Thursday 31 July 2008

Soul food interlude

I'm taking a brief break from my workroom at the moment, can't stop long but phew, it's stuffy up there this afternoon and I need somewhere cooler to sit for a moment! I've been airbrushing paw pads, cutting out mohair, trimming, pinning, sewing ... all of the bear crafter's 'ings'! Daytime TV is a pretty mind numbing affair in the UK and there really are only so many Ricki Lake style chat shows, auction programmes and smug celebrity chefs I can cope with before the little bit of grey matter I still hold dear begs for relief; so once I've watched the National News at lunchtime, on goes my stereo.

Today's after lunch musical interlude has included Snow Patrol's 'Eyes Wide Open' album, closely followed by Van Morrison and Georgie Fame's 'How long has this been going on'. I absolutely love both albums (muses: in these fast-moving days of Itune downloads, I wonder, do they still call them albums? I'll have to ask my kids who will no doubt tell me to 'get with it Mum'!) even though they are virtually opposite ends of the musical spectrum ... actually, now I come to think of it, they do have something in common, songs with a story to tell. My favourite tracks? No contest - 'That's life' on the Van Morrison album and 'Chasing Cars' on the Snow Patrol album.

Right, enough of this interlude, back up to my garret I go, quite contentedly 'without it' ... whatever 'it' may be!

Wednesday 30 July 2008

Hudson, as in Rock

Well, I couldn't bear to leave him in pieces could I?! I have managed to squeeze in the final touches for this big 'un between commission works this week. He looks as though he's had his nose in the honey pot, don't you think? He's my second Hugglets' show bear for September and my, oh my, how gorgeous is his mohair?! It is such a treat to have such utterly fabulous mohair available in the UK again. In fact, this bear reminds me very much of the bears I used to make back in the mid 90's, when top end luxurious mohair was far easier to come by.


Right, back to work right this minute Paula, you have orders to complete and customers still waiting!

22" Hudson will debut at Teddies 2008 in Kensington Town Hall, London on Sept 14th.

Ssssh, before I go back to my workroom I'm going to let you into a teeny tiny secret, don't tell anyone, but this bear maker thinks she's earned herself a little treat so she went internet shopping yesterday and ... her 'Prada' perfume came in the post today!

Ooh I smell pretty, oh so pretty!

Monday 28 July 2008

Messing about on the river

We've had a steamy hot weekend here in Kent, so what better than to spend some time meandering along our local riverbank. Saturday was 'River Festival' day in town and boats have been gathering to celebrate this annual event for the past week. As our house is a short walk from the river, we decided to stroll into town for an ice lolly and take a peek at the boats decked out in their finery, before yomping upstream along the towpath, making a brief, but entirely essential, pitstop at the Malta Inn.

View from Maidstone Bridge

Ice-cream refresher!

As you can see, the river festival was a lively affair, full of hot sweaty bodies enjoying the colourful array of boats, as dancers, stall holders and fairground rides competed noisily for their attention. I quickly snapped a few photos to share with you, before slurping a refreshing orange lolly and heading eagerly away from the crowds, to the relative peace and leafy cool further upstream.

Allington Castle, tucked away on the other side of the river

My favourite boat of the day, the 'Little Lamb', a tiny steam boat

The riverside Malta Inn at Allington Lock
The 'Allington Belle', Maidstone's Mississipi style paddle boat!
All in all, we walked in a big loop for about three solid hours until we reached the Malta for a swift half (in my case, although not Stuart's!) then trudged the last half mile homeward bound ... why is it, that bit of the walk is always uphill?! Once through the front door, we flung some lovely fat sausages on the barbecue, opened a chilled bottle of Chardonnay and settled down to a few hands of cards and a couple of games of draughts in the garden by candlelight, while dusk fell.

A well earned pint!
So sorry, but no, my new show bear didn't get finished this weekend! He's underway though and I'm sure I'll have him ready to show you very soon. We have so little summer in the UK, it would have been such a waste not to enjoy a weekend full of it while it is here!

Saturday 26 July 2008

Camisoles, commissions and Prima Donnas!

