Saturday, November 3, 2012

While I was Sleeping

The preview for Christmas Treasures has opened, this happened during the night and I didn't have time in the morning to check things out before I had to head off to the airport for my flight up to NSW. I've just had a peek and there are some great bears in there! We all had to work to a Christmas Carol theme, I chose Jingle Bells, and made a polar with a couple of cute penguins riding him. There are a lot of bells involved but you can't really see them in the photo, you'll just have to take my word for it. Unfortunately I can't show you the photo either, because I'm on a borrowed computer and of course all the photos are on my laptop at home. But if you click on the button right there in my side-bar you'll be whisked away to the right place and there you will be able to cast your vote for your favourite mini and your favourite full sized bear. (HINT HINT HINT!!!!) Hopefully I will be able to keep you up to date while I'm away, this is quite a long trip! I thought I might be heading into some heat up here in NSW, but the weather here is much like what I left behind in Tassie! An early start in the morning for the drive down to Mittagong and the Doll and Bear Fair, if you live down that way perhaps you'd like to look in!
Bye for now, I'll be drawing the giveaway soon, I'll probably wait until I get back home to do that, so you still have over a week to enter! Good Luck :)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Just Time To Breathe

Life has been extremely busy! I'm flat out getting my pieces ready for the Christmas Treasures online show, I'd like to have them all finished and the related computer work all done before I head off to NSW for the Mittagong Doll And Bear Fair this weekend. I think it's going to be a push to get through it all though! (since anything even remotely technical seems to befuddle my brain)
After Mittagong I will be teaching a group of keen bear-makers at Teddy's Bits how to make a mouse! A fun workshop with some different techniques.


I then mosey on home via Tooradin, where I will be teaching again at Bear Essence. Here we'll be working on either Sierra or a large polar bear like the one I taught in Kingston earlier in the year. Kim has had some alpaca hand dyed especially for the polars. You might think that white is white, but there are degrees of whiteness and polar bears really are a few degrees off "white white" (You only have to look a paint sample chart to know there are a lot of whites)
NOW, A BIG SHOUT OUT TO BEAR-MAKERS IN VICTORIA, Kim tells me she still has room around the table for a few, so if you're interested in learning how to make either of these bears then give Kim a call! Visit the website to find more info.
Today is rainy, it's been pretty constant throughout the night and all morning. It has been a while since we've had such consistent rain, everything outside looks so fresh and green, the new growth on the fruit trees looks beautiful. We have just a few last apple blossoms clinging on, they will be gone in a matter of days, but we have the promise of some gorgeous old fashioned and highly scented roses to come. I'll look forward to them when I return from my trip.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Busy Busy Busy

The next two months are going to be very busy in the studio....
I have the Woodend Teddy Bear Show approaching fast on the 28th of this month, with the Mittagong Doll and Bear Fair hot on it's heels the following Sunday! I have a lot of sewing to be getting on with! Add into the mix the Christmas Treasures online show (Nov 16-18) and it will be head down and tail up for some time yet! I will also be teaching a workshop at Teddy's Bits following the Mittagong show, then heading home via Tooradin for more workshops at Bear Essence! I must be very wicked, as there seems to be no rest for me at the moment.
Meanwhile the garden is burgeoning.......with WEEDS that is. Consequently, my weekends will be spent trying to get things in order outside, before we can get our summer vegies on the go. We have blossoms on the fruit trees, though for some reason every pear has opted for a year off this year, (hopefully next year will be a different story).
A shout out to Victorian collectors! If you haven't ventured out to the Woodend Teddy Bear Show before, you should! It's a lovely day with a wonderful country feel, not too far out of Melbourne but far enough!(With scrumptious catering too!)
And those of you in NSW, why not head on down to Mittagong for a lovely day out in the Southern Highlands? Valma and the team put in a lot of effort to make this Doll and Bear Fair a great day.
Okay, it's back to work for me now. Hopefully I'll be able to come up for air from time to time :o)

Monday, October 1, 2012

To Make Up For........

Hello everyone! To make up for being a baaaaad baaaaad blogger I'm going to have a giveaway! Yes I know I promised one months ago, but well....... life got in the way! (Not to mention an overseas trip and terrible pain in my hands.)
And since Christmas is just around the corner, (almost) I'll be making and giving away two of these Christmas ornaments! So leave your comments here if you'd like to be one of the two lucky winners.
If you want to spread the word and get an extra chance in the draw, write about me, my bears and this giveaway with a link here, and I'll add your name twice to the draw. I will also be accepting comments on facebook, to be fair to those who don't have a blog.
That's it, I have to go walk the dog now. Cheerio for now and good luck!
I'll be drawing the winners in a month.....:o)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Having Fun In The West

Say Ahhhhhh

Hang on that cheese in there?

