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Teatime in the workshop: Missive No:6

‘HOPPY EASTER’

Easter is only around the corner and our spirits are lifting as we tread our roadmap back to some kind of normal.  Here in the workshop, the season has prompted us to reminisce about our rabbit ranges, past and present … we’ve made some lovely bunnies over the years and of course the most memorable was made for the enchanting Renée Zellweger movie Miss Potterset in England’s beautiful Lake District. 

An ‘out of the blue’ call from Pheonix Pictures set the whole workshop a-buzz, researching Beatrix Potter and familiarising ourselves with her simple yet evocative drawings, in order to create her iconic Peter Rabbit for the film.  He was made in mohair with a powder blue coat and can be seen sitting in Beatrix’s drawing room throughout the film.

Beatrix Potter was not only a prolific writer and illustrator, but also an astute business woman who saw a marketing opportunity at every turn.  She pioneered the merchandising of book characters, a system of licensing that is still in existence today.  Beatrix stitched the first Peter Rabbit ‘doll’ herself in 1903 and oversaw its patenting and production, insisting it was manufactured in England.  She quickly followed this with a board game where Mr. McGregor pursues Peter Rabbit through a maze of garden challenges. She then designed and painted figurines and created a Jemima Puddle-Duck toy, before moving on to tea-sets, wallpaper, slippers, handkerchiefs, stationery and more!

We are paying homage to Miss Potter and the Peter Rabbit we made for the film by creating a 2021 Easter Bunny for the ‘Beyond Bears’ Collection. 

Dressed in a powder blue waistcoat, lined with floral tana lawn, Chester would certainly not look out of place in Mr McGregor’s Garden.

Find out more about Chester here


PAWS FOR THOUGHT

April Fool’s falls the day before Good Friday this year, we are sure the virtual world will be awash with pranks but we thought we would celebrate the tom-foolery of the April 1972 edition of Veterinary Record, the journal of the British veterinary profession, which contained a scholarly article about Brunus edwardii.

The journal stated that “pet ownership surveys have shown that 63.8 percent of households are inhabited by one or more of these animals, and there is a statistically significant relationship between their population and the number of children in a household. The public health implications of this fact are obvious, and it is imperative that more be known about their diseases.”

Apparently, the correspondence section of the Veterinary Record was inundated with letters about Brunus edwardii for months, many offering new observations about the species. Brunus edwardii‘s common name, for the less-scholarly among us, is Teddy Bear.

Please note that should your precious Brunus edwardii (sub-species Cantuariensi) suffer from disease or debilitation, we have an excellent repair team who will be far more helpful than your local veterinary practice.


NEXT TEATIME …

A New Charitable Project for 2021 which we cannot wait to share …


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Teatime in the Workshop: Missive No.5

Valentine Romance: From Emperor Claudius to Elvis, The King ….


We re-opened the workshop mid-January after a quiet but restful Christmas, where the importance of keeping everyone safe through the festive season was at the forefront of all celebrations.  But we have shaken off the dust-sheets and oiled the sewing machines, got our Covid-safe precautions back in place and suddenly we are in February and hopeful that as Spring approaches we will unfurl and open up just like the season! 

Maude and John

In the meanwhile, we have the fun of Valentine’s Day ahead of us.  We are a romantic lot here in the workshop and our favourite bears are ‘John and Maudie’ … named for Canterbury Bears’ founders, you will be seeing a lot more of these two bears in 2021 and they are a perfect addition to our Valentine Blog.

The exact origins of the St Valentine story are shrouded in myth, with at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus.  In the bear workshop, we like Emperor Claudius II’s martyr the best.  When the Roman Centurions were given the decree that they could not marry while in the Emperor’s service, a priest named Valentine took it upon himself to marry young soldiers and their sweethearts in secret.  Sadly, it wasn’t a very well-kept secret and Claudius had him put to death for his romantic actions.  

Our very own Geoffrey Chaucer, author of The Canterbury Tales and immortaliser of all things to do with ‘Courtly Love’, was the first to record St Valentine’s Day as a feast day in his 1357 poem ‘The Parliament of Foules’, describing the pairing of ‘feathered fowl’ in preparation for Spring.

In the early fifteenth century, Charles d’Orléans, an aristocratic prisoner taken by the English at the battle of Agincourt, addressed the earliest ‘Valentine’ poem to a lover; and almost a century later, Shakespeare would pick up the gauntlet mentioning the romance of Valentine’s Day in both ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ and ‘Hamlet’. 

