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Needing Some Left-Brained Advice, Here

March 30th, 2014

Hello friends.  Tax time is upon me, and here I sit, with nary a record of my business dealings, other than folders full of receipts and a hodgepodge of  saved emails meant to remind me of this transaction or that.  It's not that I am dumb, really, just more inclined to follow an organic path than a highly ordered one.

So then - totally intending to find my responsibility groove, I looked up and downloaded Quicken, the simplest version, only to learn that it is not really supposed to be used for business records, and does not work well at all for that.  I mean, I know how to go the longhand route with a paper spreadsheet and pencil (and in my case, a big eraser), but that method, though it can get the job done, is really pretty time consuming.  I was hoping for something that might be able to read my mind just a little, and at least shuffle dates of transactions into their rightful place.  What I got was a composium of ALL of the family bank accounts, business and other, neatly bundled together and working themselves into impressive looking pie charts that had little to no bearing on reality.  I tried creating an external "cash" account, thinking I was a genius, only to find that all the computations came out in red, and subtracted themselves from the bottom line of my  neat bundle of unrelated accounts.  Sheesh!

So next - I returned to the web search and found the real Quick Books, free trial version.  At last, a program truly made for small businesses.  It claimed to be "simple" - no accounting training needed.  Oh yeah?  Really?  Hmm.  Obviously, I have not had success with that one either.  Therefore, for the past year's taxes, I will do my best to scour my half-hearted files, and scrawl out lists of expenses and income in various tax-friendly categories on paper, tally them up with my trusty adding machine and let our kindly tax preparer sort them out, bless his number-crunching heart.

So now -  I am hoping and sincerely asking for your input regarding how a decidedly right-brained person such as myself might be able to cope on an ongoing basis with the record-keeping scenario, and have a less frantic-feeling experience come tax time next year. It's still somewhat early in the year, and I'm hoping I can get caught up and on track for reals. Any ideas?  Can anyone relate?  Your gracious input is most highly appreciated.

Thank you, Joanne Livingston of Desertmountainbear

February 1st, 2014

For the longest time, I have wanted to try making open/close eyes for a bear.  Joanne Livingston of Desertmountainbear has been not only a fantastic artist, but a very generous soul as well, by sharing her observations of real bears and her techniques for making her amazingly realistic creations.  Here is her tutorial that got me inspired.  At first, I couldn't wrap my head around the concept, but after a bit of head-scratching, I was able to basically figure it out.  I have not achieved perfection, but I'm super happy I've gotten started.  At this point, I don't particularly want to make realistic bears, but I want to make fanciful creations that have the look of life.  Learning about how realistic bears are made is helping me form and accomplish my vision.

I'm curious, what type of bears do you prefer to collect - more realistic ones, or more toy-like ones? Post a comment and lets find out what kinds are the favorites. If you are reading this from within my website, you'll need to go to my actual blog to make your post.

Happy New Year!

January 1st, 2014

Best Wishes to all of my friends, family and collectors.  May the coming year bring you peace and contentment down in your soul, and joy that overflows into the lives of others.

For me, 2013 was a year of momentum in establishing my  presence as a credible artist in my community with the Open Studios Art Tour in October, and reaching toward more collectors with my new website for Fool's Gold Bears. This year, I've been inspired to create more than I have for years, and as 2014 unfolds, I look forward to continued inspiration and productivity.  I'm eager to see what new creative vistas will open up before me, what new friendships I'll make, and how existing ones will flourish and grow. My wish/prayer/goal for the coming year is to see my future art studio take form, from paper to reality.

This photo is of Mr. Huggins - a large and hefty lap-sitter who also happens to be my entry in the 2014 TOBY Awards competition.

A Happy Announcement!

December 27th, 2013


 I am happy to announce that the brand new Fool's Gold Bears website is now ready and it is live - and it is in time for your Holiday shopping.  You will find about a dozen creations on the site, many of which have not been available until this moment. They may be adopted right from the website through PayPal.  You do not need to have a PayPal account to use the service. PayPal will accept your credit cards. Another valuable feature of PayPal is their "Bill Me Later" payment option, where you can receive your purchases immediately, but have up to 6 months to pay for them. New creations will be added to my website on an ongoing basis, so check back often.  New items will continue to be posted on BearPile from time to time as well.

Here it is - Merry Christmas!  Happy Holidays!

The Next Step for Fool's Gold Bears

December 9th, 2013

Something wonderful happened at the Open Studios Art Tour that I hosted at my studio in October this year.  I met a talented husband and wife team who work together to make websites that are a cut above in function and beauty from most I've seen .  Their company is AzureFire llc .

Lucky me, I've been working with them and will soon be launching a new website for Fool's Gold Bears.  It will be ready this month.  

Because I want this opening to be special, I've been saving up my creations to be released  in celebration of this special event.  Here are a few teasers to pique your interest.  

