Monday, 18 November 2019

Bigger Hugs!

I recently began putting an annual portfolio of teddy bears together and as I sorted through photographs of my 2019 bears, it dawned on me, there have been fewer big bears this year, which came as something of a surprise!

20" Brandysnap

Years ago of course, most of my designs were substantial, truly 'hug me' teddy bears, the kind of bears who demanded their own armchairs. I have always been well known for creating big bears and of course, still love to make them but am aware that such teddies do take up considerable space and so many collections nowadays are feeling the squeeze after years of loyal teddy bear collecting.

It has been refreshing to work on medium and small sized teddy bears this year, but I would hate for my 'big 'uns' to become the dinosaurs of the bear world, only to be found in storybooks and imagination!  There are so few bear artists still making proper big teddy bears and I am very reluctant to let them go.  So, as we roll towards Christmas Day, I plan to include at least one or two 'bears of stature' on my website, because, as you may know, bigger bears give bigger hugs!

Hopefully there will be a collector or two out there, with a cosy corner in their collection, searching for just such a special teddy bear.


:-)

Monday, 4 November 2019

Juniper

A new little bear to share ...

12" Juniper

This isn't the official website photograph, but it's so cute, I couldn't resist sharing it here. It was taken on my mobile 'phone in my living room on Saturday evening, just as I finished knitting and took a moment to dress my little bear in his cosy new jumper for the first time.

It made me smile. 
I hope it makes you smile too.

:-)

Update: Juniper has been adopted.

Guy Fawkes Night

Fireworks are a strange entity for me ... I hate how they frighten my dogs, but since a little girl, have always enjoyed celebrating Guy Fawkes night with my family.  So, after settling my dogs into their beds with cosy fleece blankets, a plug-in herbal calm thingummy and the radio turned up, we headed out into night to a local organised display, completely overdressed for what turned out to be, the mildest of November nights...


My Dad always enjoyed bonfire night and I have happy childhood memories of dressing a 'Guy' in his old pyjamas to sit on the bonfire in the garden. On Guy Fawkes Night, there would be an old biscuit tin in the shed containing a selection of rockets, fountains and Catherine Wheels; Dad would hammer the Catherine Wheels onto the garden fence where they never quite spun freely, but enchanted us kids nonetheless. The fountains usually made a half hearted effort to flare and fizzle at the bottom of the garden and rockets, which were launched from empty milk bottles secured in the flower bed, would either zoom heavenwards leaving a magical trail behind them before landing in our neighbour's gardens, or, more alarming, would shoot unpredictably back across the garden towards we kids, as we ran shrieking away from them as fast as our legs would carry us!


These days we are of course, far more risk averse and sensible, so opt for an organised display for our annual family celebration ... and as I watch my Grandchildren and my grown up children enjoying the sparkling Bonfire Night sky, there is always a moment when I sense my Dad is still enjoying that magical night sky with us.

:-)

Traditional British poem

Remember, remember, the 5th of November
The Gunpowder Treason and plot;
I know of no reason why Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.

Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes,
'Twas his intent.
To blow up the King and the Parliament.
Three score barrels of powder below,
Poor old England to overthrow.

By God's providence he was catch'd,
With a dark lantern and burning match
Holloa boys, Holloa boys, let the bells ring
Holloa boys, Holloa boys, God save the King!

Hip hip Hoorah!
Hip hip Hoorah!

A penny loaf to feed ol' Pope,
A farthing cheese to choke him.
A pint of beer to rinse it down,
A faggot of sticks to burn him.

Burn him in a tub of tar.
Burn him like a blazing star.
Burn his body from his head,
Then we'll say: ol' Pope is dead.

:-)

Saturday, 2 November 2019

November days..

There is definitely something about Autumn that has me reaching for my knitting needles...


My latest teddy bear Violet, is modelling a pretty jacket I knitted earlier this week. I have a stash of vintage dolly knitting patterns which I collected over the years, so I adjusted the measurements of this sweet vintage knit to fit my teddy girl's slightly more curvaceous proportions. 

Happily, Violet was adopted from my website a couple of days ago and is now on her way to meet her new owner in the US.

