Saturday, 29 December 2012

West Coast Creature Feature- Beautiful Barrow's Goldeneye

Barrow's goldeneye by smallgirl-apologies for the blurriness-it was raining
Walking in the rain by the sea is more fun than it sounds. One of my favourite winter activities is birding along the seashore, mostly to observe these guys.

Barrow's goldeneye overwinter on the West Coast. It brings me such pleasure to go down to the sea and observe them, swimming and hunting in huge rafts. You can identify this threatened species from common goldeneye by looking at the patch on the male's cheek: if it is a crescent (as opposed to a coin) you are looking at Barrow's goldeneye.

A simple thing that people can do to protect Barrow's goldeneye overwintering on the coast is to not run their dogs down the beach, or into the water, as it takes a lot of precious energy for the birds to get up and fly away.

Happy birding!

Thursday, 27 December 2012

DIY-Hootie the Adorable Felt Owl Ornament

Teddy Forest Owl by smallgirl this is a lovely Teddy Forest Christmas ornament...but Christmas was two days ago. However, owls look nice around the house anytime, so I decided to post anyways.

Felt in a colour of your choice (we used Ecofi, felt that is made from recycled plastic bottles, but wool is still the most eco-friendly choice)
Scrap felt for feet and beak
Scrap of cotton or flannel fabric for belly
Scrap of ribbon or twine for hanger
Sequins for eyes
Glitter glue for the wings
Polyfil or scraps for stuffing

Sewing needle and thread
Stuffing stick/chop stick

What to do:
1. Cut two of the following body pattern from the felt. Add the marks in on the wrong sides.

2. On the right side of one of the body pieces, sew on sequin eyes, beak, and belly
3. On the wrong side of the second cut piece sew or glue your ribbon hanger
4. Sew the two pieces together, wrong sides facing, from A to B (you won't be able to see them once you sew both sides). Note that there is no turning involved, so your stitches will show.
5. Stuff from the opening in the tail, using a chopstick to help move the stuffing.
6. Sew the tail hole closed.
7. Draw on the wings with glitter glue.

Voila! You have a gorgeous owl!

by smallgirl
*This tutorial is for personal home use only, not for resale, manufacture, etc, and was created by smallgirl

Thursday, 20 December 2012

After a long hiatus...a few ATCs to show

Hi! I have not been spending as much time in Teddy Forest as I would have liked in recent weeks, but I hope to share more of Teddy Forest with you soon, especially as I will be posting a fun tutorial soon (hopefully this weekend).

In the meantime, here are some owl ATCs I have made recently...
Airmail Owl by smallgirl

Pink faced Owl by smallgirl

Poetry Owl by smallgirl

Professor Hoot by smallgirl
I've been enamoured by owls since observing a beautiful barn owl hunt in the field near my home. Hint for my upcoming tutorial: it is also owl related.

Have a nice day!

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

West Coast Creature Feature-The Funny American Coot

American Coot, by smallgirl-really sad I couldn't get a better view of the funny feet
Here on the West Coast, the American Coot is a year-round resident, although I have noticed an increase in coots in fall and winter, probably as they migrate here from somewhere else. I think these birds are super funny for a couple of reasons. First, they have these enormous green feet that look more like dinosaur feet and don't really resemble typical water bird feet at all. Also, they make this really funny honking sound something between a sneeze and hoot. Finally, they have such ruby red eyes and black feathers, that they look a little mischevious. Anyways, I'm a huge fan of the cute coot, and I hope you will be too!

Monday, 19 November 2012

Happy 92nd Birthday to Rupert Bear!

Here in Teddy Forest, we wish to wish Rupert Bear a very happy 92nd birthday! May he endure in the hearts of children everywhere and continue to evolve with the times. Below are some excerpts from Rupert Annuals in the Teddy Forest Library. Rupert Bear is a registered trademark of Express Newspapers and Edgemont Publishing.

Rupert, on your birthday we hope you have a lovely party...

Alfred Bestall illustration from Rupert Annual 1956

Opening page from Rupert Annual 1954
And we wish you...

1952 Annual, painted by Alfred Bestall
We also wish Vicky, Twinkle, and everyone else at Lovejoy Bears a wonderful first birthday!!

So, a hearty "Happy Birthday" to Rupert and Lovejoy Bears!

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Vintage Children's Books- Old Bear Stories by Jane Hissey

Blaugh. I am super sick right now and had to take the day off work, which sucks, because I love my job. Plus, my poor sister and Dad have come down with it too. Here are some things to cheer myself up:

Little Bear and Hoot from Hoot, by Jane Hissey
 The bears in Teddy Forest find Jane Hissey's realistic drawings of teddy bears and other vintage animals very charming! I find myself looking to these books sometimes when I want to sew or needlefelt a new animal.

Bramwell Brown from Hoot, by Jane Hissey.
It is my goal to one day make a miniature Bramwell Brown from corduroy for Teddy Forest, but I haven't designed a pattern yet.

