Friday, 26 March 2021

Dolly Days

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DOLLY DAYS

I wonder if you recognise this dolly? If you do, I am guessing you were probably a child of the fifties or sixties, like myself. I stumbled across dolly by chance on Ebay recently and before I could talk myself out of it, had contacted the owner to see if I could buy her...

She reminded me very much of a slightly larger version I owned as a little girl. I think my dolly was around 19" tall, and a more substantial doll. This smaller, more manageable version, is just 15" and fits comfortably into my granddaughter's dolly pram. Izzy promptly named her 'Grumpy Dolly' and took her to the local playground for some fresh air. Grumpy Dolly (also named 'Rosemary') arrived at my house tightly sealed in a plastic bag with two other 1960's dolly friends, a little Rosebud doll and a larger Palitoy baby doll. I like to think she appreciated her new dress, hairbrush and a caring young owner to take her out in the pram for walk and a play on the swings after being stored for over half a century.

Tucked away in my knitting pattern stash, was a vintage knitting pattern featuring the 'Chiltern Babykins', so I knitted her a pink dress and matching knickers to cover her modesty. I think I will make the socks this weekend. After so many years, she was due a new outfit!

For anyone still wondering, my sweet dolly was designed by the Chiltern Hygenic Toy Company, the same UK company responsible for creating our wonderful Chiltern Hugmee teddy bears. She was modelled to suck her thumb, with knees bent, just like a real baby. All Chiltern Babykins dolls had hair that looked as though a child had been left alone to hack it with a pair of scissors!

In the days of glamorous dollies, these dolls were sturdy, a more unusual style with their 'grumpy' faces but nonetheless, very endearing. In fact, I have rather a soft spot for them!

Sadly, my original Babykins doll 'disappeared' in my teens, most likely in a garage sale. As you can imagine, as one of five daughters, it wasn't always possible to keep childhood toys, so I have loved this trip down Memory Lane with my little Granddaughter, sharing dollies and making new dolly memories together.

Wednesday, 17 March 2021

A teddy bear legacy

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A TEDDY BEAR LEGACY

I was delighted to receive my subscription copy of 'Teddy Bear Times & Friends' this month and couldn't wait to open it to see an article celebrating my 25 years as a teddy bear artist! It is always a tremendous boost to see my bears in print and a huge honour too. Thank you so much TBT!

To have work published is always a thrill as it gives my teddy bears their place in history. Print publications validate an artist's work in the teddy bear world and share the bears long after they have settled into homes around the world. I hope that one day, when I am long gone, my grandchildren will stumble across an old magazine, or a dusty teddy bear book and be proud of their Nana and her teddy bears. Wouldn't that be lovely?!


If you would like to order a copy of Teddy Bear Times & Friends (My bears are in issue 250) copies can be purchased online. Please pop over to https://www.teddybeartimes.com/issues 

With love from me to you

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WITH LOVE FROM ME TO YOU

I wonder, what style of teddy bear do you like best? It's a tricky question, I know! There are so many wonderful teddy bears available online these days, it must be very hard to choose that one special teddy bear...

Since the start of the pandemic I have stayed home and shopped online. I learned that I don't actually need shops in my life and a good photograph will suffice in most cases when choosing what to buy. I don't miss stuffy changing rooms, queues or busy car parks and I certainly don't miss being hustled and bustled in busy stores. No, online shopping suits me just fine these days. I even managed to order a lovely new rose for my garden last week ...(although, if I'm honest, I did feel a twinge of nostalgia for mooching along rows of roses at the garden centre, umming and aahing over which would be my perfect choice).  I suppose one day I may rediscover the urge to visit a shop, but until then I am content to scroll, click and wait patiently for my deliveries.

I think in the case of teddy bears, choosing a companion bear from a photograph must be quite a trepiditious affair. Teddy bears are by nature a cuddlesome purchase so when buying online, a sense of touch is swapped for sight ... and imagination. It becomes ever more important to trust your bear maker when buying online. Thankfully, the wonder of the internet provides us with opportunities to 'chat' ...in fact probably more so now than at an actual teddy bear show where time was always so limited!

I used to love watching collectors reaching for my bears at teddy bear shows. It was always a privilege to witness those first few seconds in person, when a bear caught the eye of a collector and the collector couldn't resist picking him up for a cuddle. Nowadays of course, that precious moment happens after a teddy bear has already been purchased, packed into his box for travel to a distant horizon and safely delivered to a new owner after I have wished him a safe journey. Times have changed but fundamentally, the process of falling in love with a special bear does still happen... a teddy bear catches the eye of a collector across the internet, rather than across a crowded show room and when he (or she!) arrives at their door, I like to imagine the box being carefully opened and the same joy on the new owner's as they reach inside to hug their bear for the very first time ... 

I may not be able to share smiles and conversation in person with collectors these days, but my bears will always share them on my behalf, wherever they travel in the world ... with love, from me to you.

Monday, 8 February 2021

A child of the sixties


PATTI PITTA PAT AND CHATTY CATHY

It was my birthday a few days ago, a strange one under the current restrictions, but quite fun nevertheless. It is only a couple of years until I turn sixty (my goodness, seeing that in print is odd!) so I thought this could be the perfect year to indulge my inner six year old girl by purchasing a doll from my childhood in the sixties to share with my little granddaughter, who also loves her dolls. My childhood was very traditionally filled with dollies, several precious soft toys and a big Chiltern Hugmee teddy bear, who sat on the end of my bed for many years (I also recall a box of toy cars including a Batmobile... my Dad's nod to the son he always wanted but never had I think!) I still have the softees, now rather floppity and threadbare and my Big Ted bear of course, but sadly my collection of dollies disappeared over time.


One of the dolls I particularly remember was Chatty Cathy, by Mattel. She was a rather glamorous blonde doll who wore a pink candy striped dress and smart black shoes. She spoke in short sentences when I pulled a cord on her back - that is until the day her words became more and more garbled, then completely indiscernible! Chatty Cathy was a precious Christmas gift from my Gran, sadly no longer with us... oh how I wish I had kept that special dolly to share with my own granddaughter!


The other doll I never forgot, was a large walking talking doll with short hair and a more robust, no nonsense appeal but after so many years apart, I couldn't remember her name. After a spot of frantic 'Googling' and more than fifty years later, I finally located her, or to be more accurate, her exact lookilikey. My Patti Pitta Pat 'The Electric Walking Doll', was waiting for me to claim her on Ebay! Such moments should always be born of impulse, so I threw adult caution and middle aged commonsense to the four winds and snapped her up before some other nostalgic child of the sixties did. By some miracle of sound, simple engineering, a couple of hefty D batteries and the good care of her previous owners, my Patti was soon toddling dutifully across the workroom carpet, arms outstretched, while I grinned broadly, brimful of nostalgia, much to the confusion of my husband. I can't wait to introduce Patti to my granddaughter on our next 'childcare bubble' day!


Lockdown birthday was an odd experience. Instead of the usual lounge full of family eating cake, I had time to take a private trip down Memory Lane, walk my dogs in the deep dark woods where the bauble tree grows and eat a cosy steak dinner with my husband and daughter. I met my mother in the pouring rain for a birthday walk a day earlier and received lovely messages, either in person or virtually, from my family throughout the day, so all in all, it turned out to be a not bad birthday, just a different one.


I very much hope that by next year, birthdays will be legally shared with loved ones once more but as a one-off, I don't mind telling you, this year's birthday turned out to be pretty good after all!

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