Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Last Post !

I just managed to get these pics ; above is my new , absolutely favourite decoration which I pounced on in Paperchase . I love these elegant hands ; reminds me of those old Mavala adverts that used to be seen on the wall in hairdressers ( remember them ?) As a child I was so fascinated by those stylish , sleek , impossibly glamorous finger nails - harking back to 1930s Vogue illustrations - that I determined I would grow mine long when I was a bit older . Well , dear reader I did ! My nails have been ultra long since I was 14 ... I'd be lost without them LOL .
I just knew that this star with a pearly centre was "the one" to hang from a finger . Wish I could leave it in place all year .....

Next are the Red Nose family ; felties I designed and made when my 18 yr old was a baby . They come out every year to survey proceedings - ahhhhh!

I'm such a lucky girl to have a really special friend like Tina ; here are the exquisite vintage decorations which she sent me as a thoughtful little gift . Don't worry , I shan't burn the house down ; the "tea light" in that organza bag is battery powered - they look really sweet under my tiny tree on top of the dresser.

One last thing , before I crash out with coughing , and crossing my fingers the "fairies" make it to the end of the To Do list - and that is to wish everybody ; friends ,fellow bear makers , collectors and bloggers ,

a very Happy Christmas and New Year !

Festive Hugs ,

Ruth xx

The Christmas Parade

The lovely festive parade of artist bears , to be hosted by Ellen Borggreve , starts today ; you can catch Ellen's blog here and join in the fun . All the participating artists have contributed pics of their most favourite pieces .

Whilst I battle with a horrendous cold , which has made me go very deaf in both ears :0(( there are still a few Christmas preparations to get done .... suddenly time is running away as quickly as the last grains in an old fashioned egg timer . I didn't get a photo of my new , favourite mantel piece decoration on here yet! Or the sweetest little gift sent to me by Tina (of Tiny Bear) !! Maybe I can sneak them on later .
Even the little-est bears are hanging up their stockings and bedding down for a good long rest . What a shame Santa's sleigh bells will sound so muffled ! ... BooHoo ....

*****This little bear "Pasha" is still available , at a special sale price of £48.00 *****

Tuesday, 16 December 2008


Sunday saw the start of another auction for China Bear Rescue , over at Abracadabra Bear Shop .
Tallulah , 2.5" (above) made from Frosted pink , and lilac , long pile Upholstery Velvets is hoping to do her bit towards helping the Asian Moon bears . Perhaps she's wearing that heart skewiff because she's so excited about it ? :0) Anyway , if you'd like to see another picture of her (non-"Poster Edged" !) please click the link here where you will find her in Gallery 2 , and maybe check out all the other lovely items - from brand new artist bears to vintage teds - in this month long auction .

Happy Christmas Moon Bears !!

T.T.F.N Ruth x

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

The Super Duper Candy Store Badeely-Bob Music Majigger !

WooHoo ! My hubby introduced me to this wonderful site ; Playlist.com where you can grab loads of legal music together and decorate whatever you fancy with audio wonders ! He didn't realise what a monster he'd created !!! I can't seem to tear myself away , and I've re-visited tracks that had gone well-cobwebby in my brain's music department . I'm sure no headless chicken ever had so much fun running riot in a sweet shop (to mix metaphors !)
I am going to add a side bar gadget eventually but for now check out my "I was a seventies teen Disco Diva" selection , whack the volume up and get on down !!

Fab party music or what ? :0)

T.T.F.N Ruth x

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Postcards from Brighton

I thought I was going to do a post all about the Brighton Pavilion , which the three of us visited on the Saturday before The British Bear Artist Awards , but it's almost impossible to convey the stunning opulence of this former Royal Palace without internal photographs . So instead I have a string of fabulous images that Ashley caught on camera at around 4.30 pm on Saturday , whilst I was snoozing in the hotel room .

First I must just mention the Pavilion ; from the outside (we approached through the gardens) I was quite surprised by the almost flimsy , film-set architecture ahead of us . The closer we got, the less the minarets and eastern crenellations convinced. How odd - but of course that's exactly how this palace was built ; a sham of metal cloaking around a modest sized farmhouse ! A fantasy hidey-hole for an aging Prince Regent - who would later become King George IV.

