Thursday, 10 October 2019

A Dinosaurus-roarus Birthday

Wishing my amazing little dippy dinosaur explorer Grandson, a very happy 5th birthday today ...


The poor lad had to go to school on his birthday (boo!) so I am looking forward to sharing a birthday cuppa and a little cake when I catch up with him later today.  I can hardly believe how much this whirlwind of a boy has taught himself about his favourite subject (and also his Nana and everyone around him during the past year!) He really is quite the walking talking dinosaur encyclopedia.

Happy Birthday Tobes, 
May your 5th birthday treats be every bit as dinosaurus-roarus as you are hoping they will be!

With Megasaurus love always,
From,
Your super-proud, 
Jurassic Nana xxx

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Autumnal Inspirations

I fell in love with this Harris Tweed the second I saw it and just knew it would make a stunning Tweedy Ted ...

 18" Mackenzie Tweedy

 Up until now, my previous Tweedy Teds have had classic three piece heads (not including their ears!) so I thought it would be fun to design a four piece centre-seam head for this particular fellow. I have designed centre seam mohair bears over the years as they provide scope for shaping - for example, if you design a gentle curve into the head gusset, it offers more depth and creates a wonderful dome shaped head. I thought it would be fun to translate that lovely dome into my Tweedy Ted and happily, this design worked really well.  If you would like to know more about Mackenzie Tweedy, please pop over to my website.



It is the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness and I am loving the daily walks I take with Polly and Betty, my Golden Retrievers. The countryside is rich with berries and the leaves are beginning to turn beautiful shades of orange and gold. It is a time of year I have always found especially inspiring ... the dogs are loving it too as there are now lovely muddy puddles to splash through on their walks! They really are such a pair of muck magnets.


These are a few photos I snapped on our walk through Oaken Wood last weekend...


Needless to say I spent the rest of the afternoon armed with shampoo, towels and a hose!


Whatever the season where you live, I hope you too are enjoying all it has to offer!

:-)

Friday, 4 October 2019

A post from The Dark Side

Black bears can be so tricky to photograph!

12" commission teddy 2019

I usually use my Canon Eos camera to take bear pics, but I don't mind admitting this fellow, a commission finished last week, caused me a few photographic headaches!  I gave up trying with my posh SLR camera and resorted to my mobile phone camera instead. Hey presto, after all the frustrating twiddling of manual settings on my proper camera, one press of a little screen button and my Samsung Galaxy 10+ did a pretty decent job of things.  I live and learn!

20" Mischief was made in 2018

Not only are black teddy bears notoriously difficult to photograph, they are also a real challenge to make. Marking a pattern on black mohair is pointless if done with my preferred lead pencil, so I need to use a fine gold Sharpie pen instead. Cutting out, trimming and sewing black mohair with black thread is also very tiring on my eyes, so I only ever work on black mohair by my workroom window, in bright natural daylight. 

15" Blackberry was created in 2009

So, if you have ever wondered why black artist teddy bears are almost as rare as hen's teeth, it is because black mohair is probably one of the most challenging fabrics for a teddy bear maker to work with!

Black Magic was created in 2006

I have been trying to find photographs of some of the black bears I have created over the past 25 years, but unfortunately it is proving a rather thankless task. I know there have been occasional black bears peppered throughout the years, but goodness only knows where I filed those photos!  

Merlin was created in 2011

I'll keep hunting for those black bear pics, but in the meantime, I hope you enjoy this little blog post from the dark side! 

:-)

Thursday, 26 September 2019

A labour of love

My rocking chair was looking a little jaded after twelve years parked in a corner of the conservatory, so last weekend, I decided to rejeuvenate it with a splash of colour and some good ol' fashioned elbow grease!


Fortunately the rocker was unvarnished and the wood was lovely and smooth, so I launched straight at it with a pot of  Zinsser Cover Stain primer.


I had several sample pots of Annie Sloan's Chalk Paint tucked away in the depths of our garage and as I am a far from perfect painter and have a rather slap happy approach, I thought this would be the perfect paint for my chair. Annie Sloan's chalk paint is very easy to use but best of all for the messy painters among us, it is extremely forgiving! This lovely paint also comes in the most beautiful complementary colours. I chose 'Provence' and 'Arles' because they reminded me of holidays spent in the South of France and Kefalonia... the colours also happily complemented the oilcloth covering on my Grandchildren's painting table!


