Moving on? July 2017 - Saturday, July 22, 2017
Some new bears! - Friday, June 9, 2017
Teddy Bear Total, April 28/29th 2017 - Monday, May 8, 2017
Teddy Bear Total, Munster, April 29, 30th 2017 - Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Teddy Bear Welt, Wallau, Wiesbaden, March 11, 12th 2017 - Wednesday, March 8, 2017
Winter BearFest 2017 - Saturday, February 25, 2017
Happy New Year - Monday, January 9, 2017
New Polar Bear - Saturday, November 19, 2016
Teddies 16 - Saturday, September 10, 2016
Welcome to the online home of Bear Bits, the premier source of beautiful, award winning, realistic bears designed and made by the internationally renowned team of Jean And Bill Ashburner who specialise in their exceptional natural designs for polar bears; Asian moon bears; pandas; black, brown and grizzly bears etc. as well as the occasional Rare Bits (the bunnies) and a few traditional teddy bears.
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We are members of the British Toymakers Guild and see the bottom of this page for the awards we have won.
Moving on? July 2017 Posted Saturday, July 22, 2017 by Bill
Our plan is to move to be nearer our son in Scotland and earlier this month we thought that it was all about to happen. Buyers had made a good offer, financial checks done and contracts were about to be exchanged in readiness for completion on July 21st. The day before exchange our buyers announced that they were forty thousand short, so could not sign an agreement to pay the full amount - basically saying for “If you want us to sign it will have to be for the lower amount”! We have always been “Do as you would be done by” people so have been both shocked and dismayed by that sort of behaviour. Our home is now back on the market.
If we are still here in September we will be at Teddies’17. Hopefully another buyer will come along so at some point there will be quite a bit of upheaval and a gap in bear making but at the moment we are working on all orders and collectors are receiving them earlier rather than later!
Please keep checking the website for news and contact details.
Some new bears! Posted Friday, June 9, 2017 by Bill
We have just added a few more bears.
We hope you like them!
Teddy Bear Total, April 28/29th 2017 Posted Monday, May 8, 2017 by Bill
What a wonderful fair – a big thank you to all our collectors, bear artist friends and the hard working Total team – we had a truly amazing farewell fair and long weekend in Munster; now all the bears have new homes! It was all a bit sad, but great fun too, with evenings out with friends and of course, the Golden George Awards Dinner on Saturday night to which we were going as supporters – we had not entered. Many of our friends, including Jutta Michels, Heike Buchner, Britta Uhlendorff and Laurent Bergman (the latter has come on several of our workshops) all had nominations. We had not entered and so were not concerned about going up on stage – each time we were offered more wine, we accepted!
At the end of the meal and before the presentations started Bill left the hall – for the watering hole and maybe ‘fresh air’! Imagine my complete astonishment when Sebastian said, “. . . and this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award goes to . . . . . . . Jean and Bill Ashburner.” Where was Bill? Two friends from our table rushed off to find him; Sebastian gallantly walked down the stairs off the stage towards our table to escort me if he was not back in time. As you can see from the photo he was found. It was a wonderful evening and we feel both privileged and humbled by the fact that our 24 years of making bears and attending fairs, including 16 of running workshops as well, is considered as having made a valuable contribution to the wonderful world of teddy bears! We have always loved going to the fairs – at the beginning it was very daunting and even these days we worry that our work is good enough. What you see when you go these big fairs is just so inspiring – so much talent – so many new and incredible techniques and styles – so much more for us to learn. Yes, we feel very grateful for the recognition but also very humble.
Jean and Bill
Teddy Bear Total, Munster, April 29, 30th 2017 Posted Wednesday, April 26, 2017 by Bill
This will be the last fair that we attend in Germany – and may be our very last fair ever; it all depends on if, and when, our house sells! It goes on the market when we get home from Munster.
Our sincere apologies to all our collectors for the fact that we have not put up any news about bears that we will be bringing to Teddy Bear Total until now; there so not seem to have been enough hours in each day. We’ve been making special bears to bring, talking to estate agents about their fees and services, sorting out our home ready for the important photographs and brochure production, and more.
However, we have 12 beautiful bears to bring and here are just 3 of them. Kallisto is a lovely Moon Bear, standing 51cm (21in) and made from 24mm dense black mohair; the handsome Bertie is 69cm (27in) and comes with a pendant carved by a native American Indian and Kola, 38cm at the shoulder is a wonderful black bear made from dense (and very huggable) alpaca.
We look forward to meeting all those who come; it will be a bittersweet time as it is also goodbye. We are so grateful for the support and encouragement that we have had over the years. Thank you all.
Teddy Bear Welt, Wallau, Wiesbaden, March 11, 12th 2017 Posted Wednesday, March 8, 2017 by Bill
Collectors have possibly been wondering why we have not managed to put up any news about the bears that we are taking to Teddy Bear Welt before now. Thanks to the amazing support of our collectors at Hugglets we sold out – brilliant but oh dear, whoops – no stock for Germany!
