Monday, 11 November 2013

Posh - Shalowseas on the Double of Tallisbay

2000 - 2013

Today 11th November would have been Posh's 13th Birthday

I had to say good-bye to my lovely old Lady Posh, she crossed that old Rainbow Bridge on the evening of September 23rd just a month or so short of her 13th Birthday.

 I first met Posh when I visited Suzanne Archer in early 2007 hoping to be allowed to aquire my first Newfie puppy.  That puppy was of course Angus but what I didn't realise was that 2 years later, just before Christmas 2009, Posh would come to stay with me for a few days.  I was at first a little worried about how Angus would accept her and  how I would manage two Newfs in my tiny house. However it is no surprise really that she fitted in just beautifully and adopted me, I fell in love with her and here she stayed.
During her successful show career Posh was awarded 2 Reserve Challenge Certificates, at Birmingham National Championship Show in 2003 and Three Counties Championship Show in 2006.

Posh was also excellent at water work, she gained the award of Top Working Dog in 2003 and was presented with the Alain Nouvion Trophy by the Newfoundland Club of Great Britain, she achieved passes at level D and gained her multi-test water work certificate at level C.
By the time she came to live with me Posh had already retired from her show and working activities, but she never lost the fascination for water, even though she was extremely well behaved outdoors she would sometimes decide that there was an interesting swamp or muddy creek nearby which required closer inspection.
Posh was extremely well behaved on our walks together, many of my fondest memories are of our evening stroll along the river side in Hersham, it became increasingly difficult to manage long walks with Angus as she aged, so often she came just by herself and enjoyed the extra attention. Posh had many admirers in the village and loved the attention standing while everybody patted her and cuddled her.
 Her 11th Birthday was quite a landmark, a good age for a Newfie, no grey hairs and still very much enjoying life. Posh was 11 years old, on 11/11/2011 a rather neat numerical coincidence which I am sure gave her special powers.

 Posh made my doggy family, I could always trust her to walk close by even in situations where Angus had to put up with being on his leash, having being a bit worried at first about how I would manage two Newfies it actually became easier than having one and I was hugely proud of how well Posh behaved even if I can hardly claim any credit for that, she arrived in my house very well behaved to start with.

When Buster arrived in October 2012, Posh was rather distant with him at first, I am not sure that she appreciated a whirling puppy appearing in her old age but she soon became firm friends with him and for that all too brief time I had a family of three beautiful Newfies.  I think Posh was always the matriarch of the family and kept the boys in order for me.

Posh slowed down a lot in her last months but she was a very fit happy dog and stayed in good health, she did finally have to give up her journey up the stairs to sleep beside my bed but had a distinct, quite musical, bark which meant that she needed help and which became my morning call.

When Posh died I was already anticipating the arrival of a new Pup and I had been hoping that she would live long enough to meet him.  Well she didn't quite make it but Posh was a delight and adding her to my family was one of the best decisions I ever made, she was a special companion and our evening walks beside the River in Hersham some of the happiest doggy memories which I will always treasure. I miss her pretty bark and our gentle expeditions around the village, they became shorter and shorter until all we could manage was to sit on the first bench on the Green, Posh's Bench now and a reminder of where we used to rest for a cuddle and watch the world go by.... 

Sleep safe my lovely little lady Bear. 

Friday, 18 October 2013

Benedict an Old Friend from 1992

Over the years I have often been asked if I have kept any of the bears I make.  The answer is yes but very few, much as it is sometimes tempting to hold on to one which I feel is a little special, I make bears for my living and they have to go out into the world to support me.

I have the very first bear I made and two or three other bears from the very first days, I had one other which was my mascot at bear shows but only one which I felt was a breakthrough when I had started to get the pattern to have the real look I wanted, I made a series of bears from this pattern but only one in a soft caramel dense straight English mohair.   The others formed two edition of 6 bears each so the one caramel one remained at home and almost by chance therefore became my own.

Benedict did have a little surgery on a number of occasions, he has ears sewn into the head seams so I have left them as they are even though they are not even but he has had quite a few noses, the latest was done about 5 years ago and I finally decided that it was about time he settled on his appearance.
So he is essentially the same bear I made way back in 1992, my very first year, of course my traditional bear pattern has evolved over the years and the proportions and construction are different now but in many ways my perception of the ideal face and look for these bears is much the same.

He had become a little dusty over the years so for his recent photographs I gently cleaned him but was careful to retain the natural patina of a bear now over 20 years old.

