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Ecobears – Characters with a Meaningful Message

Posted by on Sep 20, 2013 in Ecobears News | 0 comments

We hope you enjoy reading this great article in the Examiner, by Meagan Meehan ūüėÄ 

The Ecobears Game

Posted by on Jun 6, 2012 in Ecobears News | 1 comment

This is the old version of the game. But still fun ūüėÄThe Ecobears Game

Miss WWF_Climate Bear & Panda

Posted by on May 30, 2012 in Ecobears News | 0 comments

Miss WWF outside World Wide Fund for Nature International Head Office - Gland, Switzerland.

‘Miss WWF_Climate Bear & Panda’ – was designed and donated to the World Wide Fund for Nature, as official mascot to accompany them to COP15, Copenhagen, December 2009. Miss WWF heads to Copenhagen carrying the reminder to ‘Vote Earth’

Miss WWF & Panda

14″ tall, freestanding, fully poseable one of a kind piece. Miss WWF is made from a mix of oatmeal and porridge coloured English hemp – circa 1993. She is filled with 100% recycled carded cotton threadwaste. She wears a cream hemp dress, with ‘Vote Earth’ hand embroidered in black cotton perle, and ‘WWF’ in black cashmere lettering on her back.

'Vote Earth'

She hugs the familiar WWF panda mascot, handstitched using white reclaimed felt and black cashmere, & filled with 100% recycled polyester.

Miss WWF & Panda with planet Earth

The planet Earth is made from pale blue & green reclaimed felt, with the countries of the world intricately handstitched in place. The planet is filled with hemp fibre & recycled polyester. The bears are now living at WWF International Head Office, Gland, Switzerland.

Miss Solar Bear

Posted by on May 22, 2012 in Ecobears News | 2 comments

Planet Earth

Miss Solar Bear – one of a kind freestanding, fully poseable handmade Ecobear. As like all other Ecobears she’s made using renewable solar energy. She was created in 2010 as an advocate for solar energy use, to share the message that we can all use solar energy in our daily lives, wherever we live in the world.

Photovoltaic Solar Panels

Her favourite saying is: ‘If all the roofs of the world were covered in solar panels, what a wonderful thing that would be’.

MSB - Advocate for Solar Energy

Miss Solar Bear has bright yellow mohair outer ears, paws & boots. She has sun yellow cashmere inner ears & paws, and black glass eyes. Her two tone yellow nose is intricately hand woven using cotton perle. She wears a hand dyed hemp dress with hemp/silk gathered skirt. MSB is filled with 100% recycled carded cotton threadwaste.

Miss Solar Bear

In her paws she proudly holds a planet Earth with detailed countries all around its world – handmade using blue, green & white reclaimed felt. The planet is filled with hemp fibre & 100% recycled polyester.
Miss Solar Bear carries a little bit of sun in her heart & now resides in the rainforest village of Kuranda, Queensland, Australia.

Chukki the Lonely Chicken

Posted by on May 18, 2012 in Ecobears News | 0 comments


Last year we had a few chickens who turned out to be fun to have around and a bonus if they laid any eggs. We lost a couple along the way, campo life being what it is; harsh & cruel at times. One of the hens was taken out by a huge eagle who had been circling above the pen for days, before swooping down to capture the hen and decapitating the poor thing in the process. Not a pretty sight. We have learned to put washing lines across the top of the open part of the pen; this helps prevent large winged predators from fancying their chances getting in so easy.
Recently some pals came to visit and said they had a lovely, chatty domesticated hen living with them, and would we be interested in having her as we have plenty of space? They thought she would be better off with us than on her own in their townhouse back yard. We’d built an enclosed pen a few years back, and had used it for the previous chickens – so there was an instant chicken coup, complete with almond tree, for her to move into. So we agreed to have her.

Chukki checking out her surroundings.

A couple of days later they brought the new family member in a box up to our house. Then she was placed into her new home, having a good look around investigating her surroundings. Within minutes she’d settled in and was ‘bob, bob, bobbing’ chirpily. It was obvious she was pretty much domesticated. She looked quite a lot bigger than the ones we’d had before too.
But something didn’t feel quite right. She looked soooo alone! It felt odd to just have one chicken, so lonely looking. Over the following days we went in to feed her and check she was okay. She seemed to quite like the safety of her hen hut, but ventured out when we came to visit. Poor Chukki, it didn’t seem fair to leave her on her own. She needed company, we felt.

