It’s teatime in the workshop and with only a week to go until our order deadline for Christmas we are finding it more and more challenging to grab a moment to ‘paws for thought’ but in this extraordinary year, those moments have never been more important. Today we’ve been thinking about what it means to make a bear in the way that we do. The artistic interaction of the team results in some of our most creative designing as we work together on different stages of production. From those first designs that are translated into paper patterns, to choosing the exact mohair for a particular bear, to cutting the fabric, stamping the wooden joints (we have a Victorian press that makes our lovely joints from sustainable English wood), to finally sewing by machine and by hand until they are ready to be stuffed, trimmed and plumped. The process requires patience, expertise and love – its why they last a lifetime!
We know from members of the ‘Canterbury Bear Family’ (our customers and subscribers) that our artistry is understood and celebrated.
Kelly Murphy is an artist herself, often painting the much-loved bears, rabbits and pets of her clients. But she recently took the time to paint her own favourite toy. Mustard was bought for Kelly by her grandparents forty years ago and sent to Saudi Arabia where she was born. She told us that: “He has literally been everywhere with me, he came to uni with me, he was even in my hand luggage on my honeymoon and in my hospital bag for the birth of my 2 daughters…please don’t laugh! Since having children however he has been where they are…if either of them are poorly or can’t sleep or have a bad dream they take Mustard from his place on our bed which makes them feel better! It’s amazing how such a small bear can have such an effect!” We think her beautiful artwork has captured everything that makes Mustard so special.
A more recent bear to sit for a portrait is just beginning his journey as a treasured friend. When Jacqui Page called to ask for a Cedric Bear on the birth of her new grandson, she decided that 2020 was a year when it was important to connect with people, to mark special occasions and to that end she commissioned artist Adalia Mynett to draw Cedric sitting in the tree outside her house: a very special piece of art to accompany Cedric into Rowan’s new nursery. Perhaps we will hear from him in forty years’ time with news of Cedric’s adventures.
We have been featuring bears and their owners on our social media with the hashtag #bearsathome, if you have a Canterbury Bear, old or new, we’d love to see pictures of them at home or out and about. You can see our friends on Instagram, Facebook and we have just launched a ‘Canterbury Bears at Home’ page on Pinterest.
PAWS FOR THOUGHT
In 2002 the New Museum in New York opened a major multi-floor exhibition called ‘The Keeper’ which explored what it means to collect. So many of our customers are arctophiles (bear collectors) and truly understand the significance of ‘collecting’. We wonder if any of them visited this exhibition, because at its centre was an installation by Ydessa Hendeles’ entitled ‘Partners’ comprising of 3,000 early-20th-century family photographs, all containing a teddy bear; alongside a selection of exemplary antique bears. The museum explained, “Hendeles’s project establishes the teddy bear as a metaphor for the consolatory power of artworks and images and underscores the symbiotic relationship that ties people to their objects of affection.” We couldn’t agree more!
NEXT TEATIME …
A short ‘Christmas Message from the Workshop’ before we embrace the festive season and swap the customary cup of tea for some mulled wine!