Put me down!

Uh Oh now what?

Where did that mouse go?
The girls over at The Teddy Tree have been having some fun with Mr Jingles and Sierra.......

Friday, August 31, 2012

And On Their Way!

Yesterday I finished this little mouse to accompany Sierra on his journey over to Western Australia. I snapped a quick pic of the two snuggled together on my lap before I packaged them up for their flight.
Not the best photo, but it is a snapshot
These are the two workshops coming up in a couple of weeks at The Teddy Tree. Sierra 14/15/16th September and Mr Jingles 22/23rd with possibly another during the week in between, if we have too many to fit into these dates.
Such a lovely sunshiney day today! I would like to spend it here at home but I must go shopping (groceries, so nothing too exciting I'm afraid). Maybe if I'm really quick, I'll catch the tail end of the day here.....

Thursday, August 30, 2012

I Can Feel It.......

I am sitting here in the bay window of the lounge bathed in sunlight! We have had several days of windy, wet weather but this morning promises me a glorious day, I can definitely feel Spring in the air, the birds are telling me so, as are the frogs in the pond at night. Besides our first daff opened yesterday and soon we'll be able to cut some asparagus (can't wait for that!)
I have been very busy lately. I had a quick trip over to Victoria for some workshops at Bear Essence. These were mixed classes, but most people made Chi Chi the panda.
I love the panda rear view.

Chi Chi is a new design. I'm trying to get a more realistic panda shape and I think I'm getting there. The trip was good, though Melbourne turned on some pretty wild weather while I was there and flying home was an experience! We had a very circuitous take off in Melbourne as the pilot steered the aircraft around the storms that were happening at the time and then I had an amazing view of storms in the clouds as we descended into Launceston.
Since I have been home I have been working on the sample bear for my upcoming workshops at the Teddy Tree in Perth, Western Australia.
This is a varient of Sierra, esspecially for the girls in WA. I snapped a couple of WIP photos as he was coming along. Most of my work is done in my lap with my tools and materials in various containers surrounding my comfy chair. It's probably not the most efficient way to make a bear but it suits me, and I know I drive Chris crazy with all my stuff (especially when there is no room to perch his cuppa on the coffee table!)
The bear is pretty well finished now and I have almost completed a sample of Mr Jingles (the other workshop) ready to post off this afternoon. I need to get them off as the trip's only a couple of weeks away!
So I'll leave you with this and get on with it, if I'm to have any chance at all of catching this evening's post.

Monday, July 16, 2012


Here are a few photos of my recent workshops in Bremen, Germany.

I had Iris as an interpreter when my explainations foundered in technicalities

On Friday we made Christams ornaments. This was quite a nice one day project, the mohair balls were made before the workshop so that we had all day to concentrate on making the miniature polar bear to go on top.
Here's a better shot (thanks Heike!)

I was a little anxious to teach this tiny bear, as I haven't taught anything this small before and miniatures demand a different set of skills. (Sorry about the quality of the image, I cropped it from the larger photo below, but you get the idea....)
A couple of the ornaments, snuggled with some "Sierras"

At the end of the day I was extremely pleased with the results each of the ladies achieved on this challenging little bear, one day I might even make one of these for myself. Every year I think I'll get one done for our tree.........hasn't happened yet!
On Saturday and Sunday we made "Sierra", again a bear with lots of different techniques to learn. I love seeing group shots of bears made in workshops, they all have their own characters and as you can see, choosing a different fur changes the bear's character completely!

The sample head I took along for the "Sierra" workshop

These workshops were held in the home of Holger and Claudia Schlue, near Bremen. While we all enjoyed our bear making, Holger put his skills at work in the kitchen and cooked up some wonderful luncheons. Claudia makes lovely little bears which you can find here
Ralphie on Wooly Mamouth ivory!

And now I must show you this special pendant made by Iris Heerdes of Spirit Bear Scrimshaw. Iris used a photo of Ralph from my blog to create this scrimshaw portrait of him, she really has captured him very well. The piece measures 2cm x 4.5cm, I am amazed at the detail Iris has managed to get into such a small piece. She works through a microscope in order to get the detail needed and uses Wooly Mamouth ivory! Now isn't that something? This ivory is being unearthed in the Tundra and sent all over the world for use where, in the past, elephant ivory was used.
That's about it, I started sewing again but I think I have to ease myself into it again, my hands have had a two month break and I can feel that if I push it I will end up in strife with them again. Today we have had some glimpses of the sun, I'm impatient for Spring.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Yes I'm Here!

