Thursday, 23 December 2010

Season's Greetings!



Only a few days to Christmas - where does the whole year go to? Like most people I've got plenty of jobs still to do before the big weekend has been and gone! I should be wrapping presents right now ... but at least I've ticked off the mince pie baking, decorating, and the dreaded "final" shop.In fact I'm feeling quite smug about the last one; I got up before 6am and went straight to Tesco! The wide aisles were clear , nobody had "trolley rage" and there was an empty checkout waiting for us! My fridge, freezer and cupboards are full and no blood was shed - not bad going, especially as it was still -6 temperatures outside and the (non-gritted) roads were all a-sparkle.Like everybody in the UK I am so over that whole White Christmas thing!!!

Here's a peek at my mantel piece; I used the butterfly masks to decorate my table at Sheffield.They are far too gorgeous to stash away, and I adore these new, glittery, die-cut Victorian style cards - which I'll be keeping as decorations permanently!


I've also used them in my wall unit, where they go so well with roses, white bells and vintage photos...


I decided to make some Teacup Candles as Christmas presents this year, and I was really pleased with how they turned out. Having trawled my favourite vintage and collectible haunts for pretty cups and saucers (all from the Staffordshire potteries) I also picked up a bundle of assorted silver plated spoons for added decoration.I used an Antique Ivory dye, and Vanilla and Cinnamon perfumes mixed together. Next I made some tiny little "Gingerbread cookie" sachets ... ssshhhhh don't tell anyone they're filled with cut pieces of vanilla scented Magic Tree, and polyester stuffing ...




This one is "Pansies" by Royal Grafton.

I haven't done any proper sewing for well over a week; which is starting to make my fingers itchy! However I did manage to squeeze in a lovely bear swap through TBACA before The BBAAs weekend away. I sent my little 3" "Gingerbread Angel" to Lesley Stipanov (Les Bears), and despite crossing continents and the continued bad weather here we've both received our swaps in time for Christmas :0)


I will definitely be making more of these bears with decorated gingerbread wings - oh yummy!
Here is my new little fella from Lesley - he's only 1.75" tall!




Happy Christmas to Everybody out there! With every Good Wish for a peaceful and joyful holiday for you and your loved ones XXX

Ruth xxx :0)

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Back From Brighton

I've only just started to feel as though my feet are touching the ground, after our weekend away in Brighton! We left the house before 7.30am on Saturday and arrived in time for early lunch in the Brighton Pavilion Tearooms. As the building is laid out with a "traffic flow" we had to request an escort through the ropes to get to the right staircase and then re-start from the beginning again afterward.

Visiting this building could never cease to delight me; well, it is a celebration of high Regency style in over-drive! The wallpapers, furnishings and ornamentation were still just as breath-taking to me as they were 2 years ago. Difficult to describe the sheer spectacle and opulence when you can't back it with photos (none allowed). The star room for me is the Banqueting hall where a truly massive chandelier is held by the claws of a huge silver dragon, his mouth agape to show a fiery tongue. Above him is a central rotunda trompe l'oeuil of palm leaves which is so fresh and realistic it must have looked out of time and place in the 18th century. The long table is resplendent with beautiful ceramics, glassware, silver and centre pieces, and George III's red brocade chair, set in the middle, is pulled out slightly as though he might arrive, to dine in style in front of us.I was intrigued by an art installation by Claire Twomey - visible throughout the Pavilion - called "Dark Day in Paradise"; consisting of randomly sized black ceramic butterflies (how could I not be interested!) which appeared in various wing poses and scattered, or suspended in flocks. They herald a cautionary note on excess (George III was reviled for his profligate extravagance) maybe a glimpse of darkness on the horizon in the current economic climate and the shadows of history that still chime with us. Very thought provoking! Not to mention sinister behind net curtains!

What about the "main show" though?? Of course I mean The British Bear Fair and Artist Awards - held in a new venue at Brighton Racecourse this year. I enjoyed myself so much wandering round the fair, chatting with such lovely bear people and unhampered by any need to return "behind the table"! A little bear from Susan Gam chose me as his new Mum , and then it was time for the award announcements.

