Tuesday 30 September 2008

Two more for the All Bear bookshelf!

'Teddy Bear Century' by Brian and Donna Gibbs

A few weeks ago I tweaked open the All Bear purse to treat myself to two new bear books. The first, a beautifully presented hardback entitled 'Teddy Bear Century', was written by husband and wife team Brain and Donna Gibbs and first published in the United Kingdom in 2002. This book grabbed my attention because it tracks the development of the teddy bear during the past century. I really enjoyed the way each decade was used to signify the changes in bear design, explaining in straightforward terms, the process of social change and its effect on teddy's evolution. If you are purely interested in the history of the teddy bear, there are probably more detailed references available, but this particular book does provide plenty of food for thought for an experienced bear artist wishing to draw together history with practical design possibilities. It also offers some great bear-making opportunities for anyone simply wanting to make a teddy bear from one of the many patterns included.

'Teddy Bear Studio' by Ted Menten

My other purchase is an absolute cornucopia of teddy bear design delight! Never let it be said there is no more to learn! After many years of immersing myself in my own design work, I am, of course, still thrilled to be offered the opportunity to peek at other skilled artists' techniques. Ted Menten has achieved almost legendary status in terms of creating his own unique works and also as a teacher. I don't mind telling you his book 'Teddy Bear Studio', first published in the US in 2002, has kept me entranced since its arrival! Not only does he share advice and guidance generously, he also writes with an entertaining humour, educating in such a delightful way that before you know it, you have absorbed the fascinating detail of his technical design methods, without so much as a furrowed brow! This is definitely a book any designer of teddy bears should read.

Monday 29 September 2008

No sooner said, than almost done!

Do you recall me mentioning an update for the front page of my website a few days ago? Well, luckily for me, my sister Tina happened to be reading my blog! She 'phoned me this morning to invite me for a visit to take some lovely outdoor autumnal shots of the bears playing in the Autumn leaves, as soon as they've fallen from the trees (the leaves that is, not the bears!) Also, with Bonfire Night on the horizon, Tina suggested we take our cameras out one night to photograph fireworks in the dark ... what a whizz bang fun shoot that will be! I'm really looking forward to learning how to make my camera work properly at night and finding out how I can use the pics creatively.

Today has been a 'box 'n post' day. Three bears have now been packaged for their journeys hither and thither, before being lugged rather unceremoniously, to the Post Office. Boxing up the bears and completing their paperwork always takes a good while longer than I expect it to, so I doubt I will make it as far as my sewing room this afternoon. Never mind, I have a variety of uninspiring admin jobs to get to grips with, so I shall make a cuppa and tackle those for an hour or two instead. Then I'm going to make a quiche for tea! While I was out posting, I popped into the supermarket to buy some ready made pastry (I know, shame on me!) streaky bacon, cream, cheese, an onion and eggs ... not exactly high on the healthy tea list, but I'll overlook that minor detail because I know it will taste good!

Advertisement for Australian Bear Creations Nov/Dec issue
I've decided I can squeeze in one more website bear this week before starting work in earnest on the 'Oh Bearz' show bears; the only problem is there are several bears dancing in my head right now and I'm not sure which one to work on first. I'll have to give that some more thought this afternoon ... hmmn, I wonder, will the beautiful blonde curl with the soft brown tipping become an autumnal laughing bear? Will the gorgeous honey coloured silk mohair evolve my Chiltern tribute bear pattern into a new style 'All Bear'? Or, will I submit to an overwhelming compulsion to indulge myself with some of the fabulous new Schulte mohair spotted on my supplier's website yesterday? So many choices, so little time!

I mustn't end this post without a picture, so I'm going to share a peek at the ad I've just created for the 'Australian Bear Creations' magazine - I do hope you like it! I have opted for simple, uncluttered text with the intention of drawing the reader's eye first and foremost, to my bear - Cornelius makes a handsome advertising bear don't you think?! This ad will be featured in the November/December issue of 'Bear Creations' magazine and I will be putting together new copy for the following three issues. Let's hope the All Bears can make their mark Downunder!

