Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Excellence in Bear Artistry

In my humble opinion, when it comes to teddy bear competitions here in the UK, we have been lacking anything significant since the fabulous heyday of the 'British Bear Artist Awards'.  Way back in the 1990's, the UK teddy bear world and beyond, positively buzzed at 'BBAA' time, because back then, we were duly proud of our major national award.  It heralded the teddy bear as an art form, showcasing bear artists and rewarding winners with beautiful etched crystal awards, bouquets of flowers, framed certificates and a rather posh presentation dinner requiring one's best bib and tucker, to-boot!  The BBAA competition wasn't just a competition, it was an event and an event which often resulted in far reaching opportunities for its shining stars!  

'Bon-Bon' won 2nd place in the 1997 BBAA's

My own bear making career took off dramatically in 1997, after winning second place in the 'Big Bears Undressed' category of the British Bear Artist Awards.  I remember how shocked I was to receive postal notification of my nomination and an invitation to the grand Awards Ceremony, which was to be held at the swanky St. James Hotel in the heart of London.  I agonised over what to wear for weeks prior to the event and was a bag of nerves on the big night.  After a lovely dinner with all the other nominees, my name was called out to collect my award and I stumbled up from the table, blushing furiously and shaking like a leaf!  It was a significant night for all of us there and for me, opened many doors because those 'in the know' considered the competition a benchmark for quality and innovation.  I received numerous invitations to work with shops and magazines both in the UK and overseas as a result of my first BBAA and even had my work included in a museum in Hong Kong!

'Himself' won first place in the 1998 BBAA's

Keen to prove I wasn't just a 'one trick pony', I entered 32" 'Himself' into the BBAA's the following year and was over the moon when he won first place!  Since then, I have entered other competitions both in the UK and overseas and have been honoured with many other awards, but nothing has ever given me quite the same sense of personal pride as winning those very first 'British Bear Artist awards' ... 

My 1998 'British Bear Artist Award' 
(displayed with my 2008 TOBY Award)

I hope you'll be relieved to hear my reason for this post isn't simply to blow my own trumpet.  No, in fact it's to pass on some exciting news because at long last, I am able to tell you about an exciting new, British based, teddy bear competition!  

Sponsored by Bear Basics and designed by proprietor Susan Davies, the 'Excellence in Bear Artistry Awards' will take place this year, for the sole purpose of recognising, supporting and encouraging the creative work of teddy bear artists both in the UK and overseas.  Susan has designed a fabulous website to host the awards and has also called upon four highly respected teddy bear professionals to judge the competition.  There will even be an official awards ceremony to honour the winners!  

This new competition is such good news for the bear industry and I am certain the 'Excellence in Bear Artistry Awards' is destined to become the UK's flagship teddy bear competition!

If you would like further details please visit:

Monday, 27 February 2012

Out of hibernation!

There is something more than a little disconcerting about reluctantly hauling yourself from your pillows at 6.30am, driving to London whilst yawning and bleary eyed, only to be greeted by lycra clad fitness fanatics pounding the City's grey pavements, as if it's the most normal activity in the world at that time of day ... how on earth do they manage that?!

I have never been a morning person and early starts on show days always tax my good nature. In fact, believe it or believe it not, I have been known to growl a little whenever Stuart tries to 'encourage' me to 'get a move on Paula,' on show days!  I know, shame on me!


Anyway, we arrived at Kensington Town Hall in reasonable time and although there was a nip in the air, the sun was shining, promising a gorgeous early Spring Sunday. As usual, when we arrived the Town Hall was buzzing with activity, with a significant queue of eager collectors waiting outside for the doors to open, which is always a good sign for a busy, buzzy, show!

We set the stand up, positioning the new bears just in time for opening and from that moment on, all four halls quickly filled with visitors.  The aisles of our Hall were absolutely heaving as people tried to muscle their way to see all the bears!


Exhibiting at the Winter Bearfest always makes me feel as though I've suddenly come out of hibernation after a long Winter; after months of working quietly on my bears in my workroom, being faced with so many eager people wanting to chat is lovely, but it can also be quite overwhelming, even for an old timer!  Yesterday was extremely busy and very sociable.  The bears behaved impeccably as they were discussed from every angle by their visitors and I am delighted to say the compliments they received were enough to make even the most confident of bear makers blush. I was truly touched by the reactions from collectors - we may well be in the middle of the worst economic climate experienced for many a year, but nonetheless yesterday proved the passion for teddy bears is as strong as ever it was and it was clear many collectors had come to share and support the bears on their big day out, whether or not they were able to buy a new bear on the day.

Not all my new bears found new homes at the show yesterday, so I am now offering those bears for adoption.  If you couldn't make it to the show but would love an opportunity to own one of the bears, please visit:


I know, they'd love to hear from you!

Friday, 24 February 2012

Show Time!

At last, all my 'Winter Bearfest' show bears are finished and ready to report for duty on Sunday ... it's a great feeling, ha!  I've just finished crawling around on my hands and knees with my camera, so can now share a quick peek at some of them with you.  Here are the bears you haven't yet seen ...


I thought I'd try my hand at another 'little 'un' for this show because I've only ever made two bears under 10", so this is 'Chip', a dear little 8 and a half inch bear ... (mustn't forget the 'and a half' as it's very important to a bear when he's less than 10 inches in height!)  Stuart is really taken with this fellow, so I foresee my small bear range extending in the near future.


Poor old Tucker almost wasn't finished in time for the show because I ran out of fabric, leaving him with only one leg!  Fortunately, after a plea to bear artist friends on Facebook, my old friend Dawn James came to the rescue after a hunt through her extensive stash of fabrics.  Thanks Dawn, you're a star!