Actually , there ought to be a warning over the door "here be dragons" as there are more than you could shake a stick at inside - together with snakes ; large , small , gilded , painted , bas-relief , overhead , coiled round pillars , smiling , sneaking , snarling , and down-right enraged in to blowing flames over your head ! All the visitors meekly walked about with their eyes swivelling from side to side goggling at the sheer ...... goldness of the interiors ; all decorated by artisans from a period mad for the exoticism of China and the Far East . Many a life's work is represented here , from wallpaper to the finest furniture that could be conjured from imagination . The great Banqueting hall in particular (laid out in full , priceless , table service) takes your breath away . The enormous silvered dragon in the centre of the ceiling ,which dangles the biggest chandelier I've ever seen , still has to compete for your attention with a gold Phoenix in every corner of the room!

We toured through Queen Victoria's rooms ; apparently she became fed up with the pokiness of them , and felt her family could never be accommodated there , and so she sold the palace to the people of Brighton in 1850 . Mind you , that was after removing 147 cart loads of furniture and artefacts .... a fraction of which have now been loaned back in situ .

If you do ever manage to visit the Pavilion , and specifically the Music Room - covered in gold dragons , serpents and chinese pagoda canopies , I am sure that like me you will take pity on the conservators who spent 11 years restoring and re-gilding 26,000 golden shells within the central cupola , after an arsonist damaged them in 1975 - only to be put back at square one by a stone minaret ball crashing through the centre of it in the storms of 1987 ! Some hold this room to be unlucky ; the mythical creatures all look very cross , and it does have a certain opressive atmosphere not detected elsewhere .....

Anyway , back to the photographs - remember there are no fancy filters used ; what you see is what my husband and son saw at 4.30pm . The sea a strange inky hue below an otherworldly skyscape , and the phenomenon of thousands of starlings wheeling in the skies above the old West Pier (burnt out in 2003) before roosting together on it . Click on each picture to bring the size up .

T.T.F.N Ruth x

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Lily Takes a Bow .

I am really proud to announce that I won 1st place at the British Bear Artist awards on Sunday , with Lily (above) in Category 1 : Single Miniature Bear .
I also took home a 3rd place award for my "Golden Celebration" Group of Miniature Bears , in Category 6 .

Nobody was more surprised than me when I realised my name had been announced as the winner in section 1 ! All the nominees in every group were wonderful , and so I was delighted just to be amongst them !

I'm still letting the news sink in at the moment .Oh , and finishing my last two micro hobby horses so that they can soon get under way .
It was a quite surreal weekend in more ways than one really ; I'll post later about Brighton Pavilion when I've got the photos sorted out , although (unfortunately) you couldn't take pics inside. I shan't forget my son beaming a thousand watt smile at my side , and saying "I knew you could do it Mum !" Nor my husband shedding a proud tear for me .

Back again soon without the lump in my throat ...

Ruth xx

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Just the Two of Us .

I completed my swap with Wendy Ching ( Matilda Huggington Beare ) so I can now reveal the little critters who passed each other in the post, whilst going in opposite directions across the globe !

We decided on a short turn around time of just over 2 weeks , to keep things exciting . Swapping with another artist whose work you admire is a fantastic way to increase your hug , but not only that ; you can really get to know them as well . For instance I found out that Wendy's Great Grandparents came from Newcastle-upon-Tyne - and in the UK we call people from there Geordies ..... which gave rise to her hamster's name .

"Geordine" has emigrated to Rockingham in Western Australia , where the lucky little rodent will be able to watch all kinds of exotic birds landing in Wendy's garden ! You can check out her blog here to see some of them .
Geordine is around 4" , made from Kunin Plush felt , with Long Pile upholstery velvet paws . She took a little felt bag with her and an Ultrasuede sunflower seed for rumbly-tummy moments . I must admit she did have a whisker trim after her photo shoot :0)

I received a very shy little girlie-cute "Puddle" from Wendy ; a Puddle being a whimsical interpretation of a baby Duck-billed Platypus . Her name is "Sugar Plum Fairy "

She is made from specially hand dyed silk plush , velvet and tipped mohair , and has the most adorably kissy , felted facial features . I had asked if I could have a particularly girlie one (to counter all the boy-madness of this house !) and I'm sure you'll agree with me that Sugar Plum is pretty perfection ! She's even wearing a tiny tutu , and tie-on organza wings , and has adorable little flowers sprinkled liberally over her .

