Monday, 30 January 2017

The Bearmaker

It's been years since I last had a photograph taken of me with one of my teddy bears, so I thought it was about time to remedy that. With the aid of my trusty Iphone a few moments ago, I snapped this quick'selfie' with my latest teddy 'Lisette' in my workroom, with the idea of using it to introduce myself to visitors on my 'All Bear' website ... 

'The Bearmaker'

 Anyway,I hope you like this photo of 'The Bearmaker'! Previously such photographs always involved travelling to my sister's studio in Hampshire, so this little pic was much quicker to sort out; I really don't know why I didn't think of doing this sooner!

By the way, if you would like to visit my website, here is a link:


:-)

Friday, 27 January 2017

A perfect teddy bear

After finding some old photographs, it occurred to me this week, I made my very first teddy bear 25 years ago!  My goodness, it is hard to believe that defining moment was a quarter of a century ago.  I can't lay claim to having created my first artist bear back then, nothing quite so historic (!) but that was definitely when the first stirrings of bear-making curiosity struck me enough to go and find a child's toy crafting kit in local toy shop. I recall my main interest was of practical concern, I wanted to find out how to make a teddy's arms and legs move - that mystery was solved when I pulled a set of white plastic safety joints from the bag. I hadn't a clue about hardboard discs and cotter pin joints to begin with, in fact I didn't learn about those until bear number two ...

1992, 'Ivor'

Bear number two, subsequently named 'Ivor', was also a kit bear. I forget who designed that early kit, but I do remember purchasing it from a lovely bear artist at the very first teddy bear show I ever visited.  The prospect of creating Ivor was daunting because this time the process would involve cutting mohair, which was far more costly and fabulous than the little orange synthetic toy shop kit. Even now, all these years down the bear-making trail, I remember the excitement of beginning work on Ivor and my absolute delight when, after much trial and tribulation, a traditional gold teddy with slightly lopsided, but fully jointed, arms and legs, presented himself.

Early 1990's, tentative first teddy bear designs

With two bonafide teddy bears now under my belt, my enthusiasm for bear number three was high and by then I felt ready to select a commercial teddy bear pattern to work with, along with another piece of the fabric I had fallen in love with ... mohair! Teddy bear patterns frustrated me though, nothing seemed to fit together quite perfectly enough and those that I had chosen were for small teddy bears, but I loved big teddy bears!  After my first couple of attempts at using them, I gave up on store bought patterns and instead invested in a teddy bear-making book, written by a well known teddy bear artist who had been generous enough to touch on the process of design. That was a real lightbulb moment for me and from then on, I became completely absorbed in creating my own teddy bear patterns and bringing to life the teddy bears waiting patiently in my head.

Mid to late 1990's, well into my teddy bear bear making stride!

So here I am, twenty five years later, still trying to create that elusive 'perfect' teddy bear. I wonder if any bear artist ever says they achieved a truly perfect teddy bear? Somehow I think not ...

Teddy bears from the past seven years ..

My belief is, we bearmakers are destined to strive for perfection indefinitely which is what keeps our bear-making joy alive and the teddy bear's future secure.

With that thought in mind, here's to my next quarter century!

:-)

Monday, 23 January 2017

A lifetime buddy..

As Christmas drew closer, I was given a top secret commission last year, which, I am delighted to say, I am now able to share with you. However, rather than tell you about this special teddy myself, I would like to share a testimonial and some wonderful photographs taken by my sister Tina ...


"We commissioned a very special bear from Paula, as our first Granddaughter's first Christmas gift. Paula has done a fantastic job. We described what we thought Willow would like... a traditional vintage styled bear, a bit floppy and designed to be loved.....not a toy but definitely not to lurk permanently on a shelf.


Paula took everything we suggested for onboard and 'Doddy' was born. He is GORGEOUS! Willow loves him. We know that he will make the most perfect lifetime buddy for her.

Thank you x"


As you can imagine, I was thrilled to receive these beautiful photographs and absolutely delighted to be invited to create this precious little girl's very first Christmas teddy bear, gifted with much love from her Grandparents.

It is always lovely to make teddy bears for grown-up collectors, but to create a bear to become 'a lifetime buddy' to a child, is very special indeed. I wish Doddy and little Willow much magic and hope they will share many adventures together in the years to come!

:-)

PS ... if you would like to see more of Tina's fabulous photography, please visit her website:

Sunday, 22 January 2017

A good week's work..

My teddy bear making mojo is in full swing at the moment, which is always a good start to a new year! I may have started slowly, but with two bears now under my bear-maker's belt and we're still only in January, I am excited about the prospect of more teddy bears to come ... and hopefully, maybe a few 'Prim Dolly Doodles' too ... fingers crossed.


My lovely red Rufus found a super new home last week and then I finished this pretty teddy girl, the lovely 'Lisette'.  A good week's work I'd say! I had been hunting through my fabric boxes and came across a wonderful piece of Schulte kid mohair tucked away and temporarily forgotten, so I decided to spoil myself by turning it into a good sized teddy (she is 20" tall). You just can't beat a beautiful dense German Schulte kid mohair when it comes to making big bears. It really is the most fabulous teddy bear fur and in my humble bearmaker's opinion, by far the best quality available (just wish it wasn't quite so pricey these days, but I guess that old saying is true, you do 'get what you pay for'. Unfortunately sourcing good quality teddy bear mohair for larger bears sure has become a costly process!)