Finally, 'Florence and Frederico' are two of my new traditional 'Heritage Teds' and I'm hoping my colour choices for Spring 2012, bring this very classic pair, bang up to date. 

By the way, if you missed the post featuring my other show bears, please scroll down to read, or visit www.allbear.co.uk to enjoy my official show preview.

Well, that's the bears sorted, now I just need to make sure I don't forget a single item from the list 'a gazillion and one essentials required to ensure a stress free show' ... I wonder if there really is such a thing?!

If you would like to meet me and the bears and the host of other wonderful bear artists with their fabulous creations, please visit www.hugglets.co.uk for full details of this spectacular London show.

I look forward to meeting you on Sunday!

Monday, 13 February 2012

Be Mine?

Love is in the air ...

'Be Mine Valentine?'

I hope my pic has given you a lovely warm, fuzzy sensation in time for Valentine's Day tomorrow!

I'm so pleased with these rose tinted bears! I made them for the Hugglets' show in London on the 26th of this month - if you would like to meet them in bearson, please visit me in Hall 2 on stand 75 on the big day. 

Full details for this super show can be found at: www.hugglets.co.uk

'Piper'

'Jeb'

And while I'm chatting about 'The Winter Bearfest show', here is a quick peek at a couple more of the bears coming to Kensington with me;  'Piper' and 'Jeb' are both from my new 2012 'Heritage Teds Collection'.

Well, it's time for me to go back to my workroom and make sure I have a few more bears to share on show day!  


In the meantime, Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

Friday, 10 February 2012

Butterfly Brain!

Do you ever feel you are getting nowhere fast and can't quite settle to any one thing?  Me too, usually two weeks before I'm due to exhibit at a major show!  There seems to have been an inordinate amount of 'faffing' in my world of late and the days are slipping through my fingers.  I still have too little to show for my efforts, even though I have been busy ... truly I have!  The internet is a help but also a hindrance as there are so many pretty things to look at, so much creative 'research' to indulge in.  I must confess, the Pinterest website has really fired up my creative self, but regrettably it is such a gorgeous time waster too ... *sighs* ...

This bear will be available from 'The Winter Bearfest Show' in Kensington on 26th Feb!

Anyway, butterfly brain I may have, but my workroom shelves are gradually filling with new bears - with only two weeks until the Kensington show though, I really wish they would fill a little faster!

 

Note to self: must work harder!

Monday, 6 February 2012

Born in a blizzard

I'm told I was born in the middle of a blizzard on the 5th February 1963 and yesterday, for the first time since I can remember, I woke and my birthday world had been carpeted white once again!

My special birthday cards from friends and family

Pretty as the snow was, I was anxious the weather might prevent me from seeing my son now that he has his own house, but fortunately he wasn't daunted by the snowy conditions ... he and his girlfriend drove over perfectly safely, arriving snug as bugs in their wellies, hats and scarves to share my birthday with me.  In fact, despite the snow, I've had visitors aplenty this weekend and it has been fun catching up with everyone and being made to feel so special.  We have laughed, chatted, played daft games on my new birthday 'Wii Fit' (heaven help me!) and just enjoyed spending some family time together.  In fact, one of my very best presents was simply watching my kids and their cousins having fun together.

Such a pretty card, handmade by my sister Lynda

I guess I'd better decide how to put my final 'forty something' year to best use now; after all, I don't want this year to slip through my fingers too easily, so with the help of my nearest and dearest, I intend to make the most of it!

Another lovely card,  made especially for me by my niece Sian

Happy birthday to me!

I want to thank everyone who took the time and trouble to remind me they care about me ... I loved all the visits, cards, messages and gifts!  Thank you for making my 49th birthday such a happy day xxx

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Working its magic, The Winter Bearfest!

For the past couple of weeks, I have been working on some new classic bears for the 'Winter Bearfest' show which will take place in London on the 26th Feb.  I have exhibited at this show for more years than I care to admit and in my view, it's one of our very best UK teddy bear shows.  The show always oozes teddy bear talent talent in every corner and there's a discernible buzz of excitement from both collectors and exhibitors throughout the day.

Taken in the early 90's: with Abigail, my first collector bear

I remember my first visit to the 'Winter Bearfest' show as a collector many moons ago.  The show was almost overwhelming for a first timer, leaving me wide-eyed at the fabulous displays of both modern and vintage teddy bears.  That day, about twenty years ago, my very first artist bear, a gorgeous 22" girl named 'Abigail',  came home with me.  She was created by lovely Frank Webster of Charnwood Bears ... oh happy days!

My son enjoying a Hugglets show

In those days, I wasn't the only bear collector in my family, both my kids were also keen collectors, so visiting a bear show was a special treat for us all.  We spent the entire day chatting with bear artists as we visited stall, after stall, after stall, taking our time to admire each and every bear.  Many of the bear artists we met back then are still creating beautiful bears and have become friends over the years.

Meeting a friend from Hong Kong at my show table in 2010

It never ceases to amaze me that by some quirk, my collecting passion led me to creating my own teddy bears.  Nowadays, I'm thrilled to have my own table at the Hugglets shows ... isn't it strange how life works things out sometimes?!


If you have never visited a teddy bear show before and love teddy bears, please join us in London on Sunday the 26th February; you are guaranteed a magical, friendly, inspiring and above all, fun day!  You will find me in the corner of Hall 2, on stand 75. 

Please pop by and say hello ... I hope to see you there!

Full show details can be found on the show organiser's website:
Hugglets Teddy Bear Festivals

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