It is such a gloomy day here in Kent. I can hear heavy rain hammering against my windows and the wind howling around the back of the house, so once I have braved the great outdoors with my dogs (not looking forward to that today!) I plan to light candles and cosy up in front of the tv with my knitting needles, as I have a new teddy bear to dress. I promise to share him with you just as soon as this miserable rain stops and I can take him into the garden to photograph on my little bench...

In the meantime, sending you soggy grey hugs, from a rain soaked UK!

:-)

Thursday, 31 October 2019

Pumpkin Huntin'

On Sunday afternoon, we set off in the car, welly booted and with cameras primed, in preparation for our autumnal deer spotting outing at Knole Park in Sevenoaks. However, our plans for a fun family tromp were thwarted, as for some reason unbeknownst to us, Knole Park had closed its rather grand gates to the public. Determined not to give up on our planned family walk, we drove past the park opening and rang my son and his wife to see if they had any bright ideas ... which, thankfully, they did!


Five minutes later, we met up with everyone at a mystery destination, the lovely Riverhill Himalayan Gardens, which despite having lived in Kent for forty plus years, I had never heard of before ...


So rather than deer hunting, we spent a fun afternoon exploring beautiful gardens and hunting for pumpkins instead!


Riverhill is a family owned property and the Estate is managed today, by the Great-great-great-grandson (and his wife) of John Rogers, who bought this fabulous property back in 1840. We thoroughly enjoyed the dog-friendly (on leads please) gardens and were made very welcome.  The gardens were a magical blend of the formal and the more mysterious ... absolutely perfect for exploring with my grandchildren.


In fact we had such a fun afternoon at Riverhill, we very quickly forgot all about our original plan to visit Knole!


:-) 

Monday, 21 October 2019

A spooky little clown

I rarely create themed bears, but couldn't resist making a little bear for Halloween later this month ...

14" Twilight

This spooky little clown might be perfect for Halloween ... but he'll also be heaps of fun all year round too!


If you would like to know more about this sweet Twilight teddy bear, please visit him on my website:

www.allbearbypaula.com



Before I head back upstairs to my workroom, here is a link to my earlier Halloween blog posts, full of bears, dolls and of course, lots of spooky family fun ... I hope you enjoy the read!


Wishing you all a safe, fun and of course, mischievous Halloween 2019!

:-)

Update: Twilight has been adopted.

Thursday, 17 October 2019

A little goosebump!

I am thrilled to have my little 'Goosebump' teddy bear featured in this month's 'Teddy Bear Times & Friends' magazine!

TBT's 2019 Halloween Spooktacular, 
features Goosebump (bottom left)

It has been ages since I thought to send any photographs to the specialist teddy bear magazines as time just seems to run away with me these days, but the thrill of seeing my bears in print never diminishes, even after so many years of bearmaking. I have a real soft spot for this particular magazine, as it played a big part in helping to launch my career as a bearmaker, so a huge thank you to TBT! 

If you haven't yet purchased a copy, this issue is available either individually, or as part of an annual subscription, from the TBT website:



With the fun of Halloween on the horizon, I am inspired to finish a new spooky little bear ready for the trick and treatery. I'm cutting it fine as usual, but hope to have my Halloween teddy to share with you in the next few days ... maybe I should cast a magic spell to help speed up his progress a bit?!



Thursday, 10 October 2019

A Dinosaurus-roarus Birthday

Wishing my amazing little dippy dinosaur explorer Grandson, a very happy 5th birthday today ...


The poor lad had to go to school on his birthday (boo!) so I am looking forward to sharing a birthday cuppa and a little cake when I catch up with him later today.  I can hardly believe how much this whirlwind of a boy has taught himself about his favourite subject (and also his Nana and everyone around him during the past year!) He really is quite the walking talking dinosaur encyclopedia.

Happy Birthday Tobes, 
May your 5th birthday treats be every bit as dinosaurus-roarus as you are hoping they will be!

With Megasaurus love always,
From,
Your super-proud, 
Jurassic Nana xxx

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Autumnal Inspirations

I fell in love with this Harris Tweed the second I saw it and just knew it would make a stunning Tweedy Ted ...

