23.9.09

Teddy Bears of Witney


We have had a little holiday from home, going out nearly everyday to find new walks and tread old ones. (For our trek round Hailes Abbey, there is a post here on Cotswold Peeps). And one of my secret 'things' is secret no longer. Back in the spring, I referred mysteriously to a large 'trade order' -




- which was no ordinary trade order; it was a commision from a well establised Teddy Bear shop in our local town. I first ventured into 'Teddy Bears of Witney' back in about 1988, when I moved here as a scruffy, odd-hair-styled art student. I don't remember much about my brief visit, but I do remember loving the Japanese art bears on display, goggling at the prices and thinking how wonderful it would be to do something similar.

When I returned to West Oxfordshire in 1994, I was delighted to see it was still there, but it wasn't until a few years ago that I had the pleasure of owning my first collectible bear. Andy had had a stroke of Christmas genius; he had taken his big 6ft 8'' self into that tiny, toy crowded shop, and bought me 'Spud', the little bear to the bottom left of the shelf below. I think I cried when I opened the bag. Never did I think I would ever own my very own special bear.





Two more joined him Tofty (bottom right) and Quimbly - top right. The traditional bear in the top left is a 1980's Laura Ashley bear from a friend many years ago. The catalogue they produce every year, showing new stock, is a little book in its own right, so lavish and highly produced that it has a cover price of £5.00. And I (or rather, my toys) are in the 2010 edition, celebrating 25 years of the shop's existence. Here they are in the British Artist Bear section, sat in front of one of my precious Moleskines.


Everyone at the shop has been perfectly lovely to me. Since my first meeting with them I have been treated like royalty whenever I have popped in. They make delicious coffee. Ian, the founder and owner, decided that my toys should be made available by ballot only, as he expects demand to be high. He has an extensive list of international customers, so with luck my little people will be going all over the place. And he has raised the bar on my prices, starting from £125/$205 - so if you got one of my early pieces for £50/$80 (or less), then you have done well!

They also stock my cards, which can just be seen in this catalogue photo, in the card rack towards the back, in the middle rails.




Needle felting is still a little known craft in the UK, but maybe this will help spread the word. And hopefully my name with it. In the meantime, I am back to painting - for one of my other jobs - my poor paint bowls were literally covered in dust...



55 comments:

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Oh this makes me smile. I'm so happy your work is being well valued. It should be. And I love seeing all the fellows together in that top photo. Like a carousel of felt.

On a completely different note, Teddy Bears of Witney is a perfect name for a rock band.

Magpie Magic said...

Congratulations, that is fabulous! I am so pleased for you. :-) They're worth every penny.

However, I can't wait to see what you're painting. I've always loved your paintings.

Suze said...

How wonderful...congratulations! It's perfect for all your beautiful works of art...
I'm so happy for you....

Mary Beth said...

Congratulations! You really deserve it. I love them all sitting there waiting to go to their new homes.

I love the shop, too. That is definitely my kind of store:)

Helen/Dudley said...

Hugest Congratulations! I know they will sell well. Teddy Bears of Witney is my kind of shop

rachel said...

Well done, what excellent news!

And now I feel doubly proud of having some of your beautiful cards.

Jane Moxey said...

Many congratulations. Hopefully you will be posting good news of the success of the selling of your lovely soft sculpture/toys. Well, they look like sculpture to my eyes, anyway!

Bee said...

I've never been to Teddy Bears of Witney; but now I have the motivation to go!

dowhatyoulove said...

It's wonderful to see your work in a lovely shop. Your pieces are so beautiful, and so much fun! They look wonderful in the catalogue photo. Congrats!

Sue said...

I too am so glad that you and your lovely work are being valued as they should be. Good luck with all your ventures :-)

BumbleVee said...

ooo what a lot of bears...all sizes and shapes...My own are about the size of the miniatures way down in front... teensy tiny.

Twiglet said...

Lovely blog - wonderful to know that your beautiful work is being appreciated. Love to see what you are going to paint.

