Monday, 12 May 2014

A Teddy Bear's Picnic

The Teddy Bear shop I once had. 

What a week it has been. Preparing and organising the website for the KLA (Kid Literature Authors)
This blog is now tied in with KLA and I would just like to thank everyone involved. So if you are reading this then that will mean you. We have drawn a lot of amazing talented people together to help show you their creations.
We want to bring you a selection of educational, fun and informative blogs, articles and designs and writing. If you think you may like to help us out in any way, please use the contact form on the website, and let us know! We will be answering all mail this week. 
I will be adding some Authors blog links here later who are connected to us. Have a happy creative day and we hope you enjoy our journey. ~Karen Emma Hall 

How do we all accumulate so many cuddly critters? Where does it all start? Those soft cuddly teddy bears and toys sewn into familiar shapes of aminals and pets we love. Can anyone have as many as we have in our house? I am sure there is must be someone out there who has as many! Maybe you have so many that you have no new places to keep them. Does this sound familiar?
 Do we go overboard with the cuddly toy gifts for a new born? People love buying cuddly toys. I love buying cuddly toys. They are designed to be loved. Buying cuddly toys is gloriously indulgent shopping. It’s not practical, not useful, it’s all about the cute factor. They are given with genuine love and then they sit on a shelf. My children were given various cuddly toys when they were born. Some lived in the cot, most lived on a shelf... could sometimes be found under beds.
Somehow, out of the many, your child  picks one. Many are called but few are chosen. Maybe you can't say how one particularly cuddly rose through the ranks. It too lived on the shelf for a while, but somehow it becomes the favorite. This is the one that comes along on all over night stays. It is safely tucked under their arm as they listen to a story at night, and  is, as carefully, tucked on the same arm when they appear in the morning. The chosen one. I guess, cuddly toys are given in the hope that each one will be the chosen one.
The reality is that the rest are unloved. Well maybe that is a bit harsh, but they are certainly forgotten. None of them have names. I can tell you the origin of most of our bears; the one that was sent from great uncle such and such, the one that was purchased from ebay following said child's obsession with the TV counter part. Sorry should I say the many from ebay, as you can't just get one, no, you have to bid on quite a few hoping you will at least manage to win one, but in this instance you win the lot. Then the one that was an unexpected gift from a neighbour, the one from Grandma, the one that was taken from  big sister, and then later little sister. Well I could go on, but you get the picture. Oh I forgot to mention the ones from the car boot sales, and the ones Auntie Margaret doesn't need anymore. Why she thinks we need another 56 bears I have no idea. She threatened them with the bin so we had to give them a home. 
You see how it works. 

These cuddlies have even been part of role play schools and tea-parties carried out in the bedroom. Once the novelty of each new toy wore off, their poor shelf life was over and they got left under beds, behind any fixture in the bedroom, and after a bit longer still, put in the dreaded black bags and put in the attic. When the attic got full they were delegated to the outbuilding. At one time they collected all the characters from the Havens Holidays. Good old Rory the tiger, and Anxious the elephant and their gang.  
I’m sentimental and there are some I’ve grabbed and squirreled away. All my own cuddlies were left in a place of safety, a green zone, so I thought.  Until I went to look, only to discover they had been taken to big charity shop on the high street. It seemed churlish to protest. They’d been at the back of a cupboard for decades. The back of cupboards, where cuddlies go to rot. I had one at the back of my cupboard, moths ate it.
I went through a phase of collecting old teddy bears. I say a phase, it ended up with me having 2 shops. Some phase.. This phase came about when I lost the very dear teddy bear I cherished all through childhood. This precious bear had been given to me by my beloved Grandma. It was mohair and jointed and had a growler. Highly sought after these days. Very unsafe for children back in the day. 
No; we are not allowed to give our children toys made with pins, needles, small metal parts, and wood wool these days so they now have to conform to high safety standards, but he was the most loved non-breathing thing in my house as a child. I so loved it with all my heart. I had it tucked in bed for 16 years! Now that is a long time, and many a tear a laugh and a tantrum had he seen. (A leg came off and was sewn back on along the way.) 
Then while moving house during a difficulty pregnancy, circumstances meant I was not in control of the house move, and sadly he got left behind with many other things. I was told everything was still in bags for me to collect, but when I got around to sorting it, all the bagged items had been put out in a skip (from the new landlord) but there was no way I was able to rush out of the hospital bed at the time to sort it. I was helpless. Never to be seen again.
I became interested in finding him, thinking someone may have tried to sell him on ebay. When I got to ebay I couldn't believe my eyes at what price these bears were fetching!  I soon learned all about bears from this era, learned to identify them, and started collecting them. Well I did eventually get a few that were so identical to the one I lost, but they will never take his place. Maybe that is how I came about having a Teddy Bear Picnic shop, and then later Chelsea Bear Crafts, aptly named after one of my daughters. The craft shop combined my love of hand made books and illustrations with my love of collectable bears. 

I hope the ones that go to the charity shop become the chosen one for someone. Someone who isn't as fortunate to get the hundreds given that my children were. What becomes of your old cuddlies? Have they been an object of your book writing? They have for me. My first series of books is about an owl. I have many more to unleash, maybe a Teddy Bear story is in there somewhere. 
All photos are from my personal collection, and from the two fair stalls and shop I have had over the last 15 years. 
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Lots of love and thanks from Karen Emma Hall  @peachyemma