It's very warm here in my little corner of the UK, definitely shorts and pretty cotton camisoles weather. Summer has at last arrived. It's not really the ideal weather for bear-making, but hey ho, after a fairly dismal few months, I'm certainly not going to complain when the sun does eventually makes its big entrance!

Teddies 2008
14th September Kensington Town Hall, London

Naturally, with one of our most prestigious UK shows on the horizon straight after the summer holidays, I am now irrisistibly drawn towards thinking 'show bears' thoughts. Trouble is, I still have several long awaited orders to complete first, so must resist the temptation to leap headlong into creating a table full of Prima Donna bears, all clamouring in my head to be the first in line for show day. No, instead I need to mentally file them for a while longer, sensibly scheduling my work a little more carefully so that no-one is overlooked. With that firmly in mind this week, I have been giving a lovely privately commissioned alpaca bear my full attention, closely followed by 'Humphrey', the very first of my show bears (well, a girl has to surrender to a little clamour now and again, doesn't she?!)


My theory is that if I have at least one or two of my big show bears peering down at me from my workroom shelves, I will begin to feel more in control and confident of being able to produce a table full of bears in time for the Big Day.

23" Humphrey - will make his debut at the Teddies 2008 show.

Remember I showed you the pretty sky blue velvet several posts ago? Well, I decided it would work beautifully with Humphrey's rather fabulous white Schulte mohair, to create a magnificent 23" of growling handsome hug! Incidentally, this chap is named after the legendary 1940's actor 'Humphrey Bogart' ... there's something very '40's about this stylish demi-wave mohair, don't you think?

Next week I will re-focus on my order book, but in the meantime, this weekend I have a fabulous piece of curly golden mohair calling to me from my sewing table and you guessed it, yes, he's the next 'Prima Donna Big 'un' destined for Hugglets!

Friday 25 July 2008

Theft at the Musée du Jouet

One man's passion is another man's prize? Surely not?!
Eric Petit, passionate proprietor of the Musée du Jouet situated in the South of France, was targeted by thieves last night. I received this email from Eric earlier today and I hope he won't mind me sharing it with you here:

I wanted to post this message to let you know my toy museum received "visitors" last night....All my antiques dolls have been stolen, most of my trains (O gauge), and lots of little cars, truck and bus made between 1910 and 1935.Lucky I am they did not know teddy bear very well and they made not the choice choice !!!!Maybe, we never know, if some of you hear of a lot of french toys for sale, an unusual lot of french dolls, or of trains, please contact me.I dont' dream, I know it is going to be very diffocult to find a part of my heart that is gone but well as we say "Tant qu'il y a de la vie, il y a de l'espoir translated as "as long as there is life, there is hope still . Thank in advance for you help, Eric.

I have known Eric for several years and he is a most dedicated supporter of our bear world. He recently established a wonderful teddy bear show 'The Great Bear' in the South of France (now in its third year) and is often to be found chatting about all things bear, at our UK Hugglets' shows. Eric also writes regularly for 'Teddy Bear Club International' magazine. To hear that his collection has been callously ravaged in this way, absolutely sickens me.

So, my message to you is, please 'keep 'em peeled'! As Eric says in his message, if you see anything suspicious while you are browsing Ebay, antique shops, collectors' shows etc., please let him know.
These nasty thieves need catching.

This link will take you to Eric's website contact page:

