Thursday, 30 November 2017

Craft working and other dangerous pastimes

As some of you might know, up until April of this year I had a full-time job in IT and only a small association with the craft world - helping at craft/bear fairs, minor help in making bears, that sort of thing. What I did have was the fun experience of living in a house where bear-making took over most rooms. Let me elaborate:

A few years ago, Dawn was editor of Teddy Bear Times magazine and I helped a bit by proof-reading, editing the odd article etc. I also wrote a couple of articles about the perils of living with a bear artist. There is the constant danger of spilt pins - if you walk around the house barefoot, you can often end up with an unintentional - and to be honest, unwelcome - acupuncture session. Or at the very least, have your feet covered in discarded bits of masking tape (I suspect that if I rolled around for a few minutes on the workroom floor I'd end up looking like an Egyptian mummy). It's also sometimes difficult to find clothes to wear that don't have bits of woodwool attached!

I would frequently come downstairs in the morning to find heads displayed in jars or limbs scattered all over the sofa. One memorable night I came downstairs and in the darkness put my foot in an empty plastic box. Unfortunately, said box was on a laminate floor, and I only just managed to avoid a high-speed collision with the opposite wall.

Over the years, I've learned to (mostly) avoid life-threatening situations like this, and steered clear of the arcane mysteries of the crafting world. Until now!

When I left my job in IT in April, it was with the intention of joining Dawn in Hugs Unlimited full-time. So here I am being initiated gradually into those arcane mysteries. I've been doing some work for HU for a while - a few years ago, Dawn broke her elbow and since then I've been tightening the cotter pin joints (or rolling joints as Dawn tells everyone) - but now I'm getting to grips with a Scan N Cut machine, a die-cutting machine and an embroidery machine. I knew that there was a lot more to machine embroidery than just putting a piece of fabric in and getting a picture out, but I can tell you that if you've never used an embroidery machine before, there is a lot to learn and a lot of practice needed. That said, I've been making a nice little selection of made-in-the-hoop zipped bags with embroidered designs on the front and flowery linings, so I think I'm doing OK. And I don't stab myself with a sewing needle all that often these days either - although I did manage to push a needle about half an inch into my little finger the other day. I don't recommend it!

The plan is to come up with a whole range of new and original designs over the winter, so watch this space and we'll show them off as they happen.

Thanks again for reading this - if you enjoyed it and feel so inclined, perhaps you might like to follow our blog. Or add your email address and we'll send out occasional newsletters. We have plans for a few competitions and give aways in the future, so  keep a look out.

Chris xx

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Introducing Fergus

Well, the Crafts In The Pen weekend went even better than we'd hoped it would. As it was our first time there, we were uncertain what to expect, but bears, fairy houses and Christmas decorations all sold really well and we had loads of very positive feedback about our stall from visitors, who loved the cosiness of the Christmas lights and the big rug to stand on instead of the cold concrete. (Thanks to Al's Emporium in Todmorden for donating the rug - it was much appreciated).

Definitely a fair that we'd like to do again next year.

That's our last fair for 2017, so for now we'll be concentrating on Etsy and on our website www.hugsunlimited.co.uk as well as spending some time developing new ideas for the coming year.

Meanwhile, check out this cute little bear:

This is Fergus, a 10.5" bear in a little duffle coat and hand-knitted scarf. He's the latest addition to our webpage and Etsy shop and is all set to brave the winter weather to head out to a new home - wherever that may be. He is £117.00 plus postage. Please take a look.

Thanks for visiting. Look out for more new items in the run up to Christmas.

Chris xx

Thursday, 16 November 2017

A Big Weekend Ahead

The last few weeks have seen us working long and hard to prepare for two major events this weekend.
First, from tomorrow (17th November) to Sunday 19th, Dawn is participating in an international on-line show where she will be exhibiting and selling bears and bear-related gifts.



The show also has a competition for best showpiece bear, which you can vote for on the Teddies Worldwide web pages. Dawn's entry is Holly, a beautiful Christmas fairy bear. Please take a look.


The second event we've been working hard for is the two-day Crafts In The Pen in Skipton.


This is a huge craft fair - the biggest we've ever exhibited at - and we've been working hard to produce an exciting range of craft items and gifts. We've got Dawn's bears of course, plus bags, fairy houses, lots of Christmas decorations, cushions, bat necklaces, hanging lace decorations and more. If you're in the area, please come and say hello. The fair is in a big cattle market and we've got a whole pen to ourselves, so it's almost like having our own shop!

The fair is from 10am to 4pm on Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th November. The address is Skipton Auction Mart, BD23 1UD. There's lots to see and a lovely cafe. But wear a big coat - it might be a bit cold in there!

Right - I'm off now to finish of some fairy houses and start packing. I hope we'll see some of you in Skipton.

Thanks for reading.
Chris xx



Monday, 30 October 2017

About that URSA Award at last!

Well, as promised last post, more about the URSA Award:

After a frustrating wait as the package made its way slowly through customs, it finally arrived and it really was worth the wait. The package contained not just the two awards but a load of other gifts, each beautifully wrapped.


