Friday, February 27, 2009

Superpowers!

This photo has long been a favorite of mine. It is even more special to me since my mother passed away in January. This was taken in my mother’s sewing room and I think I was about a year old at the time. I am standing in my mother’s sewing chair peering at something on her sewing machine while she watches from her ironing board nearby. It’s wasn’t necessarily a harbinger of things to come. My mother sewed a lot so she and all of her girls were frequent occupants of the sewing room. I imagine my dad took this photo of us together and captured this moment in time.

One of my friends and I were looking at some old photos she had displayed that showed her family from generations before. There were fascinating and you could see how much things have changed – clothes, cars, hairstyles, buildings, etc. I looked at them and saw the people in them and thought they were pretty much like we are – going about their day to day, attending family gatherings, celebrating some special occasion. Then I had an absolutely brilliant idea if I do say so myself. It’s going to be my next answer to that philosophical question I hear people ask every once in awhile to make conversation. “If you could have one superpower, what would it be? For example, would you like to be able to fly, have X-ray vision, or superhuman strength?”

I finally came up with my answer. I would like to be able to walk into any photograph and be part of those moments, even if I don’t know the people in the pictures. Wouldn’t that be amazing? Not only could you go back and witness important events in history, but you could also go back to see yourself as a child and visit memories that took place too early for you to remember. I wouldn’t hesitate to jump into this photo and get a closer look at what fascinates me so in this picture. I would also ask my mother what she is thinking about. What was she doing? Why were we so dressed up? Was it Sunday? And then I’d give her a big ol’ hug! And then another one.

What superpower would you like to have?

Best of Luck!

It’s been terrific hearing from so many people. A few have shared memories from years gone by and it’s been a wonderful trip down memory lane. Others have offered Congratulations on my 25th year. Some of you I have never met in person and others are old friends (not old as in years, but old as in longstanding!). All of you have warmed my heart. I like hearing your stories and I wish I had a bunny egg to give everyone. The most I can do is to wish you the best of luck in the giveaway. I am humbled by your interest in my Easter Surprise.

Thank you,

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Delicious Creativity

Can you guess what this is?

How about now?

I’ll bet you know, don’t you?

Yes, that’s right. It’s a mocha. In fact, it was my husband’s. The day we went on the photo scavenger hunt it was chilly and very windy. So we decided we would stop at charming coffee shop we had seen but never visited, to get something to warm us up a little. When our mochas arrived they each had a little design on them. It was only recently that my daughter had shown me what some baristas are creating with a little coffee and a lotta cream. In fact, she showed me this video from YouTube which I thought some of you teddy bear fans would appreciate. Click the play arrow in the middle and see what happens.



It’s evidence that creativity comes in all forms and that people can find a way to express themselves in a myriad of delightful (and sometimes delicious) ways.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Announcement

If you are a regular reader you know that I’m an “owd git” as Amanda from Pandy Potter Bears affectionately called me. It’s another way of saying I’ve been making bears for a quite a while. So long in fact, I woke up one day and it was already 2009 and time to mark my Silver Anniversary as a bear artist.

It is no accident that I’ve been at it this long and I have huge, very huge number of people that have helped me out along the way. If not for them, I’m sure I wouldn’t still be here having all this fun.

Who are these people? People like you. They are those who purchased my first bears when I was just starting out and learning the ropes. They are loyal collectors who have continued to adopt my bears through the years. They are family and friends, artists and others who have offered an encouraging word, a kind suggestion, or a hand in friendship. In fact, there are so many people to whom I would like to say Thank you that it is nearly impossible. Even so, I would still like to make an effort to tell as many as I can how much I appreciate the help they have given me along the way.

So, it is without further delay that I announce my very first Silver Anniversary Blog Giveaway!

I would like to share with you what I have created for the occasion. Below you will see the photos of this piece I call Easter Surprise.

Here are the details:

The decorated and glass glittered egg is 4.75” tall. It is trimmed with vintage silver roping, silk flowers, Dresden trim and silver jingles bells. Bells have long been one of the identifying marks on my bears and I thought it was very appropriate to use silver ones for this occasion. The bunny which is 3.75” tall sitting, or 5.25” tall standing, fits nicely inside. She is made from a very soft, warm brown viscose fabric with Ultrasuede foot pads. She is filled with polyfill and glass beads. The inside ears are lined with sandy pink Ultrasuede. This bunny has a very soft, white viscose tail. This one-of-a-kind piece is for adults only.

