Time is a funny old thing isn't it ... I was hunting through some old photographs for pictures of my biggest bears and came across this one taken about twenty years ago, with my huge 32" 'Miguel the Magnificent' alpaca teddy. We were perched on the steps outside my kitchen window while my then husband, snapped a quick photo to record the creation of this huge teddy bear, before he took a flight to meet his new owner in the USA.
Me and Miguel the Magnificent circa 1998.
So much in my life changed since those days. After this happy pic was taken, I became divorced, a single mum and eventually, left my home of twenty three years, to begin a new life with my now husband and two teenage children. Then my kids grew up and made careers for themselves, left home to build their own nests ... and joy of joys, my grandson was born!
Just before my son left home my Dad passed away unexpectedly, which took a great deal of coming to terms with, as I rattled in an empty house each day. I filled the silence with waggy tails, noisy barks and golden sunshine thanks to Polly and Betty, my two beautiful golden retrievers and more recently, added a cheeky ginger kitten into this rather lively mix - one thing is absolutely certain, the house is no longer too quiet and I have no time left to rattle any more!
Thinking about things further, it wasn't until after the photograph with Miguel was taken, I finally plucked up sufficient determination to learn to drive, passing my test on the second attempt, at the grand old age of 42! I also taught myself to use a computer properly, learned among a zillion other things, to create a website to showcase my bears, write a blog and to utilise social media effectively. I also joined the Open University to develop my writing skills, then surprised myself by passing well! And when a very boisterous Polly puppy arrived, I nervously signed up for dog obedience training classes and once again surprised myself by actually managing to teach not one, but two naughty puppies to become polite doggy citizens. I learned how to use a digital camera to photograph bears, to make cloth dollies and recently, to paint and draw.
Me and Lonnie, February 2018
Since the early 1990's, I have witnessed the ebb and flow of teddy bear collecting and watched it reshape dramatically with the birth of the internet ... it has been a fascinating period of historic teddy bear change, both in terms of design and collecting ... and one in which I have enjoyed a privileged view!
On a personal note, although my life has been full of ups and downs, twists and turns throughout those twenty something years, thankfully the one constant has been my teddy bears. The passion to create these gentle creatures has remained with me, during the best and the worst of times.
There must be many reasons people become teddy bear makers. Mine was simply that I always loved traditional bears, ever since I was child and I had an itch to create my own ... then once I'd started, I couldn't bear to stop!
Thank you so very much if you have been a part of my teddy bear history. I have met many lovely people from around the world during my time as a 'bear artist' and am eternally grateful for the kind homes shared with my teddy bears and the kindness shared with me.