 18" Mackenzie Tweedy

 Up until now, my previous Tweedy Teds have had classic three piece heads (not including their ears!) so I thought it would be fun to design a four piece centre-seam head for this particular fellow. I have designed centre seam mohair bears over the years as they provide scope for shaping - for example, if you design a gentle curve into the head gusset, it offers more depth and creates a wonderful dome shaped head. I thought it would be fun to translate that lovely dome into my Tweedy Ted and happily, this design worked really well.  If you would like to know more about Mackenzie Tweedy, please pop over to my website.

www.allbearbypaula.com

Update: Mackenzie Tweedy has now been adopted!


It is the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness and I am loving the daily walks I take with Polly and Betty, my Golden Retrievers. The countryside is rich with berries and the leaves are beginning to turn beautiful shades of orange and gold. It is a time of year I have always found especially inspiring ... the dogs are loving it too as there are now lovely muddy puddles to splash through on their walks! They really are such a pair of muck magnets.


These are a few photos I snapped on our walk through Oaken Wood last weekend...


Needless to say I spent the rest of the afternoon armed with shampoo, towels and a hose!


Whatever the season where you live, I hope you too are enjoying all it has to offer!

:-)

Friday, 4 October 2019

A post from The Dark Side

Black bears can be so tricky to photograph!

12" commission teddy 2019

I usually use my Canon Eos camera to take bear pics, but I don't mind admitting this fellow, a commission finished last week, caused me a few photographic headaches!  I gave up trying with my posh SLR camera and resorted to my mobile phone camera instead. Hey presto, after all the frustrating twiddling of manual settings on my proper camera, one press of a little screen button and my Samsung Galaxy 10+ did a pretty decent job of things.  I live and learn!

20" Mischief was made in 2018

Not only are black teddy bears notoriously difficult to photograph, they are also a real challenge to make. Marking a pattern on black mohair is pointless if done with my preferred lead pencil, so I need to use a fine gold Sharpie pen instead. Cutting out, trimming and sewing black mohair with black thread is also very tiring on my eyes, so I only ever work on black mohair by my workroom window, in bright natural daylight. 

15" Blackberry was created in 2009

So, if you have ever wondered why black artist teddy bears are almost as rare as hen's teeth, it is because black mohair is probably one of the most challenging fabrics for a teddy bear maker to work with!

Black Magic was created in 2006

I have been trying to find photographs of some of the black bears I have created over the past 25 years, but unfortunately it is proving a rather thankless task. I know there have been occasional black bears peppered throughout the years, but goodness only knows where I filed those photos!  

Merlin was created in 2011

I'll keep hunting for those black bear pics, but in the meantime, I hope you enjoy this little blog post from the dark side! 

:-)

Thursday, 26 September 2019

A labour of love

My rocking chair was looking a little jaded after twelve years parked in a corner of the conservatory, so last weekend, I decided to rejeuvenate it with a splash of colour and some good ol' fashioned elbow grease!


Fortunately the rocker was unvarnished and the wood was lovely and smooth, so I launched straight at it with a pot of  Zinsser Cover Stain primer.


I had several sample pots of Annie Sloan's Chalk Paint tucked away in the depths of our garage and as I am a far from perfect painter and have a rather slap happy approach, I thought this would be the perfect paint for my chair. Annie Sloan's chalk paint is very easy to use but best of all for the messy painters among us, it is extremely forgiving! This lovely paint also comes in the most beautiful complementary colours. I chose 'Provence' and 'Arles' because they reminded me of holidays spent in the South of France and Kefalonia... the colours also happily complemented the oilcloth covering on my Grandchildren's painting table!


The first coat of paint went on easily and once dried, I enthusiastically slapped on a second coat. I should probably have watered the paint down a little first though, as it was rather thick in places but I didn't worry too much because I had complete faith that everything would remedy when I gave it a good rub over with a medium sand paper. What I had learned from my bedroom furniture renovation last year, was that chalk paint sands to a smooth finish perfectly and all lumps and bumps soon disappear with little effort and a keen eye. Also, it is a very satisfying (if dusty!) process.


My two sample pots were enough to cover the top of the rocking chair with two coats of paint, but I ran out before I could complete the rest of the chair, so left it overnight, then dragged my rocker back out to the patio next morning for sanding of the top half, while I waited for the Annie Sloan website to dispatch more paint for the bottom half. Incidentally, the dust really flies when you do the sanding, so I'd recommend using a dust mask and wearing old clothes. I didn't have a mask handy so spent the afternoon coughing heartily ... !