Saturday 27 September 2008

My Autumn Storm

After creating several smaller, colourful bears, I've been feeling the urge to get back to my big 'uns and have been itching to create a big, dramatic bear again. I love making the big bears at this time of year because there is so much seasonal inspiration to take advantage of!

My Autumn 'Storm'!

I took my time over this guy during the week because I've had so many other tasks to complete, but also because I've been feeling a wee bit under the weather, nonetheless, I got there in the end and now that I have, I am so happy with him!

22" 'Storm', available now at www.allbear.co.uk

The mohair is stunning, a top-end piece of Schulte with a dense charcoal grey undercoat and beautiful frosted tips. I saw it at the Hugglets show and couldn't resist bringing it home with me, knowing it would make a magnificent bear. It took me a while to decide how I would use the fabric, but eventually I decided to complement it with subtle shades of olive green; so I've hand painted his eyes green with tiny gold flecks and airbrushed his wool felt paw pads to bring him to life. I have opted for an olive grey nose thread, which I think, lifts the dark backing of the trimmed mohair muzzle beautifully. Then to finish his detailing, I selected a gorgeous piece of hand-dyed silk ribbon in shades of olive green and tied a simple, yet dramatic, bow around his neck.

Storm's pure German wool felt paw pads, subtlely shaded

I just wish I had my sister Tina handy this week to help with the photography! I've done my best, but found it a bit of a struggle to cope with the dark fabric backing and pale tipping ... I could definitely have done with some professional photographic advice for such a challenging colourway.

Profile shot

I have made Storm available direct from my website from today, as one of the last couple of website bears I'll be able to create, before I set my website work aside and start work the 'Ho Ho Oh Bearz' online show bears for November's event. I have a yen to work on some more handsome big bears right now which is probably madness in light of the depressing 'credit crunch' news featured on TV every day, but nonetheless a bear maker's gotta do, what a bear maker's gotta do eh?!

Update: 28/09/08 Storm has now sold and will be moving to the US!

Thursday 25 September 2008

Ho Ho Bearz Online Show

Every so often I decide to have a 'thinking' week ... apart from any higher intentions, it's a great excuse for mugs of coffee and plenty of cake while I ponder! Those delights aside, it is also useful for deciding where I want my bear business to venture next.

The worst part of being a bear maker has to be the isolation which at the lowest points, can result in a lack of focus, in turn playing havoc with motivation. This week, I came to the conclusion I needed to find an event to work towards before Christmas. Yes, I could have created my own 'All Bear' gallery show, but that would be missing the point, because I really wanted to feel part of something. By happy coincidence, I recently received an email from North Country Teddy Bears, inviting me to consider their Artist Guild membership: I re-read it, then spent some time yesterday in contact with Nancy Tillberg, the incredibly efficient and very friendly organiser, paid my dues and signed myself up! I now have a ton of interesting stuff to get to grips with: a WIKI, galleries, membership classifications, members' chat, an exciting online show and so on and so forth! What fun! Thanks to the NCTB Artist Guild I'm fired up and raring to go again! Wey hey!!!!!!!

Click to visit the 'Oh Bearz' show website

Please make a date in your diaries for the 'Ho Ho Oh Bearz' online show, which will take place on the 15th and 16th November. I am looking forward to creating some very special bears for this big event! The best thing is you can take part in the fun from the comfort of your swivel chair; there's no need to dress up for the event either, fluffy bunny slippers and teddy jimjams are very welcome!

Wednesday 24 September 2008

Autumnal updates and auction headaches!

Summer has now slipped quietly away to make way for rich golden leaves and a sharp nip in the morning air, so inspired yesterday, I decided to give my website an autumnal makeover - nothing dramatic, just a few background and text colour changes to warm it up, a quick gallery update and the addition of a cute slideshow of some of my 'big boy bears', past and present; I would like to change the front page design sometime soon, but that will take more time and maybe some help from my sister, so will have to wait for now. If you would like to take a peek at the changes, please pop over to www.allbear.co.uk My next autumnal update will involve a trip to the cosmetics counter in town, yes, my make-up bag could do with a makeover too!

