Wednesday, December 26, 2007


Many Christmases ago--nearly thirty, I think--I received a set of paperback books in a slipcase. I can't recall what those books were or even who they were from...So why am I even bringing them up? I bring them up because my brother Aaron also received a set of paperbacks in a slipcase that same Christmas---and his books I loved! I'm not sure if he ever read them, but I read them all, again and again. I loved bears and these books were about a sweet, polite, and doggone funny little bear named Paddington, who was created by Michael Bond.
A couple of years ago, while browsing on ebay, I saw that set of books and had to buy them to share the stories with my kids (and because I am a nostalgic kind of person).
This picture shows the paperbacks in the slipcase, a Paddington made by Boyds which was a Christmas gift from my husband several years ago, and a tiny little clip-on Paddington who lived in my dollhouse when I was a kid.

Paddington also inspired my creative side when I was young. Here is a picture I made based on the cover illustration on the first Paddington book. I remember when I made this picture I didn't like it at all. It was an art class assignment which involved tearing tissue paper and gluing it to create the picture. We were not allowed to use scissors and I was frustrated with the picture since I was actually pretty good at drawing--especially bears--but I could not get the realistic look I wanted with the torn tissue. My mother, an artist who tends to favor abstract art loved it and has saved it all these years.

I recently checked out some Paddington books on CD from our library to listen to while I sew, and naturally began to envision how I would make my own version of Paddinton. My son Brendan was listening too. He asked where my Paddington books where and when I gave them to him he read straight through the first one. Then he came to me and said, "Mom, can you help me make my own Paddington?" Ha! No one has to twist my arm for that!

I just happened to have a Paddington pattern I had purchased from ebay (for nostalgic reasons too). I didn't know if I would actually use it or not, but I bought it because, during my childhood Paddington obsession, my mom had purchased the exact same pattern for me. (I'm not sure if I ever made him, but I do recall making his duffle coat for a stuffed bunny I had.) I thought it would be a perfect beginner bear for Brendan. The date on the pattern is 1977.

So on Christmas Eve, Brendan began to make his Paddington bear from a remnant of fleece I had purchased for him. We worked a bit on Christmas day too and finished Paddington.

I helped with the pinning and Brendan did all of the cutting and sewing (both hand and machine sewing) except for the gusset and the foot pads which I sewed for him. He placed the safety eyes and nose,stuffed the bear well, and closed the stuffing holes with a ladder stitch.

Brendan is very proud of his bear and I am very proud of him!

I'll have more to post on this topic as I do plan to design my own Paddington and Brendan has plans for a coat, hat and even a suitcase for his bear.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A New Bear---well sort of!

I finally finished this fellow for a special collector in Wisconsin. He had seen Santa's Little Helper and Jingles at the show in Schaumburg, but they had already been adopted. I told him I could make something similar but not the same. There are two reasons for that. First, the other set was sold as one-of-a-kind. Second, the reason I described it as one of a kind, is that I knew I had purchased those fabrics some time ago and would not be able to find them again. So he's not really a new design, but he is a new bear! I hope Jeff likes him.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Five Random Things About Me---

I have been tagged!!! Thank you for tagging me goes to both Ellen Borggreve of
Ellen Borggreve Design and Kim Basta of Wild Thyme Originals. Thank you!!

So if I understand the game right, I am to list five random things about me and then to tag five other bloggers.

Here are my random facts:

1. I am listening to George Winston's December CD and I love it. I always think that musicians possess I kind of magic that I wish I had as well. This piano CD certainly is magical.

2. I have three brothers and no sisters. I do have four lovely sisters-in-law, though including Sean's brothers wife, and soon there will be five!

3. I have known my husband Sean for more than half of my life and I am still totally infatuated with him!

4. I am not 40 yet! (but will be soon!)

5. I do not like the taste of coffee--or even coffee flavored sweets, but I love the smell of it.

I am going to copy the rules of this game here and tag five more bloggers.
Please visit these lovely artists' blogs. I love to pop in on these folks!
Jennifer Stanfield
Laura Matthews
Daphne Blau
Christine Pike
Amy Thornton


Share 5 random facts about yourself on your blog
Link to your tagger (that's me!) in your "random fact" post
Include these rules in your post
Tag 5 people by including both their names and links to their blogs in your post
Let those you've tagged know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog

Monday, December 10, 2007

Snowball Fight!