Here’s how the giveaway will work:

If you leave a comment on this post, I will enter your name in my First Silver Anniversary Blog Giveaway. All comments will be private and unpublished. You don’t have to have a blog to enter. Leave information in the comment field that says how I can contact you if your name is drawn or you can leave a comment and then send an email to me with your contact details. If you have a blog and you post about my giveaway on your blog with a link to this post, I will enter your name in the drawing an additional 5 times. I will take comments until 6pm DST (Daylight Savings Time – New York City time) on March 24th. On March 25th, a name will be drawn randomly from all those who entered. I will post the winner’s first name or initials only and state/country in a new post on that day. Easter Surprise will be sent post haste in time to celebrate one of the most wonderful holidays of the year with you.

This is my way of saying Thanks for a fantastic first twenty-five years and toasting to the next twenty-five - or the next teddy bear, whichever comes first. Good luck!!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Scavenger Hunt – Part 1

Wow! Now it’s down to just one more day. Just 1! Enjoy this final countdown slideshow - a selection of 'ones' from around my town. My favorite one is the red one with the peeling paint. It just seems more interesting for some reason.

Scavenger Hunt - Part 2

In and around where I live I found lots of two’s. Two, that's 2, days to go!

Scavenger Hunt - Part 3

Have you ever participated in a Scavenger Hunt? I used to do them when I was younger and I remember it being lots of fun. I think it’s kind of neat to challenge yourself to one of these every so often. It makes you look at details and see things you’ve seen a million times with different eyes. This is Part 3 of my self-assigned Photo Scavenger Hunt.



Three, that's 3, days to go!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Sidetracked

I’ve gotten a little sidetracked, but it’s all good. I was a bit surprised by the mailman today when he delivered a package filled with goodies. An order I placed for some supplies arrived so quickly I wasn’t prepared, but then the box beckoned me to take a peek before I had even gotten started on the day’s work. Before I knew it I was off and running in a different direction. It’s okay because it falls right in line with my plan – the plan I have stored in my head somewhere up there.

I’ve decided on the color palette I want to work with and that in itself had me wracking my brain for half a day. Me thinks I think way too much. The colors I have chosen are silver, soft pastel pink, cream, a little brown and some sugary glitter to round it out. Here’s a collage of my choices but this image doesn’t do it justice at all. The silver is shinier, the pink is warmer, the brown is just a little off and the glitter is much prettier. Now you've got a somewhat murky idea of the colors.

Actually, I have used similar colors before and I was really happy with the results. I used them on a 12" clown bear that made a little while back. Maybe this photo will give you an idea of the colors when they are incorporated into a single piece.

If all goes according to plan (seldom happens - but one has to have hope), I will be able to share with you what I have created. My goal is to have it ready to share by the 25th of February. It seems appropriate to pick the 25th since this is my 25th year making bears and I’d like to do it up right. Maybe this year will be one I can look back on and say it was a very good (silver anniversary) year. I hope you will come back to visit my blog on that day and see what’s up.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

How did I end up like this?

