As certain years have drawn to a close, I have pondered whether my bear making was all it should have been during that year ... last year was definitely one of those years. Illness and a bouncy new puppy knocked a significant hole in my work schedule, causing me to miss shows and deadlines in 2013. Naturally, Polly pup became my first priority once I'd recovered from a bout of ill heath earlier in the year, so bear-making hours were of necessity limited, as my focus shifted from bear design to obedience training.
I am happy to say, the months of dog training have been a huge benefit to us, helping Polly to become the polite, gentle and friendly girl I hoped for. Our training has been very beneficial and Polly enjoys it so much we intend to continue indefinitely; but hopefully, now that her 'manic puppy phase' has passed, life will become more settled, allowing me to take up the reins of my bear business once more.
That said, 2013 wasn't a total wipeout for All Bear. I like to put together a calendar and portfolio of my work at the end of each year to remind me of what I achieved and although undoubtedly, there were a few less bears emerging from my workroom last year, if I flick through my portfolio I am relieved (and quite surprised!) to see that somehow, I still managed to create a solid body of work during the year and even collected an 'Excellence in Bear Artistry' award!
Thankfully my 2014 calendar is now filling with scribbles for new commissions and show commitments, so the coming year already looks reasonably positive as far as my bears are concerned and with any luck, I may even find a little spare time for some 'Prim Dolly Doodling'.
As I have said before, at the start of each New Year I like to try to learn a new skill by perhaps taking a course, or teaching myself something interesting. I must admit, I thought 2013 had slipped by without me managing to do this, but in hindsight, I was thinking 'craft' and overlooked my dog training, which was of course, a totally fresh challenge with much to learn.
After twenty years in the bear industry, I admit I was ready for a fresh challenge and dare I say, am quite proud of myself for tackling something so alien to me. Joining a dog training group has been way outside my comfort zone and working with other dog owners in the great outdoors, after the comfort of my cosy workroom, certainly hasn't been an easy transition ... but it has been immensely rewarding and I am sure it has been beneficial to my health too!
By the way, the 'Winter Bearfest' in Kensington is looming and I am booked in to exhibit. One way or another, it's time for me to get organised and start work on my show bears. I am looking forward to getting back into my bear crafting stride!
If you would like to visit this superb display of teddy bear artistry in London on the 23rd February, please visit www.hugglets.co.uk for full details.
I'll see you there!