Tuesday 28 October 2008

Ho Ho! Devilishly sneaky peek!

I'm dying to shout from the rooftops that after what feels like an eternity spent tucked away in my workroom, my 'Ho Ho Oh Bearz' show bears are at last complete! I spent yesterday making my slippers soggy in the garden (will I never learn? Morning dew is WET Paula!) as I photographed my lovely new collection before plonking myself on my swivel chair in the afternoon, to prepare their details in readinness for the big event - you would not believe how long those final admin jobs take to get just right!

Ho Ho Oh Bearz' show bears - devilishly sneaky peek! (It is almost Halloween after all!)

I know this will drive you nuts and for that I apologise (chuckling wickedly here!) but I can't resist sharing a sneaky peek of my five special show bears ... it really is terribly sneaky though, sorry!

I do hope you will be able to join in the fun on the 15th and 16th November. In case you haven't yet bookmarked it, here's a link to the Oh Bearz show page:

Link to Oh Bearz website

You will find a comprehensive list of global start times listed on the Oh Bearz website (it begins at 10pm here in the UK and 5pm in Canada) so please check it through carefully to make sure you are certain of the show start time for your own country's time zone - that way you won't miss the start of the show!

Friday 24 October 2008

UK Teddy Bear Guide 2009 OUT NOW!

The 2009 UK Teddy Bear Guide has just been published and is now available from www.hugglets.co.uk

The UK Teddy Bear Guide 2009

This is a terrific paperback publication, full to bursting with bear businesses both in the UK and overseas. Published by our esteemed Hugglets team, Glen and Irene Jackman, for an amazing 22nd year, this edition has been fully revised and updated with 116 new entries and contains many more contact and product changes. It details bear artists, bear shops, bear related suppliers, bear publications, bear shows ... you name it, the list goes on! The UK Teddy Bear Guide carries full contact details including website addresses and is a 'must have' for anyone interested in the bear world. It also contains 2 free tickets for each of the prestigious Hugglets Festivals!

My 'All Bear' advertisement featured on the left page!

Naturally, as soon as I had ripped the jiffy bag containing my copy open, I flicked straight to the 'Bear Makers and Artists' section to find my 'Victor' advertisement. Fortunately for me, I'm listed alphabetically on the first page of this category (no, that wasn't a happy accident, it was a carefully contrived plan when I was selecting 'All Bear' as my trading name!) so finding my ad was easy and I must say, I'm absolutely delighted with how it looks on the page!

I do hope you will purchase a copy of the 2009 Guide ... believe me, it will be £5.95 well spent! Right, that's my sales pitch done, now I'm off to read my copy from cover to glorious cover!

05.11.09 Guide Update: if you would like a copy of the Hugglets Guide, please let me know as I now have several copies 2009 available for sale.

Thursday 23 October 2008

Chiltern Interlude

The Ho Ho Oh Bearz show bears (try saying that after a couple of sherries!) are coming together at last! There will be a select few available at the show and so far, things are going pretty well ... So, I'm sorry, but as I'm on a roll there's simply no time for chat today. Or, in the words of the White Rabbit in 'Alice in Wonderland,' "Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!" And we can't have that now, can we?!

Chiltern Hugmees 1930's - 1950's (plus 'Barty' a 1990's Chiltern Memory created by Pam Howells .. top back right)

Here's a brief Chiltern interlude for you to enjoy instead! Gorgeous eh?

Monday 20 October 2008

Izzy Wizzy let's get busy!

When I was a very little girl back in the 60's, I loved to watch Harry Corbett's cheeky 'Sooty' puppet on my parents' black and white telly as he tried (usually with disastrous outcome!) to organise his creator with a little help from his magic wand, using the immortal chant "Izzy Wizzy, let's get busy!" Twenty years later and I was still able to enjoy Sooty and his pals 'Sweep' and 'Sue' engaging in all kinds of magical mischief, as my own children giggled at their colourful antics!

