Monday, January 31, 2011

To the Inbox

It is true that a lot of my email emanates from teddy bear friends and acquaintances. I also hear from family and friends. The mail gets divided into distinctly separate categories in my mind as these three worlds don’t often intersect.

Yet in my inbox the other day, I was touched to receive an email from a non-bear-world friend that crossed over into the bear world. It was such a great read that I thought you would enjoy reading it too.

Our very good friend David has kindly agreed to let me share his missive with you. For a bit of background, I often send some of the extra handmade bear Christmas cards to friends and that is how this whole thing got rolling. I haven’t shared the 2010 card here but suffice it to say it had a bit in there about a teddy bear and Raggedy Ann that my mom and dad gave me. Here is David’s story:

As I put away the Christmas cards a few weeks ago, I reread your warm and thoughtful reminiscence about those Christmas gifts that endure long after others have been trashed or abandoned.   Standing in front of my dresser that same evening, I spotted the little guy you see below and realized he qualified as one of those "special old friends" just like the Raggedy Ann and old-fashioned teddy bear you described.  Like these long-ago gifts from your parents, Ginger, my guy has traveled with me through many years and many changes in my life.  I got the feeling here that he was giving me a smile and a wave for this new insight:

He was a Christmas present from my Granny when I was 4 and living in NJ.  "Turn his tail," she urged, and to my amazement, from somewhere in his belly a little 4-note melody came plunking out.   Over the next 8 or 9 years, I wore his tail threadbare.  Then, during that stretch of my life when being "cool" wouldn't allow for having a teddy bear in plain view, he was banished to a box under the bed.  Even so, when I came to my senses many years later, he forgave me without a thought, as is the way of special old friends.  Since then, he's always been nearby, usually on my dresser as he is now.

It wasn't until I looked at this picture that it struck me what my little bear is sitting next to.  The inlayed box you see at the right belonged to my Grandfather.  It was given to me following his death during my college years.  Not as long a history as Granny's bear, and not as fuzzy, but Granddad’s box qualifies as a special old friend, too.  And somehow these two friends of mine, both coming from the hands and hearts of my grandparents at different times under different circumstances, managed to situate themselves side by side on my dresser two generations later.  Until now, I'd never made that obvious, happy connection.

And here is the special teddy that has been David’s friend for quite a number of years. You can get an idea just from his character what great adventures they have shared through the years.


I hope you enjoyed David’s story. My heartfelt thanks to David for allowing me to post it here.


“Age simply doesn’t enter into it!  The older the friend, the more he is valued, particularly when he shows so visibly the characteristics that we all look for in friends.  You only have to look at a genuine Teddy’s face to see at once the loyalty, common sense, and, above all, dependability behind it.” – Peter Bull

Today’s Agenda

Thank you for your kind and generous comments on my last post. All are very much appreciated! And after I completed that project, I did turn my efforts towards glitter and wings.


Sometimes making them can be tiring due to the amount of attention it takes to be precise and the repetitiveness of motion but today it seemed rather effortless.


Perhaps I was somewhat entertained by the radio. I also got a really good laugh from my usually sedate pooch.


If you knew him, you would know that this pose is entirely out of character for him. I kind of expected him to say, “Have you got a light?”


Thursday, January 27, 2011

One down, three to go.

Yippee and yea! Words of the day!

I have completed one of the boxes for my bears&boxes series that I have been working on for what seems like ages. I started this one last fall and got stuck for whatever reason. I put it aside and turned my attention to other things. I would say when I left it, it was 50% done – or maybe 35%. I never seem to remember to factor in making the bear that goes along with them.

Anyway, this is it:

A Day at the Beach


This is the front.  I found the shells last August when my husband and I were there for a nice weekend visit.  I had no idea at the time how they would factor into my work.


This is the box opened.  What follows are some of the details.


The left side.


Overhead, among the clouds, a plane pulls a banner that reads:

One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach -
waiting for a gift from the sea.
~Anne Morrow Lindbergh


And below – sand castle, shells, sand filled bucket, and Mama’s best silverware for digging in the sand.


On the right side are places in the sand where the tide has left imprints of the bear’s feet and a bottle with a message inside
that rests in a puddle of water. 

Overhead another plane pulls a banner that reads:

There is  more to life than increasing its speed.


Finally, the little beach bear with armature in his arms clutching his inner tube waiting for the next big wave to come in.  Oh, he’s not going to ride any waves.  He just likes to jump over them!

Whew!  Since I started with a rhyme, I’ll end with one too.

Now it’s onto other things - magical ones like fairy wings.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Finale - A Collector’s View on Teddy Bear Shows

Today I am happy to post the last of my interview with Karen, a teddy bear collector who finds her new teddy friends in many ways – online, in stores and at shows - which have been the focus of my Wednesday posts for the last few weeks. You can find the previous ones here and here.