The first coat of paint went on easily and once dried, I enthusiastically slapped on a second coat. I should probably have watered the paint down a little first though, as it was rather thick in places but I didn't worry too much because I had complete faith that everything would remedy when I gave it a good rub over with a medium sand paper. What I had learned from my bedroom furniture renovation last year, was that chalk paint sands to a smooth finish perfectly and all lumps and bumps soon disappear with little effort and a keen eye. Also, it is a very satisfying (if dusty!) process.


My two sample pots were enough to cover the top of the rocking chair with two coats of paint, but I ran out before I could complete the rest of the chair, so left it overnight, then dragged my rocker back out to the patio next morning for sanding of the top half, while I waited for the Annie Sloan website to dispatch more paint for the bottom half. Incidentally, the dust really flies when you do the sanding, so I'd recommend using a dust mask and wearing old clothes. I didn't have a mask handy so spent the afternoon coughing heartily ... !


Sanding the chalk paint to a smooth finish lightened the colour to a lovely soft shade and revealed white primer in places ... which will be perfect for the shabby chic, waxed finish I hope to achieve. I wiped my chair with a damp cloth after sanding, then popped it back in the corner until I can paint the whole thing over, re-sand gently and finally wax.  It's a labour of love, but I am enjoying my rocking chair project and so far, am delighted with the result!  I will share the finished result when I'm finished and my chair is ready to receive a nice new cushion.

By the way, if you haven't yet tried chalk paint, why not give it a go ... it is so versatile and really fun to use. I have found it really rewarding to bring my tired wooden furniture back to life, as I don't particularly enjoy change or trying to buy new furniture. I would much rather revitalise and personalise the furniture I have shared my life and my family with. Now it makes me smile whenever I see it!

:-)

Friday, 20 September 2019

The gift of Autumn

Golden hues and Autumn sunshine are now beginning to cast a beautiful glow over the countryside on my walks and although this beautiful season will always be tinged with sadness for me after the loss of my Dad in the midst of a sensational September nine years ago, somehow his loss has gifted me a greater appreciation of how beautiful Autumn truly is...

12" Chutney

I am so thankful to be able to express my enjoyment of this wonderful season with you, through my bearmaking.


:-)

Update: Chutney has been adopted!

Thursday, 19 September 2019

Life is for the living..

I love early Autumn walks, so popped the dogs into my car yesterday morning and headed over to the Woodland Trust for a wander in the Autumn sunshine...


It was very peaceful; the girls enjoyed a good run and plenty of serious sniffing ... there's bunnies in them thar hills ya know! Thankfully, the bunnies stayed snug as bugs, tucked up safely in their burrows.


It wasn't until later that morning, when we arrived home after our lovely walk and I opened the door of my fridge to make myself a coffee and saw a bottle of Chapel Down wine, that I realised the date. September the 18th. Nine years to the day of that breathtakingly beautiful Autumn morning, when I received the telephone call that told me you had gone forever...

And with that sudden intense memory, came a realisation that eventually our world did turn again and life is for the living.. just as you always said it should be. You have never been forgotten Dad and never will be, but I know you would be reassurred to hear, that now, nine years on, we are no longer submerged in unending sadness.

My family and of course, Polly and Betty, gently lifted my soul from the darkness of deep loss and carefully guided me back towards the sunshine over. It is has been a long process and one that probably never quite ends, but it taught me that weaving threads of great sadness through joy, can help the pain of loss ease over time.


And speaking of joy Dad, I hope that somehow you are able to know the Great Grandchildren you never had the chance to meet. My goodness, they are so inquisitive, fiesty and fun! Every so often I catch a glimpse of you in my Grandchildren when I least expect it, a twinkle in their eye, a determination to fathom a problem, a raucous belly laugh...

You so would have loved them!

xxxx

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

All Bear, a collection

Over the past twenty five years, I have been blessed by the support I have received from the lovely people who have collected my teddy bears.  I will be forever grateful to these very special collectors, for their belief in my bears and also for the opportunity they have given me, to continue creating the bears I love.


Now and again I am sent photographs of my bears in their homes and a few days ago, received this picture of a fabulous collection of 'All Bear by Paula' teddy bears, now living contentedly in Germany. Their owner kindly gave me permission to share her photograph.  I hope you enjoy seeing her beautiful collection of 'All Bear' teddy bears, as much as I have.  

