An interesting view from the other side

Married to Monica Spicer of Monica’s Attic Treasures, her husband Gerry gives us an insight in to living with a very busy bear artist.

An interesting view from the other side

Hello there, I’m not a Teddy Bear Maker, I just married one. Although the signs weren’t apparent at the start I should have guessed something was afoot when most of our leisure time was spent checking out craft markets. This significantly led to conversations (I am constantly being assured they really took place) revolving around, “You know I think I could do this. You wouldn’t mind if I gave it a try?” Before I knew it: - BANG! She was away and running.

Now before we go any further let me say that I think my wife’s bears are works of art and I thank her for putting up with my idiosyncrasies over the years.

I don’t mind the fact that on a scale of 1 to 100: Teddy Bear Making comes in at 100 Cooking and doing dishes rates at minus 100. I am also aware that the artistic process is a mysterious gift, given to all but realised by a few - and when it comes to Teddies I’m not one of the few.

Now for those of you whose partners are starting to succumb to the ‘Lure of the Teddy’ there are rules you must learn if you wish to live harmoniously with a person who rapturously drags you into an opportunity (charity) shop after espying 10 to 12 fake fur coats. You make a bee-line for the tired racks of second hand books and magazines. Invariably you’ve read every National Geographic that’s there. Edging your way towards the door your nose registers a faint tinge of ‘Eau de Mothball’ on everything as you brush against, and nearly disembowel yourself on, a hat-rack built for midgets. You only have to negotiate around a table loaded with what looks like diseased birds’ nests, past the two toddlers enthusiastically shredding the little golden books by the door when a voice next to your ear says: “Do you remember the teddy I made about two months ago, you know Bernard - how do you think he would look if I used this fur?”

Rule number 1

Although you may have difficulty in adjusting to the change of circumstances at this point of time, resist the temptation to completely lose it and scream out any damn fool thing that comes into your head.

Instead, as your dazed brain disengages itself from the notion of getting out the door, focus on the words ‘teddy’ and the request ‘you think’. The following has a success rate of 70%.

Lean back, rub your chin thoughtfully and try to change the vacant stare in your eyes to one of instant recollection. Say something like, “Mmmm, will you be making him with eyelids and eyebrows.” This will give you valuable breathing space. You can then add something like: “It all depends on if it’s a boy or a girl.” This gives the impression you’re aware of the differences between unclad teddies and want to get technical.

“If you’re thinking of using it to make a girl I think it would look better in a lighter shade”, is a good line which can lead into, “I’m just going to duck outside, the smell of moth-balls is making my nose itch.” This approach works well, the rider being:- you must be able to distinguish and identify various teddy bits such as eyes, paws, ears, the nose (important).

Bonus points accrue if you know the difference between Alpaca, Mohair, Rayon, Synthetic, Cotton, and any other alien sounding terms relating to fur. This knowledge is vital as it allows you to use the above in almost countless variations.

Of course if you know that Tibetan Yak Fur looks good but is hard to trim and shave, you are probably a worse basket case than your partner.

Rule number 2

While your input into creative design is appreciated, it isn’t vital. Learn to become multi-skilled. Whipping up light non - fattening but palatable culinary delights at 11.00pm whilst L’Artiste is at maximum stress, completing a Teddy for a 9.30am deadline, is a talent you should learn to acquire - quickly. Complementary shoulder and back rubs after the meal will ensure that your name will crop up in statements such as, “He’s been terrific lately, especially this last week when I’ve had so little time, so much to do.” And trust me this is a thing of value. Updating the Teddy Web Page is a handy skill, although you should realize that this will always need to be done YESTERDAY.

Of course I never let it go to my head - I appreciate the fact that I can play with my computer, watch the shows I like (yes, definitely get a stereo and television for the Teddy Workshop), practice my guitar or play with the cat. In short, when the Teddy Bear Creative Urge strikes, day blurs into night, time-zones cease to exist, and your life will never be the same. Which may or may not be a thought that bears thinking about.