Me: How did I end up like this?
Dr. T. Bear: Like what?
Me: In the middle of all this?
Dr. B: What do you mean?
Me: Well, look around. The place is a wreck. There are bits and pieces of stuff and fluff on every surface and the strings are everywhere - on my desk, on my chair, on the floor, all over me.
Dr. B: And the problem is?
Me: I guess it would be my lot in life as a teddy bear artist to have strings all over. But they’re kind of sneaky.
Dr. B: Sneaky? Sneaky strings? Do tell.
Me: I know it sounds a bit odd but I’ll just say this. It’d be one thing if they would just stay in the studio – I mean that makes sense. But I find them in other parts of the house. Why just the other day I found one in the kitchen. It’s almost like they decide they’d like to see a little more of the world.
Dr. B: Oh, you mean they make a conscious decision to leave, explore?
Me: It certainly seems that way.
Dr. B: So how do you think one ended up in the kitchen?
Me: My theory is that it decided to hitch a ride on a sweater or something and then when it got where it wanted to go, it just jumped off.
Dr. B: And so you have a string that wanted to see your kitchen?
Me: Okay, I know that sounds weird. But what about the one I found in my car?
Dr. B: You found one in your car? Egads!
Me: I know. Scary, right?
Dr. B: So, what’s your theory on the one that escaped to your car?
Me: I’m thinking that it was a little braver than the others and a little more curious.
Dr. B: A brave and curious string?
Me: Think about it. You are in one place for days on end and the opportunity comes along to see something new. I can just see how you couldn’t let an opportunity like that pass by.
Dr. B: I see. So you want to know how you ended up in the middle of all this as a teddy bear artist with adventurous strings and such?
Me: Seems like a logical question.
Dr. B: My dear, you are talking to me, Dr. T. Bear. Nothing is logical in this scenario.
Me: Let’s look past that for the moment. Do you think you can give me a diagnosis?
Dr. B: Do you want me to sugar coat the truth or do you want me to give it to you straight?
Me: Don’t pull any punches, Doc. I need to know.
Dr. B: Let’s review. You’ve been a bear artist for 25 years, sewing and creating the entire time. You met people from all over the world and you occasionally talk to teddy bears.
Me: Don’t say that too loud. It makes me sound crazy.
Dr. B: Talking to bears makes you sound crazy, but talking about brave and curious strings is normal?
Me: Get to your point. Give it to me straight.
Dr. B: I think it’s high time you faced the facts. You are in the midst of your silver anniversary year. If they haven’t caught onto you by now, crazy or not, I think you are safe. Go on about your business, get back to work and start planning that special announcement you should be making soon. And the next time you need to chat, just give me call.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

On my desk at the moment –

Wouldn’t it be lovely if you could look at the following photograph and figure out what I am up to? If you visited my studio today, this is what you would find. There are completed bears without their final adornments, 1 head and torso combination (not sure if I’ll finish that one – kind of looks funky), 1 head plus body parts not yet sewn, and half of a rarebit. That’s right. That’s not a typo. That’s what my husband calls the bunnies I make – rarebits. Then there’s mohair of various persuasions and bear patterns in assorted styles – some kept neatly in my own personal organizational system and others – well, not so much.

It’s not that I intend to do things this way; it’s just that I start working on something and my brain, looking for something to entertain itself while I sew, kicks into a higher gear. The next thing I know I have four ideas dancing, jockeying for the position of being next in line to be made. I try; I really do, to be fair – to give each idea the time and attention they most certainly deserve. Looking at this photo though, it might not seem that way.

What isn’t so readily apparent is my plan. Yes, I do have plan. I’d be happy to share it only it’s up here (tapping my head) and it would really be something for me to actually put it down on paper. That means I’d have to be organized and you did see my desk, right?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Art & Love

Today seems like a good day to share this comic from Mutts, one of my favorite strips - a little art, a little love and a little grin. Enjoy!

Click the comic to see it larger.

Happy Valentine's Day!


From me to you -

Have a wonderful day!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Evolution?

Check out these two mastheads from Teddy Bear and Friends magazine. I’m just sayin’ . . .

This one is from 1994.

This one is the current issue.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Chocolate Honesty

I might as well be honest – very honest. I have a thing about chocolate. Thankfully, this isn’t one of those strange traits that make people look askance. I have plenty of those, of course. In fact, my sister also shares a love of the delight. Perhaps you do too? I was trying to remember my first taste of chocolate, but it was so long ago it escapes me. And then again, perhaps it wasn’t so memorable either. Then I wondered, “Where did my affection for chocolate come from?” It could be this time of year that is responsible. When I was young, I remember Valentine’s as a special day. We would get ready for school and go into the kitchen for breakfast. There on each of our plates our dad had placed heart-shaped sampler boxes. There were small ones for us girls and then my mother would get one of two things; either a big, fancy, flower adorned box of chocolates or a Whitman’s Sampler. I knew it was only fair, but I thought to myself, “one of these days, I am going to get a big pretty box like my mother’s”. And in the days that followed Valentine’s, I realize now how generous my mother was. She would leave her box on the counter and we girls would come in and poke a finger into a chocolate hoping it didn’t ooze some foreign substance too awful to eat. I wonder if my mother ever opened her box when there wasn’t a trace of a little person’s fingerprint on her chocolates.

