Monday, 9 December 2019

Robin's Red

After yesterday's far too luminous photographs of my latest teddy bear, I thought I'd better try again, so I went back out to the garden this morning, armed with my faithful Canon EOS 400D SLR camera...


There is occasionally a teddy bear who is determined to be more of a challenge than most of his easy going pals and Robin Red is certainly one of those bears! He is the sweetest of teddy bears and his mohair is very beautiful, but I don't mind telling you, it really is quite a challenge to photograph for a simple 'point and shoot' photographer of teddy bears like myself!


I think I'm just about there and for now, these photographs will suffice - they aren't perfect but at least they are an improvement on the virtually fluorescent pics snapped on my mobile 'phone camera yesterday.


I think I will update my website with these photographs for the time being and just keep trying with the photography of little Robin Red ... fingers crossed I figure out my camera settings soon.

In the meantime, if anyone has any handy tips on how best to photograph red teddy bears, I would be happy to hear them!

:-)

Sunday, 8 December 2019

Robin Red

Well, I couldn't let Christmas pass without a red teddy bear now, could I?! 

12" Robin

While I was out walking with my dogs earlier this week, I spotted a cheeky little robin redbreast sat upon a branch with his chest feathers fluffed, as he watched us, watching him. He made me smile and think of my Dad, so I have named this red teddy bear, Robin Red.  

Incidentally Robin teddy is not flourescent red as his photograph suggests, he is in fact a beautiful deep Christmas red, but heaven only knows how you convince a camera lens of that! Cameras seem to have a mind of their own when it comes to red fabric ... I may try to photograph my little Robin Red again tomorrow, please wish me luck!

In the meantime, if you would like to adopt this sweet festive teddy bear, he is now available from my website and ready to hop into Santa's Sack!

www.allbearbypaula.com

:-)

Thursday, 5 December 2019

A frosty start!

The world turned white in my little corner of the UK earlier today. It wasn't quite snow, but the heavy frost covering the garden first thing this morning was absolutely beautiful and the spider's webs woven through my washing line were so lacy and delicate!


I braved the cold to take a few photographs of my latest bear 'Neve', a sweet 14" teddy and her larger pal Brandysnap, a rather fabulous 20" traditional boy.


I wasn't sure about the studio pics I took of Brandysnap last week, so thought I'd try again in the natural morning light ...


I must admit, I like the outdoor shots best ... but the question is, which do you prefer?!

Both Neve and Brandysnap are now featured on my website, so if you would like to find out a little more about them, please pop over to:


Thanks!

:-)

Update: Neve and Brandysnap have now been adopted!

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Santa's Sack

So here it is, Merry Christmas!  
(Well, almost!)

20" Plumduff

Yes, Christmas is just around the corner and for this bearmaker, it is a time to cosy up in my workroom and simply enjoy creating a few special teddy bears, with a gentle nod to the spirit of our most festive season.

20" Brandysnap

The first two such teddy bears are Brandysnap, now wearing a cheerful Christmas collar tied with seasonal gold ribbon and Plumduff, who jingles happily whenever he is hugged. Both of these beautiful teddy bears are now on my website, hoping to hop into Santa's Sack in time for Christmas Day!


:-)

Update: Plumduff and Brandysnap have now been adopted!

Monday, 18 November 2019

Bigger Hugs!

I recently began putting an annual portfolio of teddy bears together and as I sorted through photographs of my 2019 bears, it dawned on me, there have been fewer big bears this year, which, I must admit, was something of a surprise to me.

20" Brandysnap

Years ago, most of my designs were substantial, truly 'hug me' teddy bears, the kind of bears who demanded their own armchairs. I have always been well known for creating big bears and of course, still love to make them but am aware that such teddies take up considerable space and so many collections nowadays are feeling the squeeze after years of loyal teddy bear collecting.

It has been refreshing to work on medium and small sized teddy bears this year, but I would hate for my 'big 'uns' to become the dinosaurs of the bear world, only to be found in storybooks and imagination!  There are so few bear artists still making proper big teddy bears that I am very reluctant to let mine go.  So, as we roll towards Christmas Day, I plan to include at least one or two 'bears of stature' on my website, because as you may already know, bigger bears give bigger hugs!

Hopefully there will be a collector or two, with a cosy corner waiting in their collection, for just such a special teddy bear.


:-)

Sunday, 10 November 2019

They sit no more at familiar tables of home..

Our town honoured the fallen with a parade on Remembrance Sunday, so we stood watching, as uniformed soldiers, service personnel, First Aiders, Air Cadets and of course, the British Legion veterans, marched proudly across the old stone bridge to pay respect to their comrades, at the War Memorial.





It was a beautiful, cold, crisp November day.


Polly and Betty, wearing poppy bandanas as a mark of respect, were on their very best behaviour, as we followed the march up the road, to join in the Service of Remembrance.


After the service, we headed to a little snack bar for hot drinks and freshly cooked sausages to thaw us, before walking back to the memorial to see the poppy wreaths and to pay our own respects.


It was lovely to witness the town coming together to honour those who gave their lives to protect us, to hear the congregation singing the National Anthem together and to listen to the bugle play the 'The Last Post', but the most moving moment was as we read the hand written message on a tiny wooden cross laid at the end of a row of similar such crosses in the garden, placed discreetly behind the main War Memorial...

It read simply.

'For my Dad'.


The Fallen
Laurence Binyon

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.


Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres.
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.


They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.


They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.


They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England’s foam.


But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;


As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain,
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.

Monday, 4 November 2019

Juniper

A new little bear to share ...