Wouldn’t it be fun to go and play with all of Karen’s bears?

When we left Karen last time, I had asked her if there were things the artists could do to improve the show experience for those attending. This week she answers the question for what the promoter might consider that would add to the collector’s experience.

“Perhaps having more door prizes. At Hunt Valley, I have come to depend on getting my pocket calendar. It’s an absolute must to begin my New Year.”


Check out all these polar bears by Blanche Blakeny.

How about the numbers of shows – are there too many or not enough?

“Well, 2010 was a true test for those of us in the Eastern U.S. In addition to our usual shows and the craft shows some of my favorite artists attend, we had a new show in Chantilly, VA. I personally think it was a supreme success. I know I enjoyed it. Primarily, however, I was picking up orders and only “discovered” two new purchases.”


Meet Josie whose dress is silk.  (Also by Blanche Blakeny)

If you heard there was a show that was a long way from you, and money was not an issue for traveling to it, what would draw you to attend that show?

“The artists attending and the sheer experience of a new show not in my usual circuit. Would I go if money were not an object? Absolutely!”


These detailed cats were created by Karen Lyons.

How do you hear about shows and how do you decide which ones to attend?

“The bear collecting community is a close one. I hear from magazines, word of mouth from collector friends, and the internet. I have my usual circuit of shows—Timonium, Hunt Valley, TBAI, and two Craftsman Classic shows.”


Karen made these bears in a class taught by Marjan Jorritsma.

Do the artists’ advertisements in teddy bear magazines influence you?

“Not really, although I do love seeing what the artists are creating, and of course, it’s good name recognition for the artist.”

Do the show advertisements and announcements in the magazines keep you informed of upcoming shows?

“Yes, I like seeing those and considering if I might attend a new show. Generally, though, I stick to the shows I know and love.”


More bears!

I would like to thank Karen for sharing her thoughts and photos of some of the bears in her collection. Shows are just one way that artists and collectors connect – a very fun one! And with this age of technology there are even more ways that collectors can find new bears (& friends) to add to their hug. I am especially fond of meeting artists from other countries and seeing new and different styles of bear artistry via the Internet.

I hope you have enjoyed reading about shows from a collector’s point of view. Speaking with Karen sure has made my Wednesdays interesting! It has also given me some ideas for future posts. Right now, I’m off to do more sewing. Bears can be rather impatient when they can talk but they can’t walk!

This is kind of neat.

I don’t mean neat as in cool or clever. I mean neat as in tidy. My desk, as seen here, is in fact sort of orderly at the moment. I took this photo right in the middle of assorted projects – oh about 5 or 6 of them – and though it’s difficult to tell from this photo, I am making some progress.


See that sheet of paper to the right. That’s very important. I look at it every day. It’s a calendar of days left before I have to pack all my babies up and head out to find them new homes. Sometimes I glance at it and think – “Look at all that lovely time that is stretched out before me to accomplish my goals.” Two minutes later, it’s – “Oh my word! I’m running out of time.” tikon_2

In between, I sew.

From time to time, I paint.

Or glue.

Isn’t the joy of the journey the best part anyway?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Collector’s View on Teddy Bear Shows – Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of my interview with Karen. Last Wednesday we chatted about how she became a bear collector and began attending teddy bear shows. If you missed that post you can find it here.


Rosie by Johni Jacobsen – Karen’s one spectacular piece discovered
the first time she attended TBAI

Of course when you attend a teddy bear show, you get to see and feel and touch the teddy bears so I asked Karen what makes going to show different from buying in a store.

“Definitely the interaction with the artists, hearing firsthand why she/he made the bear like she/he did, why the costume, the unique stories behind the name. Most stores don’t have that much knowledge about the artists or the bears themselves. You just can’t get that kind of experience anywhere but a bear show. And, again, I go back to feeling deep friendships with the artists.”


Amelia by Jacquie Pollitt – another bear in Karen’s collection

The personal connection offers bear artists the same experience. We enjoy talking with the collectors, getting to know them and their bears, and making friends. I asked Karen how shows were different from buying directly from the artist online.


One of Karen’s Sherry Shepardson bears

“Actually holding the critter in your hand and seeing its magnificence firsthand. And, again, talking to the artist. Although I have to say that there is one artist—Sherry Shepardson—who only sells online and I have bought a number of bears. I know their quality. I feel like I know her and I’ve never been disappointed. So, I think you can buy bears from an artist online if you get to know the person and their work.”