There's nothing like quality time with the family during the holidays!
Non-Crappy Starring You! eCards on JibJab

Friday, December 7, 2007

A Christmas Gift for You!

I created this Teddy Bear Ornament pattern to make a special gift for a friend and to use with the 2nd Annual Teddy Talk Christmas Ornament Exchange. I made three of these and enjoyed it so much I thought it would be great to give a gift to ALL of my online Teddy Bear friends. So here is the pattern!It is quite simple, but the directions assume that you have some experience making Teddy Bears or stuffed animals. Merry Christmas, My Friends!

Getting into the Christmas Spirit

I am ususally one of those people that cannot wait for December 1 to arrive so I can start decorating my home for Christmas, but I got a bit of a late start this year. When I started moving the furniture to make room for the tree, I decided I needed to paint my living room before putting up the tree. I watch too many decorating shows on HGTV where a room is transformed from blah to beautiful in a day (and in just the span of an hour on the show!)What I needed to think about was the fact that there are always 5-8 people working on those transformations!
"This room will be easy to paint," I told my husband. "We'll paint the walls today together and I'll do the trim tomorrow." One thing I have learned, but which I somehow always need to be reminded of is that things ALWAYS take longer than you think they will.
It is finished now and the tree is up. I still have more decorating to do, but for now I have to get back to work on my bears!
Here are some decorating photos so far.
Our Tree--haven't located the angel yet!

Teddy Bears are always part of the decor. Figaro poses with two other cream colored bears in the soft glow of the tree lights.

Rebecca, a Hildegard Gunzel doll, and a Christmas present from my husband, helps to put up the decorations.

Back to bears, but more decorations to come!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

What's going on?

Again, quite a length of time has past since my last post. But not for lack of things to write about! I've been very busy!

I had the most wonderful summer and I had wanted to post about my vacation, but now as my fingers and toes feel the chill of the house in the late fall, it doesn't seem appropriate.

I have had a wonderful start to my first year as an art teacher. The students are great as are my fellow teachers. Some days, when I am cleaning the classroom at the end of a creative and satisfying day, a ripple of excitement runs through me as I think "I'm the art teacher." Of course, my years as a regular classroom teahcer were rewarding, too, but the delight I feel in sharing my greatest passion is unsurpassable. I also enjoy having all the different age groups.

In addition to teaching, I had been working on bears and dolls for the ABC Productions show in Schaumburg. It was a lot of fun as usual and it went very well.
Here is my table at the start of the show.

Here are a few individual shots of some of the pieces.
Here is Agatha:

Here is Pumpkinhead:

Here is Jingles:

Here is Santa's Little Helper:

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Goldilocks and Baby Bear

I have finished my latest doll and bear set!I love them!Of course, I always find things in my work which I can improve upon for next time, but still, I am very pleased with the way this one turned out.

Here are a few more in progress photos before I show the ones of the finished piece.

I made an under-dress with some eyelet fabric and I altered a pair of doll tights it fit her. They are ribbed so the seams in the back really do not show,and I'm glad of that. I cut the bottoms off and tucked them into the tops of her shoes with a thin bead of glue. I learned this little trick from Jack Johnston. In this photo her mohair wig is only resting on her head. It is much easier to keep the hairstyle nice if you attach the hair after the cloths are on.

Goldie has her red velveteen jumper on and she's wondering if she can please have some hair now. Baby bear looks lovingly on--he thinks she's beautiful the way she is! The clothing is sewn on because this is an art doll and she's not mean't to be dressed and undressed.

Here is the finished set. I'm calling it "Friends Forever (Goldilocks and Baby Bear)"

This one is my favorite shot.

Goldie close up.

Baby Bear's head shot.

That's all for now. I only have four more work days until The Sauder Village Doll and Teddy Bear show so I'd better get off of the computer and get busy sewing more bears~!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Progress Report

I have worked a bit more on my doll and wanted to add the new photos. I don't have a close up of the painted face because my camera has flipped out on me. I have to get out my manual and check the settings...

Sculpting hands is very challenging for me and I spent most of yesterday afternoon sculpting one hand only to burn it up in the oven! I forgot to reset the temperature after supper!!!(EEEEK! Goth Baby Doll, anyone?)

Here is Goldilocks with her new hands and a painted face.