These are just a few of the new creations that you will meet when the new site is ready.  I'll be sure to let you know as soon as the new site is live.

Your comments and questions are warmly welcomed.

Where the heck have I been?

October 13th, 2013

Hi Folks.  Sorry about the lag in posting.  I was sick for a while, but feeling quite a lot better now.  This weekend and next weekend, I'm hosting an Open Studio at my house.  It is a thrill to be involved in the art community in my county.  If there are any bears left after the tour is over, I'll put them up on BearPile.  I hope to see some of you this weekend or next.

Springing Forward

December 27th, 2013

Today is the beginning of Daylight Savings Time here in California.  The old reminder to "spring forward" by resetting the clock forward an hour has me eager to spring into warmer weather.  Today my hubby, Vic and I got just a taste of spring warmth as we ventured into our back yard to pull a few weeds and do some general upkeep under deceptively sunny skies.  Goosebumps aside, it felt good to get some stuff accomplished out there. Our labors resulted in a hint of renewal and now I feel assured that Spring is on its way.

For the past few months, I've had the ol' messy studio blues, and have not been very productive in my small-bedroom creative space.  Ya see, over the years I have accrued a hearty plethora of tools and supplies that have aided and comforted my artsy heart.  When the moving truck hauled my booty (ha!) down to the more southern reaches of the state a couple of years ago, the capacious studio I once had was sacrificed in lieu of wedded bliss.  I'm not saying the honeymoon is over, but this little room is feeling a bit cramped, as more and more of the beloved supplies make their way from the storage unit across town to my itty-bitty studio-ette.  It has come to the point where my craft room resembles one of those square puzzle games I used to have as a kid (pre-rubik's cube) - the kind where you slide rows and rows of squares around to get the numbers into order.  No matter what task I need to do in my room, it requires shuffling stacks of totes filled with potential creative components.  I am entertaining some very sincere hopes (amid promises) of a new, improved studio to come.  Patience, Laure, patience.  Overcoming the obstacles, literally, I've managed to produce a new bear who, with his calm demeanor, does not seem to mind all the chaos here.  I'm pleased to introduce to you, Sweet Mo-Mo Ruffles.

Mo-Mo is 17 inches of lovingly-aged sweetness.  You can see his details here on BearPile, and while you're at it, how about liking him on my Fool's Gold Bears page on Facebook too.

Charmed by Old Toys

December 27th, 2013

Right now I'm listening to Yo Yo Ma station on Pandora Radio.  I love this computer radio station because I get to choose artists or whole genres I like.  I have a list of about 20 different "stations" on Pandora that I can choose from any time.  It is free if you don't mind hearing 30 second ads every half hour.  If you want to lose the ads, you can opt to pay a small amount monthly.  I think it's only about $3.00 or so.  This rave was my own idea, not Pandora's.

Now on to bearland.  I'm enjoying this new bear cub shape and will remain here for a while, making small adjustments to the pattern from time to time.  This recent li'l girl bear is an inch taller than the first one, Boy-Toy, introduced in the last post.  Here is Miss Maisey.  She is 9 inches tall.

Miss Maisey 9 in. Bear

It's come to my attention that there are a number of bears that are asking to make their appearance.  They are all saying the same thing: "Once I was just a toy, but your love has given me life."  How can I possibly deny them?  I love this theme and am guessing it will occupy me for quite some time.  Please go to BearPile and see more of Miss Maisey right here.  And here is Miss Maisey on ETSY 

A New Boy-Toy 8 in.bear

December 27th, 2013

As I mentioned last post, I have had it in my thoughts to start making some more toy-like bears.  As I was about ready to put pencil to paper, I was spending a few minutes on FaceBook (Is that possible?) when I came across a picture from one of my friends that stopped me in my tracks.  It was a pair of adorable Grizzly Bear cubs.  They totally captured my heart with their precious baby shapes.   I began doodling, and it wasn't long before I felt the challenge to see if I could duplicate that charming shape in 3-d.  I'm very happy with the outcome.  To stay in the theme of my original intention of making toy-style bears, I decided to make the features simple and looking a bit play-worn.  I removed some fur from the muzzle and paws and colored them dark, and refrained from adding eyelids.  I embroidered his nose a bit sparsely and added embroidered claws.  I may yet come up with some more naiive designs, but this little one is my first step in that direction.  You can see more of Boy-Toy's particulars and pictures on BearPile right thisaway.  If you like my bears and want to see my blog posts in your email inbox, I'd be delighted if you'd sign up on the right to become a follower.

Boy-Toy 8 in.

