Tuesday, December 29, 2009

This is Amazing

For Christmas, I received from Chris this amazing book of bear portraits by Jill Greenberg. When I first looked at it I thought they were incredible drawings, however on reading the text, I realised that they were indeed photographs and that they were given their unreal appearance with Jill's studio lighting. I find myself having to look through this book, in awe of the beauty, power, and even the comedy that has been captured in these portraits. It is truly a book to treasure and one full of inspiration for me in my bearmaking.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Furbles :)

I have just heard from Ann-Marie Dodd that she has received the Christmas ornament I made for her in the TT swap, so now I can show you what I made! I think everyone should hang "furbles" on their Christmas trees so that little bears can have a rest upon them (glass ones would be way too slippery and uncomfortable). This was a fun little project, which started with the red and green fur bauble which I had kicking around in my work space while I contemplated where to take it. Eventually this little polar bear popped into my head, I think he looks like he's had a big Christmas and now he's needing to rest his little head.

Wishing all my blogging friends a wonderful and peaceful Christmas and a fantastic New Year

Monday, December 7, 2009

Final Workshop For The Year

Saturday and Sunday were spent workshopping with a wonderful group of girls overlooking the marina at Belrieve, on Hobart's Eastern shore. Another little hug of Kiko's were all but completed by the end of Sunday and all went home pleased with their accomplishments.

On Friday I dove down a very damaged midland Highway. The road surface was appalling in places having suffered the ravages of Tasmania's wetter than usual winter. It was good to see the farms through the midlands with a green cover, full dams and well fed sheep grazing on grass rather than rocks!

I headed straight through Hobart on Friday evening and down into the Huon Valley to visit an old friend from my art school days. We spent the evening reminiscing and catching up, and I got to view some of the beautiful work Ian Clare is producing after a break of a couple of years. A wonderfully talented potter, I'm so pleased he is back at work.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Another one down, one to go.

A hug of new little "Kikos" came into the world after four busy days of workshop fun in Tooradin at Bear Essence. There were some familiar old faces as well as quite a few new ones, and it was lovely to catch up with the girls at the shop. The new premises are wonderful with a great workshop space, and a bakery around the corner when we were peckish, (that could be dangerous).

I have just one more trip this year, I'll be driving down to Hobart on Friday for another Kiko workshop over the weekend. How nice it will be not to have to fly, I think I've seen enough of airports for a while.

I'm actually looking forward to the drive in our "new" car (new for us anyway). It seems to have an awful lot of bells and whistles, and I know it's going to take a while to familiarise myself with them all :)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Off Again

It seems that I have only just come home from NSW and I'm off again. This time I'm heading to Melbourne to teach two workshops at http://www.bearessence.com.au/. The Newcastle and Castle Hill workshops went well and I sold quite a few bears too, so I'm pretty happy with my recent trip. The weather in NSW was very hot while I was there, with temperatures climbing into the high 30's in Western Sydney (where I was). This poor little Tassie girl really felt it.............thankyou, thankyou, thankyou to the inventor of air conditioning!

I taught a one day, head only, class in Newcastle and I was really pleased with how it went. It was a very busy day and I completely forgot to take any photos, which is a shame as the bears were all looking fabulous at the end of the day. This was a new venue for me with a couple of familiar but mostly new faces. Jeanette has a great set up, with her craft room occupying the original dwelling on the property which is a very well appointed space for workshops Anyway, they must have enjoyed the class as I've been asked back for a two day workshop, which will probably be in March.

The two day workshop in Castle Hill was Kiko, which is a bear packed full of new techniques and kept the girls busy. All of them were very happy with their achievements at the end of the class. When I got home to Tasmania it seemed that winter had revisited, with a cold Southerly blowing and a dreary few days.
On Tuesday, a package arrived all the way from Sweden and inside was this gorgeous tree ornament made for me by Ann-Marie Dodd (http://www.bearmetoo.se/) as part of the Teddy Talk Christmas ornament swap. Ann-Marie is so organised! I'm yet to start mine.........I'd better get cracking as it has a long journey to make :) This fellow has an amazing needle felted face with the typical "goofy" look of Ann-Marie's bears, I'm so lucky to have received it, and I'm looking forward to hanging it on the tree. I was actually thinking of giving the tree a miss this year, since neither of the children will be here, but I guess I'll have to change my mind about that :)

I'm on the very early morning flight to Melbourne tomorrow, ready for a busy four days of teaching and catching up with some beary friends.........I'll be sure to get pics.........

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Am I Really?

Sandi Smith (bearlysaneaust.blogspot.com) and Helen Gleeson (barecubdesigns.blogspot.com) have both passed on this blog award to me. Now I'm not too sure if I deserve it, am I really "over the top"? But it looks like a little bit of fun while I'm digesting breakfast :) The trick will be restricting myself to one word answers, though I suppose it will curb any tendancies to verbosity!
The Rules:
1: Use only one word answers
2: Pass along to 6 of your favourite bloggers
3: Tell them you have given them the award
4: Have Fun!

