Sunday, October 18, 2009

Chloe's New Halloween Dress

I got a new outfit for my Ball Jointed Doll, Chloe. The outfit was made by Spampy Stuff. Chloe is a Custom House Ange Ai Gaby. Her wig is from Kemper and her face-up was done by me.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Bad News-Good News

I made a tough decision a couple of weeks ago. I was scheduled to do two shows this year: the Chicagoland Teddy Bear Show, and The Hunt Valley Maryland Handmade Treasures Teddy Bear Show, and I was really looking forward to both of them. I had taken some orders for delivery at the Hunt Valley Show, and was very much looking forward to being able to attend the Golden Teddy Awards Ceremony for the first time. At the Chicagoland Show, I was looking forward to teaching my first Teddy Bear workshop as well as the other fun events scheduled there. I was looking forward to them, but also feeling very stressed. Since my dad's surgery in July and the start of school I have had almost no bear making time. With all that my dad was going through (see post below), and with the orders I already have, there was just not going to be enough time to make enough bears for a table at one show, let alone two. I decided I must cancel my show tables. Shows are my favorite way to sell my bears because I truly love connecting with my collectors as well as other artists, and I will really miss everyone.

There is some good news too, though. First, this week, my dad finally seems to have turned a corner with his healing, and it is such a relief to all of my family. (Thanks for all the prayers and positive thoughts.) Second, those who have ordered bears will still get them in the next couple of weeks, but they will have to be shipped. Also, I will still be teaching the Trick or Treat Teddy workshop at the Chicagoland Show, I just won't have a sales table. (There are still two spaces left in this workshop. Follow the link to the right if you are interested in joining us!)

And the final bit of good news is that I have been able to finish five bears which have been waiting patiently for weeks in pieces for me to return to my studio!

(Click on any of the pictures to see them larger.)

First, come the twins. These are a pair of my Traveling Bears. Both are made for lovely patient collectors who ordered them a while back so they will be traveling home soon!

Next, is Bogart. He is a big hugger who measures 21 inches from his ears to his toes and sits about 15 inches high. He is made from curly mohair, and features my signature appliqued and trapunto sculpted paw pads and sweet open mouthed smile. He is available for $575. Please email me if you are interested. SOLD

Also available is is this sweet panda, Carmella. She measures 17” from her ears to her toes and sits about 11” high. The characteristic panda patches around her glass eyes are airbrushed for a sweet soulful look. Her irresistible, open-mouthed smile is created with careful scissor and needle sculpting, and hand-painted details. This little cutie has a roly poly chubby body made of two types of mohair. The white kid mohair is so soft and dense it is perfect for the scissor sculpting I have done on her snout. The tan mohair on her upper body arms and legs complements the white nicely. She is available for $515. Email me if you are interested. SOLD

Finally, we have Scruffy. Scruffy is a mischievous fellow who has been a challenge to his "mom" from the start! I had to stitch his nose twice and his ears four times. And he insists on waving his left paw in all the photos instead of curving it gently downward as my pattern dictates. Never have I had a bear so cantankerous! Even so, when I finally finished him, and added his checkered bow, his sweet smile melted my heart. Scruffy is made of dense kid mohair and he stands 17" tall, and sits at 12". Scruffy is available for $515 as well. If you are interested in adopting this naughty little fellow please email me. SOLD

Since my bear making time is limited, and I have orders to fill, these three will be the last bears available directly from me this year. (Teddies of Mt. Holly, and My Friends and Me may have some of my work available still.)

Thank you to all my collectors and artist friends for your support this year.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall

This week has been full of rain, in both a figurative and literal way. When my Dad had his cancer surgery (mentioned in the post below)on July 24, my family members and I all thought that getting the cancer out was the biggest of our worries. However, Dad's road to recovery has been long and hard and has included many complications from the harmless but irritating case of the hiccups which lasted four days after his surgery, to serious life threatening complications such as kidney failure, blood clots, bleeding, and aneurysms. The last two of these occurred at the beginning of this week. The stress of the worry, of seeing my dad's apartment looking like a crime scene, trips to the hospital, sitting in the surgical waiting rooms, as well as attending my husband's grandmother's funeral, and just trying to accomplish the tasks of regular life have left me feeling physically and emotionally drained.

