Monday 30 March 2009

A bearmaker's den ...

I blinked and missed the weekend, it flew past in a flurry of housework and shopping, so not much creativity to report here today I'm afraid. Well, maybe a tiny ray of creative colour, after all, I did squeeze an hour to cut out four little raggy dolls and select fabrics for their outfits, but just as I'd made four neat piles of dainty prints and calicos, my workroom was comandeered and I had to empty the contents of my big cupboard ... why is it 'stuff' takes up so much space when it's removed from the confines of its cupboard?! I mustn't complain though, at least the chaos was in a good cause and now I have a new shelf for my overloaded 'stuff' cupboard (well, actually it's two thirds of a shelf at the moment because we miscalculated the timber, but we're almost there!) Hopefully now, there'll be no more exasperating landslides onto my workroom floor whenever I need to find something!

Raggy dolls, raggy dolls!

This bearmaker's 'stuff' cupboard holds: paw fabrics, art materials, large container of doll making equipment, hardboard joints, tub of black utility buttons for raggy doll eyes, mohair offcuts for inset muzzles, washers, nuts, bolts, woodwool (not used that yet - one day!) beads, nail polishes for glass eye painting, bear and doll magazines, leather offcuts, son's old jeans (washed!) in preparation for the day I decide to make a denim bear, wadding, camera tripod, Prisma pens, needlefelting box, photos, steel shot, glass filler, bells, ... oh you name it, it's in there! I've also jammed card for pattern making between the cupboard and chest of drawers ... mustn't waste space!

Drop the canvas door and I'm neat and tidy again!

It's amazing how much storage a bearmaker needs, this cupboard is only for the items mentioned. A bearmaker's den is a very personal place, created around the bearmaker for maximum creative convenience and usually built up over many years. This morning I took my 'point n' shoot' camera into my own den to give you a glimpse into my world of 'essential' bearcrafting items - I couldn't believe how many pics I needed to take to show you everything (and these pics don't include my airbrush equipment and paints, or my knitting bits 'n bobs, all of which live elsewhere)!

First, my mohair mountain ... way too much for my lovely handpainted storage trunk! Stacked on top of the wooden trunk, a large plastic box filled with velvets for paws.

Sewing threads stored on a wall mounted holder ... my favourite gadget, it's so handy!

A large pink floor tub for the plastic pellets

This trolley is great for tucking under my work table and pulling out to use when I'm building a bear

I keep this useful tray of threads and small tools, including my trusty thimble, on top of the trolley to work with while I'm sat at my table

... and a selection of hardboard joints, stuffing tools and pliers in the bottom drawer

A container of essential scissors (pottery by my favourite Cornish potter 'Robert Iving'), turning tools and stuffing tools kept close at hand on my tabletop

So is the worktop organiser for my cotterpins, nuts 'n bolts

... and another one to organise my glass eyes! There's also a smaller version for handpainted eyes ...

Perle embroidery threads for noses are stored in my favourite Cornish fudge tin, given to me years ago by my sister

Current bear patterns (and mags) kept in plastic wallets within handy reach on my worktable

Auction catalogues for inspiration

Bearcrafting books for advice

There's a large box of polyester stuffing in the corner

A really handy bobbin organiser - prevents tangling - with another little pottery dish made by my favourite Cornish potter 'Robert Iving', holding my satin 'All Bear' labels

A desktop tidy for scissors, growlers, more scissors (!) sharp pencils, erasers, fray check, sewing machine oil, biros, screwdrivers, glosses, etc.,

Desktop drawers for buttons vintage and new ...

... assorted ribbons ...

... pretty satin flowers ...

... colourful embroidery threads ...

... bells ...

... and cords!

Fabric pens for shading ...

A drawer for bow-ties and waistcoats ...

... growlers and music boxes ...

... laces and collars ...

Assorted fabrics for clothing, bows stored in an 'under bed' box, under my table!

Work-in-progress baskets

And finally, a picture of my den (workroom!) this morning - I do hope you enjoyed your visit!

Friday 27 March 2009

All Bear opens an Etsy shop!

I like the concept of all manner of handmade goods brought together for sale under one roof, so yesterday decided to work out how to open my own Etsy shop. is an amazing marketplace for handmade goods and it's easy to spend hours browsing the many treasures there.

Bud & Paddy are now available in my new Etsy shop!
28/3/09 Update: Bud has been adopted!

For the first time in absolutely ages, I have two bears available to purchase at the same time, so this seems an ideal perfect moment to do the Etsy thing. My theory is that as Etsy items are listed in US Dollars, overseas customers in particular may prefer to purchase in this way and as the shop offers a shopping cart facility, it makes buying straightforward for customers. Also, Etsy should broaden my bears' profile, so all to the good!

Visit my new Etsy shop!

On the downside, visitors to Etsy have to find the artist bears section by clicking on 'dolls and miniatures' and then finding the sub-heading 'artist bears', which is a little long-winded. Hopefully Etsy will eventually include 'artist bears' in their main listings.


My bears will still be available direct from and as soon as they sell from either the website or my Etsy shop, they will be removed from sale from the alternative venue; so there won't be any confusion over duplication of sales.