Peony' live on Ebay now!

I also decided to take the plunge this week and list one of my three remaining show bears on Ebay but boy, has that become confusing to use of late! I don't list on Ebay very often, it's fun now and again but I must admit, I prefer to work with my website instead. Despite that, I knuckled down to create a simple listing on Ebay.com for 'Peony', my pretty pink and cream panda girl. However, since doing so, I have now discovered the listing doesn't show up on Ebay.co.uk (and presumably on any other Ebay sites outside the US) unless a specific 'Paula Carter' search is put in ... how frustrating is that?! Working out the shipping was confusing too - was Peony being sent 'inland' or 'overseas'? How could such a simple question be so complicated?! All the inland shipping costs stated were for within the USA, but of course Peony is waiting patiently in the UK, so now her shipping costs look higher than the normal inland charges, but they really aren't because she will have to be sent airmail to the US, which wasn't provided for in the Ebay shipping section! All pretty headache making! Ah well, what will be, will be! If you would like to check out Peony's auction page, hopefully this ridiculously long link will transport you there:

Update: 27/09/08 Peony has now found her special someone and will be moving to the US!

Would you believe a guy from Ebay telephoned me years ago inviting me to use their service when they went live for the first time, telling me my work would be made very welcome on their site? Believe me, I didn't feel particularly welcome yesterday as I battled boggle-eyed, through the settings to make my auction listing with them. Please keep your fingers crossed so that Peony find's her special someone very soon, despite my confusion!

Sneak peak of new charcoal grey bear's paw pads!

Don't worry, yesterday wasn't all about computer work, I also managed to cut out a big bear from a fabulous piece of Schulte mohair ... well, there's always at least one piece of mohair that cries out to be purchased at a show isn't there?! This particular piece is a stunning charcoal grey, with beautiful frosted tips and it is ultra soft and dense, totally gorgeous! It should make a fabulous bear and as it's been a while since I made a darker coloured bear, I'm really enjoying the prospect of working on such a potentially handsome big bear! So far my bear has been cut out, pinned and trimmed and his paw pads have been airbrushed in readinness - I even squeezed in enough time to paint several pairs of twinkly glass eyes while I was cooking the tea last night too! I should have him ready by the end of this week ... (fluey cold willing, I'm feeling a bit like death on legs at the moment - yuk!) Watch this space!

Monday 22 September 2008

Pagham, blowing away the cobwebs

There's nothing quite like a fresh sea breeze for blowing away the cobwebs is there? Last week Stuart and I gathered up his grandson (wellies, Shrek, teddy et al!) and set off to Pagham, just outside Chichester on the south coast. We'd booked a few days at a caravan park with the idea of enjoying the fresh air, before the Autumn chills made caravan living too impractical.

We haven't visited this area before so after a couple of hours' drive, it was a pleasant surprise to discover an immaculate park situated beside a peaceful nature reserve, complete with its own lagoon and close to a beautiful pebble beach! We spent a wonderful week in the great outdoors, walking, playing ball games and skimming stones during the day, then playing with jigsaw puzzles, snap cards and colouring books in the evenings ... who said kids need to be entertained with computer games and fancy electronics? It's so not true!

Needless to say, I've taken hundreds of photographs, far too many for the blog, so here are just a few to give you a taste of that tangy September sea air ...

Sunday 21 September 2008

Teddies 2008 catch up

The 'All Bear' stand, Teddies 2008 show: Kensington, London

I know I'm running late, but I thought you might like to see a few of the snaps I managed to take before the Teddies 2008 show opened to the public in London last weekend. Thanks to my little Sat Nav, we found our way to Kensington Town Hall on Sunday morning without any hitches at all, which is pretty unusual for us, to say the least! It was a glorious September morning, with the sun reflecting on the River Thames and despite the relatively early hour, the streets were busy with lycra clad runners, plugged into their Ipods ... not something you are ever likely to stumble across this bear maker doing at such an unearthly hour, or any other hour for that matter!

