Thursday 30 January 2014

Hey, I'm a bearmaker not an accountant!

Silly me turned a blind eye to my Tax Return until the very last minute (as usual!) then had to put my show bears on hold to plough through my paperwork right at the last minute to meet Friday's filing deadline on time.  I know these things need doing, but oh how I hate filling in my Tax Return ... I'm a bearmaker, not a flippin' accountant!  

Anyway, now that nasty job is done and dusted, it's time for me to get back to work on my show bears.  I already have a couple ready for the Winter Bearfest: the one in the picture above is called 'Crumpet' and the one below has yet to be named.  I think they make a really cute pair ... I hope you like them too.

I will take formal studio photographs on my posh camera when I have a few more bears finished, but in the meantime, thought you might enjoy seeing the bears exactly as I see them, after I have stitched the final stitch and they are sitting looking back at me from my workroom desk.

Besides show bears, I have several other projects to complete in February, not least of which will be a special limited edition of four splendid big bears for The Bear Shop's forthcoming catalogue.  I selected the fabric for these bears this morning and let me tell you, it is absolutely gorgeous - I am so looking forward to making them and it is a great compliment to have been invited to do so.

First things first though, today I have a sweet dark brown bear to work on for a lady in France and I need to paint a pair of twinkly eyes for him.  So that's enough blogging for now - back to work Paula!

Monday 20 January 2014


The 2014 TOBY Industry's Choice Award winners have just been announced and I am looking forward to seeing the winning creations and sharing them on the Guild of Master Bearcrafters, but as far as my decision not to take part in the competition this year goes, I am completely content.  

The ancient megalith at Kits Coty

With my 51st birthday only a couple of weeks away, I'd like to think I've now earned the right to put life into perspective, keep safe a little time to smell the roses and above all, focus on what really matters to me creatively and personally, rather than keep frantically pounding the great bear industry hamster wheel.

So, that means a big 'yes' to making new bears, a big 'yes' to continuing to write and a big fat 'NO!' to worrying about the small stuff - except perhaps my tax return, which I desperately need to make time to file before the 31st January deadline!!!!

Friday 17 January 2014

A Bearmaker's Stride

As certain years have drawn to a close, I have pondered whether my bear making was all it should have been during that year ... last year was definitely one of those years.  Illness and a bouncy new puppy knocked a significant hole in my work schedule, causing me to miss shows and deadlines in 2013.  Naturally, Polly pup became my first priority once I'd recovered from a bout of ill heath earlier in the year, so bear-making hours were of necessity limited, as my focus shifted from bear design to obedience training.

I am happy to say, the months of dog training have been a huge benefit to us, helping Polly to become the polite, gentle and friendly girl I hoped for.  Our training has been very beneficial and Polly enjoys it so much we intend to continue indefinitely; but hopefully, now that her 'manic puppy phase' has passed, life will become more settled, allowing me to take up the reins of my bear business once more.

That said, 2013 wasn't a total wipeout for All Bear.  I like to put together a calendar and portfolio of my work at the end of each year to remind me of what I achieved and although undoubtedly, there were a few less bears emerging from my workroom last year, if I flick through my portfolio I am relieved (and quite surprised!) to see that somehow, I still managed to create a solid body of work during the year and even collected an 'Excellence in Bear Artistry' award!

Thankfully my 2014 calendar is now filling with scribbles for new commissions and show commitments, so the coming year already looks reasonably positive as far as my bears are concerned and with any luck, I may even find a little spare time for some 'Prim Dolly Doodling'. 

As I have said before, at the start of each New Year I like to try to learn a new skill by perhaps taking a course, or teaching myself something interesting.  I must admit, I thought 2013 had slipped by without me managing to do this, but in hindsight, I was thinking 'craft' and overlooked my dog training, which was of course, a totally fresh challenge with much to learn. 

After twenty years in the bear industry, I admit I was ready for a fresh challenge and dare I say, am quite proud of myself for tackling something so alien to me.  Joining a dog training group has been way outside my comfort zone and working with other dog owners in the great outdoors, after the comfort of my cosy workroom, certainly hasn't been an easy transition ... but it has been immensely rewarding and I am sure it has been beneficial to my health too!

By the way, the 'Winter Bearfest' in Kensington is looming and I am booked in to exhibit. One way or another, it's time for me to get organised and start work on my show bears. I am looking forward to getting back into my bear crafting stride!

If you would like to visit this superb display of teddy bear artistry in London on the 23rd February, please visit for full details.  
I'll see you there!

Wednesday 8 January 2014

TOBY or not TOBY, that is the question!

As the 2014 TOBY Industry Choice Award deadline loomed large at the end of last year, I found myself questioning whether I really wanted to enter and was quite surprised to hear my inner bear crafting competitor asking for a rest ...

So, I have decided to give myself leave to step back from this prestigious competition in 2014, rather than putting myself through my competition paces yet again. I must say, after almost twenty years of competitive peaks and troughs, allowing myself to become a bystander is a very welcome sensation!

I dare say I will be tempted to take part in one or two other competitions during the coming year, but for now I'm stepping down and looking forward to simply enjoying this competition from a distance.  

Good luck to everyone who is taking part this year!

Thursday 2 January 2014

Let's get to the good stuff!

There will be no 2013 retrospective from this bearmaker, instead a tidy workroom, pink 'n fluffy bear in progress, a show on the horizon, orders to fulfill, fabrics to purchase, interview questions to answer, a new calendar to create ... as you can probably tell, I'm not in the mood for dwelling on what has passed, so let's get to the good stuff and stride forward into 2014 instead!

Cuppa on my desk, daytime telly burbling, slippers on ... yep, after the Christmas break I reckon it's about time to rev up my creative motor and start work on my first bear of 2014!

Happy New Year everyone!!!!


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