Next, I will wrap the arm wires in batting and make cotton fabric tubes to cover them. Her shoulder plate will be attached after the arms are on. The wig will be attached after the clothing is done. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Changing Direction

In Susanna Oroyanne's book Designing the Doll, she describes dollmaking as a series of problem solving activities. When the artist comes up with the idea, he or she then has to ask questions about how to achieve each element of the design, and how to bring those elements together as a whole. I love making a plan and having it come to fruition just the way I imagined it. When I made the Christopher Robin and Pooh piece I had a very clear picture of what I wanted to do (probably because the image is straight from the illustrations of E.H. Shepard). I knew just how I wanted them to appear--like they were stepping right out of the book.
I was thrilled when this piece turned out as I had imagined. (Visit my website for a picture.)

While it is a delight to have something turn just as you plan, it is also a thrill to follow the path that a work will lead you on, if you let go and let it. The piece I am working on is taking me down such a path. I love Halloween and I had a clear picture in my mind of a child witch doll. She is a cute child doll with a slightly somber look, curly red hair, witchy clothing, and she is seated with legs crossed and dangling. She is holding a primative looking stuffed black cat. And she will have to be born later because as soon as I sculpted the head, I realized I was not making her! I sculpted a child with a little smile. Her mouth is slightly open as if she has something to say. (I wonder what it is?)

I tried to think of a new plan, but only got as far as "just a little girl with a doll or something". I went ahead and sculpted her legs,and ordered two mohair wigs from because I couldn't decide between the red hair with braids or the long wavy blond. This picture shows the leg armature I made from wire,foil and white floral tape.

Here are the sculpted painted legs on the cloth body. I sculpted the shoes, too.

I also continued to work on my Teddy Bears for an upcoming show. I made a bear with a needle felted face and paws. I have felted bears, felted a doll face, and made bears out of mohair of course, but I had never done a felted face bear and I wanted to try. I felted his little pawpads too. I was playing with different proportions than my typical work so I loved him right away because he was so different with his felted face and tiny hands and feet! I often carry a new bear around the house with me when I fall for one like that,and this little guy followed me.(He's looking on even now as I type this!)

Well, yesterday the wigs came and as I worked on the doll's body and tried on the wigs (or rather the doll did), I saw the little bear watching. Then I had a thought!!! I know who this doll is! I'm making Goldilocks and Baby Bear!! Yes,I know, it's a common theme, but my Goldilocks and Baby Bear will be friends!! Arent they perfect for each other?

I had this little bench in my studio. I think I will make her hold his paw...

I can't wait to see where the rest of this goes!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

UFOs and WIPs

It seems like since the rise of the internet more and more people write in initials. We see things like TTFN (ta-ta for now),FYI (for your information), LOL (laugh out loud), BTW (by the way), and even WWJD (what would Jesus do?) more and more each day. It took me a while to get used to this, and I still sometimes have to ask my email correspondants things like, "What the heck is ROFLMAO?!" (BTW--it stands for "rolling-on-the-floor-laughing-my-a**-off)

Anyway, in my doll artist guild, I discovered another that I liked really well. I like it so much because it's clever and it refers to something I have a lot of--- UFOs! It stands for unfinished objects! I always have several projects going at once so there are always UFOs invading my house. Sometimes these UFOs get put into boxes because I have decided to move on to something else, but often I move from one to the other for several weeks until they are finished. That's always really cool because when they all are finished around the same time, I feel like I have done a lot really fast even though that's not what actually happened. I think I'm coming up on one of these times soon here--I hope so anyway!

I was recently reading another blog and I came across a term I like even better, WIP, which stands for work in progress. I have decided that this is a better term. "Unfinished" has a negative connotation because it sort of implies a perpetual state of incompleteness, as if it will never be finished. I suppose I have some pieces like that, but more often than not things do get finished at some point! Work in progress is much more postive! I do have several UFOs, sitting around in boxes, but here are a few WIPs I've been working on lately:

The Bearhouse

Here is a dollhouse, or rather a bearhouse my son and I have been working on:

Can you see the little bears in the windows? I made these for Alex and Brendan a few years ago.

It's "under roof" as the builders in my neighborhood would say. The bears have already moved in. We just have to finish shingling and make some furniture.

Little Floppies

I've made more of my Little Floppy Bears for the Sauder Village Doll and Teddy Bear Show (See the Latest News section of my website for more information.)