Little Bear from Hoot, by Jane Hissey

I picked up Hoot at a charity sale at the local library. So, support a library this week :) Happy reading!

Saturday, 3 November 2012

My ATC collection is growing thanks to awesome AFA artists!

ATCs are such an addictive hobby!! Here are just a few of the cards I've traded for in the past month:

Rabbits are one of my favourite animals. "Benny the Rabbit" is a beautiful ATC handpainted by Australian artist Lyndell.
I searched for a blue tit when I was in the UK, but never did get to see one. This pretty birdie from Wil, a fibre artist in the Netherlands, is the next best thing. Visit her here:

Oscar Wilde is one of my favourite literary people, and here "But some of us are looking at the stars" is Utah artist Cynthia's fabulous interpretation. Cynthia also made the pretty butterfly card.

The fabulous "Disco Yeti" from Ontario artist RenĂ©e.

"God Smiled" is a wonderful and uplifting Noah's Ark card from Cat in Ohio.

Check out the ATCs page on this blog and visit

Thursday, 18 October 2012

West Coast Creature Feature-The Ubiquitous but Adorable Raccoon

raccoon family, by smallgirl
I love raccoons. I know a lot of people dislike their wiley-sneaking-fruit-and-crop-stealing-garbage-rooting-asking-for-free-hand-outs-cat-eating-hissing-in-the-night ways, but every time I look into a raccoon's eyes, it melts my heart.
raccoons at the pond by smallgirl

Raccoons are highly intelligent, well-adapted forest and urban dwelling mammals. While typically nocturnal unless ill, where I live, healthy raccoons can also be observed in urban areas because they have learned to beg for food from humans. Feeding raccoons is a bad, bad idea folks! They are smart enough to get their own food, yet also smart enough to know that they don't have to when people are around. At the local forest (natural food like banana slugs, fish, clams, frogs, small mammals, berries, and mushrooms are abundant here), young children have been bitten and hissed at where I have observed people feeding raccoons unnatural foods such as chocolate, brussells sprouts, bread, and dog biscuits. Once, when I refused a raccoon food, it started tugging at my pant legs with its paws and tapping my shoes. Negative encounters lead to conflict and possibly deadly concequences for the raccoons.
young raccoon, by smallgirl
So, have a fun look-but-don't-feed-the-raccoons weekend!

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

DIY- Helpful plastic teddy bear toys double as bracelet organizers

Not all the bears that live in Teddy Forest are of the fuzzy variety. These plastic bears are earning their keep as bracelet organizers. So, here's a fun DIY to make old toys useful again.
Mrs. Panda and Baloo are so helpful!
It's easy:
1. Grab an old toy, like a sturdy action figure
2. Affix it to your dresser with some reusable putty (like the blue plasticine stuff that you get from office supply stores)
3. Move the arms to an upright position, and start hanging your jewellery! This would be super fun in a kid's bedroom (and remember, jewellery isn't just for girls anymore).
For added fun, you could also glue the arms in place and paint your toys with thick artist acrylic paint.

Happy Recycling!

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Happy World Animal Day!

Here at Teddy Forest, all the bears and assorted critters wish animals around the world (and everyone else) a very Happy World Animal Day!

Goats on the Roof, by smallgirl's family camera
Ensatina, by smallgirl
In loving memory of Chuppi Charlie, the greatest rabbit in the world

Sunday, 30 September 2012

DIY Craft- Recycled Forest Friends!

Egg carton forest friends photographed by smallgirl
I love creating things from salvaged and recycled materials. This fun project is a great alternative to the plastic toys kids get bored with so quickly these days. I made this project with my young cousins last month and with a group of kindergarten students last summer, so it is definitely kid-friendly (and fun for silly adults like me).

What you need:
Markers and pencils
A paper egg carton
Fabric scraps
Wiggly eyes

What to do:
1. Cut the egg carton into individul egg holders. Each egg holder will become a creature.
2. Draw the animal's body shape onto the egg holder and cut it out
3. Glue wiggly eyes, fabric, and draw on the animal to give it its own personality
4. If you want to make it into a hanging ornament, simply poke a hole in the top with a sewing needle and thread some string through.

Voila! You have a new friend for your own forest!

Have a recycled-fun day!

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Blast From the Past- Dodo the Original '90s Doodle Bear

Blast from the past- Dodo the Doodle Bear!
Do you have any "fad" toys left from your childhood? I hardly count teddy bears as a "fad" (they've been popular for over 100 years), but Dodo the original '90s Doodle Bear, a mild mannered bear who lives in Teddy Forest, qualifies.
Dodo sitting on my bookshelf of children's books
Growing up in the '90s without a television, I largely escaped passing toy fads, but when I saw the Doodle Bear on my gradma's TV, I knew I had to have one. So, on Christmas morning, there she was, Dodo, my new Doodle Bear. I drew all over her, had my friends at school draw on her; she still bears the message, "Auntie Lorena was here." I guess my mom was a good sport, because I never remember her getting annoyed with all the times Dodo must have been washed.
What "fad" toys did you have?