Another Sherry Shepardson bear

Since no one venue offers everything, I knew there had to be a thing or two about shows that might be discouraging. I was thinking perhaps the travel or the expense. Karen said, “For me personally, it’s the number of bears I like and the amount of money I feel comfortable spending. I’ve found that I have to parcel out my spending. From this show, I’ll buy from a certain artist, and at another show, I’ll buy from another artist. I think the artists understand and it works out well.”


A wee little mousie made by Cathy Knapp

Since the artists are a key factor at shows, I asked if she had any suggestions for us that would help improve her show experience. It was nice to hear her say “I think artists already do everything they can for their collectors. They are outstanding. They are always willing to hold something until you make your way around. They certainly don’t have to do that. They are flexible on payments, which mean you can buy more. I believe our artists already do an outstanding job at making a collector’s experience a wonderful one.”

I hope that’s true!  Gee – look at the time! I believe that I am going to have to finish out this interview next week. I hope you will return then for Karen’s last few brief answers to my questions.

Thanks so much for stopping by!


Karen added this small bear by Donna Griffin to her collection

Monday, January 17, 2011

Flubs, Errors, Goofs & Do-Overs

I remember when I was grade school age, the kids in the neighborhood often got together to play kick ball. It was fun and if you were playing with some really good friends, sometimes they would allow you a do-over. For instance, if it was your first time up to kick and you missed, they would say it was okay that you could do it over. Try again. All is forgiven.

Out with the old, in with the new . . .


It'll be just like starting over, starting over . . .

On Saturday, I was looking at one of my boxes and realized that it just wasn’t working – I had somehow let the idea, which I was very keen on, influence my judgment on the quality of the work. It was then that I knew I would forever feel a little bit sorry if I let it go into the world with less than what I thought was possible. It was with much regret that I had to say goodbye to all the time I had invested. For a brief moment I considered just giving up on the whole thing but I liked the idea so much that I decided to start over.


It'll be just like starting over, starting over . . .

It is a little bit easier the second time around because most of the decisions have been made. I just have to put it all together better – I hope. I hope it will be better. We shall see.  They say that you learn more from your mistakes so I’m expecting to be smarter any time now. Still waiting. Anywho . . .

My goal is to be ready for two upcoming shows. One is Hugglets Winter Bearfest at the end of February and the other is Teddies Worldwide Blooming Online Show in March. Information on either of these can be found by clicking the show listings on the right side of this blog.

Wednesday brings Part Two of a Collector’s View on Teddy Bear Shows. I hope to see you then!


Saturday, January 15, 2011

A Snooper’s Snooping Discovery

It was purely accidental – or so he says, that he found the incriminating photos on my camera. The ones we took a couple of weeks ago when he was, yet again, left behind. You would think I would learn.

I certainly realized my mistake when we returned home and there he sat as always – faithful, loyal and true. I did feel a little sorry that in the hubbub of the holidays, the merriment of Christmas and the preparations for the road trip that I had somehow forgotten to take him along.


One can only hope that two weeks of hand delivered breakfasts, honey drizzled snacks and unlimited playtime will put me back in his good graces. In the meantime, I had to go through every single photo we took on our holiday trip and tell him the story behind it. And every single time, I heard a sort of muffled sigh. (I do think I have been played but hey, I probably deserve it.)

Before I am completely forgiven I have one more obligation which is to show you the photos he likes best of the all the ones we took. I had to limit him somewhat – or we’d still be sifting through them. Anyway, here they are, the photos the travelin’ ted who hasn’t traveled lately, likes best from the trip that he was supposed to go on but didn’t because I left him behind which is something that I will do my best not to repeat because hand delivered breakfasts are good if you are on the receiving end but not if you are on the delivering end plus a bunch of other stuff too. It really is simpler just to take him along – really – much simpler.


He seems to like the parade photos best.


He knew who this was right way – a distant English cousin of his.


I had a hard time explaining how Mickey is my son’s
and daughter-in-law’s boss.


“Oooh, gingerbread men,” he exclaimed!  “and I missed them . . .”


He also said he was under contractual obligations to include teddy bears whenever and wherever possible – even if they are wearing lederhosen.  These are his distant German cousins I believe.


He wonders why I don’t wear a neato helmet, scarf and gloves and drive a cool car like this.  I had no answer for him.


These toy soldiers were his favorite – mine too – except for the bears, I mean.  Of course, except for the bears.  (What was I thinking???)


The castle draped in icicle lights he admitted had a certain charm.  Obviously this wasn’t part of the parade.


Apparently, the toy soldiers have been hastily integrated into the teddy bear contract in hand writing that looks amazingly like a little bear’s I know.  Therefore, it seems I am obligated to include another photo of these, yes I admit, really wonderful toy soldiers.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Boxes in Progress Update

These few photos may prove to be more confusing than they are helpful, but that’s sort of the way it goes in my mind too. A little of this, a little of that - flitting between projects. Sometimes I find myself standing in the middle of the room trying to make up my mind which way to go.