Cat 1 Single Miniature Bear nominees


L to R: Judges Gregory Gyllenship, Dawn James, Wendy Hobday together with Victor (2nd left) who presented the awards)

Me collecting a 1st place for "Georgiana" - feeling stunned and delighted!

Category 1 award.

Category 10 "Tea is for Teddies" wins 1st place too!!

I was feeling a bit shocked after the awards (understatement) and I found it difficult to get my head out of the clouds on Monday too! I would like to give my heartfelt thanks to the judges and organisers, and Hugs to the other nominees who all brought beautiful pieces on the day. There's no better way to spend time than deep in beary conversation with like-minded folk so I had a wonderful time!  :0)

TaTa For Now,
Ruth xx

Saturday, 20 November 2010

The GYTBE!

I've just got time to post a pic of two of the bears I'm taking to The Great Yorkshire Teddy Bear Event, on Sunday at the Sheffield Hilton.


They are (L to R) "Figgy" and "Frosty", 2.6" standing, made from Long Pile Upholstery Velvets in a special new design that I have pared back slightly so that I could offer collectors a really affordable bear. I've named the collection Flutter-By Boutique, and there will only be a few of these bears at each fair I attend - priced at £49 each.
As a collector myself I know that the pounds spare for "luxury" collectables are being held on to for longer, and so I came up with the idea of having just a couple of bears on my table which would provide a quality "teddy hit" for eager arctophiles fed up of being "good" all the time! :0) To keep the Boutique bears at such a low price I've trimmed down the processes (no wobble heads, no front paw pads) and I'll be offering a range of optional accessories for them each time, all individually priced; micro-stockings (£3) Gingerbread teddy in Ultrasuede (£5) micro-tiny basket (£1, not shown) Of course the accessories will be suitably sized for all the other Flutter-By Bears too!

I'm so looking forward to the event.We'll be in the car soon ; off to explore Sheffield. My 2 older sons are home with the dogs...... I'll miss them !!

T.T.F.N  Ruth xx

Friday, 29 October 2010

I Spy


I decided recently that I'd like to have a bit of "low-tech'" gadgetry on my stall at the next bear fair; a magnifying glass, in case anybody would like to inspect the workmanship of my miniatures more closely.I often notice that collectors peer slightly uncomfortably at my very small bears, so I'm more than happy to help with a good look at them and their facial expressions!
I did hold out for a relatively "nice" one though (spurning 2 for £1 in nasty black plastic at Tesco) which I managed to lay my beady eye on in Bakewell market.This one is small and fancy. I also rather like the antique faceted glass table jar I've posed it in too - missing its lid - which became something I couldn't part with after Ashley polished it up and pointed out the screw thread is silver; so probably why the lid went missing.
I know.... small things amuse small minds. Very true but .... I just have an outsize appreciation for them :0)

TaTa For Now,
Ruth xx

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Happy Birthday! (An 83 gun salute!!)

 Another Trafalgar Day ; yay! It is also my father's birthday so despite the indulgence I've decided to add the little e-card video, which my son made, to my blog!
Many "Happy Returns" of the day Grandpa / Daddy / Reg - from all of us! XXX
video




Also , here's a quick pic of the next consignment of Witney bears before they jumped in to their parcel.I hope they enjoy their journey to the shop (and there's no squabbling between 3 cheeky little dogs!) I may be able to visit there myself, in February, which would be absolutely great, so "fingers crossed" :0)

 


T.T.F.N  Ruth XX

Monday, 11 October 2010

Teddy Bears of Witney

I've been so,(sew!) busy since Hugglets, creating Limited Edition pieces. I'm afraid it has kept me from this blog a bit as I've been concentrating so hard on these pieces for Teddy Bears of Witney; which is an Aladdin's cave of teddy-beauty old and new, near Oxford. As the 2011 catalogue has been issued I thought I'd show what I've been doing all these weeks!
First is "Chester and Bramble"; a 2.75" bear in frosted gold Upholstery Velvet, with his 1.2" terrier friend. They are a Limited Edition of 8.



