We blog, we bake.
We craft, we create.

Thursday, 28 February 2013

A Thousand Splendid Suns, The Bears' March Literary Challenge.

Hello there from the bears, it's Wilbear's turn to choose this month's challenge piece, and he has gone with a modern classic, A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khalid Hosseini.

The book is based in Afghanistan and spans the timeframe from the 1960's to the 2000's. Mariam lives with her Mother, her father lives with his other wives and children, and Mariam is his only illegitimate child. She sees him once a week until she is sent to live with him on the death of her mother. Her father Jalil's other wives and children resent Mariam and arrange her marriage to Rashid, a widower considerably older than her. He treats her well until it turns out that she cannot bear him a son, then he becomes violent towards her.

During the Afghan war, Mariam and Rashid take in and nurse a young girl, Laila, Laila realises she is pregnant with her dead childhood sweetheart's child, and agrees to marry Rashid to secure a future for her and her child. She hides the pregnancy until she can announce it as Rashid's baby.

Laila gives birth to a daughter, Aziza, and years later to a son, Talmai.
Despite the fact that Mariam has been usurped she does not resent either Laila or her children, and in fact the two women become allies against Rashid's continual violence and bullying.

Eventually, to Laila'a shock. Tariq turns up at her door, the couple are still very much in love, and realise that Rashid has lied about Tariq's death in order to force Laila to stay with him. When Rashid finds out that Tariq has returned, he beats Laila, Mariam kills Rashid in her attempt to defend Laila. She turns herself in in order to enable Laila to begin again.

Mariam is subsequently executed by the Afghanistan government, In Pakistan, Tariq and Laila marry and finally begin the life they dreamed of. In 2001, the United States attacked Afghanistand and eventually Kabul becomes a safer place to live, allowing the family to return to their homeland.

The book is far more in depth and interesting than our convoluted explanation coveys, but we're tired and unwell and as usual have left writing this post to the last minute (okay we were all squabbling over which book we would choose until Wilbear took charge!)

This may seem an odd book choice, as it could be thought of as a story of hopelessness, with some depressing themes, what with Mariam's treatment at the hands of her brutal husband, and her execution, the constant threat of war, and the general air of oppression for the women in the novel, the exploration of the lack of choice and freedom felt by the characters... But we believe the fundamental theme is one of continual hope, albeit that that hope is continually dashed and raised.

If you look deep within, the book also demonstrates overwhelming love in the character of Mariam, who is never resentful of Laila, and becomes a second mother to her children, loving them as if they were her own.

The book also explores the themes of friendship and loyalty within Laila and Mariam's relationship, they are allies throughout, with Mariam protecting Laila literally 'to the death' .

So, what could you create with inspiration gleaned from this book? Well whether you've read the novel or not, if you would like to join in with the bears challenge, you could literally take the title words and illustrate them in some way, choosing just one word from the title, or the whole thing.

You could choose one of the themes we have mentioned love, hope, friendship, loyalty.

You can illustrate a quote that pertains to one of these themes, or a direct quote from the book. Or even invent your own quote based on your interpretation of the book, or the title.

We believe this book could take you in so many different directions, the possibilities are endless, so have fun, choose what you think best represents the novel, and get creating.

The 'rules'

Create a piece of art work, ATC, card, Postcard, art journal, scrapbook page, anything arty goes.

Choose either one of the bears' themes mentioned above, or base your creation on your own view of the novel.

Use a quote relating to either a theme from the book or the book title.

Please do visit other entrants, it's what makes crafting with friends more fun.

Please link directly to your creation, and leave a comment so we know to come and visit you. We love to see everyone's interpretations.

Have fun, bears' challenges are predominantly about fun and friendship.

The challenge will run until the end of March, but, rather than wait until the end of March to post our week, we are going to attempt to post a little something each week, this may be one work in progress for the entire month, or each bear may have a little project of his own, based on their interpretation of the book. We shall attempt to post our first sneak peek next Friday, and hopefully one each Friday in March. Eek. What have we let ourselves in for now! ;)

With love from the bears.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

february ends

Hello there, we're back to show you our journal page for our February LOVE challenge. First though, we'd like to say a beary big thank you to our friends who joined in this month

Morning AJ with her Love journal page

Ali for her digital Feel the Love page

Kim with her Nail art tutorial and love page.

Lauren with her Girl on Fire page.

We LOVE that you all take time out from your busy schedules to join in with our challenges. Please do take time to visit each other's blogs, that's what makes the challenges the most fun in our opinion.

So, what did we end up making? Well as you will know if you are a regular reader of this blog, Podgy had already made a love page, but the human we banished to under the bed when we commandeered the blog whined that she wanted us to make a page depicting her love for the husbear. We tried to ignore her, but the whining reached a pitch that hurt our ears, so we acquiesced, and chose Cedric to create a slushy gushy page to keep her quiet. Over to you, Cedric..

Hello from Cedric, First a reminder of my background...