But it was the Victorians, with the creation of greetings cards and an obsession with the notions of ‘Medieval Courtly Love’, who popularised the Valentine traditions that we still enjoy today … cards with lace and highly decorative hearts, flowers, chocolates, even the ultimate gift of a wedding proposal.

Of course, at Canterbury Bears, we believe that a teddy bear is the perfect Valentine’s gift, they joined the fray a little later but have  been gifted as an expression of love for more than a century … so if you head to our Instagram we are holding a ‘GIVEAWAY’ in the run up to the most romantic day of the year. All you have to do is follow us, like the post and and tag a friend, and you might be lucky enough to win our ‘Love is Love’ Bear!


PAWS FOR THOUGHT

We’ve shared a few crooners on the blog of late, but the association of bears and romantic love deserves a real serenade. This loveliest of sentiments was perfectly immortalised by Elvis Presley, the King himself, in 1957, for the movie ‘Loving You’ when he sang (Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear 

“Oh baby let me be, your lovin’ teddy bear
Put a chain around my neck, and lead me anywhere
Oh let me be (oh let him be)
Your Teddy Bear”

HAPPY VALENTINE’S FOR 14th FEBRUARY
… HAVE A ‘LOVELY’ DAY!


NEXT TEATIME

Thoughts turn to Spring and a Teddy Bear’s Picnic or two ….


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Teatime in the workshop: Missive No:1

‘A bear is for life, not just for lockdown’

So we are a week into a new lockdown in England, this time round we are perhaps not as bewildered as before; we are lifted by hope for a vaccine and if nothing else we know how important positivity is for us all. So with a little fancy footwork, we have outreach workers making bears from home and the ‘family bubble’ in the bear workshop: stuffing, stitching and finishing bears to be sent far and wide.

Smiley Workshop Bear

Having put our ‘bears in a row’ (we don’t make ducks … yet), we thought we would reach out to our followers, friends and members of the Canterbury Bear family (our mailing list) with a teatime message, when time allows. The aim is simply to connect, share a little bear news, have a cuppa and a biscuit … to shine a light when it may feel a little dark (it really is dark around teatime here in the Kentish Countryside afterall).

We shared an instagram post this week with the caption ‘childhood just wouldn’t be the same without a teddy bear or two’ and one of our followers commented ‘neither would adulthood’ … its an interesting thought don’t you think … what makes a teddy bear so special?

There is an impressive body of scientific work focussed upon what researchers rather coolly refer to as ‘transitional objects’, exploring why the human-bear bond is such an important part of how children grow emotionally.  Simple, open-faced, soft, portable and above all reliably comforting… they often give the young that little extra strength to navigate what might otherwise be daunting.  And those of us who love a bear know that there is nothing ‘transitional’ about them.

We receive so many pictures and letters from adults sharing news of Canterbury Bears who are still companions to them, those images are being shared on social media with our hashtag #bearsathome along with our new friends who have a bear for life. We’ll be sharing some of those stories in our teatime missives too.

During the first lockdown, to keep us afloat in so very many ways, we created the ‘Thank You Bear’ with all profits donated to NHS Charities Together.  Were those bears bought exclusively for children?  … not at all!  They were of course sent to new babies, to missed-grandchildren and to be opened on lockdown birthdays; but they also went to staff in hospitals, to the elderly (longed-for grandparents and those who were simply lonely), to teens and adults without children in their lives, and those who just wanted a symbol to put in their window as an expression of support.

We believe that everyone who received a Thank You Bear was compelled to do one thing … give it a hug!  So one week into lockdown 2.0 we are sending you a bear-hug and looking forward to the next teatime that we share.


PAWS FOR THOUGHT

Let’s start with the most basic of Teddy Bear facts, a story undoubtedly known to all arctophiles (bear collectors) but we would be remiss if we didn’t start our ‘Paws for Thought’ with this one.  In  1902, President Theodore Roosevelt purportedly refused to shoot a bear that had been tied up for him, newspapers carried cartoons of “Teddy” and “The Bear”. Which inspired a gentleman named Morris Michtom to create a stuffed plush “Teddy Bear” for his shop window display.  Of course, soft bears were being created elsewhere at the time (not least of which in Europe), but without the story we wouldn’t be calling them ‘teddies’.


NEXT TEATIME …

We’ll share Presidential tales of Canterbury Bears in the White House, in times a little less turbulent than today but not quite as far back as Teddy Roosevelt!