No longer UFO's--the finished Floppies!

Clown Bear

Here is a clown bear I am working on for a challenge on Teddy Talk. You can see he is nearly complete.

Doll Sculpt

And finally, here is a doll I just started sculpting in polymer clay today. Her head is finished and baked and I am working on the breastplate.

Well, that's about it... I'll post as I finish things.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Graduate School, Teddy Bears and More

It has been a while. Gee, I'd better dust off the cobwebs and find some room to write here! I enjoy writing, and I had really wanted to keep this spot up to date regarding my creative activities. It's not that I haven't been creative, I've just been too busy to stop and make note of it. I started graduate school in January. I renewed my K-8 teaching certification and hope to add Visual Arts certification to it. It was a fun and busy semester. I always enjoy school. I took a drawing class (Drawing II--the continuation of a class I took during my undergraduate study in 1990!!!) I enjoyed this class not only for the drawing, but mostly for the energy that comes from being surrounded by creative people. I loved how different the drawings all were even though we would start with the same subject matter and materials. Here is one of my drawings. We took a photograph of someone and made a skewed grid to warp the face. I warped my son Alex. He thought this was pretty cool.

Since I was renewing my teaching certification, I also had a chance to be creative with a bulletin board assignment.

I did manage to squeeze in some bear making time in order to participate in the Bid 4 Bears Artist Campaign. One of the bears I created for this, Honeypaws, became the star of my very first PowerPoint Presentation The Art of the Teddy Bear. This was an assignment for a class as well. The presentation tells a bit of art history, and describes the process I go through to create my Teddy Bears. I presented the Slideshow to a Mother Daughter Banquet with a Teddy Bear Picnic theme.

Here is Honeypaws. He is living in England now.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

What makes me feel like an artist?

I belong to an online chat group of Teddy Bear Artists/Makers where this question was posed. "What makes you feel like an artist?" Being the reflective type of person I am (and I suppose most artists are), I enjoyed pondering this. Certainly as an artist, it is rewarding to be able to sell my creations, but that's not it. That is not what makes me feel like an artist. I do think that it helps the general public perceive me as an artist though. When I tell folks I am an artist who makes Teddy Bears usually get a puzzled "oh..." in response. If curiosity makes them ask more, and they ask about what the bears sell for, I get an almost reverent "Oh!" in response then, (or else they look at me like I have six heads!)

Anyway, what makes me feel like an artist is the creating. It is the starting with a blank piece of paper and filling it with images from my head (or even ones I observe), the taking of a shapeless ball of wool and poking it with a needle until the bear in my minds eye emerges, the sculpting a block of clay into a little face no one has ever seen before, and of course the turning of mohair yardage into the "cuddle-able" visions from my head.

And when I think of the term "successful artist", I differentiate it from financial success. (In fact it bothers me that our society in general views successful people as wealthy people. There are certainly a lot of other ways to be successful in one's life.) I feel like whenever I succeed in creating something that makes me happy, or moves other people in some way, or communicates a feeling I wanted to express, then I am a successful artist.

I have always felt this way. As a child, I loved to draw all the time, and often other children, teachers, relatives etc. would ask "Are you going to be an artist when you grow up?" To which I would reply, "I am an artist already." Not that I possessed any special skills or talents at the time,or because my artwork had any value to anyone other than myself, but because I was creating, and that's what artists do.

I read a quote recently and I plan to post it in my classroom when I am teaching art.

"Every child is an artist, the problem is how to remain one when he(she) grows up!" (Picasso)

Friday, March 9, 2007

A Place for My Stuff!

People are often surprised at all the things I can make, I make Teddy Bears, dolls, scrapbooks, watercolor paintings, and more, but what I am the best at, is making a mess! At least I used to be. (Who am I kidding? I still am, I just know how to clean it up now!) My workroom would become so “unbearably” messy that even I couldn’t stand it anymore, and I’d try to clean it up. It always seemed an impossible task. The room was a nice size to work in, but there was no place to put anything away. I kept boxes on top of and under my work table, mohair in both of my children’s closets, and stuffing in the basement.
“I just need a place for my stuff.” I kept telling my husband. Well now I have one! We turned this small space into an office for my husband and moved my studio downstairs. Here are before and after pictures of my workroom!
Before: Scary, isn't it?

After: That's better!

A lot better!