Don't they look stunning together!!!

:-)

Monday, 9 September 2019

In glorious technicolour

In my last post I promised glorious technicolour and I think you will agree, it really doesn't get more glorious, or more technicolour, than this teddy bear!

20" Rhubarb


We are talking bold, we are talking fun, but most of all, we are talking ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS!!!!

This cheerful 20" mohair clown teddy, is now available for adoption and one thing is absolutely certain, Rhubarb Bear will brighten the darkest room and bring sunshine smiles to his new owner every day!

If you would like to know a little more about Rhubarb, please pop over to visit him on my website:


:-)

Update: Rhubarb has been adopted!

Thursday, 5 September 2019

Glorious technicolour

For those of you who read my previous post, I am happy to say my little Grandson seems to be settling happily into his new school life. I collected him from school with his Daddy on Tuesday and was delighted when an excited Toby flew through the school gates to give his Nana a big ol' hug, clutching his first official reading book. He was full of beans and eager to tell us all about his day. Yes, I think he'll be just fine.


So, I can now swap my 'anxious Nana' head, for my 'busy bearmaker' head but first I should mention, I am sat at home today waiting for a very special parcel ... my vintage Singer sewing machine is due to arrive! Whoop whoop! I am very excited to receive this beautiful old lady. My poor dogs are far less excited though, as it means their walk has been delayed while we wait for the doorbell and they have had to satisfy themselves with barking at the window cleaner rather than running on the field. Sorry girls!

By the way, I plan to finish a new teddy bear this afternoon, a lovely cheerful clown bear. The black and white pic is just to whet your appetite, I'll reveal all in glorious technicolour shortly!

:-)

Monday, 2 September 2019

Big School

Thinking of my Grandson today, as he takes his first independent journey across the playground, into 'Big School'. We have shared so much in our own little world of fun and laughter over the past four years, I don't mind admitting, I am going to miss our days together hugely. 


It occurs to me that we ask a huge amount of children at this tender young age. They are expected to cope with wearing strange clothes, being left at a strange building and then taken into an unknown world by someone they may have only met on the very briefest of terms. We ask that these little people trust their parents to be there when they exit theirnew classroom at the end of the school day and also to understand, that this rather brutal separation from everything familiar and secure in their world, is somehow for the best.

Over the past few weeks, I have watched as my own Grandson and his Mummy and Daddy prepared steadily for the start of term today. I couldn't be more proud of them both for the calm support they have given whenever he has been overwhelmed by the turn his little life now has to take. There have been moments when our intrepid little dinosaur hunter has broken all our hearts with his desperate four year old pleas not to have to start school and I am absolutely certain, that if any one of his parents, or grandparents, could have waved a magic wand to make school disappear, we would have happily done so for him ... but the Law is the Law and for Toby, the time for this first educational milestone has now arrived.

I saw my own children safely into school for the first time as a young mum more than thirty years ago and of course, found myself gulping back tears when the classroom door swung urelatingly shut behind my entire world. The ensuing hours until 'home time' seemed never ending.  As with most parents, my heart was in my mouth as I walked back to school to collect them later that day ... but thankfully my fears were needless and my son and daughter both exited through the same door, clutching school bags, clearly relieved to see me but also eager to tell me about their first day at school. I remember feeling mixed emotions of relief and pride as I reached possessively for them ... tinged a little sadness at the budding sense of independence I could already see taking root.

Years ago, I worked as a teaching assistant in the reception class of a local infant school. I absolutely loved my job and was always excited to start a new year, with a fresh intake of four year olds. It never ceased to amaze me how well most coped once inside the classroom. On the inside of that door, tears and trepidation at leaving anxious parents, were quickly replaced with curiosity and an eagerness to prove themselves capable. It was never long before the children settled to play and began to enjoy their new activities. School routines were soon established and little personalities were quick to emerge.

My super-thoughtful daughter-in-law, took a moment before school this morning to send me a photograph of my Grandson wearing not only his new school uniform but most importantly for this anxious Nana, a confident smile, before he climbed into the car for the journey to his new school.

And I don't doubt that for one moment, that both mummy and daddy both drew a deep breath to steady themselves, as they proudly waved their son off across the 'Big School' playground for the first time ... 

