Thursday, 29 December 2011

They just don't make them like that any more!

Maybe it's a sign of my age, but I love old things.  In many respects, I prefer my old Singer Featherweight to my modern Bernina sewing machine.  It is simpler, the stitch quality is amazing and I love it's appearance.  My modern Bernina is fine and workmanlike, but boxy and rather characterless in appearance.  Maybe, it's the female equivalent of men liking the shape of sports cars?

I have long wanted a Kenwood Chef mixer.  Back in November, I asked Mike, my other half, if he would buy me an old one for Christmas.  He responded in no uncertain terms, that he would not buy me kitchen equipment as a Christmas present...and two weeks later a large box arrived containing a vintage Chef (between 33 and 47 years old).  Mike took it to bits, serviced and cleaned it and I have had loads of fun with it since.  He was amazed at how easy it was to service (unlike so many modern appliances).  He also bought a mincer attachment, liquidiser attachment and sausagemaking attachments.  It is amazing how many attachments were made for this machine (and are still available). I guess they must have made millions of them.

I started off by making Brownies and a Dundee cake using the mixer.  They turned out really well and were eaten before I thought to take any photos!

Today, we had a go at making pork sausages using the mincer and sausage making attachments.  I have to say that they tasted better than any bought sausages I have ever eaten.  I can see us making many more!  The British love bangers and mash! 

Friday, 23 December 2011

Merry Christmas to all!

Wishing everyone a wonderful, peaceful Christmas!

The New Year will be very different for me, as I retired at the end of last week.  I will really miss teaching children and supporting other teachers and parents in their use of computers. 



Sunday, 4 December 2011

Under the weather

Sorry about the lack of updates and news - I'm not very well at the moment.


Friday, 18 November 2011

Christmas Treasures Online Show has started!

I have several new bears available for adoption at the Christmas Treasures Online Show.  There are bears available from 75 bear artists from all over the world.  The show runs until Sunday.  Go to if you would like to see more.

Cherish now adopted and heading to Colorado.

Mistletoe now adopted and off to Cornwall.

Goldie is now adopted and heading to Belgium.

Snowflake is now adopted and Pennsylvania bound.

Christingle is now adopted and going to live in Ontario, Canada.

I have also designed and made an ellie and old fashioned ted.

 Old Ellie is adopted and heading for Virginia.

Old Ted is now adopted and heading to California.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

British Bear Artist Awards Winner

Pakak has won first prize in the Realistic category of the British Bear Artist Awards.  He was a labour of love and I am so pleased that the judges liked him as much as I do.  He is made from Schulte white alpaca.  He has a locline neck and spine with jointed, wired limbs.  He has a hand-moulded nose and claws and black, glass eyes with  eyelids.  His face was scissor and needle sculpted and shaded.  he has sculpted, black leather paw pads.

Pakak is now adopted.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Starting to feel seasonal...

I have started to work on calendar pages for the next year.  I have finished my calendar for December.  Please feel free to print a copy for yourself if you would like to.  It will print A4 size.  If you would like a US Letter size copy, email me and I will send it to you.  To download the file (about 500kb), click the text link below (not the image) and save the file.  If the file opens in your browser, go to File, then Save Page as...

To print the calendar, you will need  to open the file in Adobe Reader.  The bear featured in December is Christingle.  He will be available for adoption in the Christmas Treasures Online Show which runs from Friday to Sunday this weekend.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Christmas Treasures Preview Starts

The Show Preview has started.  To take a peek at the preview bears of the 75 bear artist participants, go to:

You can also vote for your favourite bears.  The online show starts on the 18th November.

My preview bear is a polar bear called Christingle.  Hope you like him.

Monday, 31 October 2011

And the winner is....

Congratulations to Sandra as number 11 was drawn by the random number generator!!  Please email me with your address and I will get Pumpkin into the post asap!

Today is a special day for me as it is my mother's birthday.  She passed away five years ago, but would have been 79 today.  Love you Mum.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Free Giveaway Draw is Tomorrow!

The draw for Pumpkin is tomorrow, the 31st October.  To have a chance of winning Pumpkin, add a comment to my blog and become a follower or add yourself to my mailing list, whichever you prefer.  I will post Pumpkin anywhere worldwide.  The draw will take place at 6pm UK time (as I am back to school tomorrow).   Good luck all!

I am very busy preparing bears for the Teddies Worldwide Christmas Treasures online show.  The preview for the show begins on the 4th November.  Visitors to the preview will be able to vote for their favourite bear.

The show, itself, begins on the 18th. November.

I will post again tomorrow evening, with the winner's name.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Light and Shade

I'm very, very busy bear and ellie making for the Christmas Treasures online show and the British Bear Show - both coming up next month.  I have been developing new ways of working and although this process is very exciting for me, as I love finding new looks and methods,  it plays havoc with deadlines that need to be met.