This first photo is of elements that I have been tweaking for three different boxes. Gosh, it would be wild if they were all in the same one, wouldn’t it? It’s hard to choose a favorite because the airplanes I have had for ages; they came from a party store. Before I got my hands on them, they were red, yellow and blue. I think they were supposed to be prizes for little boys, but I knew someday, some way, I would come to need them.


But the Chinese lanterns were a find – let me tell you. I have been searching and searching for just this type. In these colors. In this size. It was pure luck that I found them. A very happy happenstance.

Here is one of my boxes that doesn’t look like much now. Hopefully, one day soon, it will blossom into something worth viewing.


So how do you spend your days? I wonder if you are more settled than me. I took these photos in mid-mushroom transformation. I’d like to say it’s a first, but I had a feeling of déjà vu.


I have definitely painted mushroom tops before.


Let’s see, so far we have Chinese lanterns, shells, toy airplanes and now mushrooms. Yeah, it’s getting’ kinda strange in this here house.


And lastly, the box with the doors that open in the middle. There’s definitely something going on there.


Now if I can just wrap up the work on these babies, maybe I can get back to this


and this.


Mystery Giveaway at The Littlest Thistle

If you are up for living right on the edge, Katy, over at The Littlest Thistle, is having her very first giveaway.  I’d tell you what it is, but I do not know.  Funny thing is – neither does she!  Surely it’s bound to be cute and maybe little.  I’m gathering these suppositions from the picture below.  You know, mini fabrics and she mentioned mini patterns, so I’m just guessing.  It is after all a mystery.  So, if you like living precariously, go on over to The Littlest Thistle and sign up!


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Collector’s View on Teddy Bear Shows – Part 1

As promised, today I would like to share with you a collector’s point of view on attending teddy bear shows. As an artist from the other side of the table, I think it’s good to hear the thoughts of those who attend shows. It can give a different perspective on the experience of shows and what I as an artist can offer to those who come in search of more than just a teddy bear.


For me, shows are wonderful experiences that keep me in touch with other artists, friends and collectors who are often all of these things combined. Imagine that! Of course I am not the only one who loves going to shows.

I’d like to introduce you to Karen. Karen began collecting dolls and soon added teddy bears to her repertoire. She attended her first doll and teddy bear show in 2000 but she purchased her first bear from an artist at a craft show. It was made from an old quilt which you can see below. This was the start of her teddy bear acquisitions.


“Mountain Mama” – Karen’s First Artist Teddy Bear (Jan Elaine Sparks)

I asked her what the circumstances that lured her to attend that first teddy bear show and she said quite naturally, “Friends.” She had met other collectors who attended bear shows and they began to attend together. “That was always a fun trip – I especially loved the show and tell afterward.”


“Kay Kay”  - Karen’s First Serious Teddy Bear Purchase (Pam Kisner)

Her first time through the doors of a teddy bear show was “Amazing!” She goes on to say “I’d never seen so many bear artists all in one room—and never experienced so much temptation. Even at EXPO, there were dolls and manufactured bears I just wasn’t interested in, but totally teddy bear shows are an entirely different story. Everywhere I looked I saw a bear I loved. And the shoppers, oh my, I was used to looking, touching and feeling…and agonizing over my choices, and these ladies (and a few men) were buying up bears right and left. I remember looking through the glass in the door and seeing a bear I wanted to get a closer look at when the door opened, but when that happened, a lady had already bought her—by signaling to the artist through the glass. Amazing experience! The rush of adrenalin, the awe of the amazing creations and talent, and ultimately, the guilt over the number of bears bought and the money spent.”


“Blanche” – Karen’s Most Recent Artist Bear Adoption (Marjan Jorritsma)

Of course there are lots of options when it comes to adopting artists teddy bears. And I think they are all valid for different reasons, but since we are talking about in-person shows, I thought I’d ask Karen why she attends them.

“At first it was the thrill of the hunt. Now I think it is for the people. I know and love so many of the artists and know my “competitors,” the other collectors. Only kidding. But it is the friendly atmosphere, the incredible creativity of the artists who continue to come up with more fabulous bears (and other critters) over and over again, and the friendships that I’ve made. Going to a bear show is like attending a family reunion.”


A glimpse of some of the bears in Karen’s collection.

As an artist I have been going to teddy bear shows since 1989 and I completely agree with Karen. Soon the shows begin to be as much about the people as the bears. There is so much excitement at a show and a great feeling of camaraderie.

So in an effort to dig a little deeper into the collector’s experience, next Wednesday I will continue this conversation I had with Karen about shows. I hope to see you then!


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