1. Where is your cell phone? Here
2. Your hair? Messy
3.Your mother? Clever
4. Your father? Clever
5. Your favorite food? Curry
6. Your dream last night? Something
7. Your favorite drink? Wine
8. Your dream/goal? Peace
9. What room are you in? Lounge
10. Your hobby? Hmmmmmm
11. Your fear? Warming
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Somewhere
13. Where were you last night? Bed
14. Something that you aren’t? Ostentatious
15. Muffins? Fruity
16. Wish list item? Housecleaner
17. Where did you grow up? Tasmania
18. Last thing you did? Eat
19. What are you wearing? Jeans
20. Your TV? Off
21. Your pets? Sweet
22. Friends? Caring
23. Your life? Comfortable
24. Your mood? Mixed
25. Missing someone? Ralph
26. Vehicle? Dead
27. Something you’re not wearing? Bra
28. Your favorite store? Homewares
29. Your favorite color? Blue
30. When was the last time you laughed? Lastnight
31. Last time you cried? Recently
32. Your best friend? Chris
33. One place that I go to over and over? Town
34. One person who emails me regularly? Ruth
35. Favorite place to eat? Home
I am presenting my award/tags to:







Mmmmmm that was harder than it first appeared to be!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Look who Chris brought home from the P.O after work yesterday! This is Lindsey who was made by Sandi Smith from http://www.bearlysaneteddies.com/ for our TBACA Christmas swap. He's a sweet little alpaca bear with the cutest handpainted sleigh, he'll fit very nicely into my hug of small bears. It's pure coincidence that we both made cream coloured bears and dressed them alike in green felt! Perhaps Sandi and I share some deeper connection which caused us to be on a similar wave length when we were creating these bears. Whatever it is, I'm extremely pleased to add Lindsey to my collection, thank you so much Sandi :) A new album has been created on the TBACA website and this is where the swap bears will be displayed as they come in, you might like to have a peep at them (just click on available bears in the navigation bar at the top of the TBACA page and you'll find it)

I have a couple of pleasing new designs to take with me when I fly to Sydney on Friday. I have a one day workshop in Newcastle on Saturday, the Mittagong Doll and Bear Fair on Sunday and then a two day workshop in Castle Hill on Monday and Tuesday. So a busy few days are ahead for me. This is the last show of the year, after which I will be able to catch up with a few orders before Christmas, which will be a good thing!

I really must find some time in the next few weeks to reorganise my work space and materials, I seem to have spread myself from one end of the house to the other. I find this disorganised state of things very frustrating and wasteful of time, especially when a particular something I need eludes me. I do seem to spend an awful lot of my time rummaging through "stuff"!

We've been having some very warm weather here in Tasmania, the garden is going gangbusters as are the weeds and I suspect there will be rather a lot to catch up on in the garden when I get back from Sydney. With this warm weather the snakes are on the move too, so I will have to keep an eye on Lily while we're out on our walks.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

"Mr. Wonderful"

Sandi emailed me this afternoon after the days postal delivery, and she is delighted with the bear I sent her for the TBACA Christmas swap. I haven't named him yet so Sandi has nicknamed him Mr Wonderful! (Which I think is a pretty good name so perhaps he'll keep it) Here he is in all his "Christmasness" :)

I don't usually dress bears so this is a bit of a departure for me, but I wanted him to have a distinctively festive air. His costume is made from Christmassy green, wool felt with a red cotton trim which has a cute starry print and red star shaped buttons. Mr Wonderful has a matching Christmas stocking which is embroidered with Sandi's name and in the stocking is a mini bear. I think tomorrow will be delivery day for Sandi's bear to me.......I can't wait!

Today was a gorgeous Spring day, and I spent some time in the late afternoon down at the lakeside with Lily. I could have stayed longer but chores were calling me home. I watched a family of black swans out on the water, the cygnets are about half grown and still grey. They were a lovely sight but they moved farther out onto lake when they saw us, rather cautious of Lily's water antics. She was having a heap of fun with a stick, pushing it around in the water with her nose while blowing bubbles! So funny! Lily loves the water and even in the middle of winter she'll jump in after a ball or stick! (Brrrrrr)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Aaah At Last!

I popped into my sister's Blog yesterday eager to know if I had won her 100th post give away......no such luck :(

But here's the news, Susie now has a website at long last. So if you're interested in seeing some amazing dolls and figurative sculpture, you should go and check it out. You should get there by clicking on the image above.
Today I'll be sending my Christmas swap bear off to Sandi, so when I know she has him I'll put his photo up so you can see him. Sandi has created a new album on the TBACA website where we will be able to showcase all the swaps as they are completed.
In a little over a week I'm flying out again. This time I'm off to NSW for a show and also a couple of workshops and I'll also be receiving the trophies from Sandra Wigzell for the ABC awards won by Kumo. I also have to take some good prints of Kumo with me so that Maureen Christie, http://www.christieart.com.au/, can paint his portrait, another part of my prize. I'm interested to see what Maureen does with Kumo's portrait, as I've only seen traditional bears painted by her.
We are finally having some beautiful Spring weather. The apple blossom has almost finished, we have the small beginnings of a vegetable garden, and we have been gorging on asparagus! I did some more weeding over the weekend and actually caught a little too much sun on my shoulders.
Greetings for now from sunny Tasmania :)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny

I have been making miniatures for the last couple of days, some traditional teddies for a change. I can tell you that embroidering their noses was a real challenge for me, since it is quite some time since I've done one.
Ever since I worked out how to put a realistic leather nose onto a bear's snout, I rarely do embroidered ones and I guess I've lost the knack, being somewhat out of practice. These little fellows are just 2 1/4" tall and fully pin and disc jointed. I've really enjoyed making them, apart from their noses that is (one of which had to be unpicked and resewn it looked so bad!)
It is surprising that I can manage to get my big hands to work these tiny bears and at times I do find them frustrating in the extreme, but I always get a thrill when one is completed. I rather like them without any ribbons or frills, I sometimes feel that miniaturists over accessorise and the poor wee bears become overwhelmed by all the bits that have been added to them. But then, apart from very early on when I dressed my bears in little hand smocked dresses and the like, I have always preferred to leave my bears bare.
I have also completed a bear for Sandi Smith who is my partner in the TBACA Christmas swap. This one was quite a departure for me and it even elicited a very positive response from Chris, who doesn't often comment on my bears. I won't show it to you until I know Sandi has him, as I don't want to spoil her surprise. We will be having a showcase of the Christmas swaps on the TBACA website a little later on, too. I've never made a specifically "Christmas" bear before and until I made a start on him I had so many different ideas I didn't know what I was going to do. In the end I just pottered on with it until a rather charming and very "Christmassy" fellow resulted, I just hope Sandi feels the same about him :)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Featured Artist