Yes I am here. Though it may not seem like it, if you have been following this blog lately.........not much activity at all! But in my defence I have this to report.
I am just back from six weeks abroad, I think my body has almost readjusted to the Southern hemisphere again. Jetlag is a strange phenomenon. I have found myself waking at three or four in the morning wanting to eat, my body thinking it's lunchtime and then at times during the day I get overwhemingly tired and I have to force myself not to succumb (otherwise it will take all the longer to retune myself to Tassie time) I think I am almost there, (or here) last night I managed to stay asleep longer, so I am feeling a little more alert today.
It was quite a shock to arrive back in winter after some gorgeous days in Italy (I have a tan!) though, as luck would have it, we spent much of our break enjoying Britain's wettest June on record! But to look at it positively, all that rain has kept the countryside beautifully green, and we had some lovely walks in it. But after all those wonderful, long, midsummer days with their twilights lasting long into the evening, I'm finding it a little difficult fitting everything into our short winter days.
English country garden, family barbeque, the summer that was.

The house was very cold, damp and bleak when we arrived home, a fair indication of that, was the solidified bottle of olive oil on the kitchen bench! And of course, while we were away the mice (rats) played! One of the joys of country life.........ugh! Wallabies and rabbits have also demolished anything that was still growing in the garden, so before Spring we have some serious fencing repairs to make. We also had some huge wind gusts in our absence that have lifted the poly off our yet more repairs.
I'm actually itching to get back into my bears again too. Other than a couple of workshops in Germany, during which I made three littlies I have done NOTHING! But that was a good thing because I can happily report that my trigger thumb has gone! Basically all it needed was rest, and that is certainly what it got.
Our daughter with her Grandmother toasting with tea.

The trip was a good mix of relaxing and full days of sightseeing. Our first few days in England were fabulous with wonderful warm weather (hot even). We caught up with our daughter in London, then moseyed on down to Somerset for a family barbeque and then on down to Sidmouth in Devon for a few days (with mother-in-law) We did a couple of walks down there, one in which we became completely bushed after being turned around almost 180 degrees in a wood! I don't know how that happened, we had an ordinance survey map to help us and still we ended up somewhere we weren't supposed to be.....hmmmmmmm. Still, in that part of England you are never very far away from "somewhere" and we soon found our way and could have a good (if puzzled) chuckle at ourselves.
We then headed back to London and caught a concert (Mazzy Star), it was also the Queeen's Jubilee weekend so there were a lot of happenings (despite a distinct turn for the worse in terms of weather). Then it was off to Amsterdam for a couple of days, with the weather being much the same there as in London!
Amsterdam in a snapshot

We then flew on to Rome. Ah! Bella Roma, what a city! So much to see, certainly too much to see in four days! I loved that you could be wondering around looking for somewhere to eat, maybe, and around a corner you just about bump into some ancient bit of a building or a column or something equally amazing. There's old stuff everywhere! But of course all the well known "old stuff" is really crowded, walking through the vatican museums was like being herded cattle.....literally! There's no stopping to view something more closely, just an inexorable progress through numerous galleries to the prize, the Sistine Chapel. And while Michelangelo's ceiling is a wonderous thing to behold, I found the whole experience to be a tad underwhelming, as by the time we had reached the chapel I was entirely fed up with feeling like part of a herd.
Our best experience in Rome was the day we caught the train out to Ostia Antica. Where? Well, if you're ever in Rome and you want to see lots of really cool "old stuff" WITHOUT THE CROWDS, then head out to Ostia Antica. A short train ride out of Rome. An ancient site that was once a port but which was abandonned after the river changed it's course, and which was subsequently buried. This is somewhere where you can really get in amongst the ruins, there are some lovely fresco remnants and mosaics to see, and I think there is still much to be uncovered.
Ostia Antica, where are the crowds?