It has also been raining--that wet sort of rain which comes from clouds--this week as well. Ironically, this rain has been healing. When I walked out of the school building where I teach on Thursday, I was much too tired to run to my car as I would on any other rainy day. I walked slowly. And when I felt the light rain on my head, I turned my face upward and stretched out my arms to offer more of my skin up to it's healing touch. I closed my eyes and breathed deeply the smell of the wet earth.

When I got to my car, a fond recollection came to my mind. It was a long forgotten memory about my grandpa. I was about five years old, and my brother and I were visiting my grandparents when they lived in Florida. Eddie, Grandpa and I were looking out the window as the rain filled up the street. We saw a jogger.
Grandpa grumbled(his speech always sounded like a grumble)"Joggin' in the rain, joggin' in the rain, see that crazy man, joggin' in the rain?" Eddie and I nodded. Then grandpa gave us a strange look. "Do you want to go joggin' in the rain?" he asked us. We said we did, and grandma dressed us in our bathing suits and sneakers and grandpa put a sleevess undershirt and a pair of shorts (I'm sure it was the only time I had ever seen him wear shorts!) and we went joggin' in the rain! I'm sure I had not thought of that since the day it happened 35 years ago, but the memory was healing too since mostly I remember my father's father as mean and angry.

I went to the hospital again to see my dad that evening, and when I returned home it was still raining, so I asked my husband to join me for a walk in the rain. He was surprised, but said afterward that it was quite pleasant.

Then Friday night, although I have felt exhausted all week, I was having trouble sleeping. It was still raining and I convinced my husband that we should spread sleeping bags out on the floor of our screen porch and "camp out" there for the night. The rhythm of the rain on the roof, the patter of it on the tree leaves and the smell of it in the air was like calming music, and medicine for my soul. And, while a few hours later we opted for our soft bed in leu of the porch's concrete floor, I was relaxed enough to sleep restfully until morning after that.

Rain can mean storms, floods and disasters, but it is also healing, renewing, cleansing, life-giving--thank God for the rain.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Roller Coaster Summer (Stop the World- I Wanna Get Off!)

My sons and I have been making a trip to Kings Island, the local amusement park, nearly once a week this summer. We purchased season passes since we were not planning any trips. Both Alex and Brendan are big enough now to ride on all of the coasters, and they really enjoy them. It is fun for me to see them experiencing this, but to me the rides seem a lot rougher than they used to be. (Am I getting old?)
The stand out ride of the park this summer though, is the new Diamondback roller coaster. It is an incredibly fun and surprisingly smooth ride. It also has an absolutely terrifying first hill. You plummet 215 feet, at a 74 degree angle, going 80 miles per hour!

It has been a couple of weeks since we were at King's Island, but I really feel like I have been on a roller coaster all summer long (and even before that really). I know the roller-coaster-as-a-metaphor-for-life is rather cliche', but it really seems to fit. The ups and downs of this summer have got me feeling both exhilarated and exhausted, delirious and depressed. It has been a really good summer for the most part, as there have been more joys than challenges, and the difficulties have turned around (or they will really soon), but at the moment, I feel like I am perpetually reliving that first hill on the Diamondback-- flying through summer at break-neck speed, holding on for dear life!

Here is a taste of my ride...(For a taste of King's Island's Diamondback click here.)

In the spring, my dad was diagnosed with sarcoma and finished the first phase of his treatment (radiation) just before the summer began.

The summer started with me finding out that I had been nominated for two Golden Teddy Awards! I also started to get caught up with my Teddy bear orders.
These are my nominees.

Visits to King's Island with the boys (once we took my nephew) are always fun. I also took the boys to their first rock concert at King's Island. Spirit Song is a Christian music festival and we all loved it. Here's my nephew Nolan with my sons in the background.

Alex was in a play! Bugsy Malone Jr. Here he is as "Snake Eyes". He did a great job.

Alex had an extreme reaction to poison ivy. This picture was taken before it got "really bad"!

