Tuesday 18 January 2011

A flying start to 2011!!!!

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!  I have just seen the list of winners for the 2011 TOBY Industry's Choice Awards and you could have knocked me down with a feather when I read my name on the list!!!!!!


After much procrastination in the final weeks of November last year, I finally decided to participate and chose to enter one of my 'Careworn Collection' designs because this style of bear represented a new direction for me during 2010.  I also decided to try the 'small bear/undressed' category and hey presto, much to my surprise and delight 'Lonesome' has scooped a nomination!  

It's been such a difficult few months, so this recognition has really helped to give my spirits a boost and for that, I am very, very grateful.

Hey Dad, this one's for you x

Friday 14 January 2011

An empty room.

I began my working year by spring cleaning my workroom ('ship shape and Bristol fashion' as my Dad would have said) and now it's tidy and ready for the new year's crop of bears.  It has been an ideal bear crafting workspace for the past four years since we bought the house, but with so many materials to store, lately I've been feeling the squeeze.

My workroom, ship shape and Bristol fashion for the new year

As I mentioned in an earlier post, my lovely son left home just after Christmas.  It's a mystery to me how he grew so fast, from a cheeky boy in bunny slippers, to an independent home-owning adult.  To be honest, I'm completely torn between devastation and pride at the moment; but in the spirit of accepting my true role as 'mum', with all the pain and pleasure that brings, I have of course, given him my blessing, support, love and encouragement and in return have been left with his gratitude, love and ... an empty bedroom.

... a room which, in practical terms, happens to have more floor space than my workroom, a large double window and a roomy fitted cupboard - lending it the potential to become the perfect bear maker's space.  So, rather than indulge my sense of loss, I plan to claim this room as my own and over the coming weeks, with Stuart's help, to create a brighter and more spacious haven of creativity for myself.

So, it's time for this bear maker to create her new space and to enjoy a sense of accomplishment in the fact that her grown-up son is now creating his own space out in the big wide world, too!

My boy in his bunny slipper days!

Good luck in your new home Ants,
with much love from your Muva xxx

Tuesday 11 January 2011

The Guild of Master Bearcrafters enters 2011 with a buzz!

The day I discovered  how to create my own social networking site was a real revelation to me and I certainly didn't foresee that eighteen months later, I would be running 'The Guild of Master Bearcrafters' with a creative membership of well over four hundred talented bear makers from all over the world!

Building the Guild has taken a considerable amount of commitment, but I've loved every minute of it and think it has been very worthwhile to create a site where working bear artists can meet professionally to discuss bear crafting issues with peers and display new creations.  Our membership is far flung, from the UK, to USA, to Australia, Germany, Russia, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, France, Israel, Lithuania ... and way beyond, in fact right around the globe!  It has been an education to me to learn teddy bears are so popular, on so many distant continents!  And on a personal note, running the Guild has offered me an invaluable opportunity to broaden my understanding of teddy bear design and make friends with many wonderful bearcrafters.

The Guild hosts a special showcase slideshow each week, featuring members' designs, so please pop in from time to time, to see what bear artists around the world are creating, especially for you!  As you can see below, our Guild members are off to a flying start in 2011 ... these are a few of the brand new designs they have created for the New Year!

Friday 7 January 2011

First new bear of 2011!

It's such a satisfying feeling to have completed my first new bear of 2011!  I decided to begin this new year with a bear I feel represents classic 'All Bear'.  He's substantial, has gloriously dense fur and of course, growls!

20" Ambrose, my first bear of 2011!

I don't yet know in which direction 2011 will lead me and my bears, but I am happy that Ambrose is a positive first step into the New Year ...

Thursday 6 January 2011

Foward Focus.

I need to think about January's work schedule today.  It's hard to fathom how the first five days of 2011 managed to slip past without me so much as entering first gear.  In fairness though, I've had a chaotic few weeks, first my son's knee reconstruction and convalescence after a serious football accident, then Christmas, then summoning strength to help move Ants into his first new home a week ago ... no wonder the 'flu whacked me! 

Anthony, making his way in the world!

It's very quiet at home without Anthony and it will take me a while to adjust to him not being around every day, but I'm confident he's ready for his independence and as his mum, I take pride in that.  I guess, like all mums of adult children, there's no choice but to accept the time has come for me to find my way and allow him to find his ... I just wish the past twenty five years hadn't flown by quite so quickly!  Anyway, no point wallowing, it's not as if he's moved to the ends of the earth and I'm sure we will make more of the time we do spend together in future; besides which, I'll be popping in to his new house for a cuppa at the weekend!  (Can you hear this mum giving herself a firm talking to here?!  Hmmn, I thought so!)

1986, precious cuddles with my baby boy

I have my first show of 2011 booked for the end of February, so preparation for that should keep me occupied in the coming weeks.  I think I'll start work on the show bears very soon, but first, I have my Silly Bears shop order to complete and I am also determined to finish the lovely ginger bear waiting patiently in my work basket, so he can make his way to my website.

All Bear - 2010 portfolio cover

My 2010 portfolio of work

I was delighted to receive my 2010 portfolio in the post yesterday, particularly as this is the first book I've completed from photographs using my studio set-up.  It looks very professional, if I do say so myself!  My intention is to display the portfolio on my stand at the 'Winter Bearfest' show in Kensington, so visitors will be able to flick through and see what my work is all about.

These books are useful promotional tools at shows, but I also like to have them sat on my workroom bookshelf for reference, not to mention simply to enjoy reflecting on my past works  ... after all, we all need a little reminder of our achievements now and again!

Tuesday 4 January 2011

New Year, New Direction?

2010, a review ...

2011 whimpered its way into my life, or perhaps it would be fairer of me to tell you I whimpered my way into 2011.  Not for me a giddy head full of fireworks and champagne to herald our New Year, instead a heady brew of 'flu remedies pooped my poorly party spirit.

Contemporary style 2009

Looking back at the bears I created during 2010, I can see a significant change in style from earlier years when more often than not, my bears were showy characters, full of  rowdy humour.  It seems these days, just like their designer, my bears no longer crave a need to draw attention, preferring instead to mature gracefully.

 Careworn vintage style 2010

With the exception of my vintage style 'Careworn Collection' created at the start of 2010 and carefully distressed for aged appearance, many of my 2010 bears eventually became a little removed from the reproduction vintage style I began the year determined to master, but even so, they absorbed a sprinkling of nostalgic appeal ... resulting in a gentle teddy style I came to enjoy very much.

Gentle classic style 2010

This year I have been asked to create a small shop collection for launch at http://www.sillybears.co.uk/ in February and funnily enough, my brief is to design bears 'typical of All Bear' ... which begs the question after so many years and so many subtle developments in style, what exactly is 'typical' of my work?!  One common denominator has always been the size of my designs, so it is very unlikely my 2011 bears will be truly tiny, but beyond size, I wonder which design ingredients unify my bears and whether in 2011 I should work to keep those 'All Bear' ingredients in the mix, or instead throw caution to the wind and change direction entirely?

Contemporary classic style 2010

Knowing me and the way I prefer to work, there will be no outrageous plan to sweep clean in 2011, just simple teddy evolution, as usual ... if and when the mood takes me!


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