I decided about a month ago that I should make a patchwork quilt for our king size bed.  I have done a small amount of hand piecing -  about 30 years ago, but have never tried patchwork on the machine.  I have been accumulating fabrics with autumnal colourings, as I love the rich colours of this time of the year. 

I am very happy with the fabrics, but worry how they will look together.  Maybe for a first project, I should have gone for charm packs (where all the fabrics are designed to coordinate).  Unfortunately, I am too pig-headed to go for the sensible option, so will have to live with the choices I have made.  I have my squares cut out and have pieced four squares, but will now need to put this aside until after the two November shows.  Hopefully, it will be a project I will be able to complete over the Christmas holiday.

I went to the Knit and Stitch Show at Alexandra Palace earlier this month.  WOW!  I had no idea there were so many wonderful materials to be found available in the UK.  If you ever get the chance to go, it is well worth it if you love textiles in all their forms.  I went on a Saturday and it was incredibly busy - several areas were 'gridlocked' with people; not ideal if you are a claustrophobic! 

I have been toying with the idea of getting an embellisher machine over the past month or so and decided to go for it while I still have a salary coming in.  I spent a lot of time looking at different models and, in the end, went for the Janome FM725.  This comes with a five needle and one needle head.  I also bought an additional head that allows you to change the size of the needles.  I had a little play with it last night and am really pleased with it.  All I need now is the time to learn to exploit it's possibilities!

It's not too late to enter for the draw to win Pumpkin.  The draw will be on the 31st October.

Hugs to all


Friday, 30 September 2011

Shortlisted for the British Bear Artist Awards 2011

I have just received the news that my polar bear, Pakak, has been shortlisted in the Realistic category of the BBAA.  I am particularly pleased as he is my first design using locline.  I believe that winners will be announced at the British Bear Show on the 12th November.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Is it time to hibernate, yet?

I have recently completed a weekend bear making course at Bear Bits.  The tutor was Maria Collins of Puca Bears and the purpose of the class was to learn to needlefelt.  We had to do much of the sewing prior to the weekend, using the pattern that Maria supplied. I am so grateful to Maria for opening up a whole new area of possible design development for me.

I had a really nice weekend with convivial company and Maria was a very generous and patient tutor.  I really like the effect that can be achieved with needlefelting on pawpads...although I did discover it does time a considerable amount of time to achieve a nice, 3d effect.  I decided to add one of my hand-sculpted noses to the bear's face.  I think he looks a little tired, so named him 'Is it time to hibernate, yet?'  I'm not convinced he's quite finished.  The urge to keep going with the needlefelting needles is strong!

There is still plenty of time to enter the draw for my free giveaway bear, Pumpkin.  The draw is not until Halloween.


Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Free Giveaway

I have been meaning to do a giveaway for some time.  Pumpkin is a OOAK sweetie, made by myself.  She is looking for a loving home.  She is approximately 11 inches tall.  She will be posted anywhere worldwide at my expense.  All names will be drawn from a hat on  the 31st October.  For a chance to win her, please leave a comment so I will know you want to be entered into the draw, and become a follower of my blog, or use the image alongside to link from your blog to mine or sign up for the mailing list.

Pumpkin is the middle bear in the photo below!  Good Luck!



Shorter Days

The leaves are starting to turn, the evenings are drawing in and thoughts are turning to preparing the garden for winter. 

I had a lovely Hugglets, meeting many lovely collectors and other artists.  Teddybuys bears found new homes in the UK, Australia and South Africa. I came home with a sore throat!  It has taken me 10 days to get around to taking the photos off the camera.  The photo below was taken before the doors opened to the public.


Saturday, 10 September 2011

Almost ready for Hugglets!

I have just managed to finish one last bear for Hugglets.  Charm was photographed unfinished in an earlier post.  She is a hybrid between my usual bears and a traditional bear.  My usual style bears are made using alpaca.  I wanted to use a piece of beautiful Schulte mohair but was concerned that it wouldn't work with my usual dropped paws, so decided to use traditional arms instead.  The mohair is very wild and silky.  I decided I didn't want to try and tame it, but just left it natural.  Anyway, Charm is the result and I hope you like her.

I've just got to write up all the adoption tags for the bears, pack them and the bears, hem my table cloth, find a spare, pack them, pack business cards, lamp, props for the bears to stand on etc. etc. I just know I'll forget something...
Charm is on her way to South Africa.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

There's a chill in the air!

It  has been very chilly here the last couple of days.  I can only hope that the better weather returns and we get an Indian summer.

Somehow it seems appropriate that I have just finished a polar cub.  His name is Pakak which I believe means 'into mischief'.  He has a locline neck and spine with jointed and wired legs.  He has sculpted black leather paw pads and epoxy clay claws.  His eyes are black English glass with white and black Fimo sclera and eyelids.  I have had great fun posing him. I hope you like him!