This month yours truly is the featured artist on the TBACA website. So, if you're a little curious and would like a little insight into what makes this ol' girl's mind tick, pop over to http://www.teddybearsandcritters.com and click on the link in the navigation bar at the top of the page. It's amazing, really, trying to write about yourself. Even with a set of questions as a guide, I found it quite difficult. I think Blogging has made things a little easier, it has helped me to sort my thoughts and to restrain my waffle. I know how I feel about things but I find it hard to write my thoughts, and there is always the nagging feeling........ "who wants to know anyway"!

Here are a couple of photos taken at the workshop in Somerset, I'm deep in coversation with Susan's five month old Spaniel, Harry. He's such a lovely little fellow with the most amazing eyes, which are almost green! He was alot of fun to have around, though he did prove to be a distraction, particularly for those of us who have an overwhelming love of dogs, which I must say were the majority of those in the room! :)
The current issue of Australian Bear Creations magazine has a nice little article on bear artists' pandas, and my panda Yi Min is featured along with some other great pandas. The article is also a bit of a tribute to Pauline Wong (Wee Paws) who lost her battle against cancer a while back. Pauline was a master at creating beautiful little pandas and I'm lucky enough to own one of her gorgeous little masterpieces, a very treasured member of my small collection of little bears. That's it folks, I have to go get sewing as I have a show to go to in three weeks.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

At Work Again, And An Anniversary

At last I have started working on my bears again, the new glasses are stronger than my last ones so this means my eyes have got older :0( But at least I can now see the eyes in my tiny needles for threading!

Yesterday marked the 26th anniversary of our marriage.....WOW! I'm amazed that we even remembered, actually. Usually November rolls around and we look at each other and remark that we've missed it again! Last year was something special and Chris surprised me with a weekend away. We went to Bruny Island, right down at the Southern tip of Tasmania. We had a night in a lovely cabin with sweeping views overlooking the Channel and the next day we had a thrilling boat ride heading south and around the bottom of Bruny...... with nothing between us and Antarctica! Our special weekend was completed when we were priviledged with some whale sightings! These two were heading to Antarctica for the Summer. It was such athrill for me to see them, it has been a long held wish of mine.

I'm working on bears for my next show which will be held in Mittagong, NSW on Sunday 15th November. I will also be teaching two workshops while I'm in NSW, one in Newcastle and the other at Teddy's Bits in Castle Hill.

I also have to get on with a special little bear for Sandi, who is my partner in the TBACA Christmas swap. I'm mulling over a few ideas at the moment, but I'll have to get cracking if I'm going to have it ready for the November 1st mailing day! There's going to be a Christmas party on the TBACA website, so everyone can see all the swap bears/critters, so stay tuned. I can't believe that Christmas is just around the corner, the year has flown past in a flash!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Spring Gardening

Since I can't get much sewing done until my new glasses are ready, I've been spending time in the garden. I have weeded under some of the apple trees with bees buzzing in the blossom above. I'm so glad that I haven't missed the apple blossom, it's so pretty and has a beautiful delicate scent. I discovered that while I was away the chives had started into growth and are actually quite large, I found, once all the weeds were removed! Spring has definitely sprung but it is off to a rather cool beginning, we've been in southerly airstream and with not much between us and Antarctica the air has been pretty cold. Out of the wind and in a sheltered spot however, you can feel the warmth in the sun (when it shines).

I'm finding it very frustrating without my glasses, I'd love to be getting on with some bearworks! I have brought back some fabulous fabrics and leather from http://www.bearbasics.co.uk/ and I'm itching to get into them. All I can do is look at them and drool, while imagining the bears that will emerge. I have been drawing, my old glasses are ok for that, and the optometrist has put a priority on my new ones so hopefully the wait won't be too long.

When the weather warms up some more I'll be getting into some more mud larks, making progress on the house. I'm feeling that we should make a big impression on the project this year it's clearer in our heads what needs doing, so there should be less standing around staring up at walls trying to figure things out. In fact I can't wait to start again, the winter hiatus has left me with a severe itch to get going! Despite it's frustrations, building is another enjoyable aspect of life out here and though it sometimes feels as though we will never finish, it gives me a great sense of achievement. Slowly but surely our home is emerging and sooner or later it will no longer be a building site :) The photo shows the mix of mud and straw which is packed in between the timbers of the house to make the walls. It dries to become very solid and once plastered and rendered is a very eco friendly and insulating wall system. This is a very old building technique and there are samples that have stood the test of time and have been lived in continuously for centuries.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

ABC Awards Winner

That's right! Kumo has been voted the winner in the people's choice and has won the editor's choice in the Australian Bear Creations Awards for 2009. I'm so honoured and wish to thank all those who took the trouble to vote, not only for Kumo but for all the bears in the competition. Thanks also to Australian Bear Creations magazine for hosting the awards.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


I'm home again after a successful trip to England. Hugglets was a wonderful show for me with some good sales and new contacts. I spent some lovely days with family, especially my daughter and yes, I got to go a brambling in the hedgerows. The berries we picked are bubbling away in demi-johns to become wine. I sat listening to the brews one day and it sounded like they were having a good conversation. Perhaps this is a foretaste of the amiable conversations to come over dinner, fuelled by Doug's palatable but potent brews!