I've been taking a figurative sculpture class at the Art Academy of Cincinnati with my mom. I love that art is a passion we share. It was my first time sculpting from a model.

I gave Brendan's room an "extreme make-over" and had a garage sale(which I won't be doing again--whew what a lot of work!)

Alex got sick with a fever of 104.5 (one of his periodic fever episodes) this past Friday when I took my dad in for his surgery to get the cancer out. Alex is better now, and Dad's surgery went well (looks like they got it all), but his recovery will be long.

There are only three weeks until school starts and I will be teaching again. The weeks will be full, caring for Dad, a visit from my brother Aaron, finishing Teddy Bears, getting my classroom ready, and making time to take the kids to King's Island at least one more time like I promised. I guess there's nothing to do but hold on tight and try to enjoy the ride!

Edited to add another bump in the ride--Brendan broke his arm! Last week! When I was distracted by Dad's pending surgery, then Alex's fever, Brendan had a fall on his bike. But as he is such a tough little guy when it comes to pain, we didn't take him to the doctor until I noticed it was still a bit out of shape. We're off to the orthopedic doctor today.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


I have just started an online Photoshop class at Dollstreet. I have taken a class on Photoshop before, but it was an intense two day class and we learned so much in such a short time that it really didn't stick with me. I have also played around with Photoshop on my own a little, and was very pleased to come up with the temporary opening page for my website's new location and my banner ad for 100 Best Bear Artist Blogs. But somehow the information still is not filed in my memory. (Which is why my temporary opening page is still there!) Each time I try to do something again, I find myself staring at the screen thinking, how did I do that?

So, I am trying again.

In the first part of the class we explored the Photoshop environment and played with some filters. I had done this before, but it is always kind of fun, although not particularly useful for my business needs at the moment.

Here is a favorite photo of my favorite bear and doll, Figaro and His Puppet.

Here is the same photo skrinkwrapped!!! Actually the filter is called "plastic wrap", and I found the effect quite amusing! If you click on the picture to view it larger, you will see that they do indeed look like they are covered tightly in plastic wrap and pressed to a cardboard backing!

Here is one I rather liked called "poster edges".I particularly liked the way the lines accentuated the swirly texture of Figaro's fur and makes his puppet look antiqued. You may need to enlarge it to see what I mean.

Finally, I used a photograph of my Little Floppies and the filter called "rough pastels" to create these images. I love the texture of these in their large format. As smaller images they just look a little blurry, but larger, they really do look like "rough pastels".

There is a lot more to do, and by the end of the class I should have designed a new business card. I hope it will "stick" this time!

Monday, June 22, 2009

A Bear for Brendan

It's always exciting to get a package with new fur in it-and even more so, I have found recently, when the package comes with free mohair! Intercal, one of the main suppliers where I purchase the special fabrics for my bears, has had coupons on their site forever, and periodically they offer "double coupons". But for some reason, it is only in the last year that I have even taken note of them. I usually know what I need and "get in, get it, and get out". I'm sure if it was a physical store where I could go and see and touch all that delicious fur, I would not be so focused a shopper. It is a website though so it's not as easy to just browse.

When I opened my package and found these two lovely pieces of mohair were my "feebies" I was thrilled.

My son Brendan was impressed too. "Can I have them since they were free?" he asked. (He made a lovely bear last year and has been wanting to make another.)

"No, I need to make bears for my show," I replied.

"Well can you at least make me a bear with them?"

"Maybe," I told him. Then I asked, "Do you mean two bears, or one bear with both furs?"

"One with both," he said, and then he proceeded to describe a bear with mostly the orange, with a golden tummy and snout. Brendan has always been one of the greatest fans of my Teddy Bears. He loves them all and very often asks when he sadly watches me pack and ship the bears off to their new homes, "Will you make one like that for me someday?" My reply is usually the same. Maybe. In reality, I have made Brendan only one bear--the one I made for him when he was a newborn. But I don't say maybe to tease him. I really do want to make bears for him, but there are always shows and orders on the horizon, now is no different, and never seems to happen.