Setting up

Fabric suppliers ready for business in the Great Hall

Hall 2 just before opening

The Great Hall before the doors open to collectors

The show was possibly a little quieter than February's show, but nonetheless, there was a healthy footfall and collectors chatted eagerly to bear artists throughout the day, many returning home laden with armfuls of lovely bears. I had a new neighbour this year, Yvonne of Bebbin Bears fame occupied the stand next to mine, so we had plenty of time to natter behind scenes and catch up with all our gossip in between sales and meeting our collectors. All the big bears I created for the show have now found new owners and oddly enough, it was the smaller bears who came home with me!

After my week in Pagham (will post pics tomorrow) I have only just managed to free myself from the washing machine for long enough to update the All Bear website: Peony, Delphinium and Archibald are now all featured on the 'Half Pints' page, hoping to find someone special to live with soon. If you would like to find out more about this lovely trio of bears, please pop over to

Right, that's me about done on the computer for today, Sunday or not, it's time to hang out yet another load of washing!

Tuesday 16 September 2008

Normal service will soon be resumed ...

For anyone wondering why 'Bearing All' isn't full of post show news yet, I thought I ought to pop in briefly to explain that instead of being sat at my usual desk, I'm balancing my laptop on my knees in a caravan in Chichester, on the South Coast of England. We did the show on Sunday, threw some essentials in a bag and then took off in the car the very next morning for a few Autumnal days with Stuart's grandson; so I've not had time to draw breath since Sunday, let alone type a post for you - sorry about that! I promise I will fill you in with all the show details and some pics in a few days' time, but in the meantime, I'm sitting here quietly catching my breath with a mug of strong coffee (and a chocolate chip cookie!) after a day in the fresh air, while thankfully, 'Monsters Inc' keeps the young man occupied on the DVD player for an hour or so before tea - boy have I underestimated how energetic three year old lads can be! We'll be out and about walking along the seashore tomorrow in an attempt to both entertain and wear the little 'un out before bedtime - there's a lot to be said for 'fresh air tired!

Enjoying the September sea air

For those of you bursting to find out which of the show bears are now available, I can tell you all the big 'uns found lovely new owners, but Archibald, Peony and Delphinium are currently available to purchase via the All Bear website ... I will update the website properly when I return home next weekend.

Fun and games

Well, that's about it from cloudy Chichester today! Thanks to my daughter kindly loaning me her magical mobile internet gizmo while she keeps the home fires burning (don't forget to put the bins out Fay!) I have been able to tap out this post on my laptop ... don't worry, normal service will be resumed shortly!

Saturday 13 September 2008

Just one more!

'Fratellini' will make his debut at the Teddies 2008 show in London tomorrow!

You know how it is, the week is running out fast but the temptation to squeeze in 'just one more' bear is too much to ignore! This is my 'just one more' show bear for Sunday (tomorrow - eeks!) and I'm so pleased with how he has come together, he's a really striking bear and should stand out beautifully on my table. My next job this morning is to write out all the bears' hangtags (and of course price tags!) and attach them to the bears, so I'm afraid I can't stop long, but I had to pop in for long enough to share 'Fratellini with you, before I disappear in a puff of pre-show, organisational chaos!

20" Fratellini

Look forward to seeing you at the show tomorrow!

Thursday 11 September 2008

You know there's a bear maker living in your house when ...

... your spare room looks like this!

All Bear pre 'Teddies 2008' workroom

Sorry, no time for chat today! See that little chap on the far right? Well, he's feeling the Autumn chill and is waiting patiently for me to finish knitting his waistcoat, so I'm going to camp out in the conservatory with my bamboo needles and a nice hot mug of coffee this afternoon; I can honestly say that after all my frantic bear-making over the past few weeks, I'm quite looking forward to this brief change of scenery! No, this little chap won't be looking for his new owner at the show on Sunday - I will tell you where he and his brother bear will be heading soon, I promise!

Tuesday 9 September 2008

Peony Panda and a little promotion 'Downunder'!