The workshop went well, Lockerbie was cancelled when some ladies withdrew. This was just as well really, as the hotel proved to be impossible to contact and it transpired that it had closed, with no notification! (Visions of me arriving and balefully knocking on the door....let me in.) At least I had a full class in Wincanton and all the girls enjoyed a workshop packed with lots of new techniques and some lovely bears resulted. You can see from this photo, that Susan has an absolutely fabulous space for workshops with light streaming in to make sewing a dream. If you look closely you will see a few headless bodies sitting on the table. For this workshop the ladies needed to have the body assembled and ready for the head if they were to have any chance of getting the bear anywhere near completed, and I'm glad to say they all had their homework done. I must say, though, it did look very strange to see all these bodies on the table awaiting their heads.

The trip ended on a somewhat sour note when my ipod, glasses and sunglasses were stolen from my bag in Melbourne's Tullamarine airport. In fact, an accumulation of little disasters brought me down to earth with a resounding bump! After an extended flight delay into Tasmania, I arrived home late on Sunday and after sharing a bottle of red wine, I slept soundly..... only to be woken by the alarm and the realisation normal life had returned and housework was beckoning. Ho Hum!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Signing Off

I'm flying out to London in the morning, so I'll probably not be blogging for the next few weeks. See you all when I get back :) I'd hoped to have some photos of the bears I'll have at Hugglets, but I simply have run out of time.
It was sunny today :)

Monday, September 7, 2009

A Dream Show!

The online show at the weekend was an outstanding success for me, with a sellout! Thankyou Sandi Smith http://www.bearlysaneteddies.com for all your tireless efforts in creating the site and congratulations on how smoothly everything ran. You really do amaze me with what you do and I am extremely grateful to you for your commitment to us all. This amazing woman is already planning the next event, Be My Valentine, which will also have a special collection of bears available for Bobo, TBACA's sponsored sun bear. All these bears and critters will be donated by the artists and all the funds raised go towards the wonderful work of Free The Bears, http://www.freethebears.org.au/, for their bear sanctuary in Cambodia. All the bears at the sanctuary have been rescued from intolerable lives, some as "pets" but most as unwilling prisoners in bile farms, none of these bears can be returned to the wild so they live out their lives at Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre. You can read more about all this on the Free The Bears website.

It's full steam ahead for Hugglets now, just three sleeps till I fly out! I have a small but very nice collection of bears to take with me. I'm hoping I might even see some sunshine while I'm away because we certainly haven't been getting any in Tasmania! The English countryside should be looking very pretty in all it's golden Autumn glory, I might even get the chance to do a little berrying in the hedgerows near my brother-in-law's house in Somerset.

Here are the bears I had on offer over the weekend, they have all found new homes here in Australia.

Friday, September 4, 2009

One More Sleep to Dream

Tomorrow morning the latest TBACA online show begins at 10am. I'm really looking forward to this show as there should be some really exceptional works exhibited from some of Australia's finest bearsmiths. If you pop over to the TBACA websit and follow the link you will see the list of exhibitors. We have each contributed three pieces to the show and the offerings should be quite diverse, looking at who is on that list.

My collection for Hugglets is coming together, I've spent some time on the computer lately, redesigning my swing tags and printing. I'm hoping to have all these things ready to go at the end of today, so that I can concentrate for the time remaining on a last few little bears. I'm flying out on Thursday. I've got lots of music loaded onto my ipod, and I need to select a good book to help the long haul pass as pleasantly as possible.

I feel a little sad at leaving at this time of year, I love early Spring in Tasmania. The wattle is in full bloom and there are daffodils everywhere. In town the other day I saw the most amazing magnolia abundantly blooming. I wonder if I will be back in time to see the apple and pear blossom in the orchard? It always looks so pretty. I think the asparagus will be in full production when I get home, oh joy!

I'll only be gone for three and a half weeks, the time will pass quickly enough. I will then have the warm half of Spring, and then hopefully a wonderful Summer to enjoy.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Here it is, the last day of my forties! EEEEK. Trouble is I don't feel old enough to be this old! I don't feel middle aged, if the mirror didn't tell me otherwise I could imagine I was still twenty (I wish!). I guess I've grown a little wiser with age, and I certainly made choices when I was young that make me cringe now! As they say "youth is wasted on the young", it would be so good to be able to go back and have all that energy, with a head full of the knowledge that only comes with experience. The things I would get done! Truth be told I'm actually in better shape than I was ten years ago, physically stronger though definitely wrinklier, my hair has only just started to show a little grey, so I guess not too bad. I do enjoy being a grandmother, I have found this new role in my life very fulfilling, though lately I just haven't had time to see enough of my precious grandson. Hopefully this will change when I get back from the UK, even though my calendar does look rather full with workshops in NSW, Victoria and Tasmania in November and December.

I'm beavering away at getting a collection together for Hugglets, my fingers are very sore. The other day my "thimble" finger lost it's callus which will make miniatures difficult. I do wear a leather thimble when working on my bigger bears, but find it too inhibiting when working on minis. It will take lots of sewing to work that hard pad back. This happens from time to time, usually when the tip of my finger has got to the stage where is has no feeling left in it, that's when it will peel off revealing the healthy new pink skin underneath, ready to start all over again.

Not long now to the next online show. Having got the bears done and the photos off I keep forgetting that it will be on soon. I can't wait to see what everyone has done, this show is quite small but there should be some really great works exhibited, I do hope you all will find the time to drop in on the 5th and 6th of September. Here's another little peek at what I will be offering.

