Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Happy Prim Dolly Doodle Halloween!

Ever since I first discovered a magical storybook about witches in my school library when I was knee high to a grasshopper, I have been fascinated by the notion of witches gathering to fly the night skies on All Hallowes Eve ...

Octavia Orangewitch

It's been far too long since I indulged my inner doll-maker but of course, I couldn't let Halloween pass unmarked, so this week I've claimed back a little Paula Prim Dolly Doodle time to create 'Octavia Orangewitch' - she is of the new generation of witches, no hooky warty green noses for this young lady, oh no!  Octavia Orangewitch is a modern gal with highlights in her hair, a lovely orange party frock in which to dance the night away and beautifully beguiling big green eyes with which to cast her spell over you!


Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

A big 'un and a Dolly Doodle Witchypoo!

I am delighted to say, this rather impressive fellow found a lovely new home in the States almost as soon as he made his website debut yesterday!  I will be making his travel arrangements today, so he can meet his new mum (mom!) in the next few days.

22" 'Polperro'

I love making big bears in luxury mohair and am so grateful that after all these years of creating them, there are still collectors out there who love them too!

Halloween Witchypoo in progress!
  
With Christmas looming on the horizon, I have several shop orders to work on in the coming weeks, but first I'm squeezing in a dolly day ... it's been far too long since I made a Prim Dolly Doodle and I am determined to finish a 'Witchypoo' in time for All Hallowes Eve tomorrow!

Monday, 29 October 2012

2013 UK Teddy Bear Guide

The 2013 UK Teddy Bear Guide has just been published and is packed with among other things, teddy bear artist, shop, museums and supplier listings.  It's a very useful reference book and this is the Guide's 26th consecutive year of publication!


I like to book advertising space in the Guide each year if possible but as colour ads are a little on the pricey side and like many bear makers, I have a very small advertising budget to take care of, I've opted for a black and white ad this year ... I think it looks very smart, I hope you like it too!

 If you would like to purchase a copy of the 2013 UK Teddy Bear Guide, 
please visit: 

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Damp squib?

Creativity is a strange thing, sometimes it's at the tip of your fingers and other times it drifts away, taking a sabbatical without warning.  All kinds of unexpected hiccups trip up creative flow but thankfully, it usually demands to be noticed once again when the distractions settle.

In progress on my work table this week

My creative flow took a significant hit two years ago when Dad passed away and since then has graced me with an occasional half-hearted re-appearance, but generally speaking, has needed constant nudging, cajoling and even pleading with, to encourage it to shake itself from lethargy.

'Twink' - my latest owl shelf sitter, completed this week

Luckily for me, our wedding plans sparked my creative instincts again earlier this year thanks to the support of my closest family, who reminded me that creativity should be above all else, fun.  We worked hard for many months to create a wonderful wedding day, the very best kind of fun, but boy was it was tiring - I found myself waking up in the morning, more tired than I went to bed the night before!

  
Once our wedding day passed, a penny started to drop ... I have been feeling exhausted pretty much since Dad died, an overwhelming lethargy had my creativity firmly in its grip and the vitiligo (de-pigmentation of skin) I'd been ignoring for years, had also noticeably spread.  It seems I'd been so busy worrying about and organising life events, I simply hadn't noticed my health.  Fortunately my daughter was far more in tune, insisting I talk to the doc, so eventually I did as she asked and surprise, surprise, discovered I have an under active thyroid gland - which probably explains why I haven't been firing on all cylinders for quite a while!

So the moral of my story is, if your creative spark has become more of a damp squib, please don't ignore the clues like I did.  Happily, now my treatment has begun, I am already feeling less tired, much brighter and thankfully, eager to create again!

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Twit Twooooo!

The owls they are a-multiplying!  

'Twit'

After Twiggy, my very first owl softie (featured in an earlier blog post) caught the eye of one of my nieces, her mum (my sister Tina) tipped me the wink, so I decided to develop the design to create a special Autumn owl to celebrate Justine's 21st birthday last week ...  I was delighted to receive a very enthusiastic thank you message as soon as she received him and to read that her little birthday owl has now been named 'Twit'!

'Twiggy' and 'Twit'

This owl bug is biting and 'Twit Three', a rather fetching pink owl, is now underway on my work table ... it seems these silly owls are determined to keep on coming!

Monday, 22 October 2012

Autumn in Cornwall

Regular readers will know my favourite place to be is Cornwall and a week exploring muddy cliff paths and smuggling villages is my idea of the perfect honeymoon, so when Stuart suggested it, my new hiking boots were on order before he had time to blink!

Polperro

We booked a pretty cottage with fabulous views of the harbour, in historic Polperro, then spent our days clambering cliff paths, visiting beautiful National Trust properties and generally cramming as much of the great outdoors as possible, into our week.

Talland Bay

I especially love to walk along the cliff path to Talland Bay and over the years, this breathtaking ramble has become somewhat of a ritual on the first day of any holiday in the area - mind you, after twenty five years since I first tackled the path, I don't mind telling you, my joints complain far more now and breathing is definitely harder on the ascent at almost fifty years of age, than it ever was at twenty five - a breather on the stone bench by Talland War Memorial was very welcome indeed!