Thank you so much to Wendy for making it such an enjoyable swap !

T.T.F.N Ruth x

photos of SugarPlum generously supplied by Wendy - thanks :0)

Friday, 14 November 2008

Orange For Orangutans !

Ahhhhhh , what an adorable baby ! :0)

Today has been declared a special Orange Day ; to help publicise the plight of orangutans who are endangered in their shrinking habitats .It is all the brainchild of the Orangutan Foundation .
Details can be found here of how donations can be put to good use. I decided to fund care for one baby Orangutan for one week , but even a £1 donation could help the Foundation reach their target figure .

If you would like to consider donating to these beautiful , gentle animals the simplest way is to visit here
where you can securely and speedily key in any amount you wish to give .

I know it is also Children in Need day , but I tend to think that particular yearly venture gets the lion's share of publicity , whilst other charities are no less worthy . Anyway , I believe that Orangutans ( and all creatures !) are the "children" of this Earth too!

Ta Ta For Now , Ruth x

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Hardwick Hall

"Hardwick Hall ,
More Glass than Wall ...."

A couple of weeks ago we ventured in to The Peak District on a gloriously sunny , but freezing cold day to visit Hardwick Hall . My 12 year old son wanted to visit somewhere "possibly haunted", and atmospheric in his Half Term holiday , so this vast Elizabethan country house fitted the bill ; not least as there is a ruin of the original building in the same grounds .

This house has been famous , since its architectural plans were drawn up , for the amount of glazed windows , and their sheer size - the rhyme being a hang over of people's amazement at such an audacious design during a period when glass windows were tiny and hugely expensive to produce . In fact the building stands as a monumental status symbol of Bess of Harwick ; who was probably the richest woman in the country , and certainly one of the most powerful . She was married 4 times ; expertly improving her land , property and ownership of wealth with each husband's demise . Bess was a formidable figure whose portraits can still be seen in the house today - always painted with red hair (like her friend Queen Elizabeth 1st) there is something undeniably intelligent and strong in her features ; a roman nose , piercing eyes and high arched eyebrows . Maybe a touch contemptuous too - she fell out with her last husband the Earl of Shrewsbury , who she had partnered as "house arrest" jailer to Mary Queen of Scots .

Obviously her original house was just not grand enough for the "conspicuous consumption" which she craved and it was abandoned for the new building on completion . Although it stands as a ruin (largely caused in the Georgian period when the stones were sold as building material) there are still glimpses of sumptuous plaster friezes which sat above fireplaces ; seemingly indestructible after more than 450 years .

The stag was a family emblem.

A representation of the wind .

The giants Gog and Magog .

How are we doing for "creepy" ?

Bread oven - How many loaves of bread were made here ? How many weary feet stood on this spot ?

View from the top back to the "new" building . Unbelievably a kestrel flew past us at eye level !I also found out from the audio tour that ladies and gentleman would go on to the roof ( "the leads")to walk about and take the air .

We took a conservation tour through the house , before normal opening time , and it was extremely dark , and cold ! The windows are normally covered by 3 layers of curtaining as light levels are the main culprit for deterioration . The National Trust have Hardwick listed as a 1000 hour house as that is the amount of time (in light terms) they can open per year without damaging the precious contents . Humidity and pest activity is also monitored closely , as the house is full of original tapestries , paintings and elaborate painted friezes throughout . Being a shrewd woman Bess purchased a few of the wall hangings when they had already graced other houses ( and had cheap squares sewn on with her coat of arms !) so they weren't even new in her own time . I could only stare and marvel inwardly at the lifetimes work hanging there stately and defiant .
It was particularly dark in the bedrooms , with their fusty bed hangings embroidered in gold thread , matching canopies and chairs , which only trained conservators are allowed to touch. The guide's torch weakly picked out the detail but ..... I wouldn't have liked to get left behind the group !

We went back inside when daylight was let in and marvelled again at the fantastic array of treasures . If you would like to be transported back 400 years in a day I highly recommend a visit . I also can't wait to start reading the biography of Bess which I bought there - "Bess of Hardwick" by Mary S. Lovell .