"Yes, I'll make your bear," I suddenly decided. "I can design a new pattern for my show, and I can give you the prototype." I felt like this was a great idea. A prototype is not something I usually do, but this way I would not really have to stop working on show bears...the design would be for the show! Brendan liked the idea too, and he loves his little bear! He is naming him Peanut.

I think I'd have called him Marmalade because of his coloring, but Brendan has his reasons for the name he picked as well.

Next up, more big polar bears and something small and pink! Keep watching!

Monday, June 15, 2009

A Spot of Bears

After a very long dry spell, here's a little Teddy shower! School is out and I can redirect my creative energies from teaching art to making art! Here is the result!

First up is my second installment in the "Theodore Loves His Teddy" series which is exclusively available at Teddies of Mt. Holly in New Jersey. The bear is a 23" black bear cub made from extra dense alpaca, with his hand sculpted Teddy doll. I'm calling this one "Clifford Loves His Teddy" after Clifford Berryman the cartoonist who began the association between Teddy Roosevelt and the bear with his drawings. I'm rather fond of this guy so I took a few pictures...

Next, continuing with the theme of the dear Teddy Bear's namesake, but on a subsantially smaller scale is Li'l TR. I have been wanting to create a new small bear design for a little while so he was really fun. He was made as a gift.

The third bear I have to share is Jade. She is also an exclusive design (in this size) for Teddies of Mt. Holly.

And finally, here's Pippen! He's a large and lovely (if you don't mind my saying) summertime polar bear who's sporting a nautical style collar recalling seaside holidays. This bear is exclusively available from My Friends and Me in Leesburg. VA

I do hope to have some new bears available from my website soon, but if you'd like to get your paws on one of my first four bears of 2009, please contact these lovely shops!
Teddies of Mt. Holly
My Friends and Me

Awards??!!! Thank You!!!

Thank you so much to all of you who read and enjoy my blog and my bears even when I have been away from Teddy Bear making, and blogging. I came to my blog to finally post some new work, and found that three of my Teddy Bear making/loving peers have chosen me for blog awards. Vicki, of Baggaley Bears and Donna, of Donna and the Bears chose my blog chose my blog as the recipient of this award

and Jennifer of For the Love of a Teddy Bear chose my blog for the

Please visit Vicki's blog. Vicki makes wonderfully detailed tiny Teddy Bears which are sure to make any heart smile! The intricacy of them fools the eyes into thinking they are much larger bears in the photographs. I have occasionally made tiny bears with varying degrees of success, and I am so impressed with artists who make miniature bears with such lovely expression and craftsmanship!

Please visit Donna's blog. Donna is an award winning Teddy Bear artist who is also a lovely person! I had the pleasure of sharing a table with Donna at the 2005 TOBY Awards ceremony where we were both honored with a TOBY Award--very exciting. I got see her again last year at the Handmade Treasures Holiday Show and Sale in Hunt Valley, MD where I was lucky enough to adopt one of her sweet Teddies. He makes me think of Donna and that makes my heart smile!

Please visit Jennifer's blog . Jennifer's blog is a Lovely Blog indeed full of wonderful photos of the many things she creates and collects. Dolls and Teddy Bears make regular appearances of course as well as beautiful decorative items, sweets, and even her cat Max! (To my cats: Cats make great blog material, don't they Missy and Cinder!)

Next, I am supposed to pass the award along to ten deserving blogs...which I will do as soon as I get my kids fed! More later!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

I Wish I Was a Teddy Bear

I came across the lyrics to this song on a forum and thought,"That has got to be the saddest Teddy Bear poem I have ever read!" Then, I noticed it was credited to Waylon Jennings, so, as always, I consulted my friend Google on the matter. I found out that the song, whose title is "The Teddy Bear Song", was written in 1969 by Don Earl and recorded several times by country singers including Barbara Fairchild, and Tanya Tucker as well as Waylon Jennings. Upon hearing the lyrics sung with the musical accompaniment, I was smitten! It is still sad, but very, very sweet. I was inspired to create my own music video for the song using photos of my Teddy Bear creations. I chose to use the Waylon Jennings recording of it because I like it best. I hope you enjoy this, my first ever music video!