Taking a breather!

We also discovered  an ancient castle at Fowey to satisfy Stuart's inner ten year old...

St Catherine's Castle at Fowey

... a magnificent mud maiden in the Lost Gardens of Heligan ...

The Lost Gardens of Heligan

and among other places, the grandeur of Lanhydrock House.

Lanhydrock House

In fact, Cornwall in October was a real treat!  The Autumn countryside was stunningly beautiful, the roads and villages peaceful and even the weather was gentle with us.  With the exception of a couple of heavy showers, the sun shone gloriously, allowing us to go out to play every day! 

Paula Paddling at Padstow

We enjoyed a lovely Autumnal week in Cornwall and even found time to visit Stonehenge on our return journey. 

Old Relics at Stonehenge!

After our very special Autumn wedding and a great week in the heart of Cornwall, we are pleased to report married life is off to a flying start!

Thursday, 11 October 2012

A Tipple of Teds

It feels like ages since I had a new bear to share with you, but happily today, I can share three!

19" 'Applejack'

17" 'Champers'

17" 'Hennessy'

This collection of lovely traditional teddies is destined for 'The Bear Shop' in Norwich and of course, what could be more traditional than celebrating with a glass of something warming to celebrate ...

'A Tipple of Teds'

Bottoms up bears!  
Cheers!

Monday, 8 October 2012

Girly Gathering!

I was invited to my niece's 'Baby Shower' party on Saturday, but as Baby Showers are quite new to the UK, I don't mind telling you I wasn't really sure what to expect - all the same, an invitation to a girlie afternoon with cake on the menu, sounded just fine to me!  


My lovely niece is expecting her first baby in a few weeks' time, so an afternoon of games, chat and gifts was a really fun way for all her special female folk to gather together to offer support and friendship and remind her how important she is to us all, before baby arrives to steal her limelight.


We designed a washing line full of baby bibs ...


Pondered over who was who in old baby photos (mine was easy for everyone to guess as I was far too old for colour photography!)


We played 'pin the dummy on the baby' ...


And gave carefully chosen gifts to help Leah prepare for the arrival of her precious little one ...


And of course, in the time honoured tradition of girly gatherings, we indulged ourselves with a table of tasty tidbits!


Somewhere under those pink and blue chocolate buttons, edible glitter and tiny pink and blue tootsies above, was one of Hannah's magnificent chocolate cakes!


After the pleasure of having received so many hand made cards on our wedding day, I opted to try my hand at creating a card for Leah's Baby Shower ... it's a long way from perfect I know, but it was made and presented to my very special niece with much love from her Auntie Paula ... a.k.a Great Auntie Paula in-waiting!

Wishing you a peaceful few weeks ahead Leah and so looking forward to the arrival of our tiniest family member!

Monday, 1 October 2012

Start Simple ...

There's no doubt it takes many years of trial and error to become truly proficient at making an heirloom quality teddy bear.  There are many techniques to master, but I believe that with patience and determination, anyone can learn how to make a teddy bear.  When I made my very first teddy bear, I had no idea how the pieces of a bear fitted together and didn't understand how a jointed teddy bear's limbs worked, so I bought a child's kit from the local toy shop and spent hours hand stitching a very simple bear with plastic safety joints.

Orange Blob Bear - a child's toy teddy bear making kit

'Orange Blob Bear' was the very first bear I ever made twenty five years or so ago and  I remember being very pleased with myself because he looked just like the bear on the kit cover.  Back then, that was satisfaction enough.

Ivor - a mohair kit bear

But after 'Orange Blog Bear', the bear-making bug bit me and I wanted to make what I thought of as 'a proper bear'.  My next project was a mohair kit bear purchased from a teddy bear show.  I called this bear 'Ivor' and strategically placed a tartan bow to disguise the fact he had one arm placed quite a bit higher than the other!

Pomeroy - one of my earliest designs

I loved the fact Ivor was mohair with jointed limbs and glass eyes - at the time he seemed a huge improvement on my previous synthetic orange teddy bear kit and he inspired me to start trying to design my own patterns ... slowly but surely, large traditional teddy bears with big feet and floppy ears began to come to emerge from the old Singer sewing machine my mother-in-law had given me.

'The Biscuit Bears' - one of my favourite 2010 collections

Since those very early bear-making steps, I have designed well over a thousand teddy bears and with each year that has passed, my bear-making skills have developed ...

'Bellamy' - a 22" bear I designed for a collector

So whenever I'm asked today how I make the bears look the way they do, I can only answer, 'it comes with years and years of practise'!  I just started simply and kept taking small creative steps forward ...

'Twiggy'

This weekend I designed a simple soft toy owl from cotton fabrics and felt. Now 'Twiggy' has been completed, ideas for developing my simple softie are starting to emerge ... 

So my advice to anyone hoping to create a masterpiece, is 'start simple and allow your creativity to emerge a step at a time'.  After all, what's the hurry?!

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