After Rome we headed north into Tuscany and four nights in Florence. Another beautiful city, with lots more "old stuff" to see. We climbed the Duomo, from which there is a great view of the city. If I'd had my wits about me I would have counted the steps, but then I probably would have lost count with all the puffing and panting, and the standing aside to let others pass back down......not a good place if you're in the least bit claustrophobic (but google tells me there are 463 steps) We also saw Michelangelo's David in all his glory, another amazing work from this astonishing artist.
From Florence we took a couple of day trips out into the Tuscan countryside to San Gimignano and Sienna, two beautiful towns. But what I really want to do, is get out into the Tuscan countryside and walk! So that is on my wish list, rent a villa somewhere lovely and get out into the real Tuscany.
So, apart from some more wet days spent in England and a brief visit to Germany for my workshops, that's my trip!
I'll write some more tomorrow, about my workshops and I also have something really special to show you. For now I have cleaning to do, I want to start some sewing and I have such a lot still, to catch up on.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Last Thursday I travelled down to Hobart for my polar bear workshop in Kingston. The weather was glorious and Autumnal, the days were warm with gentle breezes. There was a group of eight ladies for this three day workshop and they all seemed to enjoy the break from everyday life to indulge in a little bear therapy.

Fancy footwork

On day one we made feet. This is a really lovely day in which the trapunto is done for the bear's footpads, ready to be sewn into the legs. By the time all four footpads are sewn everyone was a dab hand at getting around those curves on the sewing machine.

Sherroy's blue-eyed baby

Shellie at work on her head
On day two we started the heads. There is a lot of work involved in this bear's head and by the end of the day I think some of the girls were wondering if they'd get far enough along with their bears to finish them. On Sunday most of the heads were finidhed and four of the bears were almost completed and the others weren't all that far behind

Sally loves Rolley

Sharon made her first ever bear at this workshop and she did amazingly well, I think we may have  a new convert there.
Sharon's first bear almost done.
It was a wonderful weekend, but I have to tell you I was exhausted by the time I had driven home again and my hands were giving me grief! But they seem to have settled down again to their usual level of achiness, so I'm back into it again with orders to fill and the Melbourne Teddy Bear Fair next month. I also have two workshops coming up at Bear Essence after the show (Mr Jingles)
A celebration!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


It's a bit like banging your head against a brick wall.....nice when you stop! So it is with the ice, holding onto this cooler brick for fifteen minutes at a time is hard going. It sends an ache into my hand and up my arm, I can feel the cold going into the sore joint at the base of my thumb and sure does feel good when I get my hand back into my 'handeze' glove for warmth. That said, I do think this regime might actually work! I think I have more movement without pain today. I managed to keep the glove on all night too, usually I get annoyed with it and end up taking it off at some point during the night. I'll be sure to let you know how it's going.....

Monday, March 19, 2012

Footsteps A Little Closer To Home

Having been soundly reprimanded by my big sister for not being a good blogger, I really am going to try harder from now on. I don't know what happens, the days slip by and before I know it..... another month has passed me by.
I have been quite busy. Making bears, gardening, cooking and with a little reading in the mix, an all together satisfying way to pass my days.
After doing a little research I have concluded that the problem with my hands is "trigger finger" (or thumb in my case)-tendonitis basically. So I'm trying a little ice and heat treatment to see if this will help. Ideally I should give my hands a complete rest, but this isn't really an option with another workshop next month plus a show and workshops the following month in addition to filling orders! I'm hoping the problem isn't too far advanced and that this course will help relieve the pain, rather than having to resort to cortizone injections or worse still, surgery! (Fingers crossed......not really...too painful!)
This big boy came with me to Tarraleah and inspired a workshop.

So, onto next month's worshop. This one is in Kingston just South of Hobart, such a nice change to have one closer to home! This is with the lovely bunch of ladies who joined me in Tarraleah earlier in the year. I took some bears along with me, and the group were all taken with this big boy, so I offered to treat them to a special three day workshop. The first day will be trapunto leather paws, the second day we'll work on the head and on the third day we will finish the head and get everything together. It should be a great few days, I'll be able to spend some time with my big brother in the evenings and have  some lovely beary friends to pass the days with.
And we'll be making feet something like these.
I also need to find some time to do something with the apple crop before the birds get them all, some I'll juice and freeze. I have a wonderful apple chutney recipe from my sister-in-law, Irene, I'll definitely be making some of that and maybe stew and freeze some too. So I have plenty to keep my days busy. Oh, oh, oh, and I seem to remember a little something about a giveaway.......soon, soon, I promise!

Monday, February 20, 2012


Right now we are gathering so much from the garden that many of our meals are almost entirely homegrown. I have just munched my way through this salad and apart from a little marinated feta cheese sprinkled over the top the entire bowl was picked fresh from the garden moments before I ate it.

As I enjoyed the fresh vital flavours of the salad greens, herbs, tomato, cucumber and capsicum, I realised how lucky we are to be able to grow so much of what we eat. The addition of our new poly-tunnel this season really has contributed a great deal to our garden's bounty (and it's not even finished!)