Next are "Willow and Meadow Sweet"; a 3" panda of old gold and pale cream-gold Vintage Upholstery Velvet, with his 1.6" lop-eared rabbit companion. Limited Edition of 5



I've got an extremely packed schedule coming up with The Great Yorkshire Teddy Event, 21st November, a personal swap, "Be My Valentine" show pieces for TBACA, and the Winter Bearfest at Hugglets looming, so if I can get ahead and "find" an unclaimed week so much the better! You'll have to excuse me now so I can get on with this order ... hope I'll get back here a bit quicker next time :0)

T.T.F.N, Ruth xxx

(Teddy Bears of Witney catalogues including these bears can be found at www.teddybears.co.uk )

Thursday, 23 September 2010

BBAA Nominations!!

I got the exciting news at the weekend that both my entries for this year's British Bear Artist Awards have been nominated to go through to final judging, at the British Bear Fair, December 12th in Brighton.
Here are my pieces:-


"Georgiana"; a seated 3" bear - Cat 1, Single Miniature Bear



"Tea is for Teddies"- Cat 10, Group of Miniature Bears (plus a dog!)


The competition will be fierce! It was only a few months ago, at the TBAE, Stratford, that I wondered aloud to Dawn (TBT editor) whether there would be any expansion of the miniaturist category to Dressed and Undressed; she felt it was unlikely as the number of entrants overall wouldn't necessarily make it viable, but this year sees double the number of nominees in category 1 (Single Miniature Bear) and two first prizes , two second and two third will be awarded. Next year the categories will be split. I think this is a terrifically healthy sign! It's great that more miniaturists are entering (probably there are loads of us lurking about!) and it will be a very good thing for more collectors to "get in to" miniature bears!

Congratulations to all the nominees; in all categories. I'm really looking forward to meeting up with lots of you on the day :0)

T.T.F.N  Ruth xx

Friday, 17 September 2010

.... and Some More!


The English Rooms at the V&A are a great place to visit if you're interested in English period furniture- they have whole room reconstructions, with huge canopied beds- or if you're a textile obsessive like me.There are quite a few items of clothing, with shoes and gloves too; just so much you want a photographic record of really!
Anyway, we spotted this beautiful and fragile fan.... I have a thing about fans......

Oh, and whole cases of drawers of lace!! Most are so ridiculously beautiful it's like a sort of appreciation overload!! This one is in a 17th century style which has the name "stitches in the air" when translated from Italian:-



And how about this one- apologies for the difficulty in photographing such a tiny, delicate fragment. This one is very different! Guess what it's made of... and I'll tell you at the bottom of the page :0)



Following our noses round the museum we came to a section on mosaics, and in particular a fabulous (in the original sense of the word) collection of two people whose names I'm sorry to say I've forgotten. Drawer upon drawer of priceless treasures; silver and gold and jewel encrusted snuff boxes. Here are just a few of the most astonishing works of art in "micro-mosaic" - these boxes are all no bigger than 3" across.










                                           (Enamelled, with pearls)


Which one would you treasure given the choice? I'd pick that gorgeous spaniel without hesitation - I wonder if it's the faithful rendition of a once beloved companion? I would like to think so.

And the lace from 16 Something?? Give yourself a million Clever Clogs points if you guessed it was made from human hair (with outline detailing probably horse hair) Yes, really!!!!!

Hope you've enjoyed a quick trip round the museum with me. TaTa For Now,

Ruth xx

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Kensington Treasures


I had such a lovely day on Sunday at Teddies 2010! I met lots of collectors I recognised and I was amazed to find I can still remember which bears they already have. Thank you to everybody who adopted a new little friend, and came to visit the stand; I really appreciate it :0)
For this fair I swapped my display components about a bit and added a few new ones; I just can't resist! I have to say I was extremely pleased with the final "look", and I was absolutely delighted when several kind people said it looked beautiful!


Will I ever stop adding to my collection of display items? Errrr - probably not.In fact, definitely not; I've already got some different pieces in mind for the November show in Sheffield.....


And so to "what we did on the Saturday." First of all we had a brisk stroll down Kensington High Street and Kensington Gore, pausing as usual to photograph the Albert Memorial and the Albert Hall.My 14 year old surprised us both by saying he wished we had tickets that night for the Last Night of the Proms! We were offered tickets from the inevitable touts; although they were for the outside party in the park.
After a quick visit to the Natural History Museum, where, as I suffer from a fear of heights, I had to go on the escalator from hell (again!) then it was on to The Victoria & Albert Museum.