Now with that kind of freedom in a box of chocolates as a child, perhaps you can see why I have a fine appreciation for the delectable now. When we travel, we often come across a chocolate shop where the chocolates are made on the premises and the person who serves you is also the person who made what they’re serving. When we were in Portland, Oregon we went into Moonstruck Chocolates several times. Then in Seattle, there was a mocha cafĂ©. It was almost worth the price of airfare. One time one of my sisters returned from a trip to New York City with a beautiful chocolate assortment from MarieBelle. When we went to Asheville, we stumbled across two artisan chocolate shops without even trying. It’s not like we seek them out. They just happened to be located where we are going. But it does seem like a good little hobby – to seek out the quaint chocolate shops on our journeys.

And then, in today’s newspaper, before my very eyes, were several articles about local chocolate makers and local chocolate shops. It’s quite amusing to think that these makers thought they could go along and I’d never discover them but someone slipped up somewhere and now I know. I know they are there. I have their addresses. I have their store hours. I know where to find them. The dark chocolates, the ganache filled, the caramel filled, the truffles . . . they are there and soon I will be too.

Monday, February 9, 2009

A Valentine for You!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

(this coming Saturday)

As my way of saying I hope you have a wonderful day and to thank you for stopping by to read my blog, I’m offering you an opportunity to download this vintage Valentine. It’s a high resolution image which you can copy and use in your artwork, email to someone, or print out and mail to a friend. All you have to do is click on the image and then copy the file from my website.

Enjoy!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Discovery in a Box

My lovely sisters and I were taking a trip down memory lane just yesterday. It’s amazing who and what you find when you travel that road. I don’t know about you, but I have always loved boxes full of glimpses from the past. Even when I wasn’t really old enough to have much of a past of my own, I looked into other people’s pasts by looking at old photos, boxes of memorabilia, and reading old letters. It was a bit like looking in a treasure box. I never knew what I would discover. And the more jumbled the box, the better it seemed, as if I might find something there that someone else had missed. I didn’t just do this in the attic of the house I grew up in; I also braved the cobwebs and darkness of my grandmother’s attic too. Her treasures were even more interesting. But I digress.

Back to yesterday.

We were looking in boxes that had served as a reservoir for scraps and photos of each of us girls. Some of the stuff was downright entertaining. There were the silly rhymes that third grade friends write in autograph books. Take this one for instance:

In jail they give you coffee.
In jail they give you tea.
In jail they give you everything
Except the doggone key!

Or if you prefer something sweetly romantic:

Roses are red.
Violets are blue.
Acorns are nuts,
And so are you.

Then there were those classic school photos. We were dressed in our best but my, oh my, how the fashions have changed. And the eyeglasses were really something to behold! Other photos made me wonder if they had a school committee that decided the best way to keep high school girls humble was to present them with the least flattering gym uniforms with your name embroidered on the upper left side of the front – a requirement.

Most of the photos captured us as we lived – in curlers, dressing up the dog (and no it wasn’t us kids, it was my dad who did that!), putting on plays, and performing miraculous feats of anti-gravity.

And just like in the old days, each box held treasures yet to be unearthed. “What’s in that brown envelope?” “What are these pictures of?” “Who is that? Is that you? You have got to be kidding me!” “What made you think THAT was a flattering hairstyle?”

Then I happened upon this photo of me. It was the year that my mother made Raggedy Ann for me as a Christmas gift. If you haven’t read the story, click here. Yes, that’s me on Christmas morning in a patchwork robe that she had made for me, socks on my feet to keep them warm, stockings hung by the chimney with care, and I have just opened my doll. I did not even know a photo existed of that moment. Treasures, memories, fun times – times that we laughed so hard our sides would hurt. I remember those days. That’s what I call a discovery in a box.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Oh oh domino

I have been working towards some new designs which I am not quite ready to reveal yet. They need some finishing touches and a few friends. Still, I couldn’t resist taking a couple of photos of them, even if they are from the back. I took a few shots and realized that it was difficult to determine exactly what size these guys are. What I needed was a reference point. In the old days when I was using a film camera instead of a digital one, I would just grab a film canister. It was easily recognizable and it gave an immediate sense of size. Today - no film canister and no coins. I wanted something a little different. I opted to use a game piece – the familiar domino. Then the line from that old Van Morrison song sprang into my head and I keep humming it and humming it. I think it’s stuck there. Oh oh domino . . . oh oh domino . . .