Friday, August 21, 2009


I thought I had better make a correction on my last post, we have gone beyond ridiculous with the weather, here in Tasmania. We've had a once in forty years flood and the river has been raging through The Gorge in Launceston in a spectacular fashion. Apparently we're in for much more over the next month or so, with a series of fronts blowing in from the West. I must admit I'm rather sick of the rain now, and it would be lovely if we could have some real sunshine for a few days. Everything is so wet!

At least it's great weather to be holed up indoors making bears, which is imperative with Hugglets just a matter of a few weeks away! I'm just back from Adelaide where I managed to sell a few bears. They're all panda mad over there at the moment, because Adelaide zoo is about to get a breeding pair of these fabulous animals and they're counting the days to their arrival! I sold more pandas than anything at the show :) Next year I'm booked to teach a workshop after the show, and you guessed it, it's going to be a panda!

I've added another little peek at what I have coming up in the "When You Dare To Dream"(www.teddybearsandcritters.com/whenyoudaretodream.htm ) online show on the 5th and 6th of September, one of these days I'll figure out how to make a collage but I simply don't have time for fiddling about on the computer right now, I have bears to make! So this little teaser will have to suffice. Cheers for now from a very sodden Tasmania.

Friday, August 7, 2009


It seems, for this year at least, we have returned to a "normal" Winter weather pattern. We have had more rain than we've had in years and as I predicted, our dam has filled for the first time in five years. We are even blessed with a wild drake and his harem, who fly off everytime I walk up there, no matter how cautiously I approach. The lake nearby is very full too and since the opening of the fishing season, last weekend, I have seen some sizeable trout caught. For three months of the year I could almost believe that the lake is our own, not a soul to be seen. When the season opens it becomes a Mecca for fishers from far and wide until it starts to get warm in the highlands, then it gets a little quieter again. What I object to, is the accumulation of rubbish along the shore as the season progresses. How difficult can it be for someone to carry back their empties? I often take a plastic bag along with me when I go for a walk by the lake, in order to collect some of what's been left, and I'm pretty sure others do the same. It's just such a shame that there are those out there who think it's ok to be so senseless.

I have finally submitted all my photos for "When You Dare To Dream" I even had some days to spare! Now everything is in Sandi's capable hands as she gets the site prepared for our grand opening on the 5th of September. I will hopefully have a sneak peek up here soon. Meanwhile here's just a little taster.........
I fly to Adelaide next Thursday, the South Australian Doll and Bear Fair is on that weekend, time to catch up with some friends and hopefully sell a few bears too. I'm taking a small collection of my sister's bears with me this time, too. After a few years break she has started to make her sweet little fellows again. I must say it's rather lovely to have her back even in a small way, I've missed our "beary" connection. Some of you may remember Jan's bears, she trades as Brady's Bears, they still have the same "Brady's" style so she hasn't lost it while she's been away, there's one little fellow in the box who may not even get to Adelaide, I like him too much :)

Friday, July 31, 2009


I keep having dreams with Ralph in them. This morning he was running and playing with another large dog, a New Foundland, they were so well matched and were having such fun! In reality if Ralph had come across a dog as large as himself he would have come to me and hidden his head between my knees! He did this at the vet's once. We were waiting and the surgery door opened to reveal a rather large Rhodesian Ridgeback, Ralph took one look and "hid" himself! Poor boy, he was such a softy! In all these dreams Ralph is young and vigorous again, I like to think that it's true...........I don't think I'll ever be able to get over his loss, but I do feel happy when I'm dreaming him.

My hands are a total disaster, no prizes for these manicurist's nightmares! I've been doing alot of leather applique, which always leaves my hands in a mess. I use really tiny glover's needles, and they have an extremely sharp three sided point to them which shreds my fingers, but slides through the leather with ease. I have a friend who is a potter, who develped a severe dermatitis from contact with clay (real handy, that). Anyway he treats it with the ointment dairy farmers use on their cows' teats when they get cracked, it works a treat. I have a small jar of the ointment somewhere, I'll have to hunt it out and use it I think. The same stuff is used by many hand embroiderers, too. I imagine it can be bought very cheaply from a rural supplies store, I was given my jar years ago and only use it when my finger tips get severly cracked from multiple needle jabs. A little dab on the offending digit with a "bandaid" over it, and overnight the crack will be all but completely healed! It really is that good! I just thought I'd hand this on to all you fellow sufferers out there.

I have to finish my bears for the next online show "When You Dare To Dream", in September. The photo submission deadline is looming, but I've found it very hard to really get motivated since we lost Ralph. Still, I'm almost done and I'll be getting the photos done in a couple of days. Then I can concentrate on bears for Adelaide and London.

We've been having some fabulous Winter weather lately, with big blue skies and lots of sunshine. I can really relate to being a cat on days like this. I can turn my chair around to bask in the sun streaming in through the bay window, I could almost start purring! Now that we're well past the shortest day, I swear I can hear the birds gearing up for Spring. Soon they will be gathering up tufts of Ralph's undercoat that I've left out after brushing him, and lining their nests with it. It's so soft I'm sure it makes a beautiful lining to nestle into, the little babies will be tucked up nice and warm.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Early on Saturday morning our big, gentle, beautiful Ralph passed away. He had been in hospital since Tuesday after losing the ability to raise himself, we thought it was his arthritis advancing and possibly getting into his spine. An xray revealed absolutely no arthritis in him, so we had to look at other causes for his loss of mobility. It turned out that he had an enormous brain tumor which was reavealed by MRI. We were looking at possibly flying him to Queensland for radiation therapy, but the discovery of the tumor came too late and he died peacefully in his sleep. Looking back, we can now see that the little changes in Ralph's behaviour which we attributed to his getting old and perhaps a little dotty, were actually signs of this growing menace in his brain. These changes happened so slowly and over such a long time, that we got used to them and thought little of them until it was too late. Given the size of the tumor, the vet was surprised that he hadn't been having seizures. I wish that he had, as that would have told us that something was seriously amiss with our wonderful companion, and something could have been done to save him. As it is, the family is still in disbelief, it was heartbreaking to tell our daughter overseas and all I wanted was to have her here so that I could put my arms around her, she sounded so devastated over the phone.