A New Girl on the Blog

September 16th, 2012

Today being Saturday, it seemed like a good day to make an excursion to the apple farm where we can find rare and delicious apples that never appear in our markets.  So I laid aside my bear pursuits while Vic and I piled in the car and took a relaxing drive out the winding country road through the woods to Gopher Glen Apple Farm.  It's always a treat to take in the nostalgic sights and smells there - reminiscent of a country farmhouse kitchen.  We sampled several unique varieties and each picked our favorite - trundling home with 20 lbs. of fresh apples!  Luckily, they keep well in the fridge, though we did have to scrunch to get them in there.  Ultimately, for the sake of making room, we made the tough decision to sacrifice the partially eaten strawberry pie to our bellies - slurp!

So now the time has come to debut the little bear I was teasing you with in the last post.  She measures in at 11 inches tall - a sassy, prissy li'l Southern girl who has a thang for Shabby Chic couture.  Here she is:

Sissy Sadie Shi-Shi La-La

She is the first with a new eye style I was trying out.  I'm very pleased with the new eye look and will continue using this method in some of my future creations.  I hope you will take a look at her complete description and see more pictures on BearPile

Next on my list of creative endeavors will be some simpler, naive-style bears.  I don't have them designed yet, but I have ideas floating around in my head.  In these next creations, I will attempt to create interesting, engaging presentations that are perhaps more toy-like in appearance but with lots of funky charm.  If this works out according to my plan, I will be able to offer them at a more budget-minded range.  Stay tuned.  If you want to make sure to catch the next Fool's Gold Bears blog when it is fresh, you can sign up to follow by email.

It's a Critter!

December 27th, 2013

Okay, I really meant to post the next creation before it sold, but this one was spoken for almost the same hour I put him on BearPile.  It looks like I will need to begin synchronizing my bear debuts better amongst the various venues before I let them be seen.  I think I need a command central where I can just hit "go" and it will all happen at once.  Is that even possible?  I dunno!  The technology part of being an artist is really not my strong suit, you may have guessed - and you would be oh-so correct.  Unfortunately, technological pursuits don't hold my interest the way the fuzzy, engaging characters dancing around in my mind do.  So here is Thicket.  You can read more about him here.

And here is a quickie shot I just took of him with the necklace I made for him after the original photo
session was over.  The angle distorts him a little but you can still get the general idea.

And now for a little tease about the sweet little bear I'm working on at the moment, who will soon appear on the scene.  Here she is in the natural, having a chat with Thicket.  You can see some of the fluffy, frothy materials her costume will be made of.

This girly-girl bear has a new style of eye for me, which I am really liking.  She will look a bit shabby-chic.  I hope I've got you all on pins and needles - so to speak.

Bye-bye Panda Allegro!

December 27th, 2013

Here is Panda Allegro, an imposing 26 inch tall mohair fellow.  He has already found a loving home.  I meant to post him here in the blog first, but it didn't work out that way this time.   You can see his complete description on BearPile here.   

We will miss you, Allegro, but we are happy that you are appreciated in your new home and have lots of furry companions there.

I'm So Excited!!!

December 27th, 2013

I'm all on pins and needles, waiting for the Teddies Worldwide online bear show to open.  This is one of the largest, if not THE largest online bear show of the year - and I'm in the show!  The theme this year is Teddy Bear's Tea Party.  This is a fun opportunity to see lots of great bears in their party finery, from nearly 100 artists, each with 5-10 brand new bears.  Attached is a preview of Rosie, a 16 in. party-going bear from Fool's Gold Bears (moi!)  You can log onto www.teddiesworldwide tonight to see preveiws from many artists, and tomorrow through Monday to enjoy the show (March 23-26).  A yummy added bonus is a collection of recipes for teatime treats from the artists - and trust me, bear artists appreciate good treats!  Have a great time at the party!

Teddies Worldwide Online Show

December 27th, 2013

Hello Friends,

Just a note to let you all know that I'm participating in an online Bear Show at Teddies on March 23-26, 2012.  This year the show has a Tea Party theme.  You can see a preview of many of the nearly 100 artists' show offerings on the site here.  Be sure to cast your vote for the bear with the best tea party attire..

Here is Rosie, a 16 inch bear dressed in her favorite vintage hankies and lace, all ready to join the party in style.  See you at the party!


A Memorable Turn of Events

December 27th, 2013

A little while back, just as I was getting ready start up Fool’s Gold Bears again after a long hiatus, something very special happened. I had not yet taken steps toward opening for business, but had given some thought to it, when all of a sudden, out of the blue, an email arrived from a lady I had never met. She had somehow come across my abandoned website, where she saw a bear that interested her. Unable to contact me from my site because of an outdated email link, she had gone out of her way, through my BearPile account to reach me.

The bear she had seen on my website was long gone. She asked if I would consider making another similar bear for her. I respectfully declined, noting that commissions are against my policy. As she began describing her vision to me of a little bear with felt forget-me-not flowers, I could see the bear in my mind‘s eye. Her idea appealed to me, so policy aside, I agreed to make the bear for her. Immediately, a name for the piece entered my mind - “I Shall Ne’er Forget Thee“. Later, as I worked on the bear, I pondered a name for the little character, but could not help feeling that the bear should not be named - only the entire piece as a whole.

