Thursday, November 24, 2011

Ripples--Thanksgiving Day Thoughts

When I was very young, my grandma taught me to pray at bedtime. The prayer began with "Now I lay me down to sleep" and ended with " God bless Mommy and Daddy, and Eddie, and Aaron, and Elliot, and...." The "God Blesses" were always my favorite part. I would start by asking for blessing on my family, my parents, my brothers, my grandparents, my aunts, uncles, and cousins, (I have a lot) and then I would just think "all of my family, and all of my friends, and all of their families and friends, and all of my friends' families and friends, and all of their families and friends, and all of their families and friends... " I would drift peacefully off to sleep imagining an ever expanding circle of blessings, like ripples that surround a single drop of water on a pond.

At the beginning of this month, I planned to countdown to Thanksgiving on Facebook by listing one at a time things for which I am thankful. I got as far as day one, and became too busy to visit Facebook much. However, I didn't stop thinking about my blessings. While I am blessed in so many ways--I have plenty to eat, warm clothes to wear, a home, a rewarding career---what I am most thankful for is the people God has placed in my life. I think first of my husband, Sean, and my sons, Alex and Brendan. Then I think of my parents, my siblings, Sean's parents, his siblings, our siblings' spouses, their children, my cousins, their spouses and families, my friends, my students, the teachers I teach with, my fellow artists, the collectors who enjoy my bears, and on it goes until I am reminded again of a pond with it's ripples. This time, I don't imagine just one drop of water, but many drops, with many intersecting ripples which create a beautiful pattern across the whole pond.

So, I am thankful for you! Whether you are a ripple close to my center, or whether our ripples intersect somewhere out in the pond, you are a blessing to me, and for that, I am thankful!

Monday, November 21, 2011


I have been so busy making bears for my last two shows this year that I didn't even get to photograph some of them before they found new homes!

I did want to share some of the ones I had at my recent shows though...All of these have found homes.

Stocking Bear Ornament


Dickens (A Christmas Karl)





Thursday, November 17, 2011

Christmas Treasures!

The Christmas Treasures online Teddy Beas show at http://www.teddiesworldwide/ starts tomorrow at 4:00 EST! Visit the preview which is open now, if you have not already, to vote for your favorite preview bears, and see who will be there!

Here is my preview bear Pippa!

Thursday, October 13, 2011


At the beginning of each year, for the past few years, as I've attempted to map out a direction for my bears and dolls, to create a "business plan" of sorts, I have struggled with the question of whether or not to take commissions. I know of quite a few Teddy Bear artists who, for various reasons, choose not to. I am always tempted take that route myself. In fact, at the beginning of this year, I had even decided I would not take orders, but a few sweetly persistant collectors changed my mind! For me, while there is something I find very satisfying about making a special bear for an individual, I always have a struggle with time. No matter how I try to fit special orders in and around my shop and show commitments, and making work available from my website (as well as my other career as an elementary school art teacher), there is always a point in the year when I find myself overcommitted and dreadfully behind. I am there again now. I have several bears for my shop nearly completed, a state they have exisited in for a couple of weeks owing to the fact that I stole a bit of time for two Halloween bears who were positively begging to be made from some delicious orange, black, gold curly mohair I had in my stash, and who will be available here on my website later today. I also have two holiday shows looming large on the horizon! *Sigh* Artists are not general known for their business sense. Although I do know a few lucky talented and organized people, I am not one of them. I have been fortunate in one respect though; my dear collectors have been enormously patient with me, and for this I am very grateful. And so, here are a couple of commissions I have finally finished for my Dear and Patient Collectors!!!

First meet Pascal and His Puppet. Linda enjoyed seeing the puppet pairings I have been doing, but preferred a panda as the puppeteer!

Next please greet a petite polar bear called Tundra for Kelly.

