Thursday 28 May 2009

Boys will be boys ...

It was Bank Holiday here in the UK on Monday and for a change, the sun shone. At least it did during the day, but our planned evening's barbecue was another story ... as the charcoal caught light, down crashed the rain - typical of British Bank Holiday weather! We did have a lovely family afternoon rambling through the local woods though and much to the boys' delight (Stuart, my son Anthony and Stuart's grandson) there was a fallen tree to climb!

My Anthony, always a big kid at heart!

Passing on a few essential tree climbing skills to the next generation ...

Boys being boys!

... and the girls being girls!

Monkeying around!

Grandad branches out!

Tree fellas!

Anthony's Hannah finds a comfy perch

Our Bank Holiday tree climbing tribe!

I hope you enjoyed a peek into our family album ... and before you ask, yes, I resisted the temptation to climb the tree - well someone had to take pics eh?!

Wednesday 27 May 2009

Makes My Heart Smile Award for 'Bearing All!'

What a lovely compliment! Thank you Elanor of Shantock Bears and Lyn of Brimbin Forest Bears for awarding the 'Makes my heart smile' blog award to 'Bearing All' - I am touched by your kindness and delighted you enjoy sharing my blog!

'Makes my Heart Smile' blog award

And now it's my turn to pass on this lovely award to ten of my favourite blogs; gosh, it's hard to choose! The following blogs always make me smile, so I hope you enjoy them too!

Don't forget to visit Elanor's lovely chatty blog pop too!

And to catch up with Lyn in wonderful Brimbin Forest, please fly over to:

Tuesday 26 May 2009

Happily Ever After!

Every fairytale needs a happy ending, don't you think?

Morris was the last bear to find his special someone before I hauled up the 'Gathering Bears in May' webshow drawbridge on Sunday night. As he sat patiently by the computer screen, hopeful that the 'you've got mail' lady might announce a late email delivery, Morris had his paws firmly crossed; after all, no bear likes to be left all alone on the shelf on show day, do they?!

Morris 'Cinderfella'

Luckily for little Morris, his VIP (very special person) happened to be climbing onto a white charger, preparing to scoop Morris up before the clock struck midnight! I'm happy to be able to tell you Morris, his VIP and big pal Horatio (yes, Morris will be facing his big brave move outside the UK safe in the knowledge he won't be alone!) will soon be together and so the tale of 'Morris Cinderfella' ends ...

... and they all lived Happily Ever After!

Sunday 24 May 2009

Before the clock strikes midnight ...

My 'Gathering Bears in May' webshow collection -
please visit before midnight tonight if you would like to see them all!

Goodness me, it's been a frantic weekend so far! A great deal of fun too though! The webshow has been astonishingly well received and with several hours yet to go until closing, I am happy to tell you, six of my seven 'Gathering Bears in May' show bears have already found lovely new homes. They will be travelling as far as Australia, America, France, Belgium and the UK ... they are quite the globetrotters!

'Morris Cinderfella'

My dear little 'Morris' bear cub has been re-christened 'Morris Cinderfella' by lovely Jo Rothery of McBears ( which gave me a smile! He's the last bear available, still waiting patiently on the shelf hoping his special someone will ride in to claim him before the clock strikes midnight tonight ... aaaahhh! Do you think that special someone might be you?!

Friday 22 May 2009

Gathering Bears in May - ready for the grand opening!

There have been moments when I have questioned if I could manage to get this show on the road, so to speak. Pulling everything together has been pretty challenging, but I am delighted to be able to tell you everything is now in place! The final bear had his ears stitched in place this morning and has now joined his pals to wait patiently for the grand opening at midday tomorrow. I've checked, double checked, treble checked and ... (you get the whole parnoid picture!) to make sure the web pages work properly, make sense and create a pleasant 'showroom' for my bears and I am confident (touch wood!) that everything is working as it should be. Quite an accomplishment, even if I do say so myself! I'm sure I've done all I can, so all that is left for me now is to get a good night's sleep and keep my fingers and toes firmly crossed that someone will visit!

If you would like to visit 'Gathering Bears in May,' my very first webshow, I'd be delighted if you could drop by tomorrow between midday tomorrow (Saturday) and midnight on Sunday ... I hope to 'see' you there!

Wednesday 20 May 2009

Showing Off!

My goodness, is it really Wednesday already?! Yikes! Only two more working days left until my webshow ... gulp!

I think I'm almost ready, that's to say my bears are. I'm just working on the last little chap who should be ready for his photo shoot tomorrow. My new stone bench arrived in the nick of time - the rotten old wooden one collapsed in an undignified heap under my cat (!) so thank heavens the bears will be able to pose on their smart new garden seat for those all important show pics before the week is out - needless to say, my fingers and toes are crossed for fair weather!
I'm still fumbling my way through building the show web pages - I reckon they've taken me almost as long to put together as the bears! I wish I knew more about web building so I could show off and be really creative ... ah well, I've done my best and am pleased to say the pages will look fresh and springlike - now I just have to work out how to join them up so they actually allow visitors to move between pages. I have even managed to put together a 'Best of Show' poll for visitors to vote on during the show ... fun, fun, fun!

Tuesday 12 May 2009

Tip: How to wax a bear's embroidered nose

I forget who wanted me to share this technique on my blog, but I do remember being asked quite some time ago, so I hope this little tutorial is helpful. Nose waxing isn't difficult as such, but if it goes wrong, it's easy to ruin a perfectly good bear head and that can be heartbreaking, so my advice is make sure you have all your tools to hand and work slowly!

(My apologies for a couple of the blurry photographs ... it's a bit tricky recording this process with only one hand free to use the camera!)

My bear's embroidered nose prior to waxing ... the neater the nose stitching, the better result you will achieve from your waxing.