Since Monday 26th February we have been working many hours each day to create as many beautiful bears as possible to bring to Wallau and it will be the last time that we do this fair – retirement beckons! Amongst them are the specials Berend,Sigmund and Axel. Sigmund 47cm and Axel 69cm are made in the Bear Bits classic design with 8 joints including 2 in the neck and one in each wrist whilst Berend is a variation of the pattern used similar features to Gruff but he does not have claws. We have a total of 10 bears and look forward to meeting those of you who come.
Winter BearFest 2017 Posted Saturday, February 25, 2017 by Bill
As well as Gruff, we will have some lovely new bears including a really delightful small panda (with magnets) Chaa, and a Kermode bear, Teodor. They are both made from alpaca fabrics and for more information please check them out on the Bears page. We will also have another in our Swan Song collection, Russ, a striking brown bear made from 30mm shaggy mohair.
Happy New Year Posted Monday, January 9, 2017 by Bill
Happy New Year – we hope that 2017 has started well for you. For us 2017 will be a year of change – quite a lot of change! We have a rather big plan and it includes downsizing i.e. selling our present home; the home of Bear Bits for the last 18 years and moving to somewhere smaller with a more manageable garden. Whatever happens there will be lots of sorting out, lots of decisions with regard to what to keep and lots of disruption. We will definitely be at the Winter BearFest in London, Teddy Bear Welt in Wallau/Wiesbaden and Teddy Bear Total in Munster and these could possibly be the LAST fairs that we attend; after that it will all depend on the sale of the house – from April onwards watch this space! We’re going to make the most of these next few months and get as many bears as possible ready for these Fairs. As well as the bears in the range featured on our website (bears/products page) there will be special ones – the Swan Song Collection. We started this collection in September 2016 with Hoshi, Edmund and Chloe (see September entry below).
The first special ‘Swan Song’ bear to be completed this year is Gruff – a black bear of competition quality -made from amazingly dense 24mm Schulte alpaca with contrasting mohair muzzle, reverse dyed so that the individual pale fibres are slightly grizzled. Gruff stands 38cm at the shoulder and is 60cm from nose to tail so he’s larger than previous bears made in this style. He has claws, 3D pads, and an armature in each leg as well as in his back, 6 joints, eyebrows and eyelids and the classic Bear Bits naturally shaped embroidered nose – a truly lovely bear that looks good in many different poses.
New Polar Bear Posted Saturday, November 19, 2016 by Bill
We have just added Inuka, a new Polar Bear,made from beautiful 20mm dense ivory alpaca by Schulte.
We hope you like her.
Teddies 16 Posted Saturday, September 10, 2016 by Bill
News Autumn 2016-09-10 It’s the day before Teddies’16 and it’s a flurry of activity here – bears are being finished off, photographed and given their labels; photos are being edited, text written and uploaded to the website. You can see quite a few of the new bears on the Bears page of this site (click Bears top right) as we’re making then in a short edition. We’ve also decided to make some special “Swan Song” bears as, being objective, 2017 must mean the end of procrastination, turning discussion into action and so it will probably involve a big move and big changes! The Swan Song bears will be as the title suggests – special bears that may hark back to early designs, or maybe one of our current designs made using a fabric from my ‘stash’ that, because of pile length, density and quality is rarely to be found these days!
The 3 that we are bringing to Teddies’16 are Edmund and Chloe who, as their old fashioned names suggest, are based on designs from the first half of the 90s and Hoshi! Hoshi is based on the Japanese ussurri brown bear, seen in the BBC program ‘Japan, Earth’s Enchanted Islands’ in 2015. You can see this mother bear in a clip, titled The Brown bears and the Fishermen’ using this link - Brown bears and fishermen
She’s lovely with unique markings – We hope that you think our tribute is a good one!
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Below is a list of shows and fairs that we will be attending in the forseeable future.
- Teddies 16 (Kensington Town Hall) Sunday 11 September 2016
- Winter BearFest 2017 (Kensington Town Hall) Sunday 26 February 2017
- Teddybar Welt 2017 (Messecenter Rhein-Main, Wiesbaden-Wallau) Saturday 11 March/Sunday 12 March 2017
- Teddybar Total 2017 (Exhibition hall South, Messe und Congress, Munster) Saturday 29 April/Sunday 30 April 2017
Below is a list of shops that we supply to.
- The Bear Garden (Guilford )
- Teddy Bears of Witney (Exclusives only) (Witney (Oxfordshire))
- Stonebow Bears (25 Guildhall Street, Lincoln, LN1 1TR UK)
01522 529 219
In the current, highly competitive, bear market we’ve noticed that many other bear artists have a page of their website displaying awards that they have either won or in which they have been nominated; additionally phrases such as “award winning” are used on advertisements. Apart from announcing a result at the time, we haven’t done much in the “trumpet blowing” department but maybe the time has come?!