I will be listing the two Halloween friends below on my available page this afternoon, and then heading to my studio (and camping out there for the next month!!!) to finish shop bears and work on some festive friends for my two Christmas themed November shows! I am fortunate in another way too. Even when I find myself a bit stressed out, I know I am lucky to have a job that I love! (I have two jobs that I love actually--because I love teaching as well!)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Eddie the Aviator

Sometimes I decide to make a bear, creating it's persona, and sometimes the bear tells me who it is going to be.

I made a parade themed bear I called Franklin for the Teddy Bear's on Parade Show back in July. I was quite pleased with the bear--he was made from one of my favorite big bear designs with a fur color I hadn't used before. In keeping with the parade theme, I made him into a drummer with a band uniform. He was the only bear who didn't find a home during the show. No matter, I thought. I'll just save him for my next show. He waited patiently in my studio.

On a trip to Hobby Lobby, I found an sweet little wooden airplane in the decor section. A few years ago, I had made a bear with a sailor collar and gave him a little sailboat to hold, so I thought I'd make an aviator bear to hold this little airplane. When I got home, I set the plane next to Franklin and immediately decided he needed a change of attire! I bought a child's bomber jacket on ebay, and not only was the color a perfect complement to Franklin's beige and taupe tones, it was a perfect fit.

This was the point when "Franklin" spoke up. "My name is not Franklin," he said, "I am Eddie the Aviator!"

Not only did he let me know who he was, but he also told me very clearly (although not by using actual words-Teddy Bears rarely do) whose bear he is! Every time I looked at him, I just knew he was my Dad's bear. ( My Dad was in the Air Force) So I called up my Dad, and described Eddie to him, and he was very excited. He came over for dinner tonight, and I gave him his bear. I am happy to say, Dad loves Eddie.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Portrait Techniques of the Masters

I am so exited! My mom and I have enrolled in an oil painting class through the Art Academy of Cincinnati (their community college program). The class, called "Portrait Techniques of the Masters" is taught by Carin Hebenstreit at Essex Studios.

I haven't painted with oils since high school, but I love the technique we are learning and by the end of the first class, I was feeling more confident with the medium as well as somewhat pleased with the results of my efforts and Carin's instruction. We started with a canvas covered with burnt umber mixed evenly with white, and then used those two colors to paint the face values in. Fun stuff!

I thought the photos I took looked a bit lighter and more muted than my actual painting, so I clicked "auto levels" in photoshop and this (below) is what I it's darker than it is in reality, but it looks good--maybe I should intensify the values in my painting? Learning from the old masters and new technology!

I am still working on bear orders, as well as a couple of Hallween bears for my website, then the Hunt Valley Teddy Bear Show and Christmas Treasures online shows are right around the corner, and school has started for myself and my sons, so I'm busy, busy, busy! But it's a happy kind of busy not a stressful kind, and that fall smell is in the air and life is GOOD! Oh, yeah!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

I Love Teddy

After two years, I have finally finished the third installment in my series of bear and doll sets for Teddies of Mt. Holly. This all started with an idea I had way back in 2002, on the 100th Birthday of the Teddy Bear. I wanted to create a bear which played on the Teddy Bear's namesake, Theodore Roosevelt. I pictured a realistic baby bear cuddling a "Teddy" doll. The bear I could make, but I wondered how to make a doll which looked like Theodore Roosevelt. I thought I might make a rag doll and paint the face. But the project stayed in my sketch book and in my head for a few years. In the meantime, I had taken a doll sculpting class with Jack Johnston and while my first doll was quite pitiful, it ignited the spark of a new passion. So when I came across the idea in my sketchbook in 2005 I knew I could sculpt the Teddy doll. And I made this fellow and sold him on ebay.

This set from 2005 is called "I Love My Teddy"

Then a few years after that I was asked to create a similar series of bears for the shop Teddies of Mt. Holly. The bears are larger than the one above and they are all made with the same basic design, but I've chosen different fabrics and finishes for each one. Making the doll is a bit more involved that doing my bears as each one is hand sculpted so each one is slightly different.