I wish I had button eyes and a red felt nose
Shaggy cotton skin and just one set of clothes
Sittin' on a shelf in a local department store
With no dreams to dream and nothin' to be sorry for

I wish I was a teddy bear
Not livin' or lovin' nor goin' nowhere
I wish I was a teddy bear
And I wish that I never had fallen in love with you

I wish I had a wooden heart and a sawdust mind
Then your mem'ry wouldn't come around hurtin' all the time
With a sewed-on smile and a painted twinkle in my eye
And I never would have ever had to learn how to cry

I wish I had a string you could pull to make me say
What you want to hear from me to make you stay
Then I'd know every time I spoke the words were right
And none would know the mess I made of my life

I wish I was a teddy bear
Not livin' or lovin' nor goin' nowhere
I wish I was a teddy bear
And I wish that I never had fallen in love with you

Friday, April 3, 2009

Misha, the Little Bear

Like many Teddy Bear artists, I collect bears as well as making them. The same thing is true about dolls. And the latest edition to my bear collection is actually a doll!

This is Misha, the Little Bear. He is a Fairyland ball-jointed doll. I bought this doll to wear this little costume, which I bought because it reminds me of the one I made for my sons when they were toddlers. (You may see the costume on my nephew in this post.)

I chose black and white for these photos for a change of pace.

I am completely obsessed with these dolls. I really enjoyed painting his little face. I can't wait to finish a sculpt of my own.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Catching up...growing up.

I am slowly catching up with my orders, having several things in progress as usual. A new Teddy Roosevelt set for Teddies of Mt Holly is in progress(the bear and the doll) as are a couple of bunnies!

At the moment my studio is a shambles though! For hubby's 40th birthday we redecorated our basement family room and bought a big screen TV. Guess where we moved all the old furniture and the kids toys and stuff--my studio of course! The furniture is now out, but my floor and tables littered with bins and boxes of the kids things that we haven't decided what to do with yet. Today's project is to get it all put away so I can get back to the fun stuff.

Lastly, I thought I'd post a new picture of my studio cat, Missy, to share how much she has grown up! (and to add some visual interest to this post) She is a year old and we love her so much. Cinder has learned to love her too. He lets her lick his ears and head.

And to give Cinder equal time... here is a picture of him engaged in his favorite pastime-- snuggling with my husband, Sean. AAAAW Cute! If Sean sits down, Cinder is in his lap!


Sunday, March 8, 2009

Sharing the Love!

A couple of weeks ago my nieces visited my studio on a "field trip" along with their American Heritage Girls group. The girls were great listeners and they asked good questions. I was thrilled to have the audience (Twist my arm--make me talk about bears!)
Here are the girls, my nieces are in the center back row and the far right in the front row.

Playful Panda~Bears Repeating

Here is an alpaca panda I have finished for an order. This cuddly little fellow is an older design, and he is the final bear of this design. I made a limited edition of seven in mohair and three in alpaca and I've finally completed them all. He is Mei Sheng. I was inspired to design him when my son brought home a Scholastic News magazine from school with a darling baby panda on the cover.

I love the playful posing this body style allows.

Don't cry Mei Sheng! There will be more pandas, but no more just like you!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Little Behind...

*Sigh* I'm feeling a little behind. Actually, I'm feeling a LOT behind, but the "little behind" was definitely a cuter picture!

I have not posted here since Christmas, but it is not just my blogging that I have fallen behind with, it's everything! I have never been a good juggler of tasks, and I often find it challenging to balance my life, choosing instead to channel my energies in only one or two directions at a time. And yet there are always so many things I want to, and need to do at any given time. When I keep up with the housekeeping, I fall behind with my bears, and when I am focused on my creative endeavors, household responsibilities get ignored. When I get my excercise in, I sacrifice getting the sleep I need. When I focus on my teaching career, I find I spend less time enjoying my sons and husband, and when I focus on family, I can't do as much planning at home for my classes. Things always seem to swing one way then the other. But right now, somehow, I have managed to fall behind with everything. I mean absolutely everything! I don't know how I got to this, and I'm not sure how to get back on track. I'm feeling frustrated with myself, depressed,and overwhelmed. *Sigh* I'm feeling a little behind.