Interestingly I find that with the distance of time I see only his charms having long forgotten the struggles of working out how to do things in those early days, yes of course I can see that I struggled to sew neat paw pads for instance and his are a little uneven.  But now I no longer see him as a pattern to be improved, he has his own personality and those flaws ( or at least those things which I regarded as flaws when I made him ) no longer matter, he is just a Ted with his own presence.
For personal reasons I have decided to find new homes for some of the few bears I kept for myself and Benedict has been in the Special Sale section of my website, happily I think he now has a new home.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Classic Bear - New 10 Inch Pattern

Still getting smaller, this is a new pattern now down to 10 inches, well perhaps that is a little optimistic and he is more like 10.5 including his ears.



I have made one or two bears around 6 inches tall in the past, I find the temptation to grow them larger again very strong because I do find the work a little fiddly for my fingers at that size, this 10 inch size is just about small enough to be comfortable to work with. 

Finding a supply of genuine vintage boot buttons in a suitable size is tricky, so I have to keep a look out and match up pairs from my supply.  On this bear the slightly larger proportion give him a more cub like look.


I returned to my ideal of a bear which will stand by itself too, I don't want to alter the vintage feel by adding weight to the feet so the balance is just in the design, helped by nice long feet.

This is Gilbert, the first bear available from the new pattern, others will be in different colours and each will have an individual finish.  Gilbert has been heavily aged and his fur is a faded greenish goldish grey colour, the foot pads are stained and I would say his overall appearance is "dusty attic find"

On this bear the wood wool filling is crunchy but quite firm.
Please visit my website to see if Gilbert is still available and for information on availability of more bears in this pattern
or email for more information

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Black Bear - Cornelius

Black Bears seem to have a special appeal, almost every artist will say that the black fabric is difficult to work because it is so hard to see what you are doing.  It is also quite difficult to get the facial features to show up sufficiently well.
I opted for light colour paw pads and the rather clever device, first used by Steiff many years ago, of the circle of red felt behind the eyes which gives them a particular emphasis.  I also prefer to use all black embroidery, the nose is sewn high in the very early style.

It is also quite tricky to photograph them, so I have lightened the images a little to help show more detail.

The idea for this particular bear had a rather odd beginning.  I had been admiring the buttonholes sewn onto doll clothing by my mother, and as a diversion to relax I tried to hand sew buttonholes myself.  Having worked my way through various threads to make them neat and scaled down for Teddy clothing I discovered some rather nice red silk.  From that the idea came to make bright red buttonholes on a waistcoat to complement the red felt discs behind the eyes of a black bear; That might seem a bit long winded but it is the way my mind wanders and it is typical of the rather tortuous route taken by ideas on their way from my brain to a bear.
So the reason that all the pictures show his bottom button undone, in addition to sartorial convention, is that I wanted everybody to see that I worked becomingly increasingly crossed eyed under a magnifying lamp, to hand sew red silk buttonholes on his waistcoat.
Cornelius also incorporates the extra floppy zone at his neck and shoulders, this along with the heavily fatigued finish on his fur, helps add to the aged appearance and feel.


He has been named Cornelius and is now available for adoption on my website at
Thank you for reading about Cornelius
for more information contact me as always at

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Alexander - Traditional Bear

It is always a pleasure to return to the very simplest traditional bear design, sometimes that very simplicity causes my self critical eye the greatest need to make fine adjustments to a pattern.
After recent great personal sadness I needed a little project in the bear department to keep my brain ticking so I decided to revisit the classic bear with a mind to making a smallish size and incorporating some changes which have been in the back of my mind for a while now; It did indeed provide the necessary therapy and I am very pleased with the new little bear.

It is of course pretty obvious that my original inspiration comes from the early style bears with long tapered arms and humped backs.  Time and age changes them and so almost every vintage bear is different and a great part of my enjoyment in making them is that I never want any two to be the same, even if they are from the same pattern.  Some of them are more worn, some more floppy, some have distinctly lop sided faces.

So today's post is to introduce Alexander, the latest manifestation of my classic bear ideas.   I have refined the shapes of the arms and legs and modified proportions with the intention of making him look like a scaled down large bear,  he is just over 14 inches tall ( I measure to the top of the head excluding ears )
As always I regard the shape and appearance from every angle as equally important and even though his legs are quite loose and the ankles a little floppy he can still stand up, albeit briefly so he doesn't get tired.   And, in the following pictures you can also see that he has a tail;  Yes I know that the early bears didn't have tails but for me this serves two purposes, firstly it give him back an essential part of his anatomy, and secondly it is my way of saying that I want to make it clear that this is my bear and my version of an ideal which floats around in my head.

