I love finding surprising teddy bear images in my in-box. As we get closer to the holiday season, all of us will be checking our physical mailboxes for Christmas cards and family holiday portraits. I’m always excited when I receive postcards from teddy bear artists I’ve met over the years and get a chance to marvel at their talent and their kindness. Yep, finding a photo that can make you smile is a treat, no matter the time of year. Discovering one during the hectic run-up to Noel is a mood elevator; it is the “paws that refreshes,” to paraphrase an old beverage advertising slogan!
That’s why I love getting emails from Katie Rae Bears. Katherine Hallam is the very creative and very energetic artist who helms that United Kingdom company. Whenever I see her email address, I know that something fun and fantastical will be stored inside. During the “dog days of summer” — an especially hot and muggy season in the U.S. Northeast — I got a photo from Katie that plunged me into a cool, wintry mind-set. Reminiscent of autumnal possibilities, the pair of tiny Teds look like little elves or gnomes who would love to scamper around a dense forest or a hidden woodland grove. I absolutely adored them.
Amanita, the female bear, wears such a cute toadstool dress, hand knitted by Katherine’s mom, and she proudly shows off her super-small resin bear toy, which can be pulled in a little metal cart. Amanita is such a sweetie — from her wings to her teensy-weensy leather shoes. Amanita is all of 4 inches tall! Her boy pal, Muscaria, is also 4 inches high and he’s clad in an elf cap and a toadstool sweater. Just seeing them makes me happy and reminds me of all the glorious parts of the fall!
More recently, Hallam shared a vignette she created along with Karen Brentall of Kaz Bears. The two artists have collaborated on a one-of-a-kind (OOAK) duo for the Children’s Charity Gala Dinner and Auction. This occurs under the auspices of Hallam’s Great Yorkshire Teddy Bear Event. For all of us Yanks, who won’t be jetting to Britain anytime soon, we can still take part in the auction fun. Katherine has arranged for bidding to be open up for her fans around the globe. The auction is Saturday, Nov. 17, and email bidding can go on up until 1 p.m. UK time.
“Please send your maximum bid, your name, and your PayPal address. Send this to me by one o’clock in the afternoon, UK time, Nov. 17. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org, and I look forward to possibly letting you know you’ve got the winning bid. The winning bidder will be sent a PayPal invoice,” the Katie Rae Bears artist wrote.
The duo, Alice & The White Rabbit, is presented under a large glass dome. Alice, made by Hallam, is an impressive 18 inches tall. She is defined by so many lovely accents and accessories. Each of these tiny trinkets and decorative pieces evoke memories of the Lewis Carroll storybook and the beloved Disney cartoon. The Alice bear definitely has that recognizable Katie Rae Bears expression. Her face alone causes viewers to giggle and smile. Her companion White Rabbit is a dignified and handsome fellow, designed by Kaz Bears. What a noble, regal hare!
“If two identical bids come in, I will email and ask if you want to raise your bid,” Hallam elaborates. “There will be a reserve price on the piece that night, and if this is not reached, it will remain unsold. We hope this very special piece will raise lots of money for underprivileged children.”
Katherine Hallam has never strayed far from her own childhood connections and she truly enjoys letting her inner child frolic and dance. At Halloween, Hallam’s delight in making make-believe come true is particularly evident. She loves to put together bits of fantasy, childhood innocence, and mementos of magic. For 2018, Katie Rae Bears unveiled her Halle Ween trick-or-treater. Measuring 18 inches, she is clad in a handmade dress, corset, tights, and a hand-knitted web-inspired underskirt.
Always paying attention to the minuscule accents — the devil, after all, is in the details — Hallam has given her trick-or-treating girl a handmade beaded pumpkin bag. It is full of her candy loot, and check out the original Converse sneakers! She is every inch a tribute to unbridled fun and merriment. Katie Rae Bears also fashioned for Miss Halle Ween a silk top hat and bat wings.
Halle Ween carries on Hallam’s tradition of making one-of-a-kind Katie Rae Bears that go bump in the night! Her 2017 bear was Tricksy, and the 9-inch mohair original had a needle-felted face, epoxy nose, and the Katie Rae crystal that lets collectors know it’s the real deal. Tricksy was clad in a hand-knitted Halloween sweater, tutu, striped tights, and hand-colored sneakers. Her pumpkin bag was overflowing with the treats she’s collected throughout the night, and her jack-o’-lantern balloon was a comical and quirky final touch. Tricksy was a fantastic find in 2017.
I’ve got my fingers crossed that Katherine Hallam’s charity gala dinner will indeed raise the much-needed funds for her passionate pet causes, which seek to improve the lives of needy children. Childlike characters have always populated the outpourings from Katie Rae Bears’ studio. It makes sense that Hallam’s charitable leanings are there to assist and provide aid for the smallest and most vulnerable among us.
Learn more about the Great Yorkshire Teddy Bear Event, and consider sending in a bid for the Alice in Wonderland “power” couple!