Sanding the chalk paint to a smooth finish lightened the colour to a lovely soft shade and revealed white primer in places ... which will be perfect for the shabby chic, waxed finish I hope to achieve. I wiped my chair with a damp cloth after sanding, then popped it back in the corner until I can paint the whole thing over, re-sand gently and finally wax.  It's a labour of love, but I am enjoying my rocking chair project and so far, am delighted with the result!  I will share the finished result when I'm finished and my chair is ready to receive a nice new cushion.

By the way, if you haven't yet tried chalk paint, why not give it a go ... it is so versatile and really fun to use. I have found it really rewarding to bring my tired wooden furniture back to life, as I don't particularly enjoy change or trying to buy new furniture. I would much rather revitalise and personalise the furniture I have shared my life and my family with. Now it makes me smile whenever I see it!

:-)

Friday, 20 September 2019

The gift of Autumn

Golden hues and Autumn sunshine are now beginning to cast a beautiful glow over the countryside on my walks and although this beautiful season will always be tinged with sadness for me after the loss of my Dad in the midst of a sensational September nine years ago, somehow his loss has gifted me a greater appreciation of how beautiful Autumn truly is...

12" Chutney

I am so thankful to be able to express my enjoyment of this wonderful season with you, through my bearmaking.


:-)

Update: Chutney has been adopted!

Thursday, 19 September 2019

Life is for the living..

I love early Autumn walks, so popped the dogs into my car yesterday morning and headed over to the Woodland Trust for a wander in the Autumn sunshine...


It was very peaceful; the girls enjoyed a good run and plenty of serious sniffing ... there's bunnies in them thar hills ya know! Thankfully, the bunnies stayed snug as bugs, tucked up safely in their burrows.


It wasn't until later that morning, when we arrived home after our lovely walk and I opened the door of my fridge to make myself a coffee and saw a bottle of Chapel Down wine, that I realised the date. September the 18th. Nine years to the day of that breathtakingly beautiful Autumn morning, when I received the telephone call that told me you had gone forever...

And with that sudden intense memory, came a realisation that eventually our world did turn again and life is for the living.. just as you always said it should be. You have never been forgotten Dad and never will be, but I know you would be reassurred to hear, that now, nine years on, we are no longer submerged in unending sadness.

My family and of course, Polly and Betty, gently lifted my soul from the darkness of deep loss and carefully guided me back towards the sunshine over. It is has been a long process and one that probably never quite ends, but it taught me that weaving threads of great sadness through joy, can help the pain of loss ease over time.


And speaking of joy Dad, I hope that somehow you are able to know the Great Grandchildren you never had the chance to meet. My goodness, they are so inquisitive, fiesty and fun! Every so often I catch a glimpse of you in my Grandchildren when I least expect it, a twinkle in their eye, a determination to fathom a problem, a raucous belly laugh...

You so would have loved them!

xxxx

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

All Bear, a collection

Over the past twenty five years, I have been blessed by the support I have received from the lovely people who have collected my teddy bears.  I will be forever grateful to these very special collectors, for their belief in my bears and also for the opportunity they have given me, to continue creating the bears I love.


Now and again I am sent photographs of my bears in their homes and a few days ago, received this picture of a fabulous collection of 'All Bear by Paula' teddy bears, now living contentedly in Germany. Their owner kindly gave me permission to share her photograph.  I hope you enjoy seeing her beautiful collection of 'All Bear' teddy bears, as much as I have.  

Don't they look stunning together!!!

:-)

Monday, 9 September 2019

In glorious technicolour

In my last post I promised glorious technicolour and I think you will agree, it really doesn't get more glorious, or more technicolour, than this teddy bear!

20" Rhubarb


We are talking bold, we are talking fun, but most of all, we are talking ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS!!!!

This cheerful 20" mohair clown teddy, is now available for adoption and one thing is absolutely certain, Rhubarb Bear will brighten the darkest room and bring sunshine smiles to his new owner every day!

If you would like to know a little more about Rhubarb, please pop over to visit him on my website:


:-)

Update: Rhubarb has been adopted!

Thursday, 5 September 2019

Glorious technicolour

For those of you who read my previous post, I am happy to say my little Grandson seems to be settling happily into his new school life. I collected him from school with his Daddy on Tuesday and was delighted when an excited Toby flew through the school gates to give his Nana a big ol' hug, clutching his first official reading book. He was full of beans and eager to tell us all about his day. Yes, I think he'll be just fine.