Chrissie said...

Oh that's absolutely fantastic - you must be so proud - congratulations!

Celeste said...

Congratulations, you truly deserve all the success and recognition it will hopefully bring you.

I'm still hoping I'll be lucky enough to own one of your pieces one day, but I know a sticky fingered 2 year old would want it as their own.

Maybe I should buy one as soon as I can, while I can still afford it and keep it hidden from the sticky finger 2 year old until she's no longer sticky fingered.

Wyldhare said...

That is the best of news! Did you go and back over and over to see your animals among the others? I bet it almost didn't seem real! How super, super wonderful!

I am bouncing all around for you!

Frances said...

Ah PG, this is terrific news. I just love the idea of your liking the shop, and keeping close to it in your soul, as you continued to explore all sorts of creative work over the years.

Congratulations to Ian, who is clearly someone with great taste!

I echo others who commented earlier that they are looking forward to seeing what those dust free paint bowls are about to produce.

xo

Soozcat said...

Hee! I just knew some day we'd be able to say we knew you when...

So glad for you, Gretel. Your work deserves this kind of recognition.

Danielle Barlow said...

oh congratulations!

clare said...

Brilliant news, Gretel : ) Wonderful to see your creations in such a fab shop - congratulations : )

Feltmaker said...

Congratulations - it's so nice to see quality needle felt out there. Really pleased for you. Fx

Menopausal musing said...

I love the contemporary simplicity of your animals. Lovely, just lovely. May you continue to prosper.

Jessie said...

Well done Gretel, you deserve this so much with all your hard work. The felt creatures you make are beautiful works of art and I'm so happy for you that this has been properly recognised, well done!xx

BumbleVee said...

hey Gretel...once you bake anything using cups and measuring spoons instead of having to measure out everything on a scale.... I bet you'll wonder why you didn't try it sooner. I'm sure it is easier, quicker and less messy....just fill up the required cup... run a knife over the top to make sure it is just the cupful...and there you go.... you should give a go.... hope you get to try a loaf....

I'm going to see if I can find on in your measurements for you though..... and if I do...I'll send it along....

d. moll, l.ac. said...

Fantastic, I'm sure the balloting will be hot and heavy!

beadbabe49 said...

Wonderful news, gretel...your work is wonderful and the teddy bear shop is awesome! It's always nice to know one's babies are in "good company"!

jfidz said...

Great stuff Gretel. Thoroughly deserved. I'm glad they know the true worth of your wonderful creations.

Caroline B said...

Congratulations Gretel - this must be so exciting! And it's lovely to think we've watched your progress right from the very first needle-felted creature to this - wow!

Yarrow said...

Oh, well done Gretel, it does my heart good to read this. You've worked so hard and deserve to be successful. I'm so glad you've picked up a brush again as I so love your paintings. Best of luck and good wishes to you

kx

janet said...

Oh Gretel...I am smiling as I type this...I can say happily that I am one of the lucky ones to have purchased one of your little treasures at the discounted price. Hooray for me and congrats to you...good thoughts are swimming their way across the pond to you and yours...your friend, Janet

Libby Buttons said...

This is fabulous news for you GP! You works are so beautifully made and whimsical ...you are bound to be a success. I'm just thrilled for you!
smiLes
DarLie

countrymummy said...

Your creations look fantastic and it's great to see needle felting. I was given an embellisher last year and am itching to find some time to do some bigger projects. Love the bears.

Mlle Miracle said...

Yes, you did it! And it's great to see how the shop's owner valued your job. Let's see what's next, supergirl! ;0)

rossichka said...

Such a great news! I'm sure your toys will make happy a lot of people!
I love Teddy bears and wish I could visit that lovely shop!

Chris.P said...

Well done Gretel - No less than you deserve.

Thank goodness your pieces are going to get the recognition and command the kind of prices your efforts and talent deserve.

tut-tut said...

Just the tip, PG, just the tip of something about to surface for you . . . I'm so very excited for you!

Over the Garden Wall said...

