history.  I am lucky enough to own 'Bing Bears and Toys' (published by Schiffer) and can tell you his passion for the subject really shines through!

 Bing Bears and Toys, by Ken Yenke

The Golden Teddy Awards are hosted annually by American teddy bear magazine 'Teddy Bear Review' and as you can see from the slideshow, competition for the coveted 'Golden Teddy' is fierce!

Monday, 10 October 2011

Staying true to Sunday

The best kind of Sundays for me, have always been family days.  When my sisters and I were growing up, the Government hadn't yet introduced Sunday trading, so the hussle and bussle of town was strictly reserved for Saturday and our Sundays were spent playing, reading books, listening to music, going for walks and of course, squabbling with each other. 

A family visit to London Zoo with my four sisters, in the mid 70's.

We would wake on a Sunday morning to the sound of Jim Reeves, Nat King Cole or Perry Como crooning from the radiogram.  There would be a comforting smell of warm fabric conditioner filling the house as Mum tackled an enormous pile of family ironing and more often than not, Dad would be singing 'O Mein Papa', or 'Danny Boy' at the top of his voice in the kitchen as he prepared our weekly family roast - no mean feat considering there were seven of us living at home at the time!

Me and Fo, with our new baby sister Tina

And if the weather was fair, there was many a Sunday afternoon when Dad would pack us into his car and drive us to the local woods or seashore, to let us 'run off some stream', as he called it.

A rather blurry pic I took back in the 70's, of Dad with my four younger sisters.

Despite the passage of almost half a century, the heart of a Sunday for me has always been and I hope always will be, family.  Our lives are under constant demand to be ever busier these days and keeping hold of what's important can be challenging, but when it is possible to share a traditional Sunday with family, it really doesn't get much better than that.

Stuart, Fay, Fo, Simon, Ants, Han and of course, Bugsy!

If you are a regular 'Bearing All' reader, you may know I love to visit Knole Park in the Autumn.  It has been almost a year since I last gathered my lot together for a clomp through this spectacular deerpark, so yesterday we arranged to meet there and had a lovely time walking, talking and laughing together.


Life may have changed shape over the years, but for me and I'm sure for my sister Fiona too, the essence of Dad's family Sunday is as important today, as ever it was.


This beautiful ancient deer park is open all year round for walking, so if you would like to visit Knole Park in Sevenoaks, Kent, please click the link below to be taken to the National Trust website for further details:

Saturday, 1 October 2011

An Honourable Mention!

Well, well, well, I certainly wasn't expecting that!  I opened my email this morning to learn my entry 'Kefalonia' has received an 'Honourable Mention' in the 2011 URSA Awards! 

'Kefalonia' - an 'Honorable Mention' in the 2011 URSA Awards!

The main competition nominees were announced quite some time ago and as Kefalonia didn't make the top three in her 'big bears/undressed' category, I assumed that was it, game over - but no, apparently Kefalonia achieved a very respectable fourth place and as the final category placements were so close, she has been honoured her with this lovely ribbon award ... which has made my day!

Friday, 30 September 2011

Vanishing Act!

We're enjoying an Indian summer here in England with temperatures up in the eighties ... phew!  With so much sunshine beaming through my workroom window this week, working on Halloween pieces seemed a little topsy turvy, but I had fun anyway!


I've had my camera out this afternoon and can at last show you my finished Witchypoo Dolly Doodle ... complete with bloomers, I'm happy to say!

Polly Pumpkinwitch

I have also been working on a little black bear cub.  I called him Merlin and believe me, this little fellow was every bit as meddlesome as his namesake when I pointed my camera at him ... black bears are so tricky to photograph!

12" Merlin

Well, that's me and Halloween just about done for this year. I have a shop order to work on next and after that, it will be time for thinking Christmas thoughts.  One thing's for sure, with or without any hocus pocus, 2011 is fast doing a vanishing act!

Thursday, 29 September 2011

A Third Hat Trick!

Since becoming a recent convert to the joys of modern telephonic communication, I have developed a secret guilty pleasure - that of collecting my email and checking my Facebook account on my Iphone, from under my snuggly duvet each morning.  So imagine my delight this morning, when even before I had raised my head from my pillow, I spotted a link to the 2011 'Teddy Bear Artists and Friends' Award winners webpage and there listed, were three of my own entries, each of which had scooped third place in their category!

'Elwyn' - 3rd place in the 'polar bears' category

'Autumn' - third place in the 'groups' category

'Fleur' - third place in the 'creative doll' category

Thank you so much to everyone who voted for my work!
What a lovely start to this beautifully sunny Autumn day!

If you would like to see all the TBAAF Award winners, please visit:

TBAAF Award Winners

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