Just as I was putting the finishing touches on the bear, suddenly I was taken aback. The little creature looked exactly as I had envisioned it from the outset! This is a rare occurrence for me. Normally I picture a vague image to start and it evolves as I go. The end product may have little resemblance to my initial vision.
I was very happy with the way the bear turned out, but it had taken quite longer to make than I had anticipated. At first I was fearful to charge for the extra labor, but eventually found the courage to quote the full price to the customer.

How relieved I was to learn that she loved the picture I’d sent. She commented that it looked just as she had imagined it in her mind. What a coincidence! The lady divulged that the bear was to be a birthday/Christmas gift to her from her husband. Although the price was higher than expected, she declared that the bear was worth the price and they would pay it.

After about an hour, another email arrived from my new collector, announcing that she had just learned that her elderly Grandmother was ill. She said she realized just how much the new little bear would always remind her of her Grandma, whose favorite flower is forget-me-not. A smile warmed me inside as I recalled how I’d felt that the piece was to be named, "I Shall Ne'er Forget Thee". Incidentally, just a day or two after the customer’s initial email, my entire website disappeared from cyberspace forever because I had not renewed the web hosting.

When so many coincidences come together, as in this case, I tend to think they may not be coincidences at all. In light of that transaction, I'm feeling very validated in what I'm doing. It feels as if God took a moment to coordinate the whole event just to bless this dear lady, and so I would know that he is using my art for his purposes, as I had truly hoped he would.

Here she is, sweet as can be.

"I Shall Ne'er Forget Thee" 

Changing Seasons

December 27th, 2013

In my quest to find the best way to market my creations, I've decided to list Augustus on ebay.  You can see his listing here.
Felicity is now on Etsy as well as her original spot on BearPile.

There's no denying it, summer is over and autumn is in the air.  In celebration of the season, I've made this crow from a "Frowning Francis" pattern.  I think the steampunk theme fits this character perfectly.  Here is Jules.  He is about the size of a real live crow.

I haven't put him up for sale - yet.  Don't know if I will or not,  I'm just enjoying his company for now.  He is a crack-up!

Fool's Gold Bears is Back in Action!

December 27th, 2013

Hello everyone. 
This is my first ever blog post.  I am new at this, so your grace and patience are appreciated as I learn all the ins and outs.  Many thanks to Shelli Heinemann of  Potbelly Graphics for her help with my header design.  She is wonderful to work with and was very responsive to my dim vision of how I wanted it to look.   I'm very satisfied and highly recommend her services.

You may have noticed that my last name has changed.  Vic and I were married in January this year.  I keep congratulating myself on what a fine, sweet husband I have.  I've moved from Eureka to San Luis Obispo - still in California, but a good 8 hour drive south of my origins.  Bearmaking has been pretty much at a standstill for several years, while I've supported myself by more conventional means.  Thanks to sweet Victor, I now get to come out of hibernation and make bears again.  So I've been stitching away, gradually getting back my cutting  edge, so  to speak.  If you like my new offerings and would like to see my next creations and posts, please become a follower of my blog.

So finally....FINALLY it's time to post a couple of bears that are the results of my efforts at getting ready to face the world again.  I'm excited and pleased with these little folks, but at the same time I'm shakin' in my boots because of how much bear artistry and the industry have changed since I was last involved.  I admit, I feel a bit clueless as to how to do business now.  I hope that with the encouragement and mentoring  of bear-minded people, I'll learn the best ways to operate, but for now, I'll just do someting, anything to get started.  Here goes! 

This is Felicity.  She is a 10 inch elegant little lady made of wispy-curly darker tipped mohair.  I love the auburn color, as I am partial to autumny hues.

Felicity has a new home.  She is nestled into a happy hug amidst new friends & some siblings.
                                          Felicity, 10 in. Bear OOAK

The second little guy is Augustus, who was inspired by the epic Western novel, Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurty.  Augustus, a cattle-drive trail boss, is a character who, despite his rough-hewn ways came across as somehow noble and honorable.  I think this is portayed in my rendition by his dark brown glass eyes, which are inset and surrounded by felted wool, along with his greyed muzzle.  I've dressed Gus in a sherpa-lined (faux) suede vest and given him a well-worn neckercheif with which to wipe the sweat from his brow and filter the dust from the grimy trail.  His paws and foot pads are trapunto-padded ultrasuede with a hint of accent color added.

These two bears will be listed on BearPile.  Here is my spot on BearPile.
I hope you will take a moment to give me some feedback and perhaps become a follower of this blog.  New items will be posted as they become available, and you may see other musings as well.