His stuffing is all excelsior wood wool and I wanted it to feel old and slightly crunchy, I also wanted to introduce areas at the neck of settled and crushed wood wool so his head and neck are quite floppy; I wanted the head to settle into the neck and flop as it often does on a moderately well worn old bear, so there is a loose area in the head too.
Ultimately my aim is to turn a piece of cloth into a little creature with personality, and I probably spend far too long trimming and roughing the fur on the head and face but somehow just a few hairs can make all the difference.
My final ageing treatment does take a while to dry out but the recent hot weather has provided excellent bear drying weather and probably introduced a little subtle sun bleaching.

Please e.mail me if you would like further information or to be added to my new mailing list

Monday, 22 July 2013

Contrast colours

I seem to have embarked on a series of patterned bears recently. Having made a Panda, I then went on to make a bi-colour bear from brown and cream Alpaca, not a Panda but with a distinct colour division in his body and contrasting patches on his paws.

The latest is a black and cream bear, again made from dense short Alpaca.  I wanted to keep more black overall so the contrast on his body is quite a small area and his limbs are all one colour. I tried to reflect the proportion and general shape of the contrast from his head in a special shaped patch on his chest.

The patch on his snout is tapered into his forehead and the fur scissor sculpted to add shape around his mouth.
 As usual with this pattern he is designed to stand quite comfortably and the short fur helps show the shapes and make quite crisp divisions between the colours.

This one is called Gregory at the request of his new owner

Monday, 8 July 2013

Computers and things

My new PC is now up and running, I have rescued a lot of things from the old one including the layout and software which I use for my website so my for sale bears will be located back on the website.  I prefer to keep the business side of bears on the main website and the blog for more rambling thoughts about bear matters and more personal things.

Just a reminder my website is

I am also now investigating ways of handling my mailing list including a service called Mail Chimp.  I try to make sure my updates reach everybody but I know that some people have very tight filtering either on their computers or at their web servers.  Almost very time I send out an update i get at least one complaint a few days later from someone who has visited the website and realised they didn't get an update message; It is very difficult to cover every eventuality, Mail Chimp is widely used and accepted but it is still possible that over jealous mail filters will reject my messages.

My normal business mail address is but I also use a g.mail account, so if you see mail from grufflybear@g.mail that is also a genuine message.  I am testing the Mail Chimp system and it will produce a message addressed individually and show me as the sender.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Ten Months and Nine Days

I don't really know how to begin this post,   I don't  have the eloquence to express the loss and sadness that has overwhelmed me at the very premature death of my beautiful young Newfie, Buster.

He died on June 12th from dreadful complications following surgery.  He was only ten months and 9 days old, not even fully grown and just turning from a puppy into a young dog with the sweetest disposition I have ever known.
I am trying very hard to keep reminding myself that Nature never promised that life would be fair, it's road sets many obstacles and trials, and the rewards are all the richer for accepting and understanding that.
Try as I might to understand just at the moment all I can feel is that it is so very wrong that this most beautiful creature should not even live long enough to reach maturity, Mother Nature dealt him a cruel hand.
From the moment I first held him at a few days old I just knew he was meant to be my dog, and I counted the days impatiently waiting for him to come home, my biggest concern was how the others would take to him.  It was a joy to watch them all learn to live together so well, Angus even allowed him to share his special sleeping place. Needless to say we became a very happy family, I never imagined having three Newfies at the same time but I loved it, it was glorious.
Buster was brave, and stoic and never showed anything but a gentle loving nature even after he must have been in great pain in the last days after the surgery had failed.  Dogs are amazing creatures and Buster certainly proved that far beyond the call of duty.
Today his ashes came home and I thought it was time that I revealed this saddest news, he was a truly stunningly beautiful dog, his markings were my dream of what a Newfie should be, best of all was his sweet gentle nature.  I have proudly enjoyed sharing his pictures and some of my adventures with him and I am devastated to be sharing the news of his early death.
Angus and Posh are here to comfort me and I will be brave to honour Buster.
That's enough words.... I expect some of you have seen these pictures before but they are so pretty that there is no harm in sharing them again...

Thank you my boy for every moment we shared.... Love you always Mr Busto Boost....