17" Peony Panda

Peony Panda will be coming to the Hugglets show with me on Sunday. She's 17" of rose pink and cream, girly panda bear. After a long day's work yesterday, I finally finished her just before dinner last night. I'm hoping to have at least one more show bear for the big day, maybe two, but I must admit, I'm running pretty tight for time now. By the way, if you would like to see a full preview of all my completed show bears, please pop over to www.allbear.co.uk where they are now featured.

'Australian Bear Creations' magazine

Somehow this week, I also need to find time to create some advertising copy. After receiving my first subscription issue of the 'Australian Bear Creations' magazine last week, I have taken the plunge by booking advertising space for a few forthcoming issues. The 'Bear Creations' magazine has a very pleasing appeal, reminding me in some ways of the original UK 'Teddy Bear Times' magazine. It certainly reads as though the editorial staff have a passion for teddy bear art and understand what it is they are talking about. I very much enjoyed the read and found myself thinking, 'why not advertise your bears here Paula?' Well, you know me, no sooner thunk than done! This should prove a great opportunity for introducing my bears properly 'Downunder,' so as you can probably imagine, I'm quite excited about the prospect!

If you would like to find out more about the Australian Bear Creations magazine, please visit ...


Friday 5 September 2008

Full Circle

There is only one, ever decreasing week until the 'Teddies 2008' show in London and am I ready? Am I 'eck as like. I'm feeling particularly disorganised this time and am approaching the show with a growing sense of resignation, because I would like to have been able to accomplish so much more than I have time for. Ah well, I guess that's life!

Paula's pre-show workroom
Show work in progress!

I had an unexpected visit in the week - my Dad rang to ask if he could pop in with his sister my Auntie Mona. As I can count the number of times I have met this aunt in the past thirty years on just two of my fingers, of course I said yes and we spent an enjoyable afternoon catching up, making me very aware of how fast and how craftily, time flies steals away our precious years. (In fact, it feels like no time at all since Fiona and I were naughty little girls, relishing the prospect of secretly tormenting our poor cousin Stephen, while Auntie Mona entertained our parents in her home!) After all these years, we had plenty to chat about and to my delight, Auntie Mona, now a fabulously fun and feisty eighty years old (I'm sure she won't mind me telling you) confessed (with a noticeable twinkle in her eye) that she has her very own teddy bear collection, which even her brother, my own father, has been unaware of, until now! In fact we share a keen interest in crafting and I discovered Auntie Mona is actively involved in judging craft competitions for the Town's Women's Guild. As she sat hugging one of my show bears that afternoon (while my Dad delighted in gently teasing his older sister - brothers it would appear, never do quite outgrow such antics, no matter how many years slip by!) she told me all about her long-standing passion for embroidery, knitting, jewellery making, sugar crafting and cake making and I found myself pondering - is it possible for a crafting gene to be mysteriously passed through the generations?

Angus with friends (left, standing) now safely in my workroom!

Before I go back to work on the four furry heads waiting for me on my worktable, I must quickly tell you Angus arrived safely! It was such a strange feeling, almost one of deja vu, to be opening a cardboard box containing one of my sister's earliest designs, a bear neither of us ever expected to see again! I had a big grin spread across my face as I spied Angus's ear poking up through the polysterene packaging. He is every bit as handsome as the day he was originally made available for sale all those years ago and is even still wearing his ribbon ... I can remember when we went shopping for that ribbon! The only thing he has lost along the way, is his original 'Auntie Bears' hangtag. Unfortunately another bear was sold at auction wearing Angus's hangtag, a case of mistaken identity. Never mind that though, let's keep it our little secret eh?! Angus is now safely ensconced in my workroom and when I emailed Fiona at work to tell her he was on his way to me, she wrote back to say ...

"I am very chuffed to think that Angus will be sitting watching you create the next generation of teddy bears!"

Hey guess what Sis? So am I!