Well done gang. 
I am so proud of you all!

 xxx

:-)

Thursday, 29 August 2019

Skylark

I have been pottering my way through the summer holidays, enjoying walks with my dogs and funshine days, playing and reading with my grandchildren. Between times, whenever the weather was cool enough, I made time to work on an occasional summery teddy bear.


There is the slightest hint of Autumn creeping into early mornings now, so I don't suppose it will be long before my bears take an autumnal turn and my thoughts turn to knitting needles and cosy yarns. Before Autumn happens though, there is just enough time to introduce a lovely summer clown, created from softest peach and pale bluey-grey mohair. I called him 'Skylark' and popped him onto my website this very morning.

19" Skylark

Skylark is a striking teddy bear, with chunky proportions and a tilt growler in his tummy. If he tugs at your heartstrings, I would be delighted to hear from you...

To find out more about this lovely clown bear, please pop over to my website:

www.allbearbypaula.com

Thank you!

:-)

A vintage Singer

Recently it dawned on me that twenty five years of designing and creating teddy bears is really quite an achievement, so I should probably mark it somehow. But the question was how? Then I had a lightbulb moment...

When I was a little girl, I remember being fascinated by an old treadle sewing machine which stood behind the door of my Gran's living room. Back in those days, the living room was a place in which we kids were under strict instructions to sit politely while the grown-ups chatted, making certain to stay quiet and keep our feet off the settee. There was plenty of time to peer at the myriad of tiny glass animals held captive in a glass fronted cabinet next to the black and white television and of course, to admire Gran's lovely old sewing machine.

I have had a secret yen for a vintage sewing machine for many years, but have never really known much about them.  In view of my quarter century anniversary, I decided to invest some time researching their history, in the hope my investigations might lead me to find one of my very own to commemorate twenty five years in the wonderful world of teddy bears. I wanted my machine to have age, to be British, beautiful and interesting, but most importantly, to be working! It has been a completely absorbing study and did indeed eventually lead me to discover a special sewing machine. So, I have taken the plunge and placed an order for my first ever vintage sewing machine, a beautiful hand cranked Singer 128k, almost a hundred years old. My dream is that one day, this sewing machine will pass to my Granddaughter and hopefully help to inspire her creative journey.


Nana and Izzy

My vintage Singer hasn't arrived yet, but for those interested, I promise to share a pic when she does ... am so excited!

:-)

Thursday, 8 August 2019

Castle Canines

We always enjoy a visit to beautiful Hever Castle in Edenbridge and one of my favourite times to visit is when 'Castle Canines' dog show is being hosted in the grounds. There is something completely joyous about seeing the Southern Golden Retriever Display Team strut their formation stuff to music; they always seem such happy dogs!


Naturally, we take Polly and Betty with us as they love to be involved in trips out and always enjoy a visit.


They are such good girls whenever we take them out and they love all the attention they receive from other visitors, especially the children. Hever Castle is a very 'dog friendly' place to visit and although dogs aren't allowed inside the castle itself, well behaved dogs are welcome to enjoy the beautiful gardens with their owners, so long as they are kept on leads.


And those gardens are breathtaking!


I especially love the Italian Gardens and the formal Rose Garden...


In fact, near to closing time, while the garden was quiet, I couldn't resist taking a few photographs of my girls posing rather regally among those gorgeous roses!


We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Hever Castle this year and after eating way too much ice-cream, mooching around fabulous gardens, seeing the many other dogs visiting and watching the Southern Golden Retrievers display team, we headed towards the lake to spend one last hour strolling right round the water along meadow flower paved pathways. It was such a pretty, peaceful walk!


Polly and Betty enjoyed their visit to Hever Castle too and even though they were on leads, so didn't have a run that afternoon, they didn't seem to mind in the least. In fact, they were both very sleepy when we arrived home on Sunday evening. Trips out are both exciting and exhausting it seems!


Hever Castle is a very lovely, dog friendly, place to visit. 
We will definitely visit with our girls again!

:-)

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Summer

Summer is in full swing in the UK and so here is the perfect teddy bear to celebrate our sunshine season ...

15" Summer

Butterflies, flowers, peach mohair and a carnival pink striped nose ...  definitely Summer in a teddy bear!