This one from 2008 is called "Theodore Loves His Teddy"

In 2009, I made "Clifford Loves His Teddy"

And here is my latest in the series "Roosevelt Loves His Teddy"

He has a reversable vest.

Because I wanted to do a white bear this time, I decided to use patriotic colors for the set. The costuming for the bear and doll in this set was inspired by this illustration of the "Roosevelt Bears" by Seymour Eaton.

The doll is always called Teddy, but I tried to give the bears different, but related names each time. It is a bit of a challenge as I'm running out of variations of the 26 President's name! Clifford is named after the political cartoonist Clifford Berryman who's images forever tied the name of the President with a cuddly bear.

I will be making two more sets for this series so if you are interested visit Teddies of Mt. Holly.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Bears On Parade online show is now open!

The Bears On Parade online Teddy Bear show is now open! Here are the bears I've created especially for this show!

Tiny Little Floppies; Louis, Larry, and Laurel


Miguel and His Puppet


Visit the show at for a better look at these cuties as well as hundreds more bears by artists from all over the world!

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Preview is Open!!!

The preview for the Bears on Parade online show at Teddies Worldwide is now open!!!

Here is my parade themed preview bear, Franklin.

He will be available when the online show starts along with a few more of my bears as well as bears from 75 artists worldwide! Visit the preview now for a wonderful collection of parade themed Teddy Bears and vote for your favorites in two catagories. (You vote by clicking on the artist's name. You may click on the photos to see the images larger.)

Then be sure to come back to Teddies Worldwide for the show July 15-17 2011!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Something Old, Something New

I have finished a couple of bears for a Guild of Master Bear Crafters' challenge called "Something Old, Something New". This was the challenge as set by Paula Carter, the guild's creator:


1. Classic/vintage style bear makers:
Create a bear in contemporary style, using at least one of the following additional contemporary elements in your design, ie., extra neck joint, trapunto paws, claws, doll's eyes, eyelids, eyelashes, airbrush shading, open mouth, teeth, alternative nose treatment etc.

2. Contemporary bear makers:
Design a traditional or vintage style bear using traditional materials and methods of construction. In the case of vintage design work, utilise distressing techniques, ie., staining, shading, shaving, patching, embroidery etc., to 'age' your bear.

I first decided that since I make mostly contemporary bears I would try a vintage looking bear. I have done this before, but I had this very sparse lovely blue fur, and I thought this time I would try to take the "aging" of the bear farther than before. The biggest challenge was the nose. I really wanted to make a nose with stitches missing like they had been worn away with kisses over the years. I tried three times and was just not pleased with the result. I finally stitched a full nose as usual, but waxed it to make it look like worn leather. I think it works for him. I also used a razor to "wear" bald patches in his fur and I think this worked out too. If I do another vintage- look fellow, I will be sure to have felt on hand for the paws because ultraseude isn't perfect for a vintage bear--there was no synthetic seude "back then"!

Here is Little Blue.

After reading some of the other artists challenge bear ideas, I thought I'd have a go at a new contemporary bear design, too. I wanted to try the double neck joint. I have tried it once or twice, but have never been thrilled with the result. This time I am pretty happy. Even though I do far more contemporary styled bears than vintage ones this proved to be the most challenging of the two.

The purpose of the double neck joint is, as I see it, to create a bear which can be posed sweetly on all fours as well as seated. The neck allows the bear to look in all directions. Adding the extra wedge shaped piece at the neck changes the proportions more than one might think, and I found it challenging to keep all the pattern pieces in proportion.

My fabric piece didn't leave much room for error, but I did end up having to make the back legs larger.

I finished with him and I am overall quite pleased with him. I took many pictures. Say Hello to Knuti! (Named for the sweet cub from the Berlin Zoo who enchanted so many in his short life.)

Both Knuti and Little Blue will be available at the My Friends and Me signing event May 28 in Leesburg, VA. Please visit my "Shows" link above for more information.