(There's a lot more escalator after reaching the planet. Brrrrrrrrr)

Sadly I couldn't go in the exhibition of Grace Kelly's dresses because it was on timed tickets; and they had sold out for the day- did I hear husband and son breathe a huge sigh of relief? No... must've been someone else.... Happily I was able to locate the Beatrix Potter rooms;where the walls are ranged with all the original book-plate sized artwork for "Peter Rabbit", plus others from Beatrix' youth, and personal letters to and from Frederick Warne her publisher.It is very difficult to get your head around seeing the actual originals when you are so familiar with the printed versions. Each is in perfect condition; suprisingly vibrant and captivatingly miniature.Her earliest drawings would be considered prodigiously talented by today's standards; if it's possible I admire her even more than I did before! Take a look at a detail from a pencil drawing, based on the garden shed outside her home, of rabbits potting Geraniums, and also the adorable watercolour of "Bill" the unfortunate little lizard who is given a fright by Alice in Wonderland, at the top of this post.


From these rooms we moved on to the Portrait Miniatures. I could spend all day gazing in to the cases with the helpfully provided magnifying glasses.Rather than try and fill up the whole camera(!) I had Ashley take a pic of one of my absolute favourites; a breathtakingly beautiful 3" wide portrait from the 17th century which combines finesse and realism.To say it is highly skilled is an utter understatement!Who was he, and why don't men wear collars and sashes like that anymore?....



Incidentally, I was fascinated by a displayed "Buff Coat" from this period, in the English Rooms. You've probably seen them in paintings without realising what they are. The mannequin was wearing a very thick suede skirted jacket - although it is cow leather it has the look of pale sheepskin. Originally they were a lowly, practical item of clothing for soldiers; giving them some protection from weaponry, but eventually they became fashionable, and were often part of the costume chosen for important portraits; in particular those "cavalier" paintings where the Buff Coat was augmented with breastplates, sashes, expensive lace and military regalia.The one on display must have been kept for this purpose as it looks practically new. Amazing.

I'll add some more photos later...

TaTa For Now, Ruth x

Monday, 23 August 2010

Beautiful Dresses from Bath


I'm sorry I've been away for so long; it's really unusual for me. I'm afraid I've been AWOL and MIA whilst I get my collection together for Hugglets on September12th! My husband had 2 weeks holiday, and we went to Devon and Bath.... but I still had to sew y'know. Luckily I have a small folding portable daylight gadget; a Grafilight (check www.colourconfidence.com ) which is invaluable when I go away!!!

Here are some beautiful 18th century dresses from the collection at the Bath Fashion Museum ( joy of joys you are now allowed to photograph those which they own..... although it is still a photographer's nightmare!) I hope they will give something to admire until normal service can be resumed here!



Amazing "court dress". Imagine it; "'S'cuse me - wide dress coming through!!!"

("Sack Back"dress with more exquisite embroidery)



Despite all the fabulous handworked embroidery on the others this is my favourite - made from the finest muslin (which was extremely expensive and highly prized cargo on merchant ships) I just can't imagine how cold those poor, fragile ladies must have been tripping around in our climate in these wisps of material!!

I'll be back as soon as I can .... so Ciao For Now! :0) ....
Ruth xx

Friday, 23 July 2010

In The Pink Tissue Paper is.....


Look at my lovely parcel from Sandi; which arrived today, all in pretty pink tissue paper and scented with a divine sachet- which by the way , is such a good idea for all our fabric and supplies stashes :0) I feel very lucky to have received three soft and yummy mohairs, tiny buttons, lovely rusty bells, glass eyes and even some pretty pastel stationery for cards! All of these will be squirreled carefully away whilst I contemplate what they might become. Sandi knows they will challenge me creatively as I have rarely used mohair (and never glass eyes) before!It does do you good to have a few projects lined up which in the future will give your current skills a boost. One day .... and I'm talking far in to the future here...... I'd like to make a big bear, although I think it would be a really steep learning curve and I'd be very nervous! I have made bigger bears from commercial patterns years ago, although none were jointed. Ah! I just remembered all the stuffing involved as well! If you remember I used the "left over" stuffing from (very) past projects for approximately 4 years in my miniatures! :0)

Many thanks to Sandi for her big-hearted generosity, and to Lady Luck for drawing me the winner! Pop over to Sandi's blog right here to see 3 gorgeous little bears just finished; they are adorable!