Chukki's first egg.

Chukki had laid her first egg on the second day she was with us. It’s great collecting fresh eggs for breakfast. She was happy to be hand fed bits of brown bread, and fair tucked into what looked to be zillions of ants on the ground, who themselves were busy trying to escape with bits of her corn for themselves.
We made the decision then that Chukki needed company as soon as possible. So off we went to order three more chickens from a local agricultural feed shop. Fiestas permitting they were to be picked up the following week. In the meantime, as is typical, we were offered as many hens as we wanted; about eighteen needing rehoming! We declined the offer and decided to wait for the chickens we had ordered, (guaranteed layers, apparently).

Three new chickens - 5 weeks old

Finally, a week later than anticipated, we got a phone call to say the new chickens were ready to pick up. So we dashed over to the agricultural shop and there they were with numerous others, ready to be plucked out of their box and placed in the back of the car in a round container complete with mesh lid. They were brought home and promptly placed in with Chukki.
“There you go, Chukki. You’ve got company now.” Chukki didn’t seem the least bit impressed with her new companions. In fact she was positively uninterested and carried on pecking at the ground in her own little world. The three new chickens looked a little lost at first, and seemed very shy hiding underneath the henhouse for some time. Even after a few days Chukki still didn’t seem to be interested in the new companions. So much for needing company!
Finally, after another week or so we can see some ‘bonding’ taking place. The three new chickens (who still aren’t named yet) are finally coming out of their shell. They venture out more and more as each day passes, and follow Chukki around, who now trots about like an old mother hen, happily showing the new chicks how tasty the little ants on the ground are. Chukki has real character and is funny to watch. Listening to her clucking away in a ‘bob, bob,bob’ manner is pretty funny too.
We’ll keep you posted as to the chicken’s progress in a few weeks time…

Planting Trees

Posted by on Apr 20, 2012 in Ecobears News | 2 comments

A little while back the blossom kicked off this year’s spring season, bringing its pink & white snowy bloom throughout the valley. This prompted discussions about the possibility of us planting several new fruit trees. Only a few to start with; a small area to compliment the 100’s (literally!) of olive, almond, fig & pine trees sprawled across the land. We had attempted to grow fruit trees in previous years without much success, having chosen a very dry area and having to carry water to the trees – creating a lot of hard work!
So this year our choice is a much better spot – a small, lower terrace giving the trees a highly improved chance of survival. Our romantic visualisation is of a tiny orchard where we can pick our own fruit, and these new trees will hopefully replace some of the almond trees we have lost to past years’ droughts. The benefit of this particular terrace is that the waste water from the house is piped down into it, already creating an underground water source for the tree roots to tap into. We planted bamboo from the riverside there last year, and so far so good – the bamboo has survived the winter and is thriving.

The first job was to turn the land. This particular area has been left fallow for so long the soil was like solid concrete. So, with the help of a pal and his tractor, they made short shrift of turning the soil from a solid mass into a workable area. A job that would have taken days by hand took minutes with the mechanical toy.
In the meantime just eight fruit trees had been purchased and brought home in the trailer. We took them out and laid them on the ground. They looked so lost! Long, skinny, knobbly sticks. How on earth were they going to survive and produce fruit? Two apple, two pear, two cherry and two peach trees had been chosen. It wasn’t until
we checked the labels to see which was which that we realised we hadn’t a clue! Not only were the labels in Catalan – that would have been fine on its own – they were also in agricultural short-hand, with a little bit of Latin thrown in for good measure. We knew at least one was an apple tree, but the rest we just had to pick a place for them at random; a decision based on how the trees looked.
The holes would then have to be dug in our chosen places. After debating whether to do a three, two, three or three, three, two format – as if it were some kind of football game – we eventually settled on a three, two, three, and placed the trees accordingly. We then started digging the holes – tough work as the ground was still pretty solid underneath the newly turned part. After the holes had been prepared each tree was carefully positioned upright, watered and the hole filled back in. And hey presto! Our newly formed miniature orchard – looking a little gangly and lost! As you can see from the picture. But still very exciting all the same. So all being well, within a couple of years we should start seeing the trees bear their fruit. An additional walnut tree has been transplanted to the new spot too. As we write this all eight of the new trees are doing well; showing off a little blossom and new green shoots and leaves. We’ll be posting regular updates and photos of the trees’ progress.

