Saturday 28 November 2009

Christmas in the US!

This little lady flew out of Santa's Sack within moments of settling herself there.  No sooner had I finished uploading 'Christmas Evie's' photos, she was adopted and invited to spend Christmas in the US!  What a super result for a hard Saturday's work photographing, editing and updating the All Bear website!

19" Christmas Evie

Later next week I'm planning a few days of dolly doings, but first I have a rather magnificent length of mohair to work on ... it's absolutely glorious fabric, so I'm really looking forward to starting work on my collector's special bear!

Tuesday 24 November 2009

Santa's Sack is now open!

I can hardly believe we're nearing the end of 2009 already ... the year has raced by!  Christmas and bears go hand in hand and I love the festive inspiration this season offers, but I do have a problem at this time of year because taking photographs while the weather is so dark and the garden so bare, is a nightmare!  I recently had a long chat with my sister Tina and she pointed me in the direction of a set of basic studio lights to enable me to take the bears' photographs in my lounge - perfect!  Needless to say, I also had to master the manual settings on my camera with Tina's guidance and after several long hours yesterday, my first three Christmas bears had been photographed and uploaded to 'Santa's Sack' on the All Bear website.

My indoor photographic studio

Creating new web pages for the site is also very time consuming and I must admit, I do occasionally wonder if collectors realise how much work is involved in presenting new bears online.  To give you an idea, yesterday's photo shoot and website update took all day and well into the evening to present just three bears!  Then as soon as the Christmas bears went online, email enquiries had to be answered and sales processed ... I finally logged off and staggered from my swivel chair to bed, at about eleven o'clock last night.

23" Christmas Rose

I nervously submitted my first studio shots to Tina for assessment and you could have knocked me down with a feather when she cast a critical eye over them and gave them the thumbs up!  There's hope for me yet!  I must admit I have missed being able to visit Tina in Hampshire this year because it's lovely to catch up in person, but we're both so busy with our businesses, this seemed a sensible solution to my immediate problem.  I'm happy to say Tina will be popping up for a pre-Christmas visit in mid December and we're looking forward to having a good ol' natter over a festive mince pie then!

21" Yuletide

By the way, I am absolutely delighted to be able to tell you all three of my Christmas bears were adopted from Santa's Sack last night and they will be spending Christmas in Singapore and America!

17" Robin Red

Time for me to head up to my workroom now to work on my next Christmas offering, a pretty lilac bear this time ... I will let you know when she's ready to hop into Santa's Sack!

Thursday 19 November 2009

A Perfect Ending!

I was so thrilled when my copy of 'The Teddy Bear Annual 2010' dropped through my letterbox this week.  I couldn't wait for it to arrive in WH Smiths on the High Street, so I pre-ordered it from Amazon and luckily for me, they dispatched a few days prior to the offical publication date!  This is a very special magazine for All Bear as not only have I been honoured with a lovely three-page feature and invited to create a special Christmas Bear for a lovely 'Teddy at Christmas' article, my bear 'Morris' is also the magazine cover star!  As you can imagine, I'm over the moon!

'All About Paula' ...

This bumper (one hundred pages!) Annual has been created by Kathy Martin, well respected teddy bear authoress and editor.  Kathy has put her heart and soul into this project and worked hard to produce a fabulous new publication for the bear world and in particular, for teddy bear collectors.  The magazine offers a super balance of bear related features, including vintage bears, artist bears and manufactured bears, together with fascinating, well researched articles.  Believe me, if you love bears, you really do need a copy of 'The Teddy Bear Annual'.

The Teddy Bear Annual 2010 starring 'Morris' on the cover!

Also, if you live in the UK, you can find it in branches of WH Smiths from today!

The best news is that if 'The Teddy Bear Annual 2010' sells well this year, the publishers have said they will support its publication next year too, which would give the bear world such a boost.

On a personal note, I'd like to say a big thank you to Kathy for supporting my work and also to Jo Rothery, for writing such a super article about my life as a bear artist.  These wonderfully dedicated ladies have generously given me the perfect ending to my year's work!

Tuesday 17 November 2009

Festive findings!

Hobbycraft is definitely one of those stores in which a girl should shop alone.  I'm a magpie moocher and rarely visit with a set plan ... (after all, I'm not a man!)  If I shop in Hobbycraft with Stuart he finds it soooooooo hard to behave himself ; the poor old stick trails around wearing a woeful expression behind me, checking his watch every couple of minutes and raising his eyes heavenwards if I so much as suggest we need to visit the first floor - honestly, you'd think he was being tortured to see him!  No, Hobbycraft is definitely to be tackled solo ... it requires time to browse, time to ponder, time to ignite the creative flame!

Festive findings!

So, with the seed of Christmas beginning to take root, I quietly slipped away from my sewing machine and had a lovely time shopping for twinkly trims and twiddlings all by myself this afternoon ... ho, ho, ho!

Monday 16 November 2009

It's beginning to feel a little like Christmas ...

The days are galloping away and there are only a few weeks until Christmas!  I braved a visit to my local Hobbycraft store yesterday, to find some Christmassy trims for my first 'Santa's Sack' bears.  It was a glorious day, so Stuart and I walked over the Millenium bridge into town (against all my principles on a Sunday, but needs must!) for a spot of shopping.  It's only mid November, but already the town is decked in festive lights, windows are decorated with colourful baubles and Santa tunes are warbling from shop doorways.  I can't say I'm in full festive spirit yet, but yes, it is beginning to feel a little like Christmas!

Maidstone's 'Millenium Bridge'

The little chap below will be going into 'Santa's Sack' on my website in a few days ... he's not quite finished yet, but I wanted to share him with you because he is the result of the new design I was working on last week.  Rather than use a traditional three piece head pattern, I've drawn a six piece pattern to create a lovely round head shape ... he is still a classic bear, but with a very different look.  I think I'll work with this shape again, I really like it!