I am hoping my little corner of Etsy will provide an opportunity to promote my work and artist bears in general, to a wider international audience and if it helps achieve a few sales in the current economic gloom too, hey, even better!

Update: How lovely! Several Etsy members have kindly supported my shop by adding my Etsy shop to their listed favourites and 'Bud' has been featured in 'The world is my studio' treasury!

Wednesday 25 March 2009


14" 'Bud' is now available from

I need to return to my order book today as I have customers waiting for their special bears and a new shop exclusive bear to make for Edwina's Friends, so little 'Bud' will be my last 'neutrals' bear for the website for the time being. I nipped out to photograph him with his bigger pal 'Paddy' this morning - brrrr there's a chill wind today!

14" Bud and 20" Paddy enjoying an early morning breeze!
Update 28/03/09 - Bud has now been adopted and will be living in the UK!

Tuesday 24 March 2009

A fine 'ol Paddy!

New bear, 20" Paddy

White bears are always some of my favourites to make, there are so many possibilities with white! This time, I've kept my design classic, working with clean lines and a neutral theme. I used a lovely dense half inch pile soft white mohair with a pretty sheen to create 20" 'Paddy' as this fabric works beautifully to show off his teddy bear proportions. As German pure wool felt works so well with this style of bear, I have chosen a light beige felt and subtlely shaded it with my airbrush, to give depth and a more 'aged' effect.

Paddy is now available from

Paddy is lovely to hold, weighted with pellets and of course, has a traditional teddy bear growler in his tum. Wearing his simple primitive rusty style bell, handsome Paddy is all set to find himself a welcoming new home!

Update: Paddy has now found his special someone and will be moving to Belgium to live!

Monday 23 March 2009

Time honoured traditions

My birthday girl!

Not only was it Mother's Day here in the UK yesterday (cue obligatory rude card, daffs and tulips from son, posh toiletries and 'Mum, you rock' card from daughter - thanks kids!) it was also my little girl's 26th birthday. I still don't understand how twenty six turned up so fast - wasn't it only yesterday I was snuggling my beautiful Spring baby into her pretty pink knitteds ... where did the time go?

Blowing out her candles, in time honoured tradition

So just in case you were wondering, yes, the girly in the Pinocchio t-shirt, blowing out candles on her 'dolly mix' sweetie cake in time honoured fashion, is my lovely, almost-but-not-quite, grown-up daughter Fay!

Where it all began ... Fays' 1st birthday

Fay's 5th birthday, sharing her birthday candles with her brother

Happy birthday Fay Anne, all my love to you always, Your Mum xxx

Wednesday 18 March 2009

The Odd Job Lady

My goodness, it's already a quarter to five in the afternoon and there have been so many loose ends for me to tie today, I haven't had time to sew a solitary stitch. A significant portion of this bearmaker's day disappeared writing answers to interview questions for the Teddy Bear Review magazine article ... those questions looked innocent enough, but they sure made my cogs whirl! Hopefully I've put together enough information for an interesting read when the mag is published. By the way, I've been told my article will appear in the July/August publication which will give me something exciting to look forward to!

I also sent little 'Tiddler' on his way to Belgium this afternoon, so with a good Spring breeze blowing in the right direction, he will soon be with his new owner.

Finally, I overhauled a couple of pages on my website. It certainly needed freshening up as some of the pics of me were almost three years old and much as I'd love to stay forever young, I think I was possibly pushing my luck! 'Paula's Page' is now bang up-to-date with the pics Tina took of me a few weeks ago. I have also given the 'Awards Winners' page a Spring clean because it had become cluttered. Now I'm feeling far more organised and will be able to return to work on the white bear in my work basket tomorrow, without all those odd jobs hanging heavily over me!

Tuesday 17 March 2009

Just a Tiddler

13" 'Tiddler'

Continuuing my 'neutrals' theme, I finished this little fella 'Tiddler' today. He's one of my smallest bears at just 13" and is a simple 'no frills,' classic alpaca cub. Cute eh?!

'Tiddler' is now available direct from

'Tiddler,' passing the time of day on my workroom shelf, with his 20" buddy 'Henry'.

17/03/09 Tiddler Update: Tiddler has now sold and will be flying to Belgium to live!

Monday 16 March 2009

Simple Springtime pleasures

Oh what a beautiful morning! The sun is shining, there's an energising warmth outdoors and yes, I am happy to tell you, Spring has arrived here in Kent. Sunday was beautiful too, so fairweather gardeners as we freely confess to being, Stuart and I spent a couple of hours in the afternoon sunshine working in our garden - digging flowerbeds (er, that is to say I pointed, Stuart dug!) transplanting shrubs, mowing grass, brightening our little corner of England after its long cold Winter.

Now Spring has arrived, naturally I'm feeling the urge to visit our local garden centres. I love taking trips to choose plants for the garden and this year, we intend to purchase a flowering tree for the back garden. It has been a couple of years since we bought the house, but gradually we are claiming the garden as our own.

I do hope you enjoy this sunny burst of my happy yellow daffs, caught nodding in the garden early this morning!


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