Ecobears – 4 Leap Years old today!

Posted by on Feb 29, 2012 in Ecobears News | 0 comments

Wow, how time flies – today is Ecobears’ Birthday – 4 whole Leap Years. Or 16 in normal years.

The very first Ecobear named Harvest was born 29th February, 1996 in Yorkshire, England. It only seems like yesterday!

Happy Birthday Ecobears!

We kept the original Harvest in a suitcase for prosperity – and to see how well he faired over the years. Thankfully he’s still in one piece. The designs of more modern Ecobears have changed dramatically from those early teds. However the principals are pretty much the same – to craft eye-catching characters with a story to tell.

A very early Ecobear similar to Harvest.

Thankfully the workmanship and creativity has continued its learning curve over the past 16 years of Ecobears’ existence. It is as much fun now as what it was back then – with the added bonus of being able to use renewable energy to make present day critters – that will hopefully last a lifetime.
This occasion got me to thinking: What is a Leap Year? Why do we have them?
A Leap Year consists of 366 days, as opposed to a normal year, which has 365 days. During Leap Years we add a Leap Day, an extra day on February 29th. Nearly every 4 years is a Leap Year in our modern Gregorian calendar.
Apparently, according to Google, ‘Leap Years are needed to keep our calendar in alignment with the Earth’s revolutions around the sun. It takes the Earth approximately 365.242199 days – or 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, & 46 seconds (a tropical year) to circle once around the Sun.’

Miss Solar Bear

However, the Gregorian calendar has only 365 days in a year, so if we didn’t add a day on February 29th nearly every four years, we would lose almost six hours off our calendar every year. After only 100 years, our calendar would be out by around 24 days!
Mmm – mind boggling stuff. So just who did invent Leap Years? Well it’s interesting to learn that Julius Caesar introduced Leap Years in the Roman empire over 2000 years ago. The Julian calendar had only one rule:
‘Any year evenly divisible by four would be a leap year.’ This eventually ended up in too many Leap Years, but didn’t get corrected until the introduction of the Gregorian calendar over 1500 years later.
Well, we hope you find our bears intriguing, unusual & fun – I say this because we’re looking forward to a great Birthday event. The brand new Ecobears website is being built as we speak – and will be ready soon with lots of new fun stuff: Fab bears, toys & gifts; colouring sheets, puzzles & games; and also the wonderful Ecobears children’s book. Watch this space!

Trains, Planes, Weddings & Bears

Posted by on Feb 19, 2012 in Ecobears News | 0 comments

Well, it has to be said our latest trip to the UK was pretty nerve jangling and full-on to say the least. ¬†It all began with a simple train journey from our home town of Flix to Barcelona – about two & a half hours in total. The plan was to have a relaxing night before catching a bus to the airport terminal. Plus a chance to take in some city nightlife (and football match too). Unfortunately the cheap, cheerful & most convenient hotel we chose stood directly above the underground system. Hence one noisy, hotel-shaking, tap-rattling train graced us with it’s presence once every seven minutes….all through the night. ¬†Not so relaxing after all, but who needs sleep anyway?

The following morning we awoke bright and early, bleary eyed and caught the bus to Barcelona. We were excited to board our flight – destination: Leeds/Bradford Airport. It was chilly but cold when we left, but we’d been keeping an eye on the UK weather forecast. Snow, fog & ice were on the menu – perfectly normal for February in the North of England. David’s daughter Rachelle, was getting married in a couple of days and had been wishing for a romantic, snowy white wedding for months. It was looking like her wish was coming true.

We boarded the plane on time, complete with a suitcase full of 30 assorted Ecobears and wedding rigmarole. We watched as boxes upon boxes of fish were dispatched from the plane’s undercarriage. (So it’s true the Spanish do love English shell fish). The suitcases were then installed. Relaxing to see as there were some pretty important Ecobears in our case. The flight coming in from the UK had been full, but on this departure there were only 28 passengers. A quiet flight. Not that it mattered.