This pretty girl was snapped up super fast from my website yesterday and I am delighted to say, is now on her way to Germany meet her new family.

:-)

Friday, 2 August 2019

Competitive Investments

The deadline for the 2019 TOBY Industry's Choice Awards has now arrived and after a time away from competition work, I decided to stop umming and aahhing and actually enter this year. Not that I am terribly hopeful of success, as my experience of the TOBY Awards has been mixed over the years. That said, I did have the honour (not to mention shock!) of winning a couple of times with entries several years ago, so I guess you never can tell!


You could have knocked me down with a feather when I received notice that my big clown, 'Billy Buttons' had won a 2008 TOBY Industry's Choice Award... my very first TOBY Award!

And in 2011, I was absolutely thrilled to receive the TOBY Award again, this time for my careworn style 'Lonesome' teddy bear.


That said, it has been a good while since I last entered a competition after a disappointment with another competition, regarding an award I won three years ago. Sadly, despite contacting the organiser many times, my trophy was never sent and as competitions are costly and somewhat nerve-wracking to enter, I felt a little discarded after the initial joy of winning an award. As a result, I decided to take a step away from competing for a time.  Bear artists invest not only their hard earned pennies, but also fragile self belief, into submitting competition entries and to my mind, organisers should respect that investment.

So, why even enter artist bear competitions? 

Well, as I see it, teddy bear competitions are about so much more than who has made the 'best' bear that year. They are about promoting teddy bear artistry as an industry and validating those bearmakers who put heart and soul into their creations. They are also about inspiring creative talent in others, whilst sharing passion for the teddy bear, his heritage and also his future.

My 2019 TOBY Award entries (there are two) have now been submitted so there is nothing else to do but sit back and enjoy the suspense, while judging takes place. I dare say there will be a twinge of disappointment if at least one isn't placed this year, but if that's the case, it certainly won't be the first time and probably won't be the last either!

:-)

Thursday, 1 August 2019

The universal language of teddy bears

After twenty five years of creating teddy bears and sending them all around the world to live, I was excited to add a new country to add to my list of globetrotting teddy bears this week ...


This sweet fellow will be the first of my bears ever to emmigrate all the way to South Korea!

I have been trying to list all the countries my bears now live in ... it's not easy to remember after so many years as a teddy bear maker, but I think these just about cover it:

United Kingdom
United States
Canada
Australia
New Zealand
Japan
China
France
Germany
Italy
Finland
Denmark
Belgium
Spain
South Africa
Luxembourg
Singapore
Hong Kong

And now ... ta da ...

South Korea!



Teddy bear hugs, it seems, speak a universal language!

:-)

Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Vintage cars on the Green

My little boy (now 34 and far from!) has always had a passion for cars, so after a sleepover with my Grandchildren the night before while Mummy and Daddy had a night out, we all went to a super little car show held on Bearsted Green at the weekend. I loved mooching around in the sunshine with my family, listening to the 1940's tunes warbling from a corner of the Green, while we admired the beautifully polished and much loved elderly cars ... I'm no car buff, but isn't it strange how old cars have the power to evoke a sense of fond nostalgia?! I must admit, I found myself recalling all kinds of long forgotten trips and visits from my youth!


My four year old Grandson on the other hand, was very impressed with this HUGE American fire engine!


We had a lovely afternoon but most of all, I loved seeing the excitement in my son's eyes, as he shared his enthusiasm with his son.




The old music was good too and my Granddaughter had a lovely little dance to the Lindyhop!


My daughter took a bit of a shine to this wacky VW Beetle ...


... and as we weren't driving, we enjoyed a crafty glass of lovely bubbles in the sunshine!


After a fab time wandering around the vintage car show, we headed to the pub garden across the road, to cool off with a pint and take a front row view of all the cars as they left the Village Green...


And one very excited little boy and his daddy, parked themselves firmly on the pavement opposite, to wave the old cars goodbye. They were absolutely delighted when the NYPD police car obliged onlookers by leaving with a very loud siren blast!


Mr Mod also kindly gave my Grandson a cheery goodbye wave, as he headed back home to his garage.





We had a very enjoyable afternoon at 'Vintage Cars on the Green' in Bearsted at the weekend. The sun shone, the cars were fabulous, the atmosphere was relaxed and fun and it was a great way for a family to spend an afternoon together!

:-)

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