Ralph was one of those perfect beings, he was gentle and a true gentleman. There was absolutely no malice in him, all he ever wanted to do was to please us. As a puppy he learned very quickly, in fact there was very little training needed with him as he seemed to instinctively know what was required. He has been a wonderfully inspirational companion to have around and no doubt he will continue to inspire many bears to come. I am heartbroken and devastated at his loss, there is such a huge hole in my life now. I feel a little better now that he's home with us, we buried him under the walnut trees on Monday, rest in peace Ralphie boy.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

OK, we've had enough now!

I'ts been raining non-stop for two days now, I think we've had enough for the time being. There is water flowing where it hasn't flowed for years, so the ground water has been topped up to what used to be normal for Winter. I think I can say with confidence that our dam will be full and flowing over, in the next day or two, something which hasn't occurred for four years! I can only hope this is the end of this drought and we will see a return to normal weather patterns for a while at least.
I've been working on my pieces for the next online show in September. This is an exhibition of master works by some of Australia's best bear artists hosted by http://www.teddybearsandcritters.com/whenyoudaretodream.htm (When You Dare To Dream). It will be interesting to see what everyone will have to show. I'm very pleased with how my first two have turned out, just one more to do then I'm done. After which I can get on with getting stock ready for Adelaide and London, the months have slipped by too quickly!
Oh well, at least the weather is good for bear making. Snuggled up inside with the fire burning, a warm woolen jumper on and ugg boots on my feet, listening to the rain on the roof. (We have had enough for now, though!)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Friday, June 26, 2009

Ten Toes to Tickle

I managed to get Bronson's feet in here at last! Now you can see what I mean about the leather
from these jackets that I buy. Aren't these feet just gorgeous? I sometimes think that I have the most fun with the feet of my bears, they are the last thing I do and I always feel that until they are done the bear isn't a bear! To me they are every bit as important as the face and I can often spend as much time on them!
I wonder what the ladies in the op shops would feel about me cutting up the jackets to get the leather? I'm sure that they would feel that I'm wasting them, but when I look at this photo of Bronson's feet, I know that it's never a waste :) When I cut up these jackets I sort the leather for different purposes as the thickness and quality will vary over different parts of the garment. There will be softer, thinner pieces that I save for my miniatures and the rest I keep for my larger bears. A long time ago I used to buy faux fur coats aswell, that was in the time before mohair and alpaca fur fabrics were so freely available, and they were my best source of good quality furs for my bears. I think I still have some of that fur stashed away somewhere, though I will probably never use it now, it may be time for a clean out!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Where has the Sun gone?

I'm beginning to wonder if we will ever see the Sun again! It seems we have had an endless succession of foggy and overcast days, but very little rain. Today we finally got rain with the cloud, at last, but we are still in drought. We have had no-where near our usual rainfall, I just hope that the next few months will see a return to normal (whatever that is these days).
I've been struggling with a new polar bear pattern today, but I'm having a hard time getting it to work the way I want. This might be the first head to hit the bin in years! (OH DEAR) Having done this one today, though, I think I know how to tweak this new pattern so that I get what I'm after, so after I've finished this I'll have another go. I'll probably not throw this poor head in the bin either, I may be able to use it to try out some new ideas I have brewing, could be interesting......
Yesterday I popped into an op shop and found a couple of great leather jackets to cut up for paws and noses. For those of you overseas, op shops are thrift stores (US) or charity shops (UK) the name is short for opportunity shop. Us Aussies are great ones for shortening the names of things, but I guess it can become quite confusing for people overseas :) I find these stores a great source of leather, particularly the lovely mottled leather from those "stone washed" leather jackets that were all the rage some years ago. No-one wants to wear them these days so they are all turning up in the op shops, happily for me :) I've added this photo of Bronson's feet so that you know the type of leather I'm talking about, and to show you what I can do with it. Well so much for the photo, it's not uploading, I'll give it another go in the morning......ho hum.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Kiko, my workshop bear for the UK

I have just sent Kiko off to Susan Davies (http://www.bearbasics.co.uk/) he's the sample for the workshops I will be teaching in September. At the request of last year's workshoppers I designed a Polar Bear. Kiko has lots of features which will keep the workshop participants very busy for the whole two days. There is my trademark leather nose in addition to an open mouth with tongue and eye teeth and I have also included sculpted paw pads with claws! So there will be lots to learn in the two days. One workshop is being held in Lockerbie and the other at Bear Basics in Somerset, both are being organised by Susan.

I can't believe how fast time has flown these past few months, it doesn't seem long enough ago that I was discussing going over to the UK again this year, I felt I had all the time in the world. All of a sudden I feel as though there isn't enough time to get done all that needs to be be done, with another online show to prepare for, the South Australian Doll and Bear Fair and then Hugglets in London!

I don't think I will be doing much blogging over the next few weeks, I just won't have the time! It will be head down and tail up for this little duck!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Yi Min

This is the panda I've been working on, I finished her on Monday but had to wait for some decent weather for her photo shoot. Today started out with a hard frost and the day developed into a cool but cloudless winter's day, so I was able to set things up outside and got I some good shots without the aid of lights.