Jean has been making bears on a full time basis since 1993, joined by Bill late 1995/early 1996 and Bear Bits has entered 19 competitions, and during these 22 years and we have been winners or runner up in all of them. Whenever we have entered a competition we have made ourselves a rule that our entry must include either a technique or change of style that we have not included in any previous competition so we have not necessarily entered something every year e.g. the 1996 entry “A week of Bears” included Tuesday’s Bear (full of grace) – a small bear doing an arabesque, standing on pointed toe and with a shoulder joint that allowed one arm to be held above her head. In this year’s Excellence in Bear Artistry Awards, we have given Peter extra pose-ability by ‘under filling’ his body with polypellets but incorporating a neck-to-tail backbone (armature) to supply the necessary support; we have also given him claws – although not a new technique to us, the last time we made claws for our bears was as far back as 1997!
Below is a list of the awards we have won.
2015 Golden George - Piqa was one of the final 3 nominees in the Master Class Category 5 Nature Bears and finally judged as runner up to Masaya Sato’s entry.
2014 Golden George - Polar Moon was the winner in Master Class category 5 - Nature Bears
2013 Excellence in Bear Artistry - Winner - Tableaux class
2013 French Teddy Awards - Hanging On II won second place in the Group category.
2013 Golden George - Peter was the winner again in the Realistic Bears class
2012 Excellence in Bear Artistry - Winner - Realistic Animals and Bears class with Peter, a realistic brown bear.
French Teddy Awards - Peter also won the Realistic Bears class in this competition!
National Teddy Bear Artist Awards – Winner – Teddy Bear Friends Class with a very special Hare (hares are a new development and since the first one, late 2011, we have been tweaking the pattern to improve it). We were awarded 2nd place in the Panda Class for our 40cm alpaca panda, including a subtle open mouth (this was the first time we had used our open mouth design on a bear smaller than 56cm). Please see the 2012 archive and the Bears page (click top right of this page)
2011 National Teddy Bear Artist Awards – Winner – Natural Bear Class and BEST IN SHOW!! Arthur (see 2011 Archive) was made from an extremely luxurious, very dense, plush fabric – 30mm long pile, with a lot of movement and a contrasting mid brown mohair was been used for his muzzle and inner ears, blended with subtle airbrushing. Arthur’s nose was embroidered in a more complex way than usual and he had an open mouth.
2007 Readers Choice Awards, Teddy Bear Scene – Winner – Bare Bear Class – I’ve got a Secret (Maks - a large, fully detailed realistic bear made from long pile cream synthetic faux fur with black mohair inserts to the muzzle and inner ears and needle sculpted pads and 8in Minim – the smallest realistically shaped bear with double neck joint and proper paw pads made by us to date.
2006 Readers Choice Awards, Teddy Bear Scene – Winner – Bare Bear Class – Happiness is a Hug (A large detailed realistic bear with airbrushed shading, holding a 4in teddy and a 4in bunny in its paws)
2004 Readers Choice Awards, Teddy Bear Scene – Winner – Bare Bear Class – Safety Zone (A mother polar bear and her cub - the cub was the smallest to date with a realistically embroidered nose, a double neck joint, wrist joints and 3D pads)
2002 British Bear Artist Awards – Winner – Group Class 17in and above – Where’s my Teddy? (A large brown mother bear with 2 smaller cubs, all very detailed and a 4in teddy bear.
2002 British Bear Artist Awards – Winner – Individual Class 17in and above – The Caramel Bear (a large light brown bear with wrist and ankle joints, needle sculpted 3D pads, a very complex embroidered nose, fabric dyed on the reverse to reveal the darker shading where the pile was trimmed on head and inner ears)
2001 British Bear Artist Awards – Runner up – Group Class 12-17in Ice Bear Family (A mother polar bear with 2 cubs all with double neck joints, drop paws, wrist joints and 3D pads. The mother polar had a more complex detailed embroidered nose than previously
1999 British Bear Artist Awards – Winner – Group Class 12-17in – A Celebration of Bears (4 natural bears – black bear, grizzly, polar and panda – each with a double neck joint and an asymmetric joint in each ankle so they could each sit, stand, kneel and lie out)
1999 British Bear Artist Awards – Nominated/Finalist – Individual Class 12-17in – Panda (An accurately marked panda with double neck joint)
1997 British Bear Artist Awards – Nominated/Finalist - Group Class 17in and above – Stuff and Nonsense. (Stuff – a large life-like bear with a realistically embroidered nose, Trapunto pads and very natural looking long claws – Nonsense – a 1920’s “flapper” with eyelids, eyelashes, a feather boa and head dress.
1996 British Bear Artists Awards – Winner - Group Class 12-17in – A Week of Bears. (7 different styles and sizes of bears including a teddy bear, a character bear, a ballet dancing bear, a panda, a bent legged bear and a realistic bear.