T.T.F.N Ruth x

Sunday, 2 November 2008

A not so welcome visitor.

This post should really have been before the last one , as it concerns an unusual visitor to my garden who showed up in the midst of Tuesday's snow storm ....

In the afternoon , whilst I was innocently tapping at the computer my husband suddenly jumped up with a "What is that in the garden !" exclamation . We cautiously approached the kitchen windows so as not to scare "it" off , and there , bold as you like was a Sparrow-hawk ripping one of my beloved little Goldfinches in to shreds !
Now , I belong to the RSPB and I'm an avid bird supporter but I can't say I'm keen on this particular ruffian like raptor ! To be honest they aren't majestic and handsome like other birds of prey (with which we have a fascination ) you can't imagine a noble man of yore flying one of these off his gauntlet in the "sport of kings". There's something sneaky about pouncing on (my) chirruping little garden friends ! They don't have an elegantly balanced shape; rather lumpy in the body with an over-long tail ... and those orange eyes !

Whilst Ashley took photos this opportunist was quite happy to look straight at us .
After about 15 minutes of snacking he flew off leaving just a circle of gold streaked feathers on the snow . Poor little finch ! Mr. Sparrow-hawk , may I politely request that you lunch elsewhere in future ?

T.T.F.N Ruth x

Friday, 31 October 2008

M'wahahah !

Of course it's Halloween tonight - a "celebration" I usually like to pretend I'm entirely ignorant of. Call me an old Gradgrind , but I'm of the generation who innocently bobbed for apples , and ..... that was it .
Now I know that Halloween has a wonderful all-embracing festival atmosphere in other parts of the world , and parents and children enter in to the spirit of its carnival-like magic equally , but in the UK the Halloween vehicle ( a hearse maybe ?) has the firm hand of card companies and supermarkets driving it . I'm afraid "humbug" syndrome alights my brow every year at this time , in a way it still never does in the (at times) cash-cow , jingle-till-ringing , Christmas period .

Uggghhh ; not another toddler-sized tub of lurid green "flumps" littering Tesco's aisles , or a stack of stinky plastic "costumes" (come on mothers - where's your ingenuity ???) representing enough demonic man-made material to toxically pollute the oceans for a few more millennia !
Yes , I get in the obligatory Swizzels Matlowe sweeties for those kids who knock on the door - how do they get round so many streets with that huge bin bag full of loot .. each ? Well , I don't want my milk crate messing with do I ?
Goodness only knows how distressing it all is for the elderly and infirm . Especially when the teenage Hoodies turn up on the doorstep .

Just for once , I'd like to answer the door with a convincing mask on of the lady above ! I think it would make Halloween more interesting !! M'wahahahaha .... oh , whatever .....

T.T.F.N Ruth x
(A detail I sketched from : "Medusa" by Anthony Frederick Sandys, in the "Pre-Raphaelite Women Book" by Jan Marsh )

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

A Tuesday WooHoo !

Please forgive my squeakiness , but I had the very best of news yesterday ; I have received nominations in the categories : "Single Miniature Bear" , and "Group of Miniature Bears" in the British Bear artist Awards !!!

I was so surprised to hear from Teddy Bear Club International , who co-host the awards , as I had all those little anxious hopes tucked away at the back of my mind for at least another week to go yet . It is just so thrilling to be nominated at all but I'm chuffed beyond belief to receive 2 ! :0) Oh , I sincerely hope I don't sound all Fat-headed ? Honestly , I'm just .... really amazed !

Here are the little nominees :- "Lily" ; who is 2.5" tall sitting , wearing her lace collar with Swarovski crystal and freshwater pearl trim , and the Group piece ; "Golden Celebration" - a 3" Mr and Mrs in 2 shades of Vintage Long Pile upholstery velvet , posed in a golden rose with a teeny 1.6" Cupid looking on .

Of course the inspiration for the Group bears was my parents' Golden Wedding - I set about re-creating a beautiful David Austen English rose which is called Golden Celebration . Each of the bears has a golden accent somewhere ; on the nose , or eyes . The little "Mr." carries a bouquet of gold roses for his little lady . The lace for her frilled collar was a totally lucky find in Norfolk ; antique , hand made and a natural "old gold" pale shade . They were so difficult to photograph though ! Thanks (as always) to my "other-half-with-the-camera" !

