Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Ready, steady, here comes Freddy!

What he lacks in stature, this little fellow certainly makes up for in RED!!!!  I love red bears, but for some reason (probably a lack of available materials) Freddy is only the second completely red bear to ever emerge from my workroom ...

12" Freddy is now available from http://www.allbear.co.uk/

Freddy will probably be my last red bear until Christmas, but you can bet your bottom dollar I'll be keeping my eyes peeled for suitable red mohair between now and the festive season. 

Red bears are so cheery, I think every hug should have one, don't you?!

Monday, 25 July 2011

A suitcase for all seasons!

In hindsight, the Isle of Wight was never going to be the warmest choice of holiday destinations, but as there were plenty of sights to be seen and excellent food to be eaten on the island, it seemed a fair choice for this year. 

Isle of Wight bound

So we travelled across the Solent under heavy skies, on the Wight Ferry from Lymington, a picturesque village on the edge of the New Forest ...


By the time we arrived at our sea front cottage and unpacked, those mean ol' rain clouds had blown inland and we were lured into a false sense of relaxed holiday mode, as warm sunshine welcomed us to Yarmouth.


However, our first day trip to Osborne House, seaside home of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, was wet by anyone's standards ... the lovely sunshine completely deserted us, bullied out of the way by fierce rain!


A visit to Carisbrooke castle faired a little better as we climbed the ancient ramparts and Stuart proved that boys will always be boys. I can't say it was dry exactly, but at least there were glimpses of friendly sunshine between rain showers!

Beware invaders!


It didn't take long for storm clouds to sweep back across the Solent, in perfect time to give us a soaking at The Needles in Alum Bay.


(I confess I am a complete wuss when it comes to heights, so opted for a steep climb up the cliff at Alum Bay, rather than torment my vertigo with a ride on the chair lift!)


Just as we had given up all hope of having any bona fide summery weather on our holiday before it ended (and let's face facts, being able to see your own breath in July is not good!) our luck changed and I can safely say, our promenade along Yarmouth Pier in warm sunshine, was worth every penny of the thirty pence entrance toll!

At Shanklin Beach - between showers!

As with all UK destinations, holidaying on the Isle of Wight requires a large suitcase containing clothes for all seasons because in the course of a week, you may well experience all four of them!  Much as I love England, we've certainly had more than our fair share of rainy holidays here over the years, so hopefully next year, we'll be packing beachwear instead of jumpers, leaving our cagoules in the cupboard and flying away to bask in guaranteed sunshine!

Friday, 15 July 2011

2011 URSA Awards - VOTE NOW!

The 2011 'URSA AWARDS' are now open for public voting. I have entered 'Kefalonia' in Category 5 and would love you to help vote her through to the final round of this competition ... thank you!

To vote for Kefalonia please CLICK HERE!

'Kefalonia'

My 'Kefalonia' teddy bear was inspired by the pastel colours of villages and the fabulous turquoise blue of the Ionian sea, when we visited the Greek island of Kefalonia in Summer 2010.

Assos

Myrtos

As you can see, it is an incredibly beautiful and inspiring place!

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

A bear maker by coincidence?

'The Ultimate Teddy Bear Book' and 'The Teddy Bear encyclopedia' by Pauline Cockrill

In hindsight, I can see my life has more often than not been driven by coincidence and oddly enough, my bear-making career has been no exception. I was quietly browsing through the shelves of my local bookshop one lunchtime in the early 1990's, when I felt compelled to open a particular book ... that book happened to be 'The Ultimate Teddy Bear Encyclopedia' written by Pauline Cockrill.


I have always loved teddy bears and my own childhood bear had discreetly settled into a comfy corner of my adult life, so when I flicked through that beautiful book and saw a very familiar bear looking back at me, my jaw fell open in surprise!  I had no idea then, that my special childhood bear had officially become what was known as a 'collectible' teddy bear!

Me and 'Big Ted' in 1964

And so my love affair with the 'Chiltern Hugmee' began.  It really was as simple as that.  I was so delighted to discover my 'Big Ted' in that book, I couldn't resist checking out all the references in the back pages to see what else I could find ... and there was a hidden gem tucked away - an address for 'The Petersfield Bear Museum' (founded in 1984 by Judy Sparrow) ... only a couple of hours drive from where I was living!

My 1940's Chiltern Hugmee 'Bobby Bear', with a copy of Judy Sparrow's 1993 'Teddy Bears' book.

I was utterly enchanted by the museum - it truly was a magical place and I didn't want my visit to end.  As I reluctantly stepped down into the museum shop on my way to the exit, a wonderful 1940's Chiltern Hugmee bear met my gaze and by a stroke of pure luck, he wasn't an exhibit, he was for sale!  Well, of course, after a chat with Judy and her husband he had to come home with me.  Somehow, I seem to have collected an entire hug of Chiltern Hugmees since then!

Some of my Chiltern Hugmee collection

I have also been privileged to get to know lovely Pam Howells, chief designer for the Chiltern Hygenic Toy Company between 1957 and 1967.  Pam was kind enough to make one of her special 'Chiltern Memory' bears for me, back in the early 1990's.

My 'Chiltern Memory' bear, by Pam Howells.