The plane took off and we flew over the snow-covered Pyrennees, looking like dots on the ground. Then over a very white, icy-looking France. Just over two hours from take-off we were fast approaching our destination. The pilot calmly informed us that we would be landing shortly. Or would we?

As we prepared to land we looked out of the window only to be greeted with thick pea soup fog. How on earth could the pilot see the runway? Well they’ll be used to this kind of thing. We watched the wings do their flip up flip down dance, and listened as the engines quietened and the descent began. So we should be landing any.. second now..

But we didn’t! The plane soared back up into the sky with a woooosh! The pilot then informed us the the automated landing system had failed and we would have to try landing again…fuel permitting…on a shorter runway. Not really words of comfort at a time like this.

By this point there was an eerie silence on the plane as passengers were coming to terms with the severity of events. Surely this only happened in Hollywood movies. Where’s your sense of humour when you need it most?

So as attempt number two dawned we all prepared for what could be a bumpy landing. The pilot told us we were descending and did the fancy wing-moving thing again. The engines quietened and the ground loomed, and, get ready, and…woooosh! Back up in the air at hair-raising speed for a second time.

I love flying but by this point was shaking like a leaf. Everybody seemed to be turning a whiter shade of pale. David whispered he’d ‘damn well land this plane himself if the pilot didn’t stop messing about.’ It didn’t help matters when the pilot mentioned that ‘we should be okay for fuel’. Not funny! Fellow passengers carried on pretending to read their books and magazines.

Afterwards the pilot informed us that there would be one final attempt at a manual landing. All was silent for what seemed like an eternity. Finally the descent came and, for a third time, was aborted. OMG. Heart in mouth stuff! Now what?

There had been mutterings from passengers earlier of heading straight to another airport. Maybe they should just take us elsewhere. Wisdom heralded a further 20 minutes (which felt like hours) of circling in the hope of the weather improving. Fat chance from what we’d already seen, and the light was fading fast. As we flew we past the sun about five times; a very surreal experience. This could not be happening.

Thankfully, after what felt like an age, the voice of reason explained we would be heading for East Midlands Airport – only ten minutes away. At last! Couldn’t they have made that decision sooner? It would have saved a lot of time reading the same sentences in books and magazines over and over again.

Finally, a few minutes later, we descended towards the runway – lit up like Blackpool Illuminations. We braced (plenty of practise by now), and gently landed – the most perfect of all landings. We’d survived! We were alive with our feet (or at least plane) planted firmly on the ground, after the joyride of a lifetime! Then some of us decided that the pilot was just toying with us, until we got off the plane and saw him still sat in the cockpit, lighting a cigarette!



History of Ecobears

Posted by on Jan 15, 2012 in Ecobears News | 0 comments

Ecobears began life on February 29th 1996, as a combination of two passions: soft-toymaking and environmental interest.

In 1993 a man named John Parkinson made fabrics that mixed hemp with mungo (wool fibres obtained from cloth), and shoddy (shredded pieces of old cloth) from a company in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, England.  The hemp was grown by Hemcore in Essex, and they are still producing natural fibres to this day.

Around that same time I began making various accessories from hemp/mungo/shoddy mix materials for a few small companies. ¬†I made record bags, purses, rucksacks, coffee filters, juggling balls, ladies & men’s clothing, soft-furnishings and soft-toys…all great fun to make!

A couple of years later, I decided to work on my own, but concentrate in one area.  Creating character bears seemed the best idea.  So Ecobears were born from a combination of twin passions: soft-toy making and environmental interest.

Using a hemp/recycled cotton/wool mix fabric was most unusual at the time, making Ecobears the first bears of the twentieth century to be made from such materials. ¬†I was proud to be honoured with a Best Newcomer Award from The British Toymakers’ Guild.

I want Ecobears to encourage an awareness interest in the versatility of natural fibres.  From its outer fibrous stem to its inner cellulose content, hemp makes products such as textiles, paper & paints.  The seed oil is used to make bio fuels that run vehicles, and also provides a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids for nutritional benefit. The list of existing and potential products runs into the thousands.