Before I go, I must mention one last thing - my photographer sister Tina has now joined us in Blog Land! She says she's a bit unsure of what to write, so I'm sure she'd enjoy a few comments on her current entries from readers! Please spare a moment to find out what Tina gets up to in a day's work, by reading her 'Viewfinder' blog ... http://tinas-viewfinder.blogspot.com/

Monday 1 September 2008

Auntie Bears, a click down Memory Lane

The 'Auntie Bears' stand

Did I ever mention that I first started work as a teddy bear maker with my sister Fiona? No? Well, perhaps I should have done! It's such an integral part of my life and work as a bear maker. Are you sitting comfortably? Good, then I'll begin!

Unfortunately I can't remember this chap's name at the moment, but I do remember it was me who made him. Together with 'Frankie' below, he was a shop exclusive for 'House of Bruin' ... my very first pair of shop exclusive bears!

Way back in the early 90's, Fiona and I were having so much fun creating our first teddy bears together. We spent most of our time talking bears and of course, discussing the business of bears. Initially our goal was simply to make teddy bears for the sheer pleasure of knowing we could, selling didn't enter our thoughts, but as time and our confidence pressed on, we noticed many of our creations heading out the door in the eager grasp of family and friends, at which point the business of bears began to intrigue us.

'Tosh' by Fiona Smith of Auntie Bears

One daft day while I was out of the house, Fiona bear-napped a small selection of my bears, bundled them into her car and drove them to the 'Rochester Bear Shop' for evaluation. Those kind ladies (does anyone remember Carol and Michelle?) sang our bears' praises and invited the bears not only into their shop, but also into their very own teddy bear show, 'The Rochester Bear Fair', which in those days, exhibited a heady list of quality bear artists. Naturally I was utterly shocked when Fiona finally 'fessed up to her dastardly deed, but to her credit, she was responsible for making me recognise our apprenticeship had come to an end and the time had come for us to take up the mantle as fully fledged teddy bear artists.

That was then and of course, this is now. Times have changed beyond recognition over the past fifteen years or so, not only for the two of us, but also for the bear world in general. Regrettably for me, Fiona's career as a bear artist drew to a natural conclusion as life events took over, redirecting her focus some time ago. So I have since continued alone in my life as a creator of teddy bears, waving a wistful farewall to shared sewing days, lovely cake and coffee lunches and to the many bear related plans and projects in which we jointly invested our hearts and souls. Do I miss those days? Oh yes, of course I do. They were a whole heap of fun and who better to share them with than my own sister?!

Fo, what was this bear's name? My memory has let me down again!

'Aston Martin' by Auntie Bears, a great big growly bear created by me as a special order for an enthusiastic collector.

We created so many bears between us in the early days that I'd go so far as to say we were prolific! Show days were fast and furious, we accepted invitations to make personal appearances in teddy bear shops, our bears were regularly featured in magazines and our telephones didn't stop ringing. Auntie Bears travelled far and wide beyond the UK ... America, Japan, Singapore, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, the list went on and on and ...

'Godfrey' by Fiona Smith of Auntie Bears

... but with the arrival of the internet in recent years, I have noticed how much quieter my telephone has become and somehow an inbox full of email just doesn't quite have the same pulsatingly urgent ring to it; in fact, I swear some days I don't even hear my own voice from morn 'til teatime!

'Frankie' (named after Frank Webster of Charnwood Bears, owner of 'The House of Bruin')by Paula Carter of Auntie Bears

An original, hand scribed 'Auntie Bears' hang tag

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not the type of person to be forever harking back to the past, far from it in fact, but late last week, I was stopped in my tracks and hauled back to our 'Auntie Bears' days, by a single listing on 'Google,' stumbled across whilst surfing the web. One thing clicked quickly through to another and in seconds there I was, walking right back down Memory Lane! As my research became more focused, these dear old Auntie Bears began to greet me like long lost friends. Tosh, Edwin, Godfrey, Frankie, Aston Martin, there they all were, rehomed and reassigned, (one or two wearing the wrong hangtags and claiming each other's identity, but hey, that's life in the bear world and I've learned my lesson, these days I stitch the hangtags to my bears!) Angus however, was still patiently waiting; waiting I am absolutely convinced, for destiny to reach out and claim him back ...

'Angus' by Fiona Smith of Auntie Bears

So, I'll let you know when he arrives later this week ... sentimental? Moi? As if.


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