I managed to squeeze Yi Min's dark parts out of the alpaca left over from making Bronson, so there is absolutely none of that fur left. This panda is a one off, there will never be another one made in this colour. You can see more photos and read all about her on my website.

I've just felt the temperature plunge as the has sun dipped behind a rather large blackwood tree, I'll be lighting the heater early today. Having the sun streaming in through the windows all day, I'd forgotten just how cold the day really has been. The days are so short now, only a couple of weeks and we'll be past the solstice, then our days will begin to lengthen again. It's a bit like taking a big breath when we get over that hump and we start heading for Spring and Summer........still there are many cold days to come.

Monday, June 8, 2009

An Amazing Week!

Wow! What a week I've had! The Black and White Ball concluded last night after a week of wonderful bears, critters and fun. I was surprised yesterday, and honoured to learn that I was the joint winner with Laraine White from New Zealand, of the public's choice vote, with my little panda Meixin. Later in the day the winners of the Australasian Creative Design Awards were announced, Katrina Ndrejica won the biggy and the runners up were Kim Russell and ME! So all in all a pretty amazing week with great sales to top it all off.

I can now reveal the bears and critters that I created for the show. I decided to stick with the black and white scheme and made a family of Emperor Penguins, a couple of Pandas, a couple of Polar Bears and a Tassie Devil! All but one found new homes over the week and I'm fairly confident that the last one will too. I'm so very happy with the outcome of my first online show, I'll certainly be participating in many more to come:) A huge thank you to Sandi Smith of http://www.bearlysaneteddies.com for all her tireless efforts in making this event such a wonderful success and experience for all involved!

Meanwhile I've been working on a new panda design, which will be finished today. I'm really pleased with this one, and hopefully I will be able to get some photos later and get his cute little face up in here.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Here's a Giggle!

Just for fun, I thought I would show you where my bear making began. This little fellow is well over 25 years old and still lives with me having survived my children's growing years. He's a little flat these days, but still cute. He is made in a very cheap synthetic fur which was all that was available to me in the days before the internet and specialised teddy suppliers. I sold quite a few of these bears, I wonder if the others have survived the ravages of time equally well? I couldn't even get eyes back then, and I fashioned them myself using circles of felt with a little embroidered highlight. At least you could say he was child-safe, and that was my market back then. I think they appealed to parents because they were all a little individual and not clones churned out in a factory. I hope he brings a little smile to you today, I think you will have to agree that my bear making has come a long way over the years!

Well tomorrow is the big day! The Black and White Ball begins at 8am, I hope you will find the time to drop by and meet the bears and critters that will be on offer, and remember that there will be new additions each day of the show.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Here He Is!

I've just finished Bronson, a new bear in the lovliest brown alpaca. I've had this piece for quite a few years, just waiting for the right bear. Bronson is truly one of a kind as this fabric is no longer available, it has a very unusual shaggy look with a blended mix of browns and a few blonde guard hairs, which suits this bear so well. I've had a great deal of fun working on Bronson's feet, I used a wonderful piece of mottled leather to applique his pads which were then sculpted and shaded to create his lovely feet. I will be putting some more photos and information on my website if you want to find out more about him.

It's just a few days to the Black and White Ball, Monday is our big day! I'm starting to feel a little anxious about the whole thing, I'm not too confident on the computer and I just hope it all goes smoothly. With Sandi at the helm I'm sure everything will be OK :) So don't forget to pay us a visit at http://www.teddybearsandcritters.com/ and remember that there will be new bears and critters added each day for the whole week! Be sure to cast your votes in the Australasian Creative Design Awards which are being held at the same time and place.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


My little bear Bonnie along with her tiny Bunny, is featured as a project in the latest edition of Australian Bear Creations. It was a challenge for me to create a bear with a feminine look, as my bears are, on the whole decidedly male. I'm not totally convinced I have actually made a "girly" bear with Bonnie, and think perhaps she is really a boy in a ribbon. If you wish to create your own Bonnie all you need do, is get hold of the magazine (which is available in most Australian news agencies or by suscription directly from Woodlands Publishing) and there you'll find the full instructions for her. If however, you don't want to make her yourself she will be available from my website later. I have decided to only make one of these sets, so if you wish to own them you'd better pop over to the Benson Bears website and read all about them! First in best dressed as they say.

Excitement is building for the Black and White Ball, there are quite a few collages up on http://www.teddtbearsandcritters.com/ if you want to get some sneak peeks at what will be on offer. The Ball will run for a whole week and there will be new offerings each day, so it will be worth your while to pop in each day to see what's new. Sandi has done a wonderful job of organisation to keep us all on track and focussed. Now she has the enormous task of setting up the "ballroom" with all our photos and their associated links (rather her than me, that's for sure!) Meanwhile I will be concentrating on getting a sample off to Susan Davies at Bear Basics for my UK workshops. I have finished two little pandas for Teddy Bears of Whitney's 2010 catalogue, they are such a sweet pair, I'm sure Ian Pout will be happy with them. I'm also itching to get on with a new large panda in the gorgeous alpaca that has been waiting quite some weeks now! Of course there are always orders and the neglected garden and housework to do, so busy, busy...........

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A Sneak Peek

At last I have finished all my pieces for the Black and White Ball, I submitted all the photos almost by the skin of my teeth, (if there had been any internet problems it could have been embarrassing) and now I can give you all a little sneak peek at what I will be offering when the show begins on June 1st. This is only half of them, the others are in the Australasian Creative Design Awards and have to remain annonymous for judging and for the public vote. It has been such fun and a real challenge to take part in this web venture, I'm looking forward to the next one.