Thursday 24 July 2008

Poorly Puddle

Puddle on the prowl
I'm a little distracted today I'm afraid, my poor little Puddle cat hasn't been feeling too well for a few days. She's going to visit the vet this afternoon, who I am sure will be able to work some feline magic and mend her. Puddle doesn't want to eat and so wicked Paula is having to squirt a little cat milk into her mouth using a pet syringe ... this is not endearing me to her, I'm sure! Puddle is usually a bundle of frantic furry naughtinness, but today she's floppy, disinterested and somewhat downcast.
Poor little Puddle.
Taking a cat nap
Friday 26th July - PUDDLE UPDATE:
Thanks to everyone who sent get well soon messages to my little Puddle cat! Those messages worked wonders and today Puddle is a much brighter, far hungrier kitty! After some poking and prodding, the vet declared Puddle had a nasty tummy bug requiring an antibiotic injection and kaolin medicine. I was also told to continue syringing water into her mouth to keep her hydrated. By teatime yesterday, Puddle was showing positive signs of recovery and today, I'm relieved to say, she's so much perkier! She has already been asking for food and keeps begging to be let into the garden. Needless to say, she'll be staying indoors with me all day so I can keep an eye on her and as the vet says she's not allowed to eat until tonight, she'll have to stay hungry a wee bit longer too!

Wednesday 23 July 2008

Bearing All Blog Award!

How lovely, today 'Bearing All' received a blog award! The 'Arte y Pico' award was created especially for creatively inspirational blogs and I would like to thank Sarah of Sarah's Bruins for awarding it to Bearing All!

Arte y pico Award

The fun part of this award is that is now my turn to consider who I would like to receive the award! I am permitted to select five special bloggers for this privilege and so, after considering the many blogs I enjoy visiting, I would like to list below, the five blogs I currently find most inspiring for my own work as a teddy bear creator ... I do hope you can make time to visit these very special bloggers.

1. Sindie's 'Contents of a fried brain' ... I have known Sindie since we used to meet up on the teddy bear circuit many years ago and let me tell you, she is one very special lady. Humour, grit, warmth and talent, yep, I have a feeling Sindie will soon be plastered with awards! Please visit Sindie at:

2. Aleta's 'The Silly Bear' ... this lady has the most amazing eye for subtle feminine colour and can make something beautiful from virtually nothing! I never tire of her beautiful pictures and Pollyanna outlook on life. Aleta is also a gifted bear artist! You can visit Aleta at:

3. Tami's 'Inside my studio' ... Tami creates truly beautiful big bears with such soul. She is also an amazingly talented maker of dolls and a wonderful artist toboot. A super lady with lovely gentle humour. I think you really will enjoy a trip to:

4. Karen's 'Cider Antiques' ... I can't resist this blog! Karen has a artistic eye for all things vintage and constantly inspires me with her stunning collections. Please pop over for a visit:

5. Deborah's 'Land of Nod' ... what a great name for a blog! Deborah's blog always makes me smile, not only does she have a wonderfully entertaining writing style, her pictures are beautiful and her talent seems to know no bounds! One week there will be a stunning teddy bear to see, another fabulously whimsical altered art and another ... well, why pop over for a visit to find out! You will find Deborah tucked away at:

Congratulations on your much deserved Arte y pico awards!

If you are an award winner and would like to celebrate your five most inspiring blogs please list them with links, on your blog, remembering to include a link to the Arteypico Award blog.

Monday 21 July 2008

Just like Grandad ...

This cheeky little lad is Stuart's grandson and oh, how he loves his Grandad! He stands just like him, runs just like him, frowns just like him, chuckles just like him and of course, kicks a ball just like him! He came to spend the day with us yesterday and we all had a lovely time playing in the sunshine. By teatime, he was so 'fresh air sleepy' he conked out in Grandad's arms and had to be carried home to his mum!
Colouring, just like Grandad ...

Jigsaw puzzles with Grandad
The playground with Grandad
Running, just like Grandad!

Peas in a pod? Stuart's very own 'Mini Me'!

Wednesday 16 July 2008

Tiddlywink, a pal for Domino

Earlier this year Domino's mum asked me if I would create a little friend for her favourite All Bear and so yesterday, I finished work on 'Tiddlywink', a 14" bear pal. I couldn't share this little chap with you earlier as I needed to wait and see if he would be suitable (which always a nerve wracking time for me). This morning though, I received a lovely email confirming he would be much loved and made very welcome, so here he is!

