I fell in love with Fiona's wonderful "Borderbears" at first sight. I contacted Fiona and she sent me two (Jake and Zoe) right away and they are even more adorable in person! I asked her to please send me her story so I could share it with all of you and here it is. She's the most delightful person! Check out my photos in the slideshow below - Michele
Fiona's Story ......
6 years ago I took a job with autistic and other handicapped adults where I had to develop and undertake activities that they would enjoy. I discovered papier mache and it was a great success...they loved the tactile messiness of it and the endless scope it gave.
With papier mache it doesnt matter what the end result is...it can be whatever you want it to be. I fell in love ! and found myself making my own creations in my lunch hour...initially things with a balloon as a cast like blowfish or turtles.
My partner was in the Royal Navy and was pensioned at only 50 years old so we had the opportunity to make a complete fresh start. We decided to go and live in Norway as we both love nature and wanted to live a " back to nature " kind of life... House prices are very cheap in remote areasof Norway. We bought a house on the internet without even going to see it ! Above the Polar circle on a large island called Vesterålen.
We now live here four years and love every minute. It is the most breathtaking place. In the winter the sun does not come above the horizon for 6 weeks . It is not completely dark though...there is a beautiful ethereal light that makes the sky pastel coloured. In the summer it is the opposite and the sun does not set for 6 weeks. The striking differences between the seasons make it very special.
My nearly 11 year old Border terrier jack loves it too . We also have two cats Gaupi who lives in the house and outside and our stray cat General Gredenko who has adopted us who has his own little house outside. he follows me everywhere and will even come hiking up the nearby hills!
I have my own studio in the grounds, the perfect place to continue with my newly discovered hobby. Initially i was making abstract animals but when posting pictures on FB kept getting pestered by my Border friends "make a Border" "make ME" So I started making busts of my friends dogs. These were a great success and I went on to make other breeds and sell them having started up my "the papier mache zoo" page.
One day one of my friends sent me some lovely mohair wool , which coincided with the request for a full bodied Border and I thought why not make a papier mache torso and cover it with wool...So I did. The inside of what was later to be known as the Borderbear is made from paper and masking tape ( the body and the head ) I then cover it in a knitted square. Then i add the legs so they can be moved which makes it more lifelike. The other features are darned on. Each Borderbear takes about 5 hours to make from start to finish. They were an immediate success. I have never had to advertise them. My favourite part is taking the readymade bears on "adventures" and photographing them in nature. the lovely thing is that some of their "forever owners" go on to do this too! It is such fun. In the meantime I make all breeds of Doggiebears and just need a photo to be able to see their markings.
I think i covered nearly everything ... my Borderbears are loved by both children and adults. Their doggy counterparts have mixed reactions some wanting to eat them like your Jake! others wanting to lick and snuggle with them as if they were their puppies! But they are not meant for the dogs obviously...left alone with one a BT would have him torn to shreds in no time.
So at the moment I mainly sell to people who ask for them. I also have two shops in the UK who saw them and asked to be able to sell them. They mark them up price wise. I also make a few bears every month that are auctioned to raise money for dog charities. For me it is not about the money. I want to keep the price as low as possible so they can be available to all dog lovers. Rising postage costs are my main enemy.
For me it is all about the fun and the joy...for me and for the people who buy them. I hear such lovely stories...eg one young autistic boy takes his "Alfiebear" with him everywhere he goes and now sleeps with him, having slept with another teddy every night since birth. Also very rewarding are the stories of comfort one of my bears brings to people whose dogs are at Rainbow Bridge.
Many Thanks - Fiona
It started a normal walk this morning and then we decided to go down and check on the boat so the dogs looked for dolphin or fish or anything swimming around while Mike tweaked the Gas line leak we discovered. Finally the pups begged us to go for a ride so we did a short run south. It was so calm the wate was like glass.