We have a new show in the planning, this is an exhibition of some of Australia's master bear artists and is called "When You Dare To Dream", it will run for two days in September (5th and 6th). By visiting the TBACA website (http://www.teddybearsandcritters.com/) you can read all about the show and see the list of the participating artists, there should be some exceptional works on offer at this one.

I'm going to be such a busy girl over the coming months! I have to prepare for this show, design and make samples for Teddy Bears of Whitney's 2010 catalogue, design and make the samples for my workshops in the UK and NSW, prepare for the South Australian Doll and Bear Show in August and Hugglets in September! Will I have time to breathe I wonder? As they say............. "housework only comes before sewing in the dictionary" ;)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Autumn has definitely arrived, we have abundant fruit from the garden, the trees are turning golden and I'm having to trawl through my recipes for 101 things to do with pears! I have a fabulous little book written by fellow Tasmanian, Sally Wise called; "A Year In A Bottle", it's packed full of great recipes for times of glut. Later today I'm going to try her Pear Ginger, which sounds delicious.

The Kurrawongs are feasting, they're driving Lily mad and she spends alot of the day racing around the orchard trying to catch one, though I don't know what she would do if she managed to do so. I've given up shooing the birds out of the trees, we have too much fruit as it is.

I'll have to put some of the apples through the juicer and freeze it. I did this last year and was totally blown away at how fresh it looked and tasted after several months, makes you wonder what happens to some foods in manufacturing that it seems stale before you've even brought it home from the supermarket. I've noticed this with the jams I've made from our fruit, the colour is so vibrant compared to what is available commercially.

Yesterday a big parcel arrived from the US with a couple of yards of wonderfully long and dense alpaca fur fabric inside, some more black and white to make more pandas! I'll have to rework my large panda pattern some more, I want to get it just right before I cut into these pieces, because the fabric is so beautiful and it was very expensive.

I've almost finished my collection for the Black and White Ball, which is just as well since the deadline for submission of the photos is the 1st of May. I'm going to try and set up a light tent inside to get the photos, the days have been very gloomy lately and I need a more reliable set up so that I can get a really good set of pics.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Bunny

We had the cutest Easter Bunny visit us today, Tobias and his parents were here for lunch. Tobias exhibited an amazing Pavlovian response to the little bell around the Lindt Easter bunnies! He's going to be a chocolate fiend like his Dad, I think. I wonder if he would have the same response Sam had to a chocolate overdose? This happened when Sam was about four and he ate a large chocolate rabbit in one sitting.......and my mild mannered son became the child from Hell for a whole week afterwards! After that, I only bought the children small eggs which were strictly rationed over many days.

I'm still working away at my pieces for the Black and White Ball, I'm very pleased with them so far and I'd really love to show them off here, but I have to keep them to myself until June. So very frustrating! It has been a challenge being restricted to Black and White, I keep thinking of bears in other colours, but I guess they can wait until I've finished this collection. Then I can GO TO TOWN. I'll be delving into my fabric stash for all those other colours......I know where all the black and white pieces are :)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Black and White

I have started work on my pieces for the TBACA (http://www.teddybearsandcritters.com/) Black and White Ball, online show, and also The Australasian Creative Design Awards which will be held in conjunction with the Ball. What fun it is to think of all the creatures in the world that are black, white or both! There are lots of them out there, and my being a panda and polar bear fanatic helps. That doesn't mean my collection will be all pandas and polar bears. I'm working on something entirely different today, but you will have to wait for the show in June to see what I'm talking about!

At the weekend I traded at the Doll, Bear and Miniature Fair in Launceston, I like doing this show, no air travel just a quick drive down the road. It always surprises me with good sales too. I also made a contact for some workshops in Hobart later in the year, so all in all, a very successful weekend.

On Friday, our 10 month old Grandson stayed with us for the night. It was his first night away from his Mum, and he cheerfully took it all in his stride. He's such a happy, easy going baby and what a joy to wake in the early morning to him happily playing "patacake" on our faces! I must admit I was rather tired all of Saturday, this ol' girl isn't used to getting up to a baby in the night, but that really doesn't matter when this little boy brings such joy to our lives! I'm looking forward to his next "sleep over".

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Workshops in Boronia

Last week I taught two workshops at Bear Essence in Boronia. They went very smoothly and we had some very happy bearmakers with some lovely creations. The majority were making Jiao Jiao the panda, but I also had some bears being made from older workshops which kept me on my toes.

On Sunday we had the Sydney Teddy Bear Fair, which, though quiet sales wise gave me some new contacts for more workshops. Of course, one has to have bears to sell, and things have been going so well from my website (http://www.bensonbears.com/) I didn't have all that many bears with me! This weekend we have our little Doll and Bear show here in Launceston, so again I will have a busy week preparing for that. I wonder sometimes, if it's worth still doing shows. Their success can be so sporadic, but I do know there are collectors out there who will never buy a bear online. These are people who like to feel the quality of what they're buying and you just don't get that from a photos, no matter how good they are. Having said that, I'll be participating in my first online show in June and I'm very eager to see how well that goes. You can find information about it at, http://www.teddybearsandcritters.com/. It 's called The Black and White Ball, and I guess there are going to be lots of pandas and other black and white critters on show. It should be interesting to say the least. Of course I'll be flat chat getting everything ready on time so all of next month I'm going to be really busy!
I have a new large bear finished, and if the weather clears a bit today I should be able to get some photos taken of him. Bart was picked up at Sydney on the weekend, a surprise birthday present, and very surprised Lyn was too! I have also had an email from Matilda's new Mum, she travelled very well and her ears popped out of the box in perfect order. I was a little concerned that the bilby's delicate ears would be squashed in transit, but all was well thanks to the wonders of bubble wrap!