Harry Corbett and Sooty (picture courtesy of Wikipedia)

'The Sooty Show' is in fact, the longest running children's tv programme in the UK and this year, dear old Sooty celebrated an incredible 60th year in showbiz. The original bear was completely yellow and apparently Harry covered his ears and nose with soot so that he would show up better on black and white television - hence the puppet's name.

My original 1960's mohair Chad valley 'Sooty' glove puppet

My own Sooty glove puppet was a Christmas present from an auntie back in the mid 60's when I was only three or four years old (by which time the puppet's ears had become permanently black and he had evolved into an orange mohair bear with brown rexine paws) but sadly he has long since mislaid his magic wand. Nowadays he is painfully threadbare, living out his days carefully tucked away in a corner of my bottom drawer among silky nighties and other such feminine fripperies. However, this week Sooty has once more seen the light of day, because I have decided to celebrate his sixty iconic years as a childrens' entertainer, by borrowing his distinctive looks as my starting point for the 'Teddy Talk' forum's 'Lost in the mists of time' challenge. The challenge requires bear artists to draw inspiration from one of their own childhood toys, using the features of that special toy to create a teddy bear in their own style.

So, no, I won't be making a replica Sooty glove puppet, rather I will be making an 'All Bear' with some beautiful mohair/silk blend, orangey gold mohair and of course, cute black ears! But I'm afraid you'll have to be patient and watch this space because my new bear won't be completely revealed until the 'Ho ho Oh Bearz' online show!

Tuesday 14 October 2008

Ad break

The November issue of 'Teddy Bear and Friends' magazine dropped onto my doormat yesterday and in the 'Artists' Showcase' section is my latest advertisement. I'm very pleased with the way it stands out on the page (thanks to Tina's lovely 'Victor' photograph!) and hope it will help to spread the 'All Bear' word throughout America and beyond.

Teddy Bear and Friends Nov/Dec 2008 issue, on sale now!

By the way, my last advertisement for this year will be published in 'Australian Bear Creations' Nov/Dec issue, on sale from Woodlands Publishing on the 8th November and I'm really looking forward to seeing it in print.

I have been hunting through some back issues of teddy bear magazines today and could kick myself because despite clambering up into the loft space to ferret through my trunks, I still can't find my copies of the bear mags which over the years published articles on both 'All Bear' and 'Auntie Bears' ... I am particularly upset at losing the early Auntie Bears articles as you can imagine. I think I must have accidentally sent the mags to the dump during the intense pressure of moving house the year before last and sadly, I haven't been able to locate copies of those issues on the internet yet. I am hoping I will at least manage to find the millenium (January 2000) issue of 'Teddy Bear Times' magazine, because that particular issue contained a lovely article I wrote about my Chiltern Bears and I remember being delighted when it was published in the very first issue of the new millenium! I'm also keeping my fingers crossed for the early 'Teddy Bear Club International' magazine (published mid/late 90's) containing our first 'Auntie Bears' article to turn up one day, but as neither magazine is in publication any longer, I realise it may take me a while to locate them. I'll let you know if I find them ...
'Gently' my 1997 Teddy Bear Times cover star! (Issue 47) Shown here with two 'Teddy Bear Scene' issues (2004 & 2006) featuring my bears - top left insert pics.All was not quite lost in the house move though, I'm pleased to say I did succeed in finding my very first ever front cover for the 'Teddy Bear Times' magazine up in those dusty trunks! 'Gently' was a lovely big bear, about 26" from memory. I don't remember where he went to live, but I do remember being thrilled to bits when I saw he had been given the front cover of TBT in October 1997!

Teddy Bear Times magazine - issue 49 February 1998

Before I go back upstairs to work on my show bears, I thought you might like to see an early 'Auntie Bears' advertisement from 1998 ... I can't remember if this was our first attempt at magazine advertising, but I think it probably was. Back then my sister Fiona and I enjoyed being able to take larger ads, conveniently splitting the cost between us. Very handy!