14" Tiddlywink 2008

22" Domino 2007

I didn't want to be predictable and completely replicate Domino in a smaller size, so instead I thought it would be fun to base Tiddlywink's design in a smilar style, but focus on the colours of Domino's buttons, making little Tiddlywink a dramatic black and red bear, with pale beige head. I also opted to use my special hand painted eyes in a similar shade to Domino, to reinforce the family resemblance! Tiddlywink will wear a matching collar, just like his big brother, when he travels to meet his new owner later this week. I think these two bears will look very smart together in their new home!

Tuesday 15 July 2008

The UK Teddy Bear Guide 2009

With only one UK teddy bear magazine currently in publication after the sorry demise of several others in recent times, my guess is it will be harder for bear artists to gain our all important editorial exposure in future, so time for me to make a few advertising decisions for All Bear, the first of which will be to take some space in the 2009 Hugglets Teddy Bear Guide:

All Bear's 'UK Teddy Bear Guide' advertisement for 2009

The UK Teddy Bear Guide, published annually in paperback, is the most comprehensive directory of UK teddy bear businesses currently available. By my thinking, spending some of my tiny advertising budget to pay for a single ad which will last for an entire year, has to be a sound bet when set against the alternative of paying for a rather insignificant (16th page) quite pricey magazine advertisement, which will only be marketed for a month. My only query is how the Guide tends to fair in terms of circulation when compared to the mag, particularly with regard to introducing new interest to the hobby - a question I don't yet have an answer to. However, musings aside, the Guide has been published every year since 1987, which is more than can be said for any of the UK magazines, so I guess it must be getting something right.

After some degree of procrastination I have chosen 'Victor' for this advertisement because for me, he sums up what All Bear is all about. He's obviously proud to be British and is traditional but far from boring ... the perfect 'All Bear' mascot for 2009!

If you would like to purchase a copy of the 2009 Hugglets' UK Teddy Bear Guide, please visit to place your order. The Guide is published will be published in October 2008.

Monday 14 July 2008

Leybourne Lakes, a Sunday stroll

After a week cooped up indoors engrossed in computing and bearing, I was more than ready to stretch my legs on Sunday. Exercise and bear-making really don't go together, so whenever I can, I like to remind my legs and lungs of their purpose in life, by getting out into the fresh air. Yesterday, that fresh air was to be found a surprisingly short drive from where I live.

Peeking at the Leybourne housing development across the lake

The multi-coloured weatherboarded properties enjoy a beautiful view!

My son recently mentioned there was a place called 'Leybourne Lakes' within about ten minutes drive of our house. I had assumed it would be just another housing development as there are so many popping up in the area, but it just goes to show, you really do need to look further than the end of your nose sometimes!

The tranquility of Leybourne Lakes

I wasn't completely wrong, because there is a housing development next to the lakes. The newish development is quite unusual for the UK, with all the houses painted in pretty shades of blues, creams and reds, not at all like our more predictable British red brick buildings. In fact, although I've never visited the States, these colourful weatherboarded properties make me think far more of American style dwellings than traditional British homes ... any of you visiting my blog from the States will have to correct me if I'm wrong! (You can just about make out the colours of the buildings in my photographs, despite the overcast start to our afternoon.)

A housing development isn't really my idea of the perfect choice for a Sunday afternoon walk, but I was prepared to give it a go. I had no idea 'Leybourne Lakes' would also prove to be a very picturesque country park with the development built overlooking actual lakes, complete with ducks and geese.

Time for a Sunday afternoon dip!

In fact, we were soon ambling along woodland tracks edged with weeping willows alongside peaceful lakes, far away from the more populated areas and as you can see, (this time I remembered my camera!) the area was very pretty indeed and best of all, the heavy clouds cleared and the sun came out!

We walked for a good couple of hours before heading back to the park entrance for a well earned ice-cream ... yes, with a chocolate flake of course!


Friday 11 July 2008

British Bears on the Net gets a makeover!

I must apologise for being a little lax with my blog updates this week, but inbetween working on my bears, I have also had another project to contend with: I don't think I've mentioned to you that aside from my bear making, blog writing, website maintaining, Jack of All Trades life, in my spare time (!) I also run an online community group called 'British Bears on the Net' and this week, I took the plunge and gave dear old BBN a fairly extensive makeover.