A well deserved success.Best wishes for many more. Congratulations.

Sweet Pea said...

Congratulations! Your hard work has paid off. Your needle felted creations are wonderful :)

June said...

I am so happy to read this wonderful news, that your special creations are going to such a lovely shop! Just looking at all those furry bear faces makes me smile... I think I may have met one or two of their cousins in the past.
Congratulations Gretel, and good luck with with all your future projects, painted or felted.

Frances Tyrrell said...

Well we already knew you deserved greater recognition! Congratulations on both a job well-done and the right placement for your beautiful work.
Blessings,
F

acornmoon said...

Very well deserved Gretel, I am delighted for you! x

Cindy Garber Iverson said...

I am absolutely THRILLED for you!!!! I knew when you first started on this needle felting journey that something wonderful would happen so that your beautiful critter creations would be seen by the world. You have been such an inspiration to me. I am so glad that you have shared your journey with the rest of us out here in the blogosphere. {{{Hugs}}}

liz said...

I am absolutely bloomin thrilled and delighted with your wonderful news. I am sorry it took so long for you to have this happen to you but now it has I'm sure all the waiting and agonising will soon become a thing of the past. It is truly wonderful and I'm so happy for you and can well imagine that in time some of your other plans and dreams will also come to fruition. Very well done Gretel, it's grand news. Love from liZZie xXx

PussDaddy said...

Congrats on your bear shoppe commission!

PussDaddy

Sue said...

Fantastic! Well done, Gretel! :-))

Rachael Rabbit said...

Oh Bravo Gretel - I am so thrilled for you. x

Donna said...

Gretel, that is the most wonderful news, I am delighted for you. It is no less than you deserve though and I think the prices are right, they reflect the quality of your beautiful craftmanship. I treasure my little Custard and he sits by me every day when I sit on my computer, as you know. He was priceless to me anyway but I shall let him know that he has increased in value, hehehe ;-)

julie said...

Well done Gretel - it's really great to hear that your wonderful creations are receiving international aclaim and a price tag to reflect their unique beauty and craftsmanship.

Pearl said...

I wish you could see my face and how all smiles I am for you. I always believed you were in store for wonderful things using your talent. Your needle felt sweeties are going to jump off the page at people. Each one has a special character.
Congratulations!!!!
All the best to you.
Sending you big hugs,

Ash said...

Rock on, Gretel! Your lovely style in being recognised by the discerning - may your needles never go blunt nor your brushes dry!

xxx L

Debi♥ said...

Salutations & Congratulations, & what a lovely shop. I'd love to just have a catalog to dream on :) Not surprised your little creations made it as they are too wonderful for words!

Natasha said...

Congratulations Gretel, you deserve every success, They look absolutely delightful I hope they fly out. And well done to Andy for being so romantic.
Paul bought me a camera last week on a romantic whim as I dropped my old one in cream!
This is the first time he has done something like this, I was very impressed!

spinyurchin said...

Fabulous news. Good for you. Big hug.

kate smudges said...

What wonderful news! This is great Gretel. Well deserved... your needleart works are phenomenally beautiful.

V. Lomax said...

I'm so pleased to have found your blog Gretel; your work is beautiful! I've been living in Scotland for 12 years now but my family are still living in Oxfordshire and I remember my first ever visit to Teddy Bears of Witney some 17 years ago. I had just started at University and I was bought the teeniest tiniest teddy bear from there as a 'good luck in your studies' gift. I have treasured him and he still has pride of place on my bookshelf. Even more amazing is my best friend whom I have known for 33 years now lives in Devon and her name is also Gretel :) How lovely :) xx

Gretel said...

Hi V.Lomax, hope you manage to read this somehow, as I haven't got an email or blog link to get back to you! What a funny set of co-incidences, (I have never met another Gretel) - the Teddy Bear shop was still quite new then, I can remember going into it when I was about 20, in 1988ish, so a few years before you came to Oxford. Lovely to hear from you and find some new patterns in life. :)