TaTa For Now,
Ruth xxx

Monday, 12 July 2010

Beatrix Potter




When I read in the paper that there will be a Beatrix Potter exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum , in Kensington , right when I'll be there the day before Hugglets, I just had to post about it! I absolutely love visiting the V&A anyway , so I shall be there "with knobs on"! 
 
You may already know that next year the Australian Creative Design Awards will be based on a theme of Beatrix Potter inspired pieces - the entry registration is open right up to 31st December , 2010, and I fully intend to take part.This will be a huge challenge for me ; as it will be all about interpreting themes which have resonated throughout my childhood .... like catching treasured dreams and memories and turning them in to something tangible!

My love of all things Beatrix Potter goes right back to a time I only hazily remember (not being blessed with one of those crystal clear memories like my sister) I could only have been about 3 or 4 years old , and even then I had an innate love of books - books as objects, as much as the wonders for small imaginative brains contained in them. Occasionally I would be taken to a book shop where I distinctly remember the pristine little rows of Beatrix Potter books. Their impossibly white little dust jackets fascinated me , along with the (now)  iconic type face , and the beautiful , muted, almost translucent illustrations. They represented something utterly unattainable ; an idyllic perfection and nostalgic view which I couldn't really comprehend but which drew me like a moth to a flame. We were never bought books in those days! All the stories I was read came from the library , like most other little girls. I still think I'm making up for that yearning to own books to this day .... piles of them everywhere says so....

I was only 19 when I decided to completely splurge a vast sum of money on a boxed set of these precious little stories. I decided it was a prize well worth spending hard earned wages on , but I probably didn't tell many people in the office what I had done! Those sweet little creatures; all with lives of their own still had that same power to draw me in to their pastel shaded world , and of course I appreciated the amazing artistry which created them so much more. Some years on I bought this folder of "scraps" of 7 of the stories' illustrations. I've had them for at least 20 years but I just can't bring myself to separate them , or use them on anything!






I'm sure they will remain in those protective sleeves for another double decade , whilst I continue to collect all sorts of other Beatrix Potter memorabilia ... which reminds me.....

My lovely friend , and fellow enthusiast Sandi , of Bearly Sane teddies (also our brilliant TBACA leader) has drawn my name as winner of an intriguing mystery prize which is teddy bear related , but I could use when I enter the ACD Awards! Whoot! I'll be looking out for a parcel soon - aren't I lucky? :0) Thank You so much Sandi for your generosity; I really value your kindred spirit too :0) (XX)

If you have time, do follow the link to the V&A's page all about the exhibition . Maybe you will be inspired to enter the ACD Awards , and create your own adorable creature in the spirit of that quintessentially English lady , Miss Potter. Or maybe , if you're visiting Kensington on Saturday 11th September, I'll see you there; admiring Peter Rabbit and all his charming friends?

T.T.F.N , Ruth xxx

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Summer Snapshots


Mr. Flutter-By Bears has been out and about with his rather large and impressive camera recently, (or is it just ridiculously heavy - depending on how you look at it ;0) ? ) so I thought I'd share a few photos of British wildlife going about their summery business.

This little chap (above) is a shy and timid Roe deer , who was probably surprised to see a photographer on Wicken Fen at 4.30am! What a sweet faced little fellow.
The next is a Wren's nest above some guttering round the back of my parents' house - we watched the 3 chicks' busy and attentive little mother while she foraged for insects all around the garden, continually flitting back with her prize. I've been incredibly thrilled to have wrens fledging in my own garden this year ... although they were extremely camera-shy!


This seems to be a very good summer for Dragonflies; we've seen numerous species on our travels. For such fearsome, predatory little beasties in their watery homed larval stages, they are gloriously elegant on the wing. I think these are some form of Hawker dragonfly - seen at the tiny country park not far from where we live.



I'm already looking forward to my summer holiday ; a whole month away yet. I wonder if this idyllic weather will last right up to the time I get to re-visit Lyme Regis? In the meantime I have lots of beary sewing to do , and new projects to think about ......

T.T.F.N  Ruth XX