Thursday, February 5, 2009

Reflections on Business

I've just read a post from Kelly at Yesterday's Glitter that has some valuable nuggets from her own experience of being in the teddy bear business, online selling and some ideas on what it takes to hang on. Kelly has some pretty interesting insights which she generously shares with anyone who would like to have a look. Check it out if you're curious by clicking here.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Overheard

I thought I overheard the following conversation . . . or was it my imagination?

I was just about to enter my studio when I overheard two little bears on my desk having a conversation. Let’s call them Henry and Kirby. It went something like this:

Henry: What are we doing here?
Kirby: What do you mean?
Henry: I mean, what are we doing here sitting on this desk? Why aren’t we over there with those guys on the shelf or downstairs with some of those fellows?
Kirby: Oh, well, it’s because we are going to a show.
Henry: Really? A show? Oh, I love shows. I wonder if it will be The Great Greta Sings Mendelssohn or Frank and Bertram Dance to the Classics?
Kirby: Great Greta, give me a break! No, it’s not that kind of show. It’s a teddy bear show.
Henry: O-o-o-h –h-h, a teddy bear show. That sounds good. I wonder if they’ll sing and dance. I hope we get good seats.
Kirby: No, no, no. It’s not that we’ll be watching the show, we are going to be in it.
Henry: Oh, that’s horrible! I can’t sing or dance. Although, once I lip-synched the Rolling Stones’ Get Off of My Cloud.
Kirby: Oh dear. You’re so confused. It’s not that kind of show. It’s a show where we sit on our table and other bears sit on their tables and people come in and say all sorts of nice things about us. And if they want us to be their new friend, they take us home with them where it’s nice and cozy.
Henry: That does sound much better. I am definitely better qualified to sit than to sing.

I decided this was a good time to interrupt.

Me: Hey guys! Are you all going to be ready to go to the show soon?
Henry: Yep.
Kirby: Of course.
Me: I’m glad. I think Great Greta Sings Mendelssohn should be a fabulous show. Our seats are right near the stage.

At this point, Henry begins jumping up and down, thrilled to the core and Kirby has passed out cold. It’s going to be difficult to explain that I was only joking, but I’m very bad at letting a good opportunity go to waste. Perhaps I should get back to my sewing and make a new little friend for them. They’ll need a distraction after I break the news that we’re not really going to go and hear Greta sing!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Another Heart for February

Kelly of Yesterday’s Glitter has generously given my blog special recognition in the form of the award below.

I appreciate this so much as I am still trying to find my way around the blogging world. And I feel honored to be among such good company since the other bloggers who’ve been recipients are those whose work I admire as well.

Here's what Kelly says about this award: The Works Of Heart award is for people who put their heart and soul into their work, their words and/or their kindness to others. See the other award recipients by clicking here.

Thank you, Kelly.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Ah, February.

February. Ah, February. Where did January go? And here it is, February, the month we often associate with love. At least, I do – love in all its manifestations. It has been apparent to me in ways both large and small that not only will love bring us together; it will also keep us together.

Recently, I have been the recipient of many kindnesses and it fills me with gratitude. It makes me thankful for my friends both near and far. There isn’t time enough in the entire world to tell them all or show them all how much their thoughtfulness really means. So, thank you, from the bottom of my heart – local friends, distant friends, old friends, new friends, bear friends, blogging friends and all the rest. It reminds me of this quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson – “I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new.”

Speaking of old friends and love, I want to share this photo with you of an old friend of mine. You might recognize her distinctive brightly colored hair and unique smile. Her name is Raggedy Ann, but this is no ordinary Raggedy Ann, at least not to me.

You see I was lucky as a kid. My mom could sew almost anything. One year for Christmas when I was around 10 or 12 years old, I asked for a Raggedy Ann doll. My mother made this doll in secret, sewing after I was asleep, at school or outside. I never had a clue. On Christmas day when I received it, I was thrilled to discover not only the doll, but that my mother had actually made her and embroidered the ‘I love you’ heart on her chest. It came with the card below.

My dear Raggedy Ann has seen a lot in her time and she’s beginning to show some wear. This is her second set of clothing. The card is turning a bit yellow, too. And my mother is with me only in spirit, but of all the things I’ve figured out over time, this I know: LOVE LASTS.

Happy February - Friends!
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