That was me 22 years ago, surrounded by my mum's handcrafted bears. You see my mum is an original crafter. During my parents visit this last week I got a chance to ask my mum more about her crafting days when I was little.
These Brownington Forest bears were a joint effort between her and her best friend Kathy. Mum and Kathy met when my mum was about 11 and they were both living in a convent in NY. It was a Convent for Dominican nuns to practice but it was also a place for children to stay who didn't have anyone who could take care of them. The nuns ran the convent. My mum went in when she was about 8 or 9, I think. Her 3 brothers were also living there, but girls and boys were kept separate. My mum's older sister was already 16 and out on her own.
It was good that my mum and Kathy had each other. During recess they had to go outside and stay outside for a certain amount of time no matter how cold it was. On the playground they didn't have much, if any toys, but there was a bench between two large trees that they called the "lucky bench" They called it the lucky bench because they found candy under it one time. When they were outside and cold they would make believe it was an invisible house they would go into to get away from the cold. They were always making up stories and acting them out, using their imaginations to transport them to some place more fun.
Kathy and mum stayed friends after the convent and through high school. They saw each other pretty often, even though they lived an hour apart and both had gotten married and had kids. I loved when Kathy and her girls, Annie and Jenny would come visit when I was little. Having two brothers, it was so nice to have other girls around. The three of them were always giggling and having fun. For a long time they stayed with us every Easter. My mum and Kathy would stay up late hiding the eggs and laughing hysterically. That's how I remember them together- always laughing and having fun. They were always thinking of different business ideas. One of the ideas was Brownington Forest. My mum made the bears and Kathy would make the outfits. They could be made to order, in whatever costume you wanted. This was before they had ever heard of Vermont Teddy bears.
My mum did so many different crafts through the years of me growing up- she made stuffed guinea pigs, soft sculpture baby puppets and Santa Clauses. She also decorated and sold cakes and the yummiest cookie lollipops (see photo below- Annie lollies!) We were eating cake by 10:00 in the morning!
My childhood was fun. We had a bear shop on our porch, even though our house was more than out of the way. We had craft fairs in our garage that tons of women participated in, I remember a lot of people coming.
The bears were time consuming to make though, and a lot of things just made it hard to continue with them. Now all these years later I thought it would be the perfect name for my shop. I am also hoping my mum might want to make some softies of some of my characters. Don't you think that would be a great idea?