To which I wanted to add some stamping, so I searched in the stamp box for something suitable for my theme.

I found the search a little tiring, and took a short nap on top of the bed to refresh myself.

Once refreshed. I got straight back to work at the desk.

I decided to die cut silhouettes of a woman and man rather than use stamps. I think these are Marianne Creatables dies, little blue dies anyway.

I decided to try a different method of stamping, with my extraordinarily long nose, it worked very well. I don't think the other bears will be able to copy this one, so I may apply to copyright it!!

As you see below, the nose stamping is quite neat.

Have you guessed what my page is yet? Well, The human under the bed loves Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, all the bears love the classics, and although some may think of Wuthering Heights as more a story of Heathcliff's wont for revenge than one of love, the human under the bed (hereby known as THUTB) thinks of it as a classic love story. That's half the fun of books though, we all have our different views on the themes.

I chose one of THUTB's favourite quotes to base my page on, 'He's more myself than I am, whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.' Catherine is telling Nelly of her love for Heathcliff, Heathcliff overhears part of the conversation, up to the point that Catherine declares it would degrade her to marry him, but he does not hear her declare her love for him as he has walked away. Only hearing part of Catherine's speech sparks Heathcliff's quest for revenge against the Linton family.

I guess i'm just a romantic bear at heart, and I've hopefully quietened THUTB now that I've created a page based on one of her favourite book quotes.

Here's a close up of the left hand side. The writing says 'I love you, always'.

And a close up of the right hand side.

Look out for our next just for fun challenge coming very soon, remember, you don't have to have read the books to join in, just take something from the title or the themes we post as your inspiration.

With love from the bears.

WOYWW - we've moved!

Hello there, Horace here to share with you our WOYWW desk this week, if you're wondering what on earth we're on about, then click your furry paw right here to see this addictive phenomenon where we all get to nose at each others' craft spaces each Wednesday.

We've just moved from the bear bedroom to the kitchen, the desk just didn't feel right in the bedroom, not enough light and it didn't feel very roomy for so many crafty bears. We asked Wilbear ever so nicely if he could move us and he carried the desk from the bedroom to the kitchen on his back, single pawdly too!!!

Anyway, here is our new craft corner before we started getting messy

And here it is now (ish). I'm making the bears' tag for the Dragonsdream latest challenge, which is to create something purple and orange and with butterflies. What a lovely theme. I have my sticking mat out, which is Wilbear's old TV magazine - at least I hope it's an old edition, I didn't actually stop to check in my haste to christen our new craft space - Also on the desk are our inks and distress ink blending pads, a stamped butterfly, well, several stamped butterflies as I wasn't sure how many I wanted on my project as yet.....

Hmm, what else can we see? A stamped and cut Dylusions image, ready to use on a journal page when I get round to it, some acrylic blocks, my furry head, a bit of ink stained kitchen roll (what a slovenly bear!)

Would you like to see what's on the shelf above the bears' desk? Podgy's very own Ipod dock, modelled on the bear himself, no wonder he has such a swelled head what with his own brand glue and Podgy shaped ipod dock eh?

Anyway, I'm off to peruse some desks in crafty land, then I shall finish my tag for the dragons challenge, TTFN

With love from the bears.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Follow Follow Follow Follow......

Hello there, it's Podgy the perfectly cute panda here with you today. Remember Cedric's mist ex'bear'iment page?

Well I thought it would make the perfect background for a page about an old cubhood favourite of mine, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum. Although people will probably be more familiar with the technicolor film adaptation, the book is endearing and, in my furry little opinion, better than the film.

Initially I was going to enter my project into our February challenge, which is all about love; if you think about the theme of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Dorothy's capacity to love shines through. Firstly, her love for her dog, toto, whom she risks her own life to rescue, then her capacity to accept and love the strangers she meets on her journey, including her sneaking food to the cowardly lion when they are all captured by the wicked witch, coupled with her enduring love for her aunt Em and uncle Harry, who she wants to get home to be with, you'll see that this book is just full of love, and that's why I wanted it to become our challenge piece, BUT, I was outvoted so I decided to just go ahead and make the page anyway.

As in the film, Dorothy gets caught in a storm when she elects to rescue her dog Toto, rather than take shelter with the family. The house is carried away in the wind, and she lands on the wicked witch of the east, earning the eternal love of the munchkins. Her quest to get home starts almost immediately and the witch of the north gifts her a pair of silver shoes, not red as in the film, which probably changed them as this was one of the first films to be shot in colour, as you'll notice by the glorious array of colours used in it.
Anyway, for my creation, I started with some stamping.....

Using our own inimitable style of stamping, I stamped Toto, Dorothy's dog, onto some tissue paper.

Stamping directly onto tissue paper has two advantages over stamping onto card, first, you can flip your image (as long as it's not text, as that looks rather odd in reverse!) the second advantage is, you can glue the image onto your art work, and the tissue paper will dissolve, leaving the image looking perfectly in place on your creation. This is great for adding images on top of textured backgrounds.