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Trade ATCs with Teddy Forest!

Below is Teddy Forest ATC Trading Animal Set Set 1, mixed media ATCs that I would love to trade with you! Trade one for one, or the set.

As of Sept 17, Polar Bear has been traded. Spotted Owl and Swift Fox still available.
Anyone can make ATCs, so even if you've never made them before, now you can try, then trade with me! Please leave a comment or email me at smallgirldesigns(at)gmail(dotcom) if you want to trade a card and we can exchange trading details :) Check out the ATC Page on the top of my blog for more details. Or, visit me at ATCs for All and search for smallgirl.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

West Coast Creature Feature- The Friendly White Crowned Sparrow

white crowned sparrow, photographed by smallgirl
The white crowned sparrow is present all over North America in winter, but lives year round on the West Coast. Researchers have documented that white crowned sparrows have a different song on the West Coast than in other parts of North America. These friendly birds are curious ground feeders; I have noticed in my experience that they are less likely to fly away when approached.
What are you up to today?
White crowned sparrow, photographed by smallgirl
Try to spot one of these cuties sometime. Happy birding!

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Rupert and the Frogsong- An anthem for happier times ahead

I haven't been around Teddy Forest lately, mainly because my real life has been difficult lately. My darling rabbit of ten years passed away, and then I launched into 12 hour shifts at work for the past fortnight and a bit. So, here is a little something that always lifts the spirits:

Rupert and the Frogsong! This wonderful short music video, brought to us by Paul McCartney and Geoff Dunbar, based on the characters by Mary Tourtel and Alfred Bestall, is a little slice of happiness. Click below and enjoy!

Rupert and the Frog Chorus, by Alfred Bestall, 1958 Rupert Annual

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Vintage Children's Books- Molly Brett

from The Adventures of Plush and Tatty by Molly Brett, published by the Medici Society
What were your favourite books as a child? The Teddy Forest Library is beginning to amass a rather lovely collection of beautifully illustrated children's books. I find them quite inspiring when making bears and other crafts. Here are some pages from a recent thrift shop find, The Adventures of Plush and Tatty, by Molly Brett. I highly recommend googling Molly Brett's whimsical and charming illustrations.

Tatty has a boating mishap from The Adventures of Plush and Tatty by Molly Brett

disaster strikes the cookout from The Adventures of Plush and Tatty by Molly Brett

from The Adventures of Plush and Tatty by Molly Brett
What do you take inspiration from?

Friday, 10 August 2012

West Coast Creature Feature-The Somewhat Intimidating Sandhill Crane

Sandhill crane family, photographed by smallgirl
This month's West Coast Creature feature is the Sandhill Crane, a bird that I find a bit intimidating. The first time I saw one, it scared me because I rounded the corner on a local nature trail and BAM there it was, with its huge beak and yellow eyes. I wasn't expecting to see one and I'm rather petite, and it came up to at least my chest level. In my area, the resident sandhill cranes are known to be aggressive sometimes, which is understandable if nature nerds like me pop out of nowhere and surprise them. Anyways, the sandhill crane is beautiful, majestic, and can be found in wetlands all over North America, if you are lucky to spot one.

Happy birding!

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

DIY Craft-How to recycle a bus ticket into an artist trading card

One crow sorrow, by smallgirl
The bears and I have been fascinated by artist trading cards lately and made some today out of all those used bus tickets sitting in my purse. Artist trading cards, or ATCs are tiny 2 1/2 inch by 3 1/2 inch works of art, traded by their makers with other makers, much like trading sports cards (does anyone do that anymore?).

What you need:
Scissors, Glue stick, Cardstock scraps, Ruler, Pen
Bus tickets
Paint, markers, sparkles, collage materials, etc for decorating

What to do:

1. Base coat your bus ticket with paint or colour it
2. ATCs must be 2.5 by 3.5 inches, so you will need to add a bit to your bus ticket.
3. Here's how: Cut some 2.5 and 3.5 inch strips from your cardstock

4. Glue the strips together to form either an "L" shape or a box shape. As long as you have cut with the right measurements, all you need to do is line up the corners of your strips. This is your frame.

5. Position your bus ticket over the frame until the edges are parallel and glue. You now have a card to work with.
6. Go wild! Create whatever cool images you want on your card and start trading.
Three crows a wedding, by smallgirl
Seven crows a secret, by smallgirl
Seven crows ATCs by smallgirl

Here, I've decorated a set of ATCs with the beautiful West Coast bird, the northwestern crow.
Let me know if you want to swap :)
Happy trading!
For more info on ATCs, go here:

Tuesday, 31 July 2012


It seems that summer is finally here in Teddy Forest!

My dear old handmade doll, Porky the Porcupine, and Suzannah are enjoying the garden

Just enjoying the flowers in the early morning cool, enjoying  the beach in the afternoon, and watching patiently for barred owls and coyotes in the evenings. West coast = Best coast!

Enjoy the sunshine if you are lucky enough to have it!