Sunday, 26 June 2011

Arts and Crafts Gem in Surrey

Victorian painter and Sculptor George Watts established his final home at Compton, a village near Guildford in Surrey. In addition to a substantial Arts and Crafts house he built a gallery and studio. Recently restored the Gallery is once again open to the public and now displays a large number of Watts' works to much better advantage. There are also a few personal items on display.

I enjoyed the paintings but very much part of the charm of this place is to be able to experience the surroundings in the idyllic village location. I enjoyed walking the same paths in summer sunshine imagining George and Mary Watts and their protegees following the same route and inspired by the pretty countryside around them. Watts' house is not actually visible and is in private hands but you can walk along the lane and pass its entrance, the lane is crossed by a bridge designed by Edwin Lutyens.

The gallery is a real gem of its period, the exterior very much following the purpose of the interior and with some subtle details like the green ceramic around the gallery windows.

Nearby is a true Gem in the shape of a tiny Chapel in the local cemetery. Watts' wife ran an apprentice scheme for artisan potters and her pupils all took part in the decoration of the Chapel, finished only months before Watts death. It is decorated in a style which is a confection of Art Nouveau, Celtic and other influences and the result is rich and colourful treasure of the Arts and Crafts movement.

For literary buffs a further point of interest is the grave of Aldous Huxley in the picture postcard perfect cemetery rolling down the hill on which stands the Chapel itself.

I found the whole setting and history enchanting, I suppose I thought it would be a wonderful place to have my bear making studio too. It does cost £7.50 to go into the gallery to see the paintings but there is a tea shop and it is an enchanting little spot to enjoy and soak up atmosphere even if you are not a fan of Watts' work. There is a web-link in my list of interesting websites.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Favorite Park

Yesterday was a little overcast and windy so an ideal day to take the dogs for a stroll in my favorite Park, Bushy Park at Hampton Court. The restored water garden needs to mature a bit and it is spoiled by ropes and rails at the moment but never-the-less makes a pleasant circuit for the dogs, we stopped briefly in front of the water fall for a picture but they noticed the lovely green slimey weed in the lake so we had to move on rather hastily. Further on Posh got a bit warm and decided to walk along a nice cool creek filled with green weeds.... strong smell of soggy pondy dog accompanied us on the car journey home and she had a nice bath in deodorising shampoo, all slept soundly and smelled sweet for the rest of the day while I worked on a new bear design.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Artist Bears Stratford-upon-Avon

Sunday was the Artist Bear Event in Stratford, my plans had been much curtailed by a few health problems so I actually only had one lonely bear little to offer, I managed to occupy the rest of the six-foot table with a bear on loan from his new owner and a large classic bear destined for a Store. The show seemed to have a very nice atmosphere and although I was taking regular doses of cough mixture etc., thoroughly enjoyed meeting friends and chattering about the bear world. I also managed to offset the disappointment of customers, who were hoping to see more than one of my new small bears, by taking a number of orders too.

I normally enjoy the drive but there was a pretty constant deluge of rain and much surface water so it took longer than usual to get home and I am somewhat puggled after a very long day. Great joy of getting home is of course a massive slobbery hairy greeting from Angus and Posh.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

A Career Choice

I am proud to have been chosen to represent Teddy Bear artists on a website designed to help people find out about the scope and variety of careers that can be pursued, there are many other interesting people featured in other crafts and industries... it would be good to think that my write up might inspire somebody to take up needle and thread to make bears professionally.

my page can be found at:-


Just as I thought everything was going so well in the bear making frenzy before the Stratford Bear show I seem to have developed a severe dose of man flu... well the unpleasant seasonal cold anyway. Not the most interesting information to share but it has somewhat slowed my bear growing pace and it means that I do not have any preview photographs available.

Angus installed himself under the desk this morning so he is keeping my feet warm and encouraging me to keep working.

I have managed to find a smallish growler which I have successfully installed in the latest new small classic bear :-)

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Small Traditional Bears

I have been having great fun working on some new smaller bears, I like my classic bears to be quite care worn these days and I have been getting braver with some very loose crumbly filling on the larger ones. My aim was to make small bears, often requested but somehow they never seemed to shrink very much.

At last though success and these latest classic Teds are a mere 12 inches tall ( ok that is not very very small but it is about as small as I can comfortably make).

I wanted them to evoke the fragile nature of quite well worn old bear which needs a gentle attentive owner. At this size they can still be quite loosely filled and still have that wonderful crunchy feel that a traditionally filled bear often has when his filling has settled and crushed a little. Both of these bears have small genuine vintage boot button eyes and I will use these for as long as my precious supply lasts. The nose and claw embroidery thread has been fatigued and faded and the bears subjected to much careful attention in order to remove any trace of newness in their hand dyed mohair. They are filled with fine excelsior wood wool which has been squashed and fatigued. It would be nice to have growlers in them but I haven't found a small enough one which makes a big enough growl... yet.

Both of these bears are now sold but I will be making some more in this size, different colours and some in traditional teddy bear colours, if you wish to be on my mailing list you will receive notification as soon as more bears are available, for details please visit or e.mail me at