Enough playing around...I still have to get ready for Hugglets.  There are bears to photograph so I can create their adoption tags and several of the bears do not have their tails, yet.

I'm also going on a needlefelting course in about 10 days and haven't done any of the pre-sewing yet!  Does it sound like I'm panicking?  Too right, I am!

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Still preparing for Hugglets

I have been burning the midnight oil bear making this summer.   It is a treat to have the time to focus on the bears...another week and it's back to work, so I've been making the most of the time I have now.

Hamish is made from Schulte alpaca and has cashmere sculpted paws.  He has six joints, including a double neck joint and a hand-moulded epoxy clay nose.  He is wearing a tartan organza bow.

Above is Jonty.  He is made from a very dense Schulte alpaca.  He has sculpted leather paw pads, six joints and a hand-moulded nose.  He is wearing a gold and ivory bow.

This is Chance.  She is made from blush Schulte alpaca.  Never has a bear given me as much trouble as her.  She should really be called Last Chance.  Her head was originally on my reject pile.  Everything that could go wrong did go wrong as I made her.  I persevered and have grown strangely attached to her.  She may end up a keeper.

The above two photos are of Toffee.  She is all eyes - a bit of a cutie.

Lastly, is a photo of an unfinished bear.  He is made from some gorgeous, silky, wild ivory Schulte mohair.  I wanted to try my realistic pattern in mohair.  I always use alpaca, normally.  I have had to adjust the pattern.  The arms have been altered to a classic teddy style as I didn't feel my normal paw style would suit this mohair.  I am going to have to look at him for a couple of days to work out how to finish in the meantime he will sit in the rocking chair!

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

I Can't Help Myself

OK, so I admit it.  I just love mohair and alpaca.  Because most of my bears are made using alpaca, I have ended up with a good sized (understatement) stash of mohair.  I am particularly keen on soft, silky, curled kid mohair.  I cannot resist it, so I buy it and then don't know what to do with it.  If anyone knows of a treatment for this addiction, please let me know. 

Another issue I have with curly mohair is that it is difficult to use on  bear faces where I tend to prefer straight fur to work with.  A little while ago, I designed a new pattern that I called my 'Popsies'.  Blushes and Peaches both came from this pattern.  I thought it might be interesting to use a yummy piece of toffee-coloured  curled mohair from my stash with my Popsie pattern. 

I constantly fiddle with my designs or should I say 'I develop my designs' :) and the following bear has the Popsie head , my panda pattern body and arms, and leg pattern adapted from my realistic bears.  Does this make me a Dr Frankenstein? It surprised me how well the different elements from my different designs have gone together.  Anyway, 'Autumn' is the result.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Thinking ahead!

It seems like a travesty to start thinking of autumn while still in the midst of August.  I don't really usually think in terms of the seasons when it comes to bearmaking, but have decided to have a go and make some bears using autumnal colours.  Rollo is the first with autumn in mind.  I just adore these standing clown bears and cannot resist making one from time to time. He is made from two shades of Schulte mohair - a lovely ginger mohair that I fell in love with straight away and a complementary blonde shade.  I think the oranges and reds really suit him.

Hope you like him.  He will be making his debut at Hugglets.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Fruits of Summer, holidays and new bear, Matilda

Matilda is finished.  She is made with a really lovely antique gold coloured Schulte alpaca.  It is difficult to accurately capture the colour. She is quite heavy and cuddly.  She has been made for Hugglets in September.

What a wondeful time of the year.  We have just returned home from a week in the New Forest.  We had great weather, very warm, with only one day of rain.  We also visited the Isle of Wight and after a brisk walk took this photo of the Needles.  The sea looked beautiful...almost Mediterranean in appearance.

Spring is my favourite time of year in the garden, but August and September comes a close second because of all the beautiful fruit we have.  Our fruit season starts in June with strawberries.  In July we harvest our Beauty of Bath apples and Stella cherries.  The apples are small, red and a little tart. They do not keep very well, so those we don't eat, we juice.  In August we get raspberries, blueberries and James Grieve cooking apples.  We freeze our excess apples, raspberries and cherries. In September the Conference and William bon Chretien pears and Lord Lambourne apples are ready.  This year our pears are looking the best they have for years.  We also have several Kentish cob nut trees (a type of hazelnut), but our local squirrel, Harvey, has taken most of them for the past two years.  I also have  lemon, orange, lime and pink grapefruit trees (one of each).  These are in containers and spend the winter in the conservatory.  These often come into flower in winter and we pick fruit in summer, but this can vary and is a little hit and miss.  The lemon is the most reliable.  

If anyone has any recipes for keeping pears, I would be grateful.  I'm thinking maybe in terms of preserving them in alcohol but other suggestions are welcome?  A few photos taken this morning follow:

Lastly, my dogs Daisy, Monty and Oscar are enjoying the summer.  They cannot stay in the sun for long as, being fair, they get sunburn very easily!

I hope you are all able to enjoy the summer!