I need to make arrangements to get the bears , and myself , to Hove for the Final Judging on the 23rd November , at the Hove Bear Fair . In the meantime , all of the nominees will be appearing in the very next issue of Teddy Bear Club International , which is due out in a couple of weeks .

It's supposed to be bitterly cold this week - but I shall have warm , happy thoughts to beat the chill !

Ta Ta For Now ,
Ruth x

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Antipodean Thoughts

I'm very much thinking about that far off part of the world , where my beary friends will soon be entering their "summer" season , and enjoying lashings of hot sunshine !

A while back I decided to join Sandi Smith in her endeavours with the Teddy Bears and Critters Australasia organisation - a group of very talented artists from across the southern hemisphere who , pulled together by Sandi's dynamic outlook , now have a firm niche in the world of online soft sculpture showcasing . How can that be possible when I'm stuck in Blighty then ? Well , I'm affiliated to the group ; like an admiring "B.F" (Best friend) really ! I certainly consider Sandi to be one of my best international friends - and I probably wouldn't have "met" her if we hadn't both belonged to the late , lamented Bear Artists Online . The loss of BAO left quite a gaping hole for many artists , and so I really wanted to be part of a group again . With TBACA I can hang out with like minded people , swap links and even take part in their international shows - the next one is Be My Valentine on 14th Feb , 2009

Never one to rest on her laurels , Sandi is always expanding the site ( and our horizons !) There is a current challenge for the most Traditional Bear , and Best Christmas Setting for the bear's photograph . The members wondered if anyone would like a calendar to include all 12 of the entries ; with all profits directly benefitting Cambodian Sun Bears* No sooner said ,than Sandi has set up a wonderful extra little shop , with fund raising items in it . Brilliant ! My entry bear , William , can be found on a pack of 20 Christmas cards .

Of course I am starting to put together the bears for the coming show , but I'm also taking a little time out for a delightful swap with TBACA artist Wendy Ching , of Matilda Huggington Beare . Wendy has requested a Hamster as her new friend , and I shall wait excitedly for one of her gorgeous little "puddles" ; which are the most adorable baby duck-billed platypusses ! Hopefully I can share the pictures here when we've both received our parcels . One way and another Christmas will be early this year !

If you would like to visit the site to check out the Christmas Challenge bears just click the pink link above , or here .

T.T.F.N Ruth x

* see my earlier post ; "Stuff it All" which mentioned Bobo's booth .

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

By the Way ......

I found out what a "runcible spoon is " ! Well , enquiring minds like to know .....
It turns out that it was a three pronged fork ; curved , with one side sharpened for cutting , and generally used for eating pickles.
So there we are .... it was an early form of Spork !! LOL .

:0) Ruth x

Thursday, 9 October 2008

In Honour of National Poetry Day

The Owl and The Pussy-Cat . by Edward Lear

The Owl and the Pussy-Cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea-green boat ,
They took some honey , and plenty of money
Wrapped up in a five-pound note .
The Owl looked up to the stars above ,
And sang to a small guitar ,
"O lovely Pussy ! O Pussy , my love ,
What a beautiful Pussy you are ,
You are ,
You are !
What a beautiful Pussy you are !"

Pussy said to Owl , "You elegant fowl !
How charmingly sweet you sing !
O let us be married ! too long we have tarried
But what shall we do for a ring ? "
They sailed away , for a year and a day ,
To the land where the Bong-Tree grows ,
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood ,
With a ring at the end of his nose
His nose ,

His nose !
With a ring at the end of his nose .

"Dear Pig , are you willing to sell for one shilling
Your ring ?" Said the Piggy , "I will ."
So they took it away , and were married next day
By the Turkey who lives on the hill .
They dined on mince , and slices of quince ,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon ;
And hand in hand , on the edge of the sand
They danced by the light of the moon ,
The moon ,
The moon ,
They danced by the light of the moon .

Have a wonderful , and poetic day everyone !

Ta Ta For Now ,
Ruth x

(All the owls photographed live at the Cambridge Raptor Foundation. )