Monday 13 October 2008

Diamond Days

Pretty Teston Bridge, built of Kentish ragstone pre 1300

As Sunday was such a beautiful day here in Kent, there really was only one sensible thing to do ... (after I'd washed my son's entire footy team's kit, pegging out a zillion black knee socks and goodness knows how many shorts and shirts ... not a job for those of a weak disposition I can tell you!) and that was to grab my camera and take off along the river a lovely long walk. This time we began our great escape ten minutes drive from home at historic Teston Bridge, following the River Medway as it meanders towards the village of Wateringbury; which, by the way, was where we found diamonds sparkling on the river!

Teston Lock built 1911

View of the Medway, looking over my shoulder towards Teston ... I've come to the conclusion the best views are often found over my shoulder!

... and the view upstream towards Wateringbury

Swanning along the river at Wateringbury

My beautiful Autumn diamonds!

Stunning views across the Medway

The field of sheep we inadvertently stumbled through when we mislaid our path homewards!

Views of historic Teston Bridge

The gorgeous autumn weather of recent days has definitely made compensation for our soggy British summer. I don't mind admitting I have absolutely loved rambling through the blazing colour of our local countryside and despite aching legs and feet, I slept like a log last night and am now completely re-invigorated. Autumn days are such a tonic!

Saturday 11 October 2008

Incy Wincy Spider

I think the garden spiders' must have had a wonderful Autumn party during the wee small hours because this morning, delicate spiders' lace adorns my trees and shrubs! I tried to photograph the webs, but boy, are they elusive to my camera lens, even on the macro setting. I've done my best in the few minutes I spent getting my slippers soggy on the dew soaked grass, but it's times like this when I could definitely do with a few professional photographic pointers ...

So pretty and so very delicate!

These beautiful webs have reminded me of the vintage 'lace collars to knit and crochet' book I bought a few months ago, so now I'm feeling inspired to weave some dainty lace of my own!

Friday 10 October 2008

Autumn whispers

I'm working hard on my show bears at the moment, so things are pretty 'hush hush' in the All Bear workroom I'm afraid! These bears won't be revealed until the big day (Nov 15th) and much as I'd love to, I really can't tell you very much about them yet. The most I can whisper is that I have some absolutely beautiful mohair to work with and my first big 'un is now complete. He's a handsome chap and I'm very pleased with him. Ooops, I let a secret slip, now you know he's a he!

Felted leaves, an autumn bear corsage

After my lovely ramble through the autumn leaves in Mote Park on Wednesday, I was inspired to spend a little time yesterday afternoon contriving a simple autumnal adornment for one of my new bears. Like the magpie I am, I collected a few fallen leaves from the park, then traced them onto card and cut out simple felt leaf shapes to stitch with some pretty beaded 'veins'. Eh voila! They were fun to make and I may well use the same idea to create some holly leaves nearer to Christmas ... which it seems, is drawing closer at alarming pace!

'Archibald' pictured sitting with big buddy 'Elgar' on my top shelf

I'm delighted to be able to tell you dear little Archibald will be relocating to the US to join his old friend 'Cornelius', so his days on my top shelf safely nestled next to big buddy 'Elgar', will soon be over. I'm hoping sweet natured 'Bertie' will also find his special someone over the next few days and with this in mind, have battled on with Ebay.com and listed him at auction. If you would like to visit Bertie's auction page, this is the link:

Update: Sorry, link has been removed as Bertie sold today before any bids were placed at auction. I have cancelled his auction listing.

'Bertie' ... now hoping to find his special someone at auction on Ebay

Well, that's about it for me today. I have heaps of bear making to be getting on with; not only do the the 'Ho Ho Oh Bearz' online show bears have to be created, but also two new shop exclusive bears for 'Edwina's Friends'. Just between you, me and the garden gatepost, these bears will be big 'uns and will be making their way to Kathy the owner, at the beginning of November in plenty of time for the Christmas rush!

Thursday 9 October 2008

National Poetry Day

It's National Poetry Day here in the UK, so I would like to share share this perceptive poem by one of my favourite poets, Roger McGough.

You and I
by Roger McGough

I explain quietly.
You hear me shouting.
You try a new tack.
I feel old wounds reopen.
You see both sides.
I see your blinkers.
I am placatory.
You sense a new selfishness.
I am a dove.
You recognize the hawk.
You offer an olive branch.
I feel the thorns.
You bleed.
I see crocodile tears.
I withdraw.
You reel from the impact.