Sadly, the Petersfield Bear Museum closed to the public several years ago, but many of the exhibits are featured in Judy's super book titled 'Teddy Bears', which was published in 1993 by Magna Books. (By the way, there are a few copies currently available on Amazon if you would like to purchase a copy!)

Teddy Bear Times magazine, Issue 10, published Autumn 1992

So how does a passion for teddy bears, turn a bear collector into a bear-maker?  Well, once a collector, always a collector, that goes without saying, but after discovering my first teddy bear encyclopedia and reading every single reference contained therein, I learned teddy bears were also published in their very own magazines and one of those magazines was on sale at a little teddy bear shop, only half an hour's drive away!

One thing, naturally led to another. The cover of the 1992 Autumn issue of 'Teddy Bear Times' magazine featured a lovely old bear reading a book and as an added bonus there was also an article about Chilterns, so I bought a copy, read it as soon as I arrived home and was thrilled to discover that not only were there vintage teddy bears in that magazine, there was a fascinating world of artist bears for me to explore too!

One of my first visits to a Hugglets' teddy bear show, in 1993

It wasn't long before I visited my first teddy bear fair in London, which led to another ... and a mohair teddy bear kit!

'Ivor', a mohair kit bear

My first mohair bear, made from a kit purchased at the 'Rochester Teddy Bear Fair' in the early 90's, was a little lopsided, but I didn't mind at all - I was simply delighted that after all my efforts, he did actually resemble a bona fide teddy bear!


It really doesn't seem possible two decades have passed.  Since 'Ivor', I am proud to have become a real bear maker, creating many, many teddy bears, now residing in collections all around the world.

So now you know the answer - that is how a bear collector becomes a bear maker.  The rest as they say, is history!

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Elephant Steps ..

I have had a soft spot for elephants ever since I was a very little girl.  My uncle made my first elephant many years ago and although his ears and eyes have long since been hugged away, I still have that little pink ellie.  In fact, I borrowed the simple three piece design to create a replica ellie as a gift for my new niece almost four years ago ...

My childhood ellie is on the right and my niece's new ellie, on the left.

The next elephant I made was a funny little chap called 'Abe', back in 2008.  I took the design above a stage further by introducing a moveable, jointed head ...

8" 'Abe'

That was when I decided I wanted to tackle something a little more complex, so I started work afresh, using one of my previous teddy bear designs, as a starting point.

'Peppercorn' was the starting point for my next ellie ...

I had to redesign the head entirely and completely change the shape of the feet and arms - in fact, now I come to think about it, the only part of the pattern that remained the same was the body!

'Delilah', my first jointed elephant created 2008

The following year, I decided to return to my jointed elephant design to see how it would work in alternative fabrics ...

 'Starlight' created in 2009

And I was thrilled when my 2009 ellie 'Starlight' was featured in 'Australian Bear Creations,' as that was the first time I had ever had anything other than a teddy bear published in a magazine!

2010 was a challenging year creatively speaking, as I spent the first two thirds of the year working hard to develop my 'Careworn Collection' of teddy bears and the remaining third of the year simply trying to find motivation to work at all, after saying a sad farewell to my Dad that Autumn.  Sad to say, there were no ellies whatsoever in 2010 ...

'Forget-me-not,' my 2011 ellie

But, as you can see, the ellie bug has bitten me again here in 2011!  This time I've decided to develop my ellie's personality, so  have given him cute low low slung ears and close set eyes, which I think lend his personality a whole new dimension.  I'm pleased with this whimsical blue ellie, he has been fun to make!

And that's it for my elephant steps so far.  As with all things elephant, I think it's fair to say progress has been slow, but steady!

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Daft Dangle Buns

We bearmakers generate many scraps of fabric, most of which are too small to do anything practical with.  As a maker of substantial bears, my scraps are probably larger than average, so rather than waste them, I've scribbled a very simple pattern and started to make these 'Daft Dangle Buns'.

My daft 'Dangle Buns'

I think it's safe to say my buns are created in 'primitive style', but even so, those scraps of mohair and simple pattern pieces seem to be recycling themselves into fun little personalities!

Monday, 4 July 2011

Introducing Rosie Posey!

Despite the oppressive heat last week, I surprised myself by completing two new bears.  One of those bears is currently en route to a shop, but I am able to share the other here with you today; she's a 17" clown style teddy girl, in a pretty shabby chic style.  You may have noticed of late, I have a thing for pretty ditsy print teddy bear paws!

 17" Rosie Posey is now available from www.allbear.co.uk
 
I've called my sweet girl clown, 'Rosie Posey' because as anyone who knows me will tell you, roses are my favourite flowers and they have been blooming beautifully here in England throughout June!

Friday, 1 July 2011

Besten Dank!

I have exciting news to share today!  I have just received an advance copy of the latest issue of the German teddy bear magazine 'Teddy & Co', and my bears have been given a magnificent five pages to show off in!

Teddy Bear & Co - July 2011 issue

I have Richard Backschas, teddy bear artist, writer and collector, to thank for writing this fabulous feature, so Vielen Dank  to Richard, for taking the time to showcase my work so generously.  It really is a huge compliment to have my bears (and my photographs) published in Germany!

Now I need to dust off my very ropey schoolgirl German and work out what has been said ... I should have paid attention in class instead of daydreaming in my lessons eh?!

If you would like to find out more about the Teddy Bear & Co magazine, please visit their website at: http://www.teddymagazin.de/

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