Step 1 ... boil a saucepan of water and melt your wax (I'm using natural beeswax sourced from a candle making company, but there are other waxes available from some of the bearmaking suppliers). I keep my melted wax in an old pyrex lid, complete with brushes, ready to be re-melted whenever I want to wax another nose. Warning: Don't leave your melting wax unattended as it may flame - I usually turn off the heat as soon as the water is boiling and allow the wax to melt gently.

Step 2 ... apply the melted wax onto your embroidered nose with a brush - I prefer to use a flat brush, making downward strokes to apply the wax.

My first coat of wax has now been applied ... you may need to use a small brush to work the wax into the outer edges of the bear's nose as you apply the wax. Take care to prevent it dripping onto the mohair muzzle though!

Step 3 ... using your hairdryer on a low setting, gently warm the waxed nose ...

Step 4 ... as you warm the waxed nose, use the flat edge of a knife to remove the spare wax and smooth the bear's nose, taking care to ease the wax into the outer edges of the nose stitching to give a neat finish. I wipe my knife clean with a piece of kitchen roll as I work. (Thanks Fay for helping me out with this photograph!)

Step 5 ... wait a few minutes to allow the wax to dry, then using brown paper, buff the waxed nose using an up and down motion in line with the vertical stitches. I find it easiest to turn the bear so that the back of his head leans against my chest while I buff - which is why this photo looks as though it has been taken upside down!

Step 6 ... when the first coat of wax has been buffed, you will probably still have a few pale streaks of wax still showing, depending on the finish you prefer, you may like to carefully colour these using a fabric pen. I'm using a black pen to match my black nose embroidery in this instance, but you could use other colours for a more individual effect.

Step 7 ... repeat the entire process for a second layer! I like to use two layers for my waxed noses, but you may prefer more - I suggest you experiment to find your 'look'. This is a pic of my finished waxed nose.

A celebration of bear artistry

After fifteen years creating bears, I may be considered an old timer when it comes to bearcrafting in the UK, but it is worth noting that bear artistry came to the fore in the US many years before we Brits caught on. The lovely Ginger Brame of 'Bearbits' fame, is currently celebrating her 25th bearcrafting anniversary with a fabulous blog giveaway. Please spare a moment to visit Ginger's blog and leave a congratulatory comment ... such long term dedication to the craft of creating such wonderful bears definitely deserves applause!

'Posy' created by Ginger Brame of Bearbits, to celebrate her 25th bearcrafting anniversary.

Monday 11 May 2009

Gathering Bears in May progress report ...

Just under two weeks until my webshow and already I have four furry bums sat on my shelf in anticipation - not bad going, if I do say so myself! There's still plenty more to do though, I'd like to finish another big 'un and conjure up a couple more Half Pints if poss ...

I'm very pleased with the bears I've created for the show so far; let's see, what can I tell you without giving the game away too much?! Hmmn ... well, I have a pretty new clown in an unusual colourway, a lovely frosted tipped alpaca bear, a handsome bear with a very dramatic colourway and a dear little chap with an adorable expression who is a yummy chocolatey colour. Now I'm off to my workroom to finish my new design for a hefty (22"approx) bear ... I'm really looking forward to seeing how this fella works out - with a little luck he should be finished by teatime!

Thursday 7 May 2009

Firing on all cylinders again

My 'Gathering Bears in May' webshow on 23rd/24th May is now cast in stone and I am raring to go again ... yes, the funk has lifted at last! My only problem is deciding which of the bear designs currently dancing in my head, will be brought to life in time for the big day - with only sixteen days available for bearmaking, every second counts!

'Gathering Bears in May' will take place at on 23rd/24th May 2009

Since making the decision to go ahead with this mini webshow, I have already managed to complete three beautiful bears and am in the process of planning how my show webpage will look; my web building skills are limited, but I really like the idea of this event having its own character and plan to play around with graphics and backgrounds to make it special ... all of which will be pretty time consuming needless to say, so in the words of Alice's White Rabbit, "No time to say 'Hello'. Goodbye. I'm late, I'm late, I'm late!"

Tuesday 5 May 2009

Gathering Bears in May!

There are occasionally times when my mojo slips anchor, leaving me in a bear maker's funk. Perhaps I should explain - a funk is a creative lethargy, a period of time when a bear maker's energies are significantly sapped, rendering bear production almost impossible. Battery operated mojo's are often unreliable helpers due to a hunger for constant stimulation. However, when their creative bellies are purring contentedly with food for thought, they make perfect bearmaker's assistants ably providing inspiration for fabulous artist bears, but when their batteries run down, it's a well known fact among bear makers that mojos never give their owners notice, preferring instead to sneak out unpredictably to who knows where, while they recharge.
Once AWOL, I've noticed a mojo will do almost anything to avoid returning to the workroom, leaving the unfortunate bear artist destined to stare into fruitless space, pondering the imminent prospect of shelf stacking in local supermarkets. Over the years, I have come to realise the best way to lure a mojo back to work, is to promise a reward for good behaviour. You see the little known thing about mojos is, they have egos ... oh yes, there's no doubt about it, mojos crave attention!
So, in view of my recent funk, I have cajoled, blackmailed and promised my mojo faithfully, if it makes an immediate return to work for me, there will be a handsome reward! I will showcase its talents this very month! There will be no more mojo neglect from this ungrateful bear artist. We have agreed to combine efforts, work in harmony and yes, beat the bearmaker's funk! I am delighted to announce that in view of our reinstated collaboration, my mojo and I would like to invite you to join us in a spring celebration of our combined talents ...

Gathering Bears in May', the first ALL BEAR mini webshow, will be held online at on the weekend of 23rd/24th May - I hope you will be able to join me and my mojo to celebrate our late 'Spring crop' of artist bears!


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