Wednesday 8 October 2008

Mote Park, Oh what a beautiful morning!

Mote Park
When I drove Puddle across town to the vet for her annual vaccinations earlier today, I had every intention of coming straight home afterwards and starting work - honestly, I did! But after a week spent cooped up in the house with no sign of a sunbeam, the glorious autumn morning I discovered out in the big wide world lured me straight back into my car. As soon as Puddle Cat had been safely deposited back home, I stuffed my little Canon Ixus camera in my pocket, pointed my car in the direction of Mote Park and slipped my shackles for a soul nourishing hour of fresh air, warm golden sunshine and beautifully rich autumnal scenery.

Perfect for 'Poohsticks'!

Strolling around the lake in this beautiful parkland always brings back so many memories; Mote Park has been part of my world for more than thirty years but while I'm there, by some trick of the light the years fall magically away and it feels like only yesterday when my children were snuggled into their anoraks and wellies, playing poohsticks under the little stone bridge one minute then dashing off to collect leaves, acorns, conkers and anything else they could cram into their little pockets the next! Happy times.

I hope you have enjoyed keeping me company on my morning walk and if you ever happen to be passing through Maidstone, do please treat yourself to a stroll around the Mote Park lake, then just sit awhile and take in the tranquility ... as 'tis said, the best things in life are free!

Monday 6 October 2008

Competitive conclusions

It will soon be time to consider whether or not to scrape together the courage and commitment to present my entries to the international teddy bear design competitions for 2009. As ever, my views on the subject are mixed to the point of confusion and all I will say on the subject is 2008 brought me both extreme highs and a couple of confusing lows. Nothing however, can impinge upon my personal sense of achievement at being honoured with a 2008 TOBY Industry's Choice Award, which in my view is the ultimate international competition professionally judged by those 'in the teddy bear know'. I still feel a thrill every time I see the sun shining through that beautiful crystal award on my workroom window sill!

23" Billy Buttons WINNER 2008 TOBY Industrys' Choice Award and also 2008 'READERS CHOICE AWARDS' FINALIST

I think I will reconsider my competition entries next year, withdrawing from those whose voting procedures baffle me and instead working towards those I consider a professional representation of true teddy bear artistry.

23" Raffles 2008 URSA AWARDS finalist

So, now I have my thoughts on this subject a little more shipshape, I am going to take the bull by the horns and share my existing competition entries past and present; including of course, my dear old hopefuls who didn't quite make it to the finals. As you will see, there can be plenty of ups and downs when it comes to participating in the competitive side of the bear world!

20" 'Victor' originally created at the kind invitation of Teddy Bear Scene magazine to represent the United Kingdom in their '2008 Olympic Challenge'. Sadly the magazine ceased publication before the competition could be published and Victor was asked instead to participate in the Taiwan Teddy Bear Association's Olympic Challenge. He was also featured in the US Teddy Bear and Friends magazine.

22" 'Gorgeous George' was my 2008 hopeful in the international GOLDEN TEDDY AWARDS, sadly he failed to be nominated. GG also failed to achieve nomination in the 2008 URSA Awards, leaving me to wonder whether traditional bears are suited to competition work? Whatever the case, George remains to this day, one of my most favourite bears.

14" 'Florrie' - I rarely put forward smaller bears, so thought I would give little Florrie her chance in the 2008 URSA Awards, but she wasn't nominated.

20" 'Sunny Jim' was entered into the 2006 GOLDEN TEDDY Awards but failed to receive a nomination, despite being a very golden teddy bear!

20" Bisto was my 2007 hopeful for the GOLDEN TEDDY Awards, but guess what? He failed to receive a nomination too!

20" 'Crocus' was my first ever entry into the URSA Awards in 2007, but to no avail - she didn't manage a nomination.





24" 'Bon-Bon, won SECOND PLACE in the 1997 BRITISH BEAR ARTISTS AWARDS - my first ever teddy bear award winner!

If you would like to read my other posts about teddy bear competitions,
please click this link:


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