There was a pen, a winner's badge, even a magic towel with a bear on it. But of course, the awards were the real stars. First, there was the award for getting first place in her category - a lovely perspex trophy in a smart box. And then....and then the big one - the URSA Major Best Overall award - a big, heavy glass trophy in a beautiful, lined box. Here they are:

We're now trying to decide where to put them to show them off without risking damaging them! A big thank you to Valerie at Bears and Buds online magazine for hosting the awards and for sending Dawn such a beautiful package of goodies.

Next time, some details of our forthcoming trip to Skipton for Crafts In The Pen, our biggest craft fair so far.

                                                Chris xx



More About The Bears (And Where They Popped Up Next)

Well, the first bit of great news is that after several days of phone calls and disappointments, Dawn's URSA Awards finally arrived. And the wait was well worth it. They really are very beautiful. More (plus photos) in the next post.

Meanwhile, another packet arrived at the same time - the Teddy Bears Of Witney Catalogue.



Dawn has been supplying limited edition bears to Teddy Bears of Witney for a good few years now, and every year the shop produces a stunning catalogue of that year's new stock - everything from Steiff and Merrythought to Artist Bears. This year, Dawn has been given a double page spread advertising the bears available from the shop. And what a wonderful photo it is -


Incidentally, if you've never visited Teddy Bears of Witney, you really should. If you're ever near Witney in Oxfordshire, the shop is located on the High Street and is well worth going out of your way to visit. The longest established bear shop in the UK, it is a treasure house of beautiful bears of all shapes and sizes. Artists and manufacturers from all around the world are represented, and there are hundreds of bears, rabbits, elephants and all manner of other creatures to choose from. The staff are the friendliest people you could hope to meet and you are certain to find plenty of bears catching your eye as you look around. You won't want to leave empty handed!

                                                  Chris xx


Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Dawn is a winner!

Well, I really can't think of a better way to start off a new blog than this.....

We had some really exciting news last week while we were on holiday. A phone call from America to say that Dawn's entry in the 2017 URSA Bear Artist Awards had not only won First Place in its category, but also won the URSA Major Best In Competition Award. Not a bad way to end the first day of our holiday - thanks to Valerie Rogers of Bears And Buds for such an exciting call.

The URSAs are an international competition attracting entries from all over the world. They have been run annually since 2006. This year is the first time that a British artist has won the URSA Major, so a real achievement for Dawn.

And here they are. Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present...The Beary Hikers!


As well as receiving a beautiful glass trophy (sadly currently delayed by customs - photo to follow as soon as it arrives) the Beary Hikers are also featured on the cover of the current issue of Bears And Buds magazine (who run the competition). Here they are...


As you can see from the first photo, the Beary Hikers have masses of accessories to take with them on their travels - boots, rucksacks, map, notebooks, booze and more. One thing that Dawn has always enjoyed is finding just the right accessories to complement her bears, whether it be a hat, an item of jewellery, a miniature guitar or some other piece. In fact, Dawn has been known to buy an interesting prop and keep it for years until just the right moment of inspiration - and then an entire dressed bear is created based on the idea from that one prop. Not only that, but her attention to detail means that she will often spend as much time on making a costume as she does on the bears themselves, just to get exactly the right look. Have a look at the Artist Bears and Gallery pages of our website to see some of her other dressed creations.

 Thanks for visiting. Please come back again - we'll be updating with new and interesting items as regularly as we can.

                                                                            Chris xx

Welcome to the Hugs Unlimited Blog

Hello and welcome to the Hugs Unlimited blog page and to our first post.

Hugs Unlimited was started by Dawn James in 1986 and soon became an outlet for her traditional artist bears. She later expanded to include embroidered bags, cushions and other items. Earlier this year, her husband, Chris Elliott (that's me!) joined Hugs Unlimited full time after a career in IT and we're now working together and hoping to expand our range and to develop a range of embroidery designs and personalised items. So watch this space (as well as our website, Facebook page and Etsy pages) as we hope to add new items regularly as well as giving news of fairs where you can visit us and say hello.

We also have a store selling craft materials - Teddyadam's Emporium Of Delights (named after Dawn's own teddy bear, who helps out from time to time when he can be bothered) - where you can find a growing range of buttons, charms, beads, Victorian boot buttons (great for teddy bears' eyes) and interesting one-off items like dolls' wigs and miniature police helmets.

Our particular interest lies in the slightly out of the ordinary, so you'll find that as our stock changes over time there will be an increasing number of items with fairies, witches, wildlife, steampunk and mystical themes. And anything else that appeals to us as we develop.

Thank you for paying us a visit. Please come again. We'll try to keep posting on the blog as often as we can. Sometimes it will be me, sometimes Dawn. We look forward to seeing you.

                                                                                        Chris xx



Craft working and other dangerous pastimes

As some of you might know, up until April of this year I had a full-time job in IT and only a small association with the craft world - helpi...