British Bears on the Net logo

I have been responsible for BBN for quite a few years now and as with all such groups, it has its peaks and troughs in terms of membership activity, but over the past couple of years I've been a bit concerned that there have been slightly more troughs than peaks. At its best, BBN is an energetic chat group providing a sense of community to many bear artists who, like myself, work pretty much in isolation. (It isn't limited to bear artists, we also have many collectors, makers, suppliers, shops, magazines and so on ... in fact, all the colours of a beary rainbow make up our membership and many friendships have been formed between members) However, we have been in existence for so many years, I think maybe we've been suffering a degree of complacency, with more lurkers than active contributors of late.

New BBN Coffee Shop logo

Rather than let sleeping dogs lie, I took the decision this week to give BBN a shake-up with a simple, yet smart forum. I'm not sure whether or not this decision will be well received by all BBN'ners, but as BBN does a terrific job sharing information, friendship and support, as far as I am concerned as list owner, it needed revitalising to enable the group to continue to maintain its valuable role within our British teddy bear scene.

To say the past 48 hours have been a learning curve for me, would be the understatement of the decade! I have never been on the administrative side of forum creation before and there is a heap of detail to be absorbed ... not so easy for my fluff fuddled forty something grey matter! Anyway, I've battled through and astonishingly have managed to pull something resembling a forum together. I've aimed to make it friendly and inviting, even incorporating our very own 'Coffee Shop' for informal chat; so far so good! I can't tell you how nervous I was hitting the 'send' button to inform the BBN membership of this significant change to their group, via email, but the deed is now done and I am so relieved to be able to tell you many of our forward-thinking loyal members have already signed up for their new BBN forum membership! Phew!

Here's to a very bright future for British Bears on the Net!

Wednesday 9 July 2008

Grey days

14" 'Pepito'

This cute cub is called Pepito, another 14" bear created with memories of the Spanish sunshine still dancing in my head! As you can see from his picture, it is so grey and rainy here in the UK today, I have had to keep him indoors for his photo shoot, for fear of soaking the poor little chap in the garden!

3.45pm news update: I am delighted to tell you Pepito has just been adopted and will shortly be relocating to Finland!

Tuesday 8 July 2008

Going for gold!

It's time to vote in the 2008 Teddy Bear Olympics!

The 2008 Teddy Bear Olympic Challenge

Hosted by the Taiwan Teddy Bear Association, this fun competition is now open for public voting and YOUR VOTE COUNTS! Please take a moment to visit the competition to cast your vote by clicking the link above.

My entry 'Victor' has been invited to represent the United Kingdom on page 4!

Belt and braces

It dawned on me recently, just how devasted I would be if my blog disappeared in a puff of blog dissolving ether. I have invested so much time and effort into my regular ramblings, that to lose them would be an unthinkinable calamity and in view of that, I have been feeling a nasty little nip of vulnerability lately!

Time to put the old thinking cap on. With brow furrowed, I popped over to Blogspot's help pages hoping I would be able to create a back-up copy to store on my computer, but not only is my technical knowledge embarrassingly limited, I also have the very female problem (sorry girls!) of having the kind of mind which unhelpfully blanks when presented with written (or drawn!) instruction sheets. I confess I'm more of a 'push buttons and keep your fingers crossed' kinda gal - not the most useful of qualities when faced with a potentially fatal button click for my dear old blog. Blogspot offered a comprehensive, yet seemingly complicated process for back-up, but also put the fear of God into me, by warning of potential button clicking disasters.

At which point I chickened out of the do-it-yourself process and decided to ask the other blog scribing 'Teddy Talk' forum members if they had discovered a really simple solution unbeknownst to me. I waited, and waited some more and then ... silence ensued. Are there really that many bloggers out there with no back-up for their hard work? Shockingly, it would seem so. One helpful TT'er politely pointed me in the direction of Google, so with no idiot proof option available to me, I took her advice and put in a hopeful, if simplistic, search ... 'back up my blog'. Not much to ask you would think eh? But after ploughing through several supposedly helpful Google suggested website pages, I was still too nervous to tweak any of my 'Bearing All' settings for fear of losing the lot. Then this link caught my eye:

It was as easy as that. With one little click I was on my way and five minutes later was fully backed-up, so if anything terrible should ever happen in Blogland (war, pestilence ... that kind of thing!) 'Bearing All' can be restored and all will be well with my tiny world. I will definitely sleep a little easier tonight!