The cucumbers have gone rampant and we were in danger of disappearing under a mountain of them so I resolved to pickle some of them over the weekend. I dug out my trusty old book of preserve recipes, given to me by a friend many years ago. I found just what I was looking for, a recipe for bread and butter cucumber pickle. Much slicing and dicing later, and a little cooking, I had these gorgeous looking jars ready for use later in the year when the garden won't be so productive.

Today I've also been out picking blackberries. I have been keeping an eye on the roadside brambles while out and about, waiting for them to ripen. We had a little rain in the past few days and this seems to have really brought them on, so today I stopped on my way home from an errand and picked myself a bucket of these glossy, black jewels. I'll put them into the freezer so that they are there for us in Winter when a nice blackberry and apple pie might be just the thing to chase the winter blues away. Or even better adding them to a raspberriy crumble, where their inclusion acts as a foil to the intense flavour of the raspberries, creating an all together devine combination of fruit under an almondy crumble mix.

As for the studio, right now I'm working on a polar bear cub. He's just a pile of bits at the moment, but in the next day or two he will come to life as I work on him. I'm having to take things a little easy at present, my hands are playing up again. I have to mix things up a bit so I don't run the risk of further straining them.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

What Have You Been Up To Mrs. B?

Well now, what have I been up to?

I have just spent a busy ten days in Victoria, teaching two wonderful groups of ladies how to make Sierra. At the end of it all we had 18 "Sierras" in various stages of completion. I have to say that these workshops, which lasted three days each, were jammed full of techniques and I think all of the girls who participated were exhausted, but extremely happy at the end of the third day.

On day one we made feet! This was an optional extra workshop to create trapunto leather foot pads which were then sewn into the legs ready for the following two days. I was really pleased with how well this day went, and we had some beautiful feet at the end of it. Such a simple technique for absolutely stunning results!

On one of my free days, I designed and made "Mr Jingles" after requests for something small for my next workshop at Bear Essence (in May). These  workshops are already filling fast! After some consultation with the girls in one of the workshops and the addition of his accessories this little fellow was named after the mouse in "The Green Mile"

Well that's about it, apart from a mountain of housework and weeding in the garden and of course more bears, that's what I've been up to. I also need to find some pickle recipes for our abundance of cucumbers, the plants are at peak production right now and don't look like they're going to be giving up any time soon, so it would be nice to put some up for use later in the year. And I promise, my giveaway will be coming real soon!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Being A Tree

There are three here!
 The other day I was pottering around in the garden when I noticed some unusual looking branches in one of our White Peppermints. I wandered over for a closer look and found these three fellows roosting for the day. I think they are this year's young and still learning, obviously. If you want to be a tree, choose one that looks like you! The White Peppermint is not endemic to this forest, Chris sowed the seeds of these trees many years ago when we first came to live here. He's chuffed that these Tawny Frogmouths have chosen them for their occasional daytime roost, but they do kind of stick out! If they had chosen any number of other trees around here I would never have noticed them! They really do look like part of the tree when they choose one that matches their plumage. Contrary to common belief these are not owls, they are related to Nightjars. They don't have the strong talons of owls and feed off insects and the occasional frog, not rodents and apparently they sit and wait for the insects to bump into them rather than actively hunting!

This weekend I'm off for a drive up into the highlands of Tasmania, to Tarraleah for a teddy bear making workshop. This is the first gig of the year, it all starts from now.......I'll soon be off to Tooradin again for some more workshops at Bear Essence and then up to Sydney for the Sydney Teddy Bear Fair and a workshop at Teddy's Bits.
I don't know about you, but these things have crept up on me. All of a sudden, the holiday is over and things start to get busy again. So I had better get on and do some more sewing today, I have such a lot to get through and it seems not enough time to do it! So until next time......"happy trails to you"......
Ooooh and I know I mentioned a New Year Giveaway.........well, make that a Valentine's Giveaway, look out for it real soon!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Best Investment!

2 cups of flour. a cup of salt, 2 tablespoons of cream of tartar, some oil, some water and a few drops of food colouring, stirred all together for a few minutes on the stove and you have made one of the best things a three year old could wish for! Good for the imagination, and creativity.....not so good for the matchbox cars that get driven through it though! The joys of play dough! (I will have to have a major clean-up after he goes, we have blue spots from one end of the house to the other! All in the name of little boy fun, so well worth it)
Still having fun with my grandson, and in between a little bear-making is also getting done.