Anyway, I thought you would like to meet 'Lisette', before she finds a new home and if by any chance you would like to adopt her yourself, she is currently available to purchase from my website and you are most welcome to visit:


Have a lovely Sunday everyone!

:-)

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Sketchy Teds

I didn't set a new year's resolution this year, but one thing I would like to continue into 2017,  is teaching myself how to draw. Who knows, maybe I'll even teach myself how to paint a little as well!


After a lifetime of  feeling like a clumsy 'leftie' with a pencil, I never had confidence in artistic endeavours either as a child or as an adult, so last year, decided it was time to push a few creative boundaries. I started to create an art journal in my spare time and gradually my silly sketches began to improve and on the odd occasion, I quite surprised even myself with the results!


I suppose it was inevitable a few teddy bears would creep into my art journal and I dare say more will arrive in time as they are fun to draw.  In fact, I may even find sufficient artistic courage to sketch a little teddy to print onto my next batch of 'All Bear' hang tags and never, ever, did I ever think that day would be a possibility!

:-)

Saturday, 14 January 2017

An ol' fashioned kinda guy

Introducing 'Rufus', my very first teddy bear of 2017.
May he be the first of many!

16" Rufus is a mohair teddy bear

This fellow has really been a pleasure to make; I loved the colour of his mohair, a wonderful vintage red which really lent itself to an olde style teddy bear. I gently 'aged' his calico paws (the camera didn't pick it up unfortunately) and I gave him a sweet little 'darned' patch on his foot. I think the little sweater I knitted for him in cosy red and sand coloured alpaca yarn, complements his mohair perfectly. It's been lovely to have an excuse to cosy up on my sofa with my knitting needles these past few snowy evenings!

Rufus has just been made available for adoption from my website, so if you would like to know more, please to visit him at:


:-)

Update: Rufus has been adopted!

Friday, 13 January 2017

Snow Saga

After a nerve wracking four and a half hours wedged in heavy snow at the top of Detling Hill late last night as I waited for a jack-knifed lorry to be moved from the bottom of the hill, I have decided today will be a cosy, indoors, stress free kind of day. It was scary to be alone in my car in the dark, watching snow whirl and ice crystallise on the tarmac around me, but not nearly so scary as having to edge down the steep icy hill when traffic was eventually able to nudge forward. Never was I more pleased to pull up on my own driveway last night ... cars and snowy conditions are a horrible mix!


So today my knitting needles are poised and the couch beckons. This little fellow could do with another arm for his jumper before he hops onto my website and his ears still need stitching on ... today I am more than happy to oblige!

I will don wellies, scarf and gloves for a short walk with Polly and Betty later, but aside from their blast of wintry exercise, I have absolutely no intention of venturing outdoors in the snow again.

Stay warm, keep cosy everyone!

:-)

Update:
Betty (on the left) enjoyed her first experience of snow with big sis Polly this morning!




Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Getting organised for 2017

With all the Christmas and wedding preparations of the past few weeks, I didn't have time to introduce my latest teddy bear 'Winterberry' before I shot off to Whitstable to celebrate my son's wedding day. Winterberry was a lovely classically styled teddy bear in a rather untraditional purple colour ...

19" Winterberry has been adopted

And I am delighted to tell you, this lovely teddy bear was adopted just in the nick of time for Christmas.


So, my final teddy bear of 2016 had found a new home just before Christmas but by New Year, my workroom was still in a right ol' mess! With the help of my grandson, I spent yesterday morning organising it and when I end this post, I will be pouring a cuppa, heading upstairs into a nice tidy workroom (thank you for your help Toby!) and starting work on my very first teddy bear of 2017. 

I hope to introduce my new teddy bear to you very soon and in the meantime, I wish you all a very happy, safe and creative New Year! 

xxx

Love, respect and friendship forever

So yes, there was Christmas and I had a lovely one, thank you! More importantly though, my son married his lovely lady of seventeen years, my grandson's beautiful mummy, the day before Christmas Eve and they gave me one of the proudest and happiest days of my life.


It was a beautiful marriage celebration, handcrafted by my talented daughter-in-law and set in the unique 'East Quay Venue', one of Whitstable’s oldest buildings at the end of the East Quay Harbour, originally home of the Seasalter and Ham Oyster Fishery Company.


It was utterly magical to see my son and his new wife so happy on their wedding day. The celebration was perfect, relaxed, fun and with the warmth of closest family and friends wrapped around our newlyweds.

Me 'n my son on his wedding day

I don't think this mother-of-the-groom stopped beaming all day long!


Heartfelt congratulations to you Ants 'n Han ... I am so happy you made the commitment to formalise your life together as a couple and also as a family.

In the words of Dr Seuss, 

You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away!

You have brains in your heads.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourselves
any direction you choose.
You're on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guys who'll decide where to go.

So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life's
a Great Balancing Act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.


I wish you a life of love, respect and friendship forever.
With much love and immense pride,
Mum.

xxx

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