So, I can now swap my 'anxious Nana' head, for my 'busy bearmaker' head but first I should mention, I am sat at home today waiting for a very special parcel ... my vintage Singer sewing machine is due to arrive! Whoop whoop! I am very excited to receive this beautiful old lady. My poor dogs are far less excited though, as it means their walk has been delayed while we wait for the doorbell and they have had to satisfy themselves with barking at the window cleaner rather than running on the field. Sorry girls!

By the way, I plan to finish a new teddy bear this afternoon, a lovely cheerful clown bear. The black and white pic is just to whet your appetite, I'll reveal all in glorious technicolour shortly!

:-)

Monday, 2 September 2019

Big School

Thinking of my Grandson today, as he takes his first independent journey across the playground, into 'Big School'. We have shared so much in our own little world of fun and laughter over the past four years, I don't mind admitting, I am going to miss our days together hugely. 


It occurs to me that we ask a huge amount of children at this tender young age. They are expected to cope with wearing strange clothes, being left at a strange building and then taken into an unknown world by someone they may have only met on the very briefest of terms. We ask that these little people trust their parents to be there when they exit theirnew classroom at the end of the school day and also to understand, that this rather brutal separation from everything familiar and secure in their world, is somehow for the best.

Over the past few weeks, I have watched as my own Grandson and his Mummy and Daddy prepared steadily for the start of term today. I couldn't be more proud of them both for the calm support they have given whenever he has been overwhelmed by the turn his little life now has to take. There have been moments when our intrepid little dinosaur hunter has broken all our hearts with his desperate four year old pleas not to have to start school and I am absolutely certain, that if any one of his parents, or grandparents, could have waved a magic wand to make school disappear, we would have happily done so for him ... but the Law is the Law and for Toby, the time for this first educational milestone has now arrived.

I saw my own children safely into school for the first time as a young mum more than thirty years ago and of course, found myself gulping back tears when the classroom door swung urelatingly shut behind my entire world. The ensuing hours until 'home time' seemed never ending.  As with most parents, my heart was in my mouth as I walked back to school to collect them later that day ... but thankfully my fears were needless and my son and daughter both exited through the same door, clutching school bags, clearly relieved to see me but also eager to tell me about their first day at school. I remember feeling mixed emotions of relief and pride as I reached possessively for them ... tinged a little sadness at the budding sense of independence I could already see taking root.

Years ago, I worked as a teaching assistant in the reception class of a local infant school. I absolutely loved my job and was always excited to start a new year, with a fresh intake of four year olds. It never ceased to amaze me how well most coped once inside the classroom. On the inside of that door, tears and trepidation at leaving anxious parents, were quickly replaced with curiosity and an eagerness to prove themselves capable. It was never long before the children settled to play and began to enjoy their new activities. School routines were soon established and little personalities were quick to emerge.

My super-thoughtful daughter-in-law, took a moment before school this morning to send me a photograph of my Grandson wearing not only his new school uniform but most importantly for this anxious Nana, a confident smile, before he climbed into the car for the journey to his new school.

And I don't doubt that for one moment, that both mummy and daddy both drew a deep breath to steady themselves, as they proudly waved their son off across the 'Big School' playground for the first time ... 

Well done gang. 
I am so proud of you all!

 xxx

:-)

Thursday, 29 August 2019

Skylark

I have been pottering my way through the summer holidays, enjoying walks with my dogs and funshine days, playing and reading with my grandchildren. Between times, whenever the weather was cool enough, I made time to work on an occasional summery teddy bear.


There is the slightest hint of Autumn creeping into early mornings now, so I don't suppose it will be long before my bears take an autumnal turn and my thoughts turn to knitting needles and cosy yarns. Before Autumn happens though, there is just enough time to introduce a lovely summer clown, created from softest peach and pale bluey-grey mohair. I called him 'Skylark' and popped him onto my website this very morning.

19" Skylark

Skylark is a striking teddy bear, with chunky proportions and a tilt growler in his tummy. If he tugs at your heartstrings, I would be delighted to hear from you...

To find out more about this lovely clown bear, please pop over to my website:

www.allbearbypaula.com

Thank you!

:-)

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