I have my own brand of glue to adhere my elements with, ah, this fame game, it's a hard one. Form an orderly queue for my pawtograph won't you?

I printed a wonderful Kansas image from a free printables blog. After much sticking, here is my finished piece.

I found the image of the hut in a magazine, it reminded me of Dorothy's house in Kansas. I couldn't resist the addition of ruby red slippers, despite Dorothy's book shoes being silver, they are an important motif throughout the book and film, and provide Dorothy with the means to return to her family.

I typed and printed the word 'follow' because of the song in the film, but also to depict that Dorothy follows her heart, and never gives up on her wish to be home with her beloved family.

Here's Dorothy, looking lost away from her beloved Kansas, following the road that she hopes will lead her home. I added some paw stamped hearts to depict Dorothy's capacity for love.

With love from the bears. 

Dragons dream

Hello there, Horace here again to show you the tag I made for this fortnight's
Dragonsdream challengeThe recipe is to use orange, purple and butterflies, what a great theme. Here's my creation.

I started by inking my tag

This was the reverse of a previously made 'gone wrong' tag. I thought I'd utilise it for this challenge rather than waste it, serendipitously it was already splattered with some orange Dylusions mist so my job was half done. I dabbed distress ink through our harlequin mask, then added concord distress ink to the edges of the tag.

I foraged in the stamp box, and found these little beauties.

Which I inked, again with the lovely concord distress ink.

I stamped several butterflies, as you never know how many you may need. I then dabbed more concord ink onto the stamped butterflies, to add colour to the white areas of the image.

Podgy allowed me to use some of his special glue to adhere my elements to my tag, isn't he kind?

I loved making my tag, and look forward to the next challenge, what fun.

With love from the bears.

Sunday, 24 February 2013


Hello there, we went to a stamp show today at Stevenage, it was called Stampbearama, or something like that. Our favourite stall was the Paperartsy one. Where we found some fabulous inspiration on display.

Including these, which we recognised as being from a fellow blogger (Alison, these are yours, aren't they? ) they're even better irl. We couldn't resist a picture of them;)

Once we arrived home we were keen to check out our shopping bag.

First Horace checked it was empty

Then we all oohed and ahhed over our lovely new stash. This cute foam stamp was on the Paperartsy stall, the collage paper on another stall, we can't remember which one, there were so many!

We bought this cute flower stamp

And this lovely set

Then it was back to the Paperartsy stall, where these little beauties took our fancy.

Along with this mini background stamp.

We saw Wilbear sneak off and pawchase a few bits, we think he was buying sneaky bearthday presents as it's our birthday next month.
Guess what we're off to do now? Our desk is about to get rather messy. What fun.
Edit to add, AJ, just for you, we added the pages we've just sat in the kitchen and done with our new stash. Both backgrounds were already sitting patiently waiting in our 8x8 journal to be decorated, all we had to do was add the new stamps

With love from the bears.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Craft Barn Alphabet Challenge -H

Hello there, Pooh here with you today, I've been busy creating our page for the alpha challenge over at The Craft Barn . This fortnight the letter is H. I had a flick through our French/English dictionary and, following the theme of words that sound or are the same in both languages, came up with hexagon.

I decided to be clever and cover the word with a hexagon sticker, so my misting didn't obscure the word, as one of the challenge rules is to show your chosen word on your page.

I misted my pages in chalk and Dylusions mists.

I heat dried the pages between each layer of mist. A handy trick, if you position the heat gun just right, you can lie down and have a sneaky snooze and leave the page to dry itself. NOTE, don't snooze too long, or you may end up with burnt pages!!!

I selected a hexagon mask and sprayed Dylusions London Blue over my page, using both the positive and negative sides of the mask to create two different effects.

Next, as I was in the kitchen, I had a rifle through the snack drawer; having to mist in the kitchen does have its advantages you know!

After 51 small smackerels, I selected another hexagon mask, and the new white Dylusions mist.

I once again used both the negative and positive sides of the mask. When I was finished spraying, I removed the sticker from my chosen word. ARGH, disaster, it had stuck fast, and left a residue that completely obliterated my word!!!!!!!

Not to be beaten, I turned from the French - English to the English - French definitions, and repeated ALL the above steps, including the snackathon.

Next, I took the outline surrounding these stamps

Cut it in half, and stuck directly to my pages. Us bears are developing quite Womblish techniques in our crafting lately!

I then added some of the hexagon stickers, and cut the letters to spell my chosen word with a Sizzix Sizzlits alphabet strip. I assembled all my elements to pawduce this. Don't I look happy to be demoing my creation?

A close up of my page. The whiter hexagons were achieved by rubbing a Papermania square mini white ink pad directly through my mask.

I love this altered dictionary challenge, I hope the bears let me play again next fortnight.

With love from the bears.