Hemp is making a positive impact on society these days. ¬†Its fabric is one steeped in tradition. ¬†Burlap which was used to make soft-toys in the 1800’s, is a woven cloth created from hemp, jute or flax fibres. ¬†Ecobears are proudly helping to revive this tradition.

Eagle-eyed readers amongst you may have noticed that Ecobears’ official birth date is 29th February, 1996. ¬†So as 2012 is a leap year, this is a cause for celebration – because Ecobears reaches a grand old age of four in leap year terms. ¬†Time to get the pencil and card out to design a very special teddy bear to commemorate the occasion!

Just in Time for Christmas

Posted by on Dec 18, 2011 in Ecobears News | 0 comments

So – at last, at long, long last – it’s finally arrived. ¬†A moment of eternally awaited anticipation, of endless patience and belief that ‘one day’, yes ‘one day’ it will happen.

It began all of twelve years ago; the idea for an ‘Ecobears’ children’s book. ¬†It was so obvious back then. ¬†It all made complete sense. ¬†Ecobears in 3D form, made from natural & recycled materials had come to life on February 29th, 1996. (That would make them forever young, being born in a leap year.) ¬†How brilliant it would be to create a children’s story to go with them? ¬†Maybe the first in a series? ¬†Surely it would be worth trying? ¬†How difficult could it be?

Probably one of the most difficult things ever!  Only fools and horses would try it!  Let alone the even more obscurely difficult task of trying to find a publisher who would even bother to look at the project, in and amongst all the other thousands they have to regularly sift through.

It takes finesse and imagination to write a children’s book. ¬†But at least we were armed with a subject matter, a group of characters (albeit stuffed and made from cloth), and a blueprint for a story.

Looking back, spending seven years building a house – out in the sticks of the Catalunyan countryside (or campo, as it’s known here), off-grid – with no running water or electricity – is a tad easier, it has to be said.

BUT…. when there is a burning desire that your shared creative concept is worth every minute of effort thrown its way, then it’s even more difficult to let go of the idea. ¬†Or it letting go of you, more like.

From that very first blueprint, scribbled by David – dated 18th October, 1999 – through the several dozen altered drafts later (we’ve kept them all), add a sprinkling of other people’s brilliance – we finally get to this awe-inspiring point in time.

It’s here! ¬†The book itself! ¬†It exists! ¬†It’s real. ¬†Okay.. we haven’t physically held it and stared at its beautiful cover, let alone flicked through its numerous, illustrated pages…but we’ve seen pictures – so that will suffice….for now. ¬†AND, we know it’s really real; you’ve been emailing us, leaving messages on Facebook and Twitter, and ‘phoning up to tell us:

“The book’s arrived in the post today, and looks absolutely brilliant and can’t wait to read it!” ¬†Great news, however we’ll have to wait just a few more days until our UK visit – then we can seriously get excited with cause for celebration; another dimension enters the world of Ecobears. ¬†A dimension only dreamed of, up until Wednesday 14th December, 2011…just in time for Christmas!

So now the book ‘exists’, but it still feels as though there’s a heap of work yet to do; how to let the world know that this little book is here – how to get it noticed? ¬†Well it’s going to be a great deal of fun doing it. ¬†The Ecobear 3D characters have been informed that they’ll have to leave the confines of the workshop and go out into the ‘real world’ to meet ‘real people’. ¬†To be fair they seem pretty excited about meeting lots of new people. ¬†They’re a sociable lot when all’s said and done.

This is an ideal opportunity to say a BIG thank you to everybody involved over the years, plus a special thanks to MLBT Publishing for helping make this book happen. ¬†Here’s to a prosperous work/creativity relationship in 2012. ¬†There will be lots to look forward to. ¬†Firstly, on a personal note, a well earned break from the shackles of the solar-powered sewing machines. ¬†Secondly, for David and I to meet the clever peeps behind MLBT Publishing, and to discuss future promotional plans with them. ¬†Thirdly, we’ll be looking forward to reading the first reviews for The Ecobears children’s book, keeping all paws crossed that they will be good (time will tell!)