Friday 4 July 2008

Dashing Pablo

This is the new 14" white bear cub I told you about yesterday; I've called him 'Pablo', a gentle nod to my Spanish holiday. I popped little Pablo onto the All Bear website yesterday evening ( went to bed and woke this morning to several eager collectors anxious to adopt! It's times like this I wish I had a magic wand and could grant everyone's wishes, I really hate having to dash collectors' hopes.

Pablo 14"

I guess there's nothing else for it, I'd better get back to work quicksmart to make sure there are plenty more special bears emerging from my workroom this year!

Thursday 3 July 2008

Oh Grasshopper ...

I'm definitely having a grasshopper week, you know the kind where you flit from one thing to another, settling nowhere for very long?! That's definitely been me. I suppose it's something to do with having to pick up my usual routine after such a wonderful holiday. My head is still drifting with the warm Spanish breeze! Still, I suppose in one way it means that almost without noticing, I have just about cleared my 'to do' list and now have no more excuses not to take myself back to my sewing room.

Pretty pale pink vintage Nottingham Lace collar

I returned from Majorca to a substantial pile of less than interesting mail and thankfully, to several far more interesting brown packages which had arrived in my absence. These gorgeous bits and pieces will be added to my magpie stash for future inspiration!

Handy pattern book 'Collars to knit and crochet', by The Staff of the Workbasket Magazine.
Published 1989

... I think the vintage collars will be perfect for my 'Timeless Teds' and I'm looking forward to having a go at one of the dainty knitted collars from the handy little book I found at What a treasure trove that website that is! This book will give me the perfect excuse for an afternoon's knitting in the conservatory!

Lovely vintage crochet collar

Another super vintage crochet collar

Such skilled workmanship! Close up of vintage crochet flower collar

I like to keep my eyes open for possible beary bits whenever I'm online and as well as the beautiful collars which are an absolute delight in terms of hand crafting skill, I was so pleased to find some gorgeous sky blue and lilac cotton velvet for my bears' paws just before my holiday - such pretty colours!

Beautiful cotton velvets for paw pads

After opening my post and dealing with the inevitable housework and endless laundry throughout the week, my 'to-do list' also dictated I had accounts to reconcile, supplies to purchase, advertisements to create, website and blog updates to produce and a list of emails as long as my arm, to respond to. Despite all that, I still managed to make a start on a new bear! I have one more fabric yet to sample for Intercal and so this little cub is currently being created in their new 3/8" dense straight pile mohair, he will be white by the way. I have give him pure wool felt paw pads and inner ears airbrushed in a nice olive shade (a tiny nod to my week in Spain!) ... I think he's going to be lovely! He should be making his debut on my website in the next day or so.

Well, that's me done here for today, it's about time I put the kettle on, poured a nice mug of coffee and then set to work completing my little white, olive paw'ed bear cub!

Tuesday 1 July 2008

It's competition time again - URSA Awards!

Hey, guess what?! Public voting is now open for the online URSA Awards!!!! Please do take part, your vote really does count!

I have just taken a peek and there are some fantastic entries in this international soft sculpture competition, plenty of eye candy for any bear collector! Hours and hours of toil go into creating these amazing competition entries and it's a nail biting time for the participating bear artists, so I really do hope you can join in the fun and enjoy the wonderful display of teddy bear art - don't forget to cast your vote though, after all, how often are you invited to let the bear world know your preferences?!

Just in case you are wondering (!) my entries are placed in the following categories:

Florrie - Category 2

Gorgeous George - Category 3

Raffles - Category 7

The outcome of this competition will be determined purely by public vote, so if you think my bears have what it takes, I would be eternally grateful for your votes! Thank you so much!


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