Head in progress!


Back view

Aw!  Cute eh?!

So, as you can see, I have been hard at work lately!  My new bear is not quite ready to debut - I will be finishing him this week so that he is all ready to hop into Santa's Sack in a few days' time!

Monday 9 November 2009

Remember, Remember the 5th of November!

Christmas is clearly on the horizon now, but before I embrace the tinsel bedecked festivities, there's one more traditional celebration to honour - Guy Fawkes Night!  I can't imagine how our overseas friends view the UK celebrating the 1605 Gunpowder plot, which was designed to bring down our monarchy all those centuries ago, but such traditions are what make a country unique, don't you think?!

I have loved to see the fireworks each November 5th since I was a little girl living in Titchfield, back in the early 70's; Titchfield is an ancient village in Hampshire and every year since the early 1800's has celebrated Guy Fawkes Night with a spectacular carnival which my sisters and I always enjoyed when we were kids.  This year Stuart and I walked with my kids and their partners to our local community display in Allington ...

My daughter and her boyfriend

My son and his girlfriend

... big as they are now, they still enjoy wrapping up warmly on Bonfire Night to 'ooh' and 'ahh' as fireworks explode across the night sky!

Traditional British poem

Remember, remember, the 5th of November
The Gunpowder Treason and plot;
I know of no reason why Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.

Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes,
'Twas his intent.
To blow up the King and the Parliament.
Three score barrels of powder below,
Poor old England to overthrow.

By God's providence he was catch'd,
With a dark lantern and burning match
Holloa boys, Holloa boys, let the bells ring
Holloa boys, Holloa boys, God save the King!

Hip hip Hoorah!
Hip hip Hoorah!

A penny loaf to feed ol' Pope,
A farthing cheese to choke him.
A pint of beer to rinse it down,
A faggot of sticks to burn him.

Burn him in a tub of tar.
Burn him like a blazing star.
Burn his body from his head,
Then we'll say: ol' Pope is dead.

Saturday 7 November 2009

The Witchypoo School Photos

So here she is at last, better late than never I suppose.  Wisteria Witchlet finally deigned to put on a frock and do her hair yesterday, but only after I had promised to take her Witchypoo school photographs - talk about witchypoo airs and graces! 

20" Wisteria Witchlet

Wisteria and Hatty Halfwitch are now 'bezzy mates' and in the best tradition of naughty little witchlets, are giving poor old Witch Hazel the right run around during spelling lessons! 

Hatty Halfwitch with 'bezzy mate' Wisteria Witchlet

I don't think I've introduced you to the witchlet's teacher Witch Hazel yet, so here's 'Witch Hazel', a good witch charged with using a little green-fingered magic to take care of the woodland ...

20" Witch Hazel

And here is she is again, proudly posing with her witchypoo students ...

A proud Witch Hazel with her two favourite students.

These witchypoos have been such fun to make, but with Christmas looming fast, it's time to get back to work on my bears ... and fast!

Friday 6 November 2009

Waylaid witchlet

This meddlesome witchlet was supposed to be dressed and ready for All Hallowes Eve, but she hid at the bottom of my basket, right under the Magical Mayhem bears and the silly girl missed her big night out! 

I'm making her frock and bloomers today, so when she's decent and ready for a little hocum pocum, I'll snap a pic to share with you ... that's if I can catch her before she flies off to play on her broomstick!

Wednesday 4 November 2009

An early Christmas Carole!

When I was asked if I could create a special Christmas bear back in August, I glibly said yes without considering how tricky it might be to transport my creative self into full festive mode - after all, I hadn't even finished work on my autumnal bears, let alone the Halloween show bears at that point.  Nevertheless, a promise is a promise and for weeks I avoided eye contact with the looming October deadline ...

20" 'Christmas Carole' will be featured in 'The Teddy Bear Annual 2010'

Eventually though, I realised I would have to get to grips with this piece of work if it was ever to be published in The Teddy Bear Annual 2010' - with or without a tinsel bedecked workroom to inspire me!  My plan was to create a classic bear with a subtle Christmas twist ... finally inspiration struck just in the nick of time!  I found an unusual cotton fabric printed with the lyrics to 'The Twelve Days of Christmas' and happily it worked perfectly with the beautiful peachy mohair and twinkly eyes I had planned for this special bear!  'Christmas Carole' may be subtle, but she is most definitely festive and full of Christmas sentiment ... I hope you like her!

By the way, in case you are wondering, I will be making 'Christmas Carole' available for purchase when I open 'Santa's Sack' on my website later this month ... ho ho ho!

Monday 2 November 2009

The best laid plans of mice and bear makers ...

suspected there might be an unwelcome chance the gremlins might snag my 'Magical Mayhem' webpages, but no, the webshow uploaded with ease and worked smoothly - in fact Saturday's show went exceedingly well ... but Sunday's?  Oh dear.  I hadn't banked on AOL meddling with my internet connection on the last day of my show!  There was nothing I could do but wait until this morning to close the showroom and tidy up.  Never mind, the Mayhem show was such fun and a lovely success with all of the new bears and Hatty Halfwitch finding new homes ... in fact, queues formed for some of the bears!  I still have my lovely ivory ellie 'Starlight' to find a caring new home, but that's fine by me, because as you know I love ellies and Starlight is one gorgeous slumpy cuddle of an elephant!

16" Starlight ... currently available from

Well, that's Halloween done and dusted, I guess it's Christmas next!

3/11/09 Starlight update:  I am delighted to report Starlight has now been adopted and will soon be heading across the Atlantic to meet her new owner!


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