On a final note, here’s wishing all of you a very Merry Christmas – or as they say in this neck of the Catalan woods – ‘Bon Nadal’. ¬†Let’s hope that 2012 brings lots of exciting surprises for everybody. ¬†And what better end to 2011 than the eagerly anticipated publication of ¬†‘The Ecobears’ illustrated children’s book.


Teddy Bear Beginnings

Posted by on Dec 11, 2011 in Ecobears News | 0 comments

Over 100 years prior to the conception of Ecobears the Teddy Bear was born as a result of political satire.

In 1902 the Governor of Mississippi invited President Theodore Roosevelt on a hunting trip, while the President was on a trip to settle a border dispute with Louisiana.  Mr. Roosevelt, an avid sportsman, accepted.  While on the trip the other members of the hunting party used dogs to chase a black bear into exhaustion and proceeded to tie it to a tree.  They then invited the President to fire the shot to finish it off.  The President refused as he perceived it to be unsportsmanlike.  There are a few versions of this story.  Another has the bear being a mother and cub that were captured as the hunting trip failed to produce a bear.  Either way, when the news of this humane act reached political cartoonist Clifford Berryman at the Washington Post he published a cartoon entitled Drawing the Line, as reference to both the border dispute and the refusal to act in an unsportsmanlike manner.

When shopkeeper Morris Michton saw the cartoon he was ¬†inspired to create a stuffed bear and place it in his shop window with a sign that read “Teddy’s Bear”. ¬†The bear was so popular that the Ideal Toy and Novelty Company, which we know today was born. ¬†In Germany, at the same time, the Steiff Company began producing bears designed by Richard Steiff who was not aware of the Michton bears. ¬†The Steiff bears were shown at the Leipzig fair in 1903. ¬†Most of the bears made during that era were seated humpback bears or realistic bears that were on all fours, very often with wheels as pull toys. ¬†Some of these early bears command prices at auction in the thousands of dollars today.

In the campaign of 1906 when Roosevelt ran for re-election he travelled with a live bear cub as part of his campaign strategy.  This further increased the popularity of stuffed bears with adults and children alike.  It was actually fashionable for a well dressed woman to carry a stuffed bear.  By this time dozens of companies took advantage of the bear fad.

The popularity of ¬†Teddy Bears waned shortly thereafter but remained steady until the 1980s when there was a huge resurgence in their popularity driven by the sudden favour of American Country furniture and accessories and the 80th anniversary of the Teddy Bear in 1983. ¬†Companies like Dakin, Gund and Steiff started producing anniversary and limited editions. ¬†Names emerged on the scene like Vanderbear and Bialosky, named after his creators Peggy and Jeff Bialosky and licensed by Gund. ¬†Smaller companies both in the US and abroad took advantage of the Bear Renaissance. ¬†Crafters started selling homemade bears at country fairs and craft shows made of limitless materials and colours. ¬†Some of these designer bears became highly collectable. ¬†Then came the Beanie Babies, mass produced by Tyco, which signalled the end of the Teddy Bear market’s golden era.

Today we are closely observing wild bears as barometers of environmental health.  We are all familiar with the plight of the polar bear, losing its hunting and breeding ground to the effects of global warming.  We see the panda bear as a curiosity confined to zoological parks as their bamboo forest habitats quickly vanish.  Cute, plush versions of these involuntary, environmental spokesbears are being sold in huge numbers to raise money for the National and World Wildlife Federations and other environmental groups.

Ecobears are now doing their part by being a leader in environmentally friendly products; making bears from renewable natural fibres and recycled materials, with the help of photovoltaic solar energy.


Brand new Ecobears website

Posted by on Nov 28, 2011 in Ecobears News | 1 comment

The brand new Ecobears website is now live. There’s lots for you to see including previews of the book, photos, character profiles and more. You can get your copy of the book from any good retailer.

The Ecobears… Coming Soon!

Posted by on Sep 21, 2011 in Ecobears News | 0 comments

The Ecobears is a brand new book for children, by David Sterricker & Yvonne Jane Wright. Illustrated by UK illustrator, Calvin Innes. Due for release in late 2011 by My Little Big Town. More details will follow shortly including details on how to pre-order your copy of the book.