12" Juniper

This isn't the official website photograph, but it's so cute, I couldn't resist sharing it here. It was taken on my mobile 'phone in my living room on Saturday evening, just as I finished knitting and took a moment to dress my little bear in his cosy new jumper for the first time.

It made me smile. 
I hope it makes you smile too.

:-)

Update: Juniper has been adopted.

Guy Fawkes Night

Fireworks are a strange entity for me ... I hate how they frighten my dogs, but since a little girl, have always enjoyed celebrating Guy Fawkes night with my family.  So, after settling my dogs into their beds with cosy fleece blankets, a plug-in herbal calm thingummy and the radio turned up, we headed out into night to a local organised display, completely overdressed for what turned out to be, the mildest of November nights...


My Dad always enjoyed bonfire night and I have happy childhood memories of dressing a 'Guy' in his old pyjamas to sit on the bonfire in the garden. On Guy Fawkes Night, there would be an old biscuit tin in the shed containing a selection of rockets, fountains and Catherine Wheels; Dad would hammer the Catherine Wheels onto the garden fence where they never quite spun freely, but enchanted us kids nonetheless. The fountains usually made a half hearted effort to flare and fizzle at the bottom of the garden and rockets, which were launched from empty milk bottles secured in the flower bed, would either zoom heavenwards leaving a magical trail behind them before landing in our neighbour's gardens, or, more alarming, would shoot unpredictably back across the garden towards we kids, as we ran shrieking away from them as fast as our legs would carry us!


These days we are of course, far more risk averse and sensible, so opt for an organised display for our annual family celebration ... and as I watch my Grandchildren and my grown up children enjoying the sparkling Bonfire Night sky, there is always a moment when I sense my Dad is still enjoying that magical night sky with us.

:-)

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, 2 November 2019

November days..

There is definitely something about Autumn that has me reaching for my knitting needles...


My latest teddy bear Violet, is modelling a pretty jacket I knitted earlier this week. I have a stash of vintage dolly knitting patterns which I collected over the years, so I adjusted the measurements of this sweet vintage knit to fit my teddy girl's slightly more curvaceous proportions. 

Happily, Violet was adopted from my website a couple of days ago and is now on her way to meet her new owner in the US.

It is such a gloomy day here in Kent. I can hear heavy rain hammering against my windows and the wind howling around the back of the house, so once I have braved the great outdoors with my dogs (not looking forward to that today!) I plan to light candles and cosy up in front of the tv with my knitting needles, as I have a new teddy bear to dress. I promise to share him with you just as soon as this miserable rain stops and I can take him into the garden to photograph on my little bench...

In the meantime, sending you soggy grey hugs, from a rain soaked UK!

:-)

Thursday, 31 October 2019

Pumpkin Huntin'

On Sunday afternoon, we set off in the car, welly booted and with cameras primed, in preparation for our autumnal deer spotting outing at Knole Park in Sevenoaks. However, our plans for a fun family tromp were thwarted, as for some reason unbeknownst to us, Knole Park had closed its rather grand gates to the public. Determined not to give up on our planned family walk, we drove past the park opening and rang my son and his wife to see if they had any bright ideas ... which, thankfully, they did!


Five minutes later, we met up with everyone at a mystery destination, the lovely Riverhill Himalayan Gardens, which despite having lived in Kent for forty plus years, I had never heard of before ...


So rather than deer hunting, we spent a fun afternoon exploring beautiful gardens and hunting for pumpkins instead!


Riverhill is a family owned property and the Estate is managed today, by the Great-great-great-grandson (and his wife) of John Rogers, who bought this fabulous property back in 1840. We thoroughly enjoyed the dog-friendly (on leads please) gardens and were made very welcome.  The gardens were a magical blend of the formal and the more mysterious ... absolutely perfect for exploring with my grandchildren.


In fact we had such a fun afternoon at Riverhill, we very quickly forgot all about our original plan to visit Knole!


:-) 

Monday, 21 October 2019

A spooky little clown

I rarely create themed bears, but couldn't resist making a little bear for Halloween later this month ...

14" Twilight

This spooky little clown might be perfect for Halloween ... but he'll also be heaps of fun all year round too!


If you would like to know more about this sweet Twilight teddy bear, please visit him on my website:

www.allbearbypaula.com



Before I head back upstairs to my workroom, here is a link to my earlier Halloween blog posts, full of bears, dolls and of course, lots of spooky family fun ... I hope you enjoy the read!


Wishing you all a safe, fun and of course, mischievous Halloween 2019!

:-)

Update: Twilight has been adopted.

Thursday, 17 October 2019

A little goosebump!

I am thrilled to have my little 'Goosebump' teddy bear featured in this month's 'Teddy Bear Times & Friends' magazine!

TBT's 2019 Halloween Spooktacular, 
features Goosebump (bottom left)

It has been ages since I thought to send any photographs to the specialist teddy bear magazines as time just seems to run away with me these days, but the thrill of seeing my bears in print never diminishes, even after so many years of bearmaking. I have a real soft spot for this particular magazine, as it played a big part in helping to launch my career as a bearmaker, so a huge thank you to TBT! 

If you haven't yet purchased a copy, this issue is available either individually, or as part of an annual subscription, from the TBT website:



With the fun of Halloween on the horizon, I am inspired to finish a new spooky little bear ready for the trick and treatery. I'm cutting it fine as usual, but hope to have my Halloween teddy to share with you in the next few days ... maybe I should cast a magic spell to help speed up his progress a bit?!



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.

www.